The Death of Republican Technocracy and Rationality
Department of "Huh?!"

Is Paul Ryan a "Deficit Hawk"? I Say No. Diane Lim Rogers Says Yes.

Diane Lim Rogers writes:

What Is a Deficit Hawk?: The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent questions the true “hawkishness” of some who label themselves “deficit hawks”:

As I noted some time ago, the term “deficit hawk,” as it’s commonly used in Beltway discourse, simply doesn’t mean “someone who fully committed to reducing the deficit by any means necessary, even if it means tax hikes and — paradoxically enough — new government programs.” Rather, it means “someone who is fully committed to reducing the deficit through tax cuts, entitlement reform and an unswerving adherence to general hostility towards expansive government.”… [I]magine if everyone who used the term “deficit hawk” agreed that it should refer only to those want to reduce the deficit by any means necessary, with nothing at all taken off the table. The conversation would start to sound very different, wouldn’t it?

It sounds to me like Greg’s saying a lot of Tea Party types label themselves “deficit hawks”–and that’s probably true.  But I cringe when I hear that, because to be opposed to deficits does not mean one is opposed to big government.  It just means that if I am for big government but against deficits, I have to be for higher taxes.  And if I am for smaller government and lower taxes, but against deficits, I have to be for the tough benefit cuts that make that math work out.   I think Paul Ryan has pretty clearly spelled out that he is a deficit hawk of the latter type (even if the details of the proposed benefit cuts are not yet spelled out), that the Progressive Caucus in Congress has spelled out that they’re deficit hawks of the former type (closing the deficit with mostly tax increases–but also defense cuts), and that President Obama is trying to forge a deficit-hawkish path somewhere in the middle. In my opinion, anyone who sincerely offers a plan to reduce the deficit can deserve the label “deficit hawk”–no matter how different their preferred approach may be from my own or even society’s consensus view.

Paul Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles.

Paul Ryan voted against the Affordable Care Act--the single biggest long-run deficit-reducing measure in American history.

Paul Ryan voted for the deficit-increasing tax "compromise" last November.

Paul Ryan voted for the Bush 2001 "tax cuts"--actually a tax shift from the present to the future.

Paul Ryan voted for the Bush 2003 "tax cuts".

Paul Ryan voted against authorizing Medicare to negotiate on prescription drug prices.

Paul Ryan voted for Medicare Part D.

Seven times when Paul Ryan had the chance to vote for a deficit-reducing or against a deficit-busting initiative, he passed up the opportunity.

And Diane Lim Rogers calls him a "deficit hawk"? Something is very wrong here.

Me? I think that Paul Ryan will in the end vote for tax cuts--under all circumstances--and will in the end vote against the big Medicare cuts that he put in his plan to fund the tax cuts. The key to Ryan's political strategy is, I think, to pass tax cuts now by promising that he will vote for spending cuts in the future--and then break that promise.

I can't see any other way to read the voting record.

And so I can't understand why Diane Lim Rogers wants to call Paul Ryan a "deficit hawk".