Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paul Ryan's Long Con Game On The Shutdown, Obamacare & The Debt Ceiling

Happy Obamacare Day!

The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, so last night Republicans shut down the government.

Good times.

Seems a little extreme to take a country hostage over trying to get people some health care while giving tons of subsidies to private insurance companies, but it takes all kinds of crazy to keep Congress rolling these days.

People have been wondering throughout the entire Continuing Resolution (CR) debate (featuring a fantastical Senate floor show by Ted Cruz, who appeared to neither understand the moral of "Green Eggs and Ham" nor the definition of a filibuster - but provided awesome video clips which will be endlessly mined during his presidential campaign) where the heck is Paul Ryan?

No, really. They have been wondering like one does when one realizes they haven't seen the family cat for three days. Oh shit. Where is Fluffy?

After all, this Washington game of chicken is all about the budget and getting rid of Obamacare - two of Ryan's favorite subjects. He's their magic number guy. Why haven't they shoved boy-wonder out in front of the cameras to tell the American people a government shutdown is worth the fight?

Grandma would totally believe him.

Well, it ain't that simple. Paul Ryan doesn't totally favor a shut down. In one of very few public comments he has made over the last week, Ryan said the GOP would not shutdown the government. Sucks to be wrong.

See, shutdowns add to the deficit because they cost money - in lost revenue and in just restarting government functions. At a time when the deficit has shrunk to it's lowest point since 2008, a shutdown adds back to it, definitively by Republican hands. The last shutdown cost just about $1.5 billion according to economist, Ethan Harris.

Also, no matter what Ted Cruz or anyone else from the teabilly wing in Washington says - Obamacare cannot be stopped by a government shutdown. The ACA is like Medicare or Social Security - it's an entitlement and not subject to defunding this way - it keeps going even when the government does not.

(So, all of you idiots who sent money to Ted Cruz or his friends because they told you any of the votes in Washington would repeal Obamacare - get your money back. They lied to you and you need to do your homework.)

Ryan knows a shutdown is stupid and ineffective - but he ain't driving the clown car - so he has been ducking and looking busy.

There is another reason Ryan has not been talking about shutting down the government over healthcare.

The Ryan budget, which the GOP has been beating their chests over, is actually funded in part by the savings realized by the Affordable Care Act.

Wait! What?

Yep, Ryan's budget numbers don't add up if you repeal Obamacare:
"To understand the shutdown crisis in Washington, go back to the House Republican balanced budget plan last spring.  
To placate the right, promises were made then that could not be kept, and with a new fiscal year beginning Tuesday, GOP leaders are running out of running room. President Barack Obama may very well be in denial about the federal debt, as Republicans suggest. But Speaker John Boehner and his deputies have a credibility deficit of their own.  
Indeed the supreme irony is the health care fight now is being resurrected on a continuing resolution or CR that is at odds itself with GOP plan six months ago.  
Back in March, that resolution held out the promise of repealing Obamacare but only got to balance by keeping hundreds of billions in added revenues and Medicare savings in the Affordable Care Act. It promised to protect defense spending while living with the post-sequestration caps of $967 billion set in the Budget Control Act. But to deliver on this pledge, it required such large cuts from domestic spending bills that the whole appropriations process collapsed by mid-summer."
This makes more sense why the guy who wrote the "Patients Choice Act" (and inspired commercials of a guy looking an awful lot like him pushing an old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff) has been mum on a subject he claims to care so much about.

It's something he doesn't like to mention to the teabillies back home - Obamacare saves money - so much money he partially based his budget on the money it saves.

There's one more reason Ryan has been subdued.

Ryan has been bitching for years that the Senate has not submitted a budget plan. On this he has been correct. He has been submitting his kill Grandma and Privatize Social Security Budget for a number of years with nothing much to reconcile it with from the Senate - until this year.

The Senate passed a budget for the first time in 4 years last March.

So, like any bill that passes both houses - it is supposed to go to committee to be reconciled with members from the House and Senate of both parties - and shazam! a budget is created.

Except Ryan's budget was so un-fucking-believable that even the Catholic Bishops said he was crazy. Never in a million years was he gonna get half of the budgets cuts he wanted through budget reconciliation with Democratic members.

When Democrats asked to start meeting on the budget, Paul Ryan just ignored them. He ignored them 18 times.

If a budget doesn't get passed, Congress has to vote on continuing resolutions (CR) to fund the government in place of a budget. (The reason we even got to the point of a shutdown is because Ryan refused to even negotiate the negotiations of budget reconciliation. In a very real way, the shutdown is largely Ryan's fault.)

But it's not without an upside for the GOP.

Because continuing resolutions are a negotiated budget patch to fund the government for short periods of time - the minority has leverage it wouldn't have when they don't control the Senate or the White House.

That's why you saw nutty shit added to the CR like a birth control conscience clause and defunding the consumer financial protection bureau - things that have nothing to do with the budget got added because the GOP thought they could leverage pet items - that's where the Obamacare delay came in too.

Teabillies were sure this fight would get rid of Obamacare (it wouldn't). They were willing to settle for delaying Obamacare. Ted Cruz and his ilk were ready to shutdown the entire government over not allowing people to sign up for health care.

A dazzling feat of trickery to get their base to support crap that will actually harm them. Suckers, one and all.

But the clown car may have gone too fast.

With the debt ceiling set to expire on October 17th, Ryan either expects the shutdown to last a number of weeks (which could be really damaging because polls already shows the public blames the GOP) or the clown car sped away sooner than he wanted.

That's the trouble with clowns.

Ryan has said he believes Barack Obama will negotiate on raising the debt ceiling - a shutdown is small potatoes compared to creating an international financial crisis. Ryan knows this is where the real leverage is - it also the biggest risk. How crazy is he? Time will tell.

This is Paul Ryan's long con game. He isn't sitting on the sidelines - his play hasn't even started.