Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Should Senate Respond to the House Republican Recalcitrance over the Budget Negotiation Deal?

Keyword or Terms: Budget puzzle; Negotiations; Comprehensive Approach; Ryan’s Plan; Political suicide; Tax Cut; Health Care Spending; Fairness Issues; Incentives; Experience Matters

“How Did We Get Here?”

Federal Budget Negotiations continue to experience significant disagreements between House Republicans, the White House and Senate Leaders. House Republicans continue to perpetrate a position of recalcitrance based on philosophy or associated ideology of their party; and, an unyielding conviction that if Democrats in Senate are not buying into their proposed cuts or similar proposals sent to them in the past five months, further negotiations on the issues of the budget, including the size of cuts acceptable to all parties, are out of place or uncalled for.

Listening to Tea Partier, House Congressional lawmaker, Chairman of House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan respond to inquiries from an AP Reporter regarding his plan for cutting the Federal budgets now or in the long term, gives you a better appreciation of where the Republicans, or some of their die-hard Tea Party members, are coming from on this debate. Here verbatim are the question from AP reporter and the response from Representative Paul Ryan:

AP REPORTER: What do you say to nervous Republicans who say this is a political kamikaze mission, that you've just given Democrats a big target that may ultimately cost Republicans their majority here?

RYAN: You know, none of them say that. Just kidding (laughs all around, some of them nervous from GOP lawmakers in the room.) You know, Jonathan, you look these people, these new people who just got here. None of them came here for a political career. They came here for a cause. This is not a budget, this is a cause. And, look, we can all go do something else with our lives. We're just not here so we can get this lapel pin that says we're a member of Congress. We're here to try and fix this country's problems. If that means we have to go first and offer solutions, fine. It that means we're giving our political adversaries a political weapon to use against us, which by the way they will have to distort, demagogue and lie to use it, shame on them. We owe it to the country to give them an honest debate."

You get a feeling from what transpired between these men, that it is either one is genuinely concerned about what the net impact of the plan offered on the masses and probably the political credibility of Republicans on this one, considering that the Tea Partier are advocating that they are on a cause, not developing and passing a budget; or, Representative Paul Ryan believe he and his Tea Partners have got the silver bullet to solve all the budget issues before congress. Further, you doubly get the feeling that you are dealing with ideologues, who are advocating conflicting positions or arguments. In addition, at the back of your mind, you want to believe that you are not dealing with a congressman and his Tea Party cohorts, who hardly understand how congressional negotiations and politics play out.

How many leading politician, Republican or Democrat, with some ample experience on federal budget negotiations, is willing to commit political suicide? How many of them are willing to stick out their necks and genuinely say they do not care about what the public thinks about their position on an issue of the federal budget compromises and tradeoffs, if in fact these people understand why they are in congress today. Not surprising, after hearing the response from Mr. Ryan, two seasoned politicians, one Republican and the other Democrat, released the following statements: “While we are encouraged that Chairman Ryan has come forward with a serious plan, we are concerned that it falls short of the balanced, comprehensive approach needed to achieve the broad bipartisan agreement necessary to enact a responsible plan." The Republican in this instance is the former Senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, and the Democrat, the former Clinton White House Chief of Staff, Erskine Bowles. These two men have gone into budget battles in the past and understand the pains of their bruises. They are unlikely to keep some of their reservations under their tongue just to get a sound bite or a recognition. This is why their assessments of Representative Ryan's plan, is worthy of an accolade, if not a complete appreciation in the traffic of the ongoing debates.

“Fairness Issues”

To opponents of Ryan’s proposal, it is neither fair to cut tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent for either corporation or individual, while federal spending on health programs is disproportionately slashed and income brackets reduced to the benefit of the wealthy; majority of whom donate to the Republicans. Many objective people argue that if we are going to have a plan, particularly if the plan is to address those thorny issues that have set us apart, we must address all sectors of the budget equally, tax cut and revenues, into to. Just as we are cutting social welfare programs, we must be increasing federal revenue intakes; which means some taxes, an area the Republicans are not willing to go to. We cannot be cutting Medicare and rail roading Medicaid to the state, while giving the rich huge tax breaks that they have not asked for and hardly need.

Supporters of Representative Ryan’s plan may see a lot of good in his proposal, however, opponents like New York Senator Schumer, chastised the plan as extreme and draconian. Furthermore, a case can be made that balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and disadvantaged among us, is close to being callous and inhumane. Ryan’s proposal would not only create an environment where state governors can abuse grants on Medicaid sent to states, if it ever comes to pass, but also disadvantage seniors with respect to insurance costs and out of pocket payment to continue to receive needed or additional care, away from the provision that the new Medicare contemplated by Representative Paul Ryan, would look like.

To address the concerns of critics of Representative Ryan’s plan, we, Republicans and Democrats, must work on a compromise, that gives everyone a fair shake in the long work of attempting to launch an equinoctial federal budget and cutting down on our national debt or deficit. Deceptive grandstanding in front of the media is not the answer; it is part of the problem. To address the concerns about fairness to everyone, trumpeting one’s plan as the only way, the lone way, to resolve the grid lock in congress, is not a prudent direction.


Another challenge of Ryan’s plan is that it is attempting to replace traditional Medicare with private health plans, in an effort to reduce cost. While the grand objective of reducing costs seems worthy, it is probably going to create a bigger problem, not only for the already passed Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act, but also, for the reformed health care delivery to the millions of disadvantaged Americans among us. While many of Representative Ryan’s cohort in the Tea party continue to flex their muscle as if they are the new thing to come next after rice crispy, apprehensive Democrats, including the White House and Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, advocate for bipartisan agreement. It is better to work within an atmosphere of compromise rather than one of going it alone and seeking unnecessary attention. House Speaker Boehner is an experienced hand, who has fought budget wars before and understands the challenges of the headaches of recalcitrance or intransigence. He is not advocated bipartisan and compromise because he likes the position of the Democrats, rather, he is conscious of the challenges of not working out a plan that is both acceptable in the house and senate and probably, safe from the veto pen of the President.

"Experience Matters"

If Wall Street, out of greed, cannot save the housing and finance sector, with the prevalent fraudulence found in insurance business, how then does the Ryan’s group or the Tea Partier, anticipate that private insurance can fix Medicare. Has Mr. Ryan forgotten how the derivative products in the housing sector due to deregulation, turned to a fiasco that nearly brought down the economy? Can Representative Ryan stand to be turned down in his old age while he wastes away in a nursing home by a private insurance, for a lifesaving treatment that his doctor recommends? Is he willing to put his faith in private insurance brokers to determine what type of treatment he must have and which, he can’t because of the type of health insurance he carries? Mr. Ryan’s plan is a non-starter, neither is it anything to give a second thought; in reality, some of us believe it is an attempt to undermine the Affordable Health Care Reform Law passed last year and sell the public once again to the insurance industry.

Many experienced hands in congress see the folly in Representative Ryan’s and Tea Party proposal and out of concern, are calling on Republicans to once again, rain in the excesses or extremism in their party. We are talking about people’s life and welfare here, not political cheap shot and opportunity to win next elections!

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