House GOP’s Debt Limit Plan Is Slap in the Face to Paul Ryan

Republicans agreed Monday night to overturn a Ryan provision in exchange for a debt-ceiling vote.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sarah Mimms
Feb. 10, 2014, 1:16 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans agreed on a plan Monday to in­crease the debt ceil­ing, weeks be­fore Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew has in­dic­ated the U.S. will de­fault. The pro­pos­al is likely to earn the back­ing of a bi­par­tis­an group of mem­bers and pass the House eas­ily on Wed­nes­day.

But in all of the back-slap­ping over House Re­pub­lic­ans’ avoid­ing an­oth­er last-minute battle over the na­tion’s fin­ances, one clear loser stands out: Rep. Paul Ry­an.

To get an agree­ment that would at­tract their own mem­bers and Demo­crats alike, House Re­pub­lic­ans threw one of their own un­der the bus just two months after he ac­cep­ted con­grat­u­la­tions along­side Sen. Patty Mur­ray as the two who beat the odds and not only for­mu­lated — but passed — a two-year budget deal in one of the most in­tract­able Con­gresses in memory.

House Re­pub­lic­ans agreed to their plan to raise the debt lim­it Monday even­ing, adding it to le­gis­la­tion that would re­peal cuts to re­tired mil­it­ary per­son­nel’s pen­sion plans, says Rep. Den­nis Ross of Flor­ida. Ry­an spe­cific­ally pushed for those cuts in his ne­go­ti­ations with Mur­ray late last year. That re­peal will be paid for by ex­tend­ing se­quest­ra­tion for man­dat­ory spend­ing by one year. That ex­ten­sion won’t come for 10 years.

Ross said GOP re­ac­tion to the plan was “mixed.” The pro­pos­al does not have the sup­port of the full Re­pub­lic­an caucus, ac­cord­ing to sev­er­al oth­er GOP law­makers, but lead­er­ship will whip Monday night to find out where they stand.

Asked about the plan Monday night, Paul Ry­an re­peatedly said, “I’ve got noth­ing for you.”

Ry­an, who has cham­pioned en­ti­tle­ment re­form since tak­ing over the chair­man­ship of the House Budget Com­mit­tee, pushed hard for the cuts dur­ing the budget ne­go­ti­ations, know­ing he wouldn’t be able to get a lar­ger en­ti­tle­ment over­haul past the Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate.

But the piece­meal ap­proach to the over­haul of mil­it­ary pen­sions alone, which does not even take ef­fect un­til the end of 2015, has proven to be a pop­u­lar tar­get.

Neither party seemed thrilled with the cuts in the first place, and sev­er­al mem­bers of both parties cited the COLA changes in their de­cision to op­pose the budget deal in Decem­ber. The cuts have also been the tar­get of sev­er­al bills in the Sen­ate over the last few weeks. In fact, at the time House Re­pub­lic­ans were pitch­ing their plan to mem­ber­ship, the Sen­ate voted to in­voke clo­ture on a bill that would re­verse the cuts.

Mur­ray was quick to dis­tance her­self from the cuts, push­ing le­gis­la­tion that would re­verse the cuts for dis­abled vet­er­ans and those re­ceiv­ing sur­viv­ors’ be­ne­fits. Ry­an sup­por­ted the lat­ter move, but has held fast to his be­lief that the cuts are just the first step in a much longer, and ne­ces­sary, pro­cess of over­haul­ing the mil­it­ary pen­sion sys­tem as a whole, not­ing that pay­ments to re­tir­ees rose nearly 50 per­cent between fisc­al 2002 and fisc­al 2012.

Ry­an has noted that he is open to oth­er op­tions — as long as they are paid for and deal with the lar­ger is­sue of a bal­loon­ing sys­tem. Con­gress formed a com­mis­sion in 2012 that will re­lease its re­com­mend­a­tions for a more com­plete over­haul in early 2015.

“I stand be­hind the need for re­form.”¦ For me, there’s simply no choice between re­spons­ible re­forms of mil­it­ary com­pens­a­tion and mak­ing what our mil­it­ary lead­er­ship has called ‘dis­pro­por­tion­ate cuts to mil­it­ary read­i­ness and mod­ern­iz­a­tion.’ Every time we kick the can down the road, we put our troops’ com­bat read­i­ness at risk,” Ry­an wrote in a USA Today op-ed. “This agree­ment put for­ward one re­form op­tion, and I in­vite oth­ers to do the same.”

But Monday’s debt-lim­it agree­ment is hardly the kind of re­form plan Ry­an was look­ing for. It rolls back the cuts without provid­ing any pro­pos­als for fu­ture al­ter­a­tions to the pen­sion pro­gram.

In one sense, House lead­er­ship’s cal­cu­lus is simple: A small, but sig­ni­fic­ant, force of con­ser­vat­ives will not sup­port a debt hike without ma­jor con­ces­sions, and they’re un­likely to get them. Rep. John Flem­ing, a mem­ber of the Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee, es­tim­ated that 40 Re­pub­lic­ans are in that camp and would op­pose any of the debt-ceil­ing op­tions lead­er­ship is con­sid­er­ing. It’s a simple equa­tion — Speak­er John Boehner had to put something on the floor that will at­tract Demo­crats.

A res­tor­a­tion of the COLA cuts could cer­tainly do that, and bring in a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­an votes as well. Those in the House ma­jor­ity who are forced to vote for the debt ceil­ing hike will be able to go home to their con­stitu­ents with the mes­sage that they voted to re­store fund­ing for our vet­er­ans.

However, the pro­pos­al does little for the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence, which ini­tially called for spend­ing cuts in ex­change for rais­ing the debt lim­it. Rather than re­du­cing the de­fi­cit, re­vers­ing the mil­it­ary pen­sion cuts will ac­tu­ally cost $6 bil­lion through 2025. Even if Re­pub­lic­ans man­age to find a suit­able pay-for, the fix will have a neut­ral ef­fect.

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
4 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login