Paul Ryan’s Budgets

Paul Ryan, Republican representative from Wisconsin and the 2012 Republican candidate for vice president, is considering a run for president in 2016. Perhaps I should be happier about this, but I have some problems with Congressman Ryan…

I was pleased when Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate in 2012. It offset some of the concerns I had about Romney, who by that time we were sort of stuck with as our standard bearer. Ryan was likable, presented in his area of expertise (budgets) very well, was evidently highly concerned about the federal debt, and was highly regarded by many people. All positive signs.

Ryan’s reputation as a conservative was strong enough to bring out many voters for Romney/Ryan who wouldn’t have bothered for someone else. This was a faint echo of 2008, when the selection of Sarah Palin brought McCain’s campaign back from the dead. In both cases, the media attack machines engaged in earnest, but were unable to inflict the same level of damage on Ryan that they had famously done on Palin.1

Nevertheless, Ryan was disappointing during the VP debate. Not fatally so, but I expected more. And after the election, after Paul Ryan licked his wounds and became once more active as a representative and “the GOP budget guy.”

There are some key issues that make me very concerned about Paul Ryan, and all suggest that he has been co-opted by establishment Republicans and is aligned against Constitutional conservatives. All have to do with the economy and spending:


Obama is ignoring current laws on the books regarding immigration. They7 are inconvenient, or do not accomplish what he wants, so he feels free to make up new rules by executive order.

Thus, logically, for any “immigration reform” to have effect, it would have to do everything Obama wants to do. (The offerings from the GOP have been largely in that direction.) Also, while various sources (including the Congressional Budget Office) admit that the burden placed on Americans by illegal immigrants is large, Ryan thinks it is a benefit.

He has argued (including in his new book) that legalizing millions of illegal aliens would be good for the economy. He has also argued that immigration reform would restore the rule of law (as if President Obama was constrained by such notions).

Unsurprisingly, when the Washington Post reports on his position, they hit him from the left.

Appropriations Clause

The Constitution’s so-called Appropriations Clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 7) reads as follows:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

This has been used many times in the past in showdowns between the Executive branch and the House. If the president won’t talk to the Ho0use, the House can withhold funding for everything. When a compromise cannot be reached, the government can shut down, which happened several times under Reagan for example.

In practice, since this exempts “essential” services, only about 17% of the government gets shuts down. Obama took it upon himself to make that shutdown as painful as possible for Americans, a potentially impeachable offense. This scare tactic has evidently worked on Ryan; he has sworn not to use the power of the purse to force negotiations between the House and the president.

Thus, Ryan (like Boehner) has voluntarily given up on the only leverage the House has against overspending by the Executive branch. In fact, Ryan describes this strategy, which has been used successfully many times over decades, as “a suicide mission.

Appropriations and Obamacare

Similarly, Ryan has explicitly said that it was “not legitimate” to suggest that the House could withhold funding for Obamacare, as it was a settled law. Mark Levin took Ryan to task over this. Levin personally likes Ryan and has supported him in the past, but was vastly annoyed over Ryan’s remarks about Obamacare.

Ryan and Spending

While Paul Ryan has rolled out new budgets with spending cuts, he had an opportunity last December to put this concept to the test. But when he negotiated a deal with Patty Murray (D, Washington) he came up with a plan that dishonestly was called a  “spending cut” but was actually an increase.

He structured this as an immediate end to the Obama sequester, allowing more money to go to the Pentagon (and to hundreds of Democrat causes), but then reduced pensions paid to future veterans. There were no reductions to pensions in any other part of government.

How was it called a spending cut? Because it required a future Congress, years from now, to reduce spending — something they could override by simply passing a new budget in some intervening year. Ryan’s big hope was a reduction of spending equivalent to two days.

The sequester, as unpleasant as it was, was the only significant spending reduction accomplished in decades. Ryan killed it, raised taxes (called “fees” by him) and went after the veterans who served this country. Including wounded veterans.

He talks the conservative talk to get elected, but does not legislate  this way in practice.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

1. By coincidence, one problem thrown at Ryan in 2012 is one that I have as well. Despite my fierce opposition to excess federal spending, my “day job” involves helping clients apply to receive it. (I write grant applications, mostly in the fields of scientific research and medical work.) Ryan had much the same problem, but that did not bother me.

  • As an aside, you can have my book for the asking, as a PDF file if that works for you. Hopefully the plight of the unusual creatures involved in Age of Octans will strike a resonant chord. And tucked into it, in a chapter called “Sister Trick,” is my advice on keeping relationships healthy.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • I got a note from Col. North’s right-hand man last month, when I sent him a bit of poetry I contrived for Independence Day, and told him of my Lady’s passing:


    Of course I will give your poem to Ollie. He’ll be happy to read it, but sad to learn the news of Anne. She was a beautiful lady and I’m very sorry for your loss.

    I remember those cruises well – they were perhaps the most fun and memorable of the many that we have sponsored over the years and we were honored to have you and Anne sail with us.

    Please know that you and Anne are in my prayers as I ask that God’s peace be with her as she enjoys eternal rest in His glory.

    The poem mentioned is this one:

    And the events that resulted in her loss (and very nearly got me) are related here, with another bit of poetry tucked in:

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Rhonda Radandt

    I wish I could get all of these books! Yours and Lt. Col. Oliver North’s but my husband has all the credit cards (for good reason) as he is desperately trying to cover where my income paid the credit card bills. He works 3 jobs and we live paycheck to paycheck and are consider upper middle class! My bad for the credit card debt but I was paying it until I became disabled.

    Anyway, what you share with me here about Lt. Col. Oliver North makes me admire him even more. I remember when he was on trial and felt that he was being held out as the fall guy and I admired him during those inquisitions and he answered every question with honor, and dignity, and never pled the 5th like Lois Lerner has done. His has integrity like no other person in Washington, DC. If he were to run for any office, I imagine it would be a slam dunk win for him!

    I am happy to hear that he is doing what he can to pass on to another generation some of the experiences but what they really need is his mentorship so they can learn what integrity and honor and dignity is as they are on the endangered ‘species’ list or should be!

    I always love when I see him on Fox regardless of the reason or who has him on, I just want to hear what he has to say. He had a ready answer for solving the VA problem. No one listened. Well, someone came out with part of his concept and claimed it as their own. He won’t balk at it as long as the veterans are benefitting from it. He doesn’t care who gets the credit, he cares that the veterans are being taken care of! (As you’ve spoken of that he’s done on his own!)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with him. I really admire him and I’m glad to know that my admiration isn’t misplaced this time!

    Most sincerely,
    Rhonda aka nanarhonda

  • He is a man of deep faith, and runs a foundation that does two primary things: (1) Takes care of the families of wounded or killed veterans, and (2) Exposes young people to a week of mock basic training at real military bases.

    Those kids get to sit in or ride in fighter jets and other equipment, and the experience is an intense civic lesson. Many of the young people have come back and joined the military later.

    “I had no idea he had been paralyzed from the waist down! Amazing! He has to be a man of faith as well.” I highly recommend his book Under Fire, in which he talks about all of this as well as Iran-Contra and Viet Nam and Okinawa and Iran and his experiences trying to free our hostages from their Lebanese Hezbollah captors.

    Note that we did not “negotiate with terrorists,” (Obama was the first) and had no contact with Hezbollah. But Iran had moderate elements still in its government, and had some influence with Hezbollah, so we encouraged them to talk to their buddies in Lebanon. We got a few out, but media attention put an end to that operation.

    Ollie worked with the Drug Enforcement Agency to capture a few drug runners along the way — he is vehemently anti-drug — so it was particularly annoying to have the media portray him as a drug dealer/drug runner. Any fabricated story as long as it made him look bad.

    But the American people watched him every day in the Congressional “kangaroo-court” hearings, and Americans figured things out. He received more than a million pieces of fan mail.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Rhonda Radandt

    I am glad to hear this! I have the utmost respect for Lt. Col. Oliver North. I believe he was the ‘fall guy’ for the Iran-Contra crap. He is smart, has a lot to offer, and I loved his answer to fixing the VA problem! I wish they would just listen to him and do it! You have rubbed elbows with a lot of high ranking people! I admire that as you are very humble about it. I am so glad that we are friends and I am getting to know you more! Thank you for sharing that! I had no idea he had been paralyzed from the waist down! Amazing! He has to be a man of faith as well! He has so much more character, honor, dignity, respectability, and did I mention honor? LOL I highly regard him and am glad to know that you do too!

    He is often on Fox News and I love to see him and hear what he has to say. Too bad that those in Washington are not listening.

    Blessings, Keith!
    Rhonda aka nanarhonda

  • “Do you have negative feelings towards Lt. Col. Oliver North?”

    Absolutely not. I am endlessly impressed by him. A car accident when he was a young Marine recruit left him paralyzed from the waist down — but he was determined not to quit, and two years later, he was a Marine boxing champion. This got him permission to continue his training.

    His service to his country is extraordinary in multiple theaters, and perhaps 99% of folks have the whole “Iran-Contra” story entirely wrong.

    I think he’s served more tours (as embedded reporter) in Iraq and Afghanistan than anyone else on the planet. It is 50+ at last count, and when we met he had just come back from Iraq and had a trunk full of combat and camo gear he’d worn in the desert for about three weeks straight. I watched the cabin steward as he opened this trunk: It would be fair to say that the clothes needed washing.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Rhonda Radandt

    I’m sorry that our leaders let us down. Do you have negative feelings towards Lt. Col. Oliver North? I happen to admire him. I will most definitely retype the letter that I get from him as it will come in a letter format. I pray that it IS from him and not a form letter or from a staff member. Being that he is my Congressman, he should respond himself, IMO. Thank you, Keith. I appreciate what you have written, even as much as it hurts. I hope you get his book. My husband will never let me get it so you’ll have to let me know what’s in it!

  • Rhonda Radandt

    Giving credit where credit is due, Keith. As I stated in my email to him, I respect you as well. Thank you for the compliment as I don’t often get my thoughts out into words the way I want to.

  • Thank you for the kind words, by the way. And this was a nicely crafted paragraph:
    “Because you are my Congressman, I asked for proof that you have fallen
    into the political machine and away from the Conservative values,
    smaller government, less taxes, more empowerment for the people like our
    forefathers meant for us in the Constitution.”

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Dear Rhonda,

    Should Representative Ryan respond, I’d be very keen to see what he has to say. I might get his book, as that will be the clearest statement of policy and principles. Off-the-cuff remarks are always “possible” indicators, not reliable channel markers. People say things that don’t come out right all the time.

    But I was not happy to break this “news,” as you were/are fond of the man, and I was too. I suspect your feelings are much as mine were when Newt Gingrich came out in favor of “government action to address climate change” and “cap and trade” (coupled with government incentives, i.e. Solyndra deals).

    An informal debate was arranged between me and Newt Gingrich on the topic, but he declined and left the room, leaving me to talk to a couple of hundred political conservative leaders and activists on my own, with no materials with me at all.

    I roped conservative talk-show host Phil Kent into helping, but it was mostly me talking for an hour-plus. I was very gratified by the response from the audience, which included members of Bush’s staff, the leaders of the American Conservative Union and the NRA, and such luminaries as Atty General Edwin Meese. He was very gracious, describing my talk as the clearest presentation he’d seen on global warming, and he’d seen many. (Yes, I am guilty of that “pride” thing again. General Meese’s Heritage Guide to the Constitution is excellent, and I got my copy signed on that trip.)

    A few days later, at a dinner with Newt and LtCol Oliver North, Newt jokingly complained about my wordplay (“bad puns” as he put it). But there was also a discussion about me being the official poet of the upcoming Gingrich for President campaign:

    He’s hooking a thumb at me in mock complaint. By this moment, my Lady Anne had gone off chatting with Callista (who is an opera-quality singer, I learned) and Betsy North was unable to make the trip. This took place over 11 days in the Mediterranean, a wonderful experience for my Lady and me. We’d planned to do it again later this year, but that was not to be.

    I still like Newt personally, and am impressed by many aspects of his abilities and history even if I disagree with some of his policy positions. He, too, has become an “establishment Republican.”

    Good luck with Mr. Ryan.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Rhonda Radandt

    Thank you, Keith. Here is what I emailed him. Below this is what I copied and pasted from your site here, minus the comments. I want to keep this as open as possible. I know that he will likely not respond by email, but I will receive a letter in the mail. When I do, I will share that with you. Here is what I sent via email:

    Dear Congressman Ryan,

    I have always held you in such high regard. I have defended you as ferociously as I could in many occasions.

    Because you are my Congressman, I asked for proof that you have fallen into the political machine and away from the Conservative values, smaller government, less taxes, more empowerment for the people like our forefathers meant for us in the Constitution.

    You will find below the response from the man who is very knowledgeable about the government as he has been involved for decades whom I also have a lot of respect for. I have to tell you that after reading his assessment, I was heartbroken. I await your response. I hold out hope that the one man that I thought was in Washington that had integrity, honor, and the best interest of We, the People, was Congressman Paul Ryan. Please, I ask that you personally respond and not have some form letter sent to me as it means nothing if it isn’t directly from you.

    Most sincerely and hopeful,

    Mrs. Rhonda Radandt

  • You certainly may. And welcome, by the way.

    The LiveJournal version of this is where most of the comments happen:

    Best wishes!

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • Rhonda Radandt

    Keith, can I copy and paste this to email it to Congressman Paul Ryan for a response from him? He is my Congressman so I would hope to receive a response. If I do, I will share it with you.

    Thank you for posting this. I am very disappointed to ‘hear’ this. I would like for him to respond.

    Rhonda aka nanarhonda