Paul Ryan’s Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Budget

Congratulations, America!  Paul Ryan’s problems in getting his budget through are all your fault -- and he’s as much as said so.

The battle is now openly exploding over the GOP leadership’s disinterest in curbing, in particular, $1.07 trillion in discretionary spending.  Responding to questions earlier this week about the opposition the proposed budget plan is facing, Ryan noted that the resistance was likely due to “all of the anxiety coming to a crescendo in this country.”

Yes, if only a few pesky, non-compliant legislators would stop letting the doggoned will of the public get in the way…

It’s a classic case of an abuser blaming his victim.

Ryan conveniently fails to acknowledge that the prodigious spending and so-called budgeting he’s increasingly backed for the past several years have produced much of the public anxiety to which he points.  A mere two months after ascending to the Speaker’s chair, for instance, Ryan had already shoved through the worst non-returnable Christmas present ever.  December’s $1 trillion+ Omnibus spending bill didn’t just eliminate spending caps; it undermined working-class Americans and compromised national security into the bargain.  In 2014, let’s remember, he had already proposed an alarming base-spending figure of $966 billion, upped again by more than $30 billion for this year’s proposal.

The budget blueprint currently up for debate is full of plenty more undesirable items, including increases for multiple federal agencies whose spending is already out of control.  While the non-binding plan does propose some cuts, it will be utterly unenforceable.  On and on and on it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.

Yet Ryan and his leadership team are once again saying, “Trust us.”

The well of trust has run dry, but leadership is either too oblivious or too arrogant to notice.

That Word, “Budget”…I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

That the well of trust has run dry stems directly from the fact that “budget” no longer means in DC what it does in the rest of the nation. Paul Ryan, Barack Obama, and the rest of Washington’s elite class have unmoored plain meanings from the English vocabulary we all share.

In a piece recently published at The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation’s director of policy outreach, Tommy Binion, cited November 2015 polling that indicates a whopping 73 percent of Americans don’t think Congress should increase spending.  We’re not talking about just Republican or Tea Party voters.  That 73 percent represents a broad sampling of the public.  The will of the people regarding Washington spending, then, is crystal clear.

A percentage that high also permits at least some basic extrapolation about what most people understand when they hear the word “budget.”  While standard dictionary definitions simply indicate an accounting of income and outgo for a set period of time, the Heritage polling suggests that the public almost certainly has additional expectations around what a budget is -- and what it’s meant to do.

As a member of the voting public and someone who deals with budgets on a regular basis, both at home and at work, allow me to suggest that “budget” probably means to most Americans what it means to me: a budget is a responsible program for living within one’s means -- something that can and will actually be followed in order to avoid serious difficulties such as crushing deficits and crippling debt.

In DC-speak, however, “budget” now appears to be defined along the following lines: a meaningless formality filled with false constraints, drawn up only to trigger appropriations, commence spending, and justify further subjugation of the unwashed masses through taxation and dependency.

Paul Ryan’s Incredible Shrinking Credibility

Republicans have held the purse strings in Washington since 2011.  So, any attempt to pawn DC’s elitist definition of budgets on Democrats alone would be disingenuous at best.  In fact, Republicans and Democrats have been perfectly willing to hold hands to push through some of the worst spending bills and budgets imaginable. John Boehner owes his profound unpopularity with the American voting public to exactly such activity.

When Paul Ryan was elected Speaker, he promised something different. While not everyone was convinced, the American people hoped against hope that he was telling truth.  The first months of his speakership, however, have already dashed most of those hopes.  Here and there, Ryan’s outward style may differ from those who have come before him.  But on substance, he’s quickly proven himself to be the same-old same-old.  His continued commitment to big spending is right at the top of the list of habits the American people have been loudly protesting.

Also troubling is the fact that Ryan has already embraced less-than stellar legislative practices.  On his election as Speaker, Ryan promised a return to regular order.  “[W]hen we do not follow regular order -- when we rush to pass bills a lot of us do not understand -- we are not doing our job,” Ryan asserted.  “Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people.” But apparently those, too, were just words, because he’s made no significant change there either.  Yes, it’s all just business as usual under the new Speaker.

All of this raises a key question:

Who, exactly, is Paul Ryan representing these days?

Because it clearly isn’t us.

Families are expected to live within their means so that their members can thrive and prosper.

Businessmen like me must make often-difficult choices to keep our organizations solvent, growing, and providing opportunity for others.

Meanwhile Paul Ryan continues on a spending trend that puts the rest of us at risk.

“Trust me,” he continues to whisper to the public.

But why should we?

If 73 percent of the American public hasn’t provided enough of a mandate to prompt the Speaker of the U.S. House to embrace the will of the people on spending and budgets, matters that affect literally every aspect of this country’s well-being, then someone else clearly has his ear.  Who?  Whose agenda is so much more important -- or more lucrative -- than ours?

For a multitude of reasons, it’s a question that the American people would do well to investigate and expose quickly.

Paul F Nehlen III is an entrepreneur, businessman, and inventor. He holds and has patents pending in both the United States and abroad. Nehlen has served in executive leadership for a number of U.S. corporations, including several Fortune 500 organizations. The opportunity to live and work overseas in various executive roles has provided him with valuable perspective on, and a deep appreciation for, the United States. Having grown up in Ohio, Nehlen now makes his home in southeastern Wisconsin.