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Wineke: Paul Ryan and the debt limit

Published On: Feb 13 2014 08:14:48 PM CST

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington

I guess we should be grateful for small things, and I am once again grateful that this nation has decided not to default on its debts.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have voted to increase the country’s debt limit so the treasury can borrow money to pay our bills. If they hadn’t done that, the economists warn that the entire world economy could be thrown to the winds. That would probably not be a good thing.

A couple of things do trouble me, however.

One is that almost no Republicans in the House voted for the increase. If it weren’t for the fact that an overwhelming majority of Democrats voted to increase the debt limit, we would be toast.

House Speaker John Boehner said that is because it is the president’s debt, so Republicans have no responsibility to stand behind it.

Which is, of course, nonsense. It’s America’s debt. Our elected representatives, Democrats and Republicans, voted to spend more money than we take in.

And Republicans control the House of Representatives. If they didn’t want to spend more than we take in, they could have voted for a smaller spending budget or to increase tax revenue.

Here’s the other thing that troubles me: The guy who was responsible for crafting the budget that spends more than it takes in is Rep. Paul Ryan, the Janesville Republican who was his party’s candidate for vice president last year.

Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington worked out a compromise and got it passed. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

But when it came time to vote to increase the debt limit in order to pay for the budget he had just crafted, Ryan voted “no.”

In other words, Ryan was willing to let the nation default on its debts for the first time in history because he wasn’t willing to pay the debts that he, more than anyone else, had just incurred. To be sure, Ryan knew the bill would pass without his vote, but he is a guy with national aspirations for leadership.

He shouldn’t act like a clown just because he can.

But it does seem typical of the way the Republican legislators seem to work these days.

The only thing they seem able to agree on is that they hate President Obama and have total contempt for that portion of the American public that isn’t rich.

I admit that it appears to be a winning strategy. The Republicans keep getting elected.

But I have no idea why people like Ryan want to go through all the grief of running for office and working long hours away from their families and, yet, don’t seem to want to accomplish anything more positive than keeping the poor in their place and trashing the reputation of the president.

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