Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
When Representative Paul Ryan appeared on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, he and Senator Patty Murray extolled their so-called budget deal as a way to move Washington beyond the bitter partisan gridlock that forced a government shutdown earlier in the year.
However, Ryan had something else on his mind, telling host David Gregory that Republicans should support the agreement because it will help them refocus efforts on taking affordable health care away from the American people.
"On our side of the aisle, we like the fact for the economy, no shutdowns," he said, in a not-so-subtle jab at tea party Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz. "We also don't want to have shutdown drama so we can focus on replacing Obamacare, so we can focus on showing better ideas and what this is coming in. 'Cause we don't think people like this law and we don't think it's gonna get any more popular. We don't agree on that, but. So each of us gets something out of this that we think is good. But, most importantly, the country is not going to see these shutdowns and Congress is going to get back to the business of paying the bills and prioritizing spending."
Ryan's House Republican colleagues have tried, and failed, to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 40 times. Ryan apparently has not given up, and sees a budget deal that saves defense contractors a few dollars by cutting 1.3 million people off from long-term unemployment benefits and slicing into the pensions of soldiers and federal workers as a step in the right direction.
Washington seems to be going right along with the Ryan-Murray plan, forgetting Ryan's history of being face-smackingly wrong about virtually everything.
Although Ryan's budget deal produces a deficit savings of about $23 billion by 2023, it's important to note that his stated goal of destroying affordable health care could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions during that same period.
In a reply sent directly to Ryan last May, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explained that repealing Obamacare would cost the American taxpayer an additional $109 billion by 2022. Conversely, the CBO said in 2011 that leaving the law in place will reduce the U.S. budget deficit by $210 billion over the same period.
In other words, that's $319 billion in missed savings and new costs over the next decade that Ryan and his Republicans would slap on the taxpayers.
To make matters worse, Ryan's plan to refocus Republicans on dismantling the health reform law could cause the U.S. to commit tens of millions more simply to stage the votes for repeal. The first 37 times House Republicans tried, they ran up a bill of $53.8 million, according to CBS News -- that's $1.45 million per vote.
In the words of St. John's University economics professor Charles Clark, who spoke to U.S. Catholic last July: "You can't just wish things to work. That's the problem for someone like Paul Ryan. What he thinks he knows about the economy is completely wrong."
Photo: Flickr creative commons.