Conservatives Slam Ryan Budget Deal: Our Leverage Is Gone

December 12, 2013 - 4:39 PM

Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Conservatives are savaging the budget deal negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that increases federal expenditures by $63 billion during the next two years, breaching the $967 billion spending limit set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), in exchange for future deficit cuts totaling $23 billion.

“This deal is a step in the wrong direction. There’s no doubt about that,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler told CNSNews.com. “I’m not sure there’s anything in this bill for conservatives to like.

“The Democrats should have been forced to live with sequestration levels. Republicans missed a huge opportunity to bring Democrats to the table to talk about major entitlement reform,” Holler said, adding that the Ryan deal “takes away one of the only pieces of leverage the Republicans had over President Obama and the Democrats. That leverage is now gone.”

“I just don’t get it,” agreed Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. “Why would you exchange real spending restraint for nothing?”

“The most important thing – the most devastating thing – is that this deal blows the sequester caps. This is the one and only victory the GOP has had in restoring fiscal responsibility. It was a meek victory, but a victory nonetheless,” she said.

“I think Paul Ryan thought it was more important to avoid a battle over the CR [Continuing Resolution], but if they can’t keep in place the sequester cuts, which are minor, how can we believe that first, they will actually go back and implement these cuts, starting in 2016; and second, that they can actually do the work that has to be done to reform entitlements in the future, which should be everybody’s highest priority?”

“It does raise the question of why on earth we should believe Republicans ever again,” de Rugy added.

That sentiment was echoed by Steven Stanek, a research fellow in budget and tax policy at the Heartland Institute, who noted that “no Congress can force a future Congress to do anything, so all we know for sure is that we’ll soon see higher government spending. Considering the dismal history of promises of future fiscal restraint, it’s a safe bet the promised long-term deficit reductions will never happen.”

“There’s very little in the budget deal for taxpayers,” Brandon Arnold, vice president of government affairs at the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), told CNSNews.com. “There is a lot of spending at the beginning, but the promised cuts will not occur until the very end, in years nine and 10.

“Congress has lost a ton of credibility after making a promise to cut spending just two years ago,” Arnold said. “Now they’re promising to cut it nine years from now. That’s a hard pill to swallow. It would have been far preferable for them to do nothing, maintain the status quo and keep the BCA sequester in place.”

Christine Harbin Hanson, federal affairs manager at Americans for Prosperity (AFP), also took issue with Ryan’s assurances that the deal he negotiated does not raise taxes.

“One of our biggest concerns is that this is a massive increase in spending and uses a number of revenue raisers such as aviation fees and also shifting Medicare spending caps into the future,” Hanson told CNSNews.com. “These are really a fee in name only.

“Americans for Prosperity is broadly supportive of things like using transportation fees if they’re offset by decreases in spending elsewhere. But these aviation fees are not going into a specific reinvestment area to improve our infrastructure. Instead, they will be used to fuel spending elsewhere in government. If it looks and smells like a tax, it is a tax.”