Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ryan’s Convenient Conversion on a Loser Issue

We all know that Congressman Paul Ryan never gave a hoot about spending and deficits when someone from his party occupied the White House. It is a well known fact that in his first eight years in Congress, he voted in favor of every single federal budget-joining the then-Republican majority in increasing the federal budget by $1 trillion. Now that his party has lost the White House and Congress, he suddenly had a convenient conversion in the areas of spending, budgets and deficits. Unfortunately for him, during a time of such hardship, that is not the issue that is resonating with voters most.

A new poll released by the Pew Research Center confirms the priorities of most people in the country. It found that spending more to address the health care crisis was a high priority (59 percent) as compared to reducing the deficit (35 percent). Similarly, spending more to improve education was listed as a higher priority (58 percent) as compared to reducing the deficit (38 percent). Although it was much closer, more people said that developing new energy technology should be a higher priority (49 percent) than reducing the deficit (45 percent). That is particularly interesting since we are paying about 2 bucks a gallon as opposed to the 4 that we were paying not that long ago. If the price went back up to those levels developing new energy technology would be a much higher priority.

As it happens, all of these are areas that President Obama is trying to address. I know that the Republican Party is in the middle of an identity crisis but it may be ill advised for people like Paul Ryan to make their biggest issue, the one that consistently lags behind the others. The kicker to this whole thing, is that even though the GOP has suddenly become deficit hawks, the majority of the public still trusts the President to both improve our economy (66 percent) AND reduce the budget deficit (54 percent)!

Paul Ryan and Company can continue to trot out budgets without numbers and make believe graphs, but that is not going to help them when they are constantly obstructing an agenda that the vast majority of Americans clearly support.

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