Paul Ryan And The Long-Term Game

With Republican Congressman Paul Ryan likely to be House Speaker, it’s worth noting if he can keep the Insane Beserker wing of his party under control (that’s not a trivial if), he could be an incredibly effective Speaker–and that’s really bad news for many people and programs, including scientists and science.

Dean Baker explains (boldface mine):

Ryan directed the Congressional Budget Office to score his budget plans back in 2012. The score of his plan showed the non-Social Security, non-Medicare portion of the federal budget shrinking to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2050 (page 16).

This number is roughly equal to current spending on the military. Ryan has indicated that he does not want to see the military budget cut to any substantial degree. That leaves no money for the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, The Justice Department, infrastructure spending or anything else. Following Ryan’s plan, in 35 years we would have nothing left over after paying for the military.

Just to be clear, this was not some offhanded gaffe where Ryan might have misspoke. He supervised the CBO analysis. CBO doesn’t write-down numbers in a dark corner and then throw them up on their website to embarrass powerful members of Congress. As the document makes clear, they consulted with Ryan in writing the analysis to make sure that they were accurately capturing his program….

What percent even of elite educated policy types even know this fact? My guess is almost no one….

Unlike Democratic politicans and leaders of Democratic-aligned groups, guys like Ryan play the long game (as they did with ‘judicial activism‘, where it moved from a fringe, far-right Federalist Society concept into mainstream thought). Ryan is thinking long-term about how to bring about his Randian libertarian paradise by slowing squeezing the life out of the federal budget, while Democrats typically think we’re clever because we executed a short-term tactical maneuver.

And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t–and will not in the future–have nice things.

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