A Brief Defense Of Paul Ryan

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I’ll post more thoughts on the House GOP’s new-budget-same-as-the-old budget shortly. But first I want to make a quick observation about one of Paul Ryan’s perceived inconsistencies, because I think it’s a big distraction from more important things.

At a press conference this morning, Ryan said there’s nothing hypocritical about Republicans preserving revenues from a recent income tax increase they claim to hate because “law is law.” “We’re not going to refight the past,” he reiterated.

This he said as he introduced a budget that proposes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.Now obviously there’s a lot of pandering going on in this budget, and the idea that the ACA’s going to be repealed is at this point a multi-megaton pander. But there’s much less inconsistency here than meets the eye.

Ryan isn’t proposing to preserve the tax code — or any particular taxes, whether from the fiscal cliff deal or the ACA — anymore than he’s proposing to preserve Obamacare itself.

The truth is much more consistent than that: Just as is the case with Obamacare, he’s proposing to repeal the tax code and replace it with a far more regressive and fantastical system. And that’s where the focus should be: Not on the rhetorical hoops he jumps through to quiet rank and file displeasure with either recent tax increases or the ACA or both, but with how exactly he proposes replacing both: Exactly as he did in 2012 and in 2011.

And for my money the GOP’s unchaining budget is a much bigger story than the fact that Ryan needs to do some politics to pass it in the House.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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