By Stephen C. Webster on December 16, 2013

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."

Watch:

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.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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