74° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Wineke: Paul Ryan and the debt limit

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
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.

  • iOS 8

    From Apple

    Best new Apple iOS 8 features

    Apple's iOS 8 is here, and it's packed with slick new features. Take a look at some of the best changes to the latest version of the popular mobile operating system.

  • Testing for Ebola

    REUTERS/Misha Hussain

    Common myths about Ebola

    At least eight Ebola aid workers and journalists were reportedly murdered in a remote village in Guinea in a brutal example of growing distrust locals have of foreigners coming to help stem the mushrooming health crisis. Take a look at common myths about the deadly virus.

  • Police lights file 2

    Ridiculous 911 calls

    Have you ever considered calling 911 because of a massive spider in your house? How about because a McDonald's employee got your order wrong? Take a look at some of the strangest reasons people have recently called 911.


    Events calendar

    Looking for something to do? Visit Channel 3000's events section featuring dining, food, music and family-friendly events throughout Madison and the surrounding area.

  • Get your weather app and WISC-TV3 deliver local forecasts, live radar, school closings and alerts for Madison and South Central Wisconsin to iOS or Android devices.

  • Learn more about WISC-TV

    Meet the News 3 staff, learn about our newscasts, search our job postings and find out how to contact us.