Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asleep At The Wheel

It should be no surprise to anyone that most of the political establishment - including the media - is still freaking out about the choice of Paul Ryan for the Vice Presidential slot on the Republican ticket.

For our e-mail edition, in the last two days alone, we've collected almost double the number of stories about Paul Ryan that we've published. We've also published nearly twice as many links relating to Rep. Ryan as we have of all other categories of story combined.

In short, there are a huge number of stories in the media about V.P. Nominee Ryan. However, it isn't just because he stands out as a fit, trim, unusually friendly member of a Congress that's still made up mostly of fat, doughy, old white men. If his looks honestly translated to action, Mr. Ryan would be the younger man sparking the engine of Congress to get as many common goals accomplished as possible.

In reality, Ryan's extremist, rigidly partisan ideologies have been a driving factor for Congress remaining asleep at the wheel.

The Farm Bill is a perfect example of this.

As President Obama noted at his campaign stop in Council Bluffs this week, Paul Ryan - who was a major player with serious clout in the House, even before becoming the VP nominee - caused a serious problem with the passage of the Farm Bill this past spring.

When Republicans chose to introduce the most recent version of the Ryan Budget as their official budget proposal in March, other members of the House immediately noted that a Farm Bill would not pass before the fall election cycle. The reason was simple: the cuts proposed in the Ryan budget were so draconian, even Republicans could not agree on whose metaphorical ox would be gored.

Tea Party conservatives were pitted against moderates, while rural and urban republicans saw the commodity programs and subsidies to each other's favored programs as fat, and their own favored programs and subsidies as meat. Even farmers of different kinds of crops were fighting amongst themselves. As ag consultant and writer Burleigh Leonard said in The Hill back in July, "The Speaker’s caucus is split six ways from Sunday on the farm bill."

If Paul Ryan had been the kind of House Republican leader many Americans remember from the "old days", Ryan might have been able to twist arms, make deals, and bend his GOP colleagues to a compromise Farm Bill like that achieved in the Senate in June.

The Senate's bill had some serious cuts, and even saved $23 billion over the next decade - but House Republican leaders like Paul Ryan could not rouse their colleagues to action. So the deadline for passing a Farm Bill came and went, and the farmers continue to suffer.

The House Republicans could have done their jobs. They could have been LEADERS.

Instead, President Obama once again was forced to take executive action and put together a $170 million dollar emergency aid package for drought affected farmers and ranchers, as he did in Council Bluffs on Monday.

Congress has been asleep at the wheel since the Tea Party Republicans took over - and their record low approval rating proves it. Representative - now Vice Presidential Nominee - Paul Ryan should have wakened them from their slumber to generate some true bipartisan success.

If he was a real leader, he would have already done so. But alas, he's only Mitt Romney's running mate.

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