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Paul Ryan’s illusory boast

In an interview on MSNBC, Paul Ryan blasted Marco Rubio for opposing the Murray-Ryan budget deal before reading it. Ryan’s criticism is largely specious.

Where, as here, a legislator deals in secret and then hopes to ram the product through Congress before opposition has a chance to jell, the natural response by potential opponents is to gather as much information as possible about the bargain before it is sprung. If the information gathered provides a reliable basis for criticizing the deal in advance, then the criticism should be lodged in advance.

If the final product obviates the criticism, the dealmakers can point this out. The critics will then look foolish. But to denounce the criticism as premature once the final compromise has been announced makes Ryan look foolish, at least to me.

I want to focus, though, on this comment by Ryan from the same interview: “Look, in the (Republican Senate) minority, you don’t have the burden of governing.”

Is Ryan delusional? He and his fellow Republican House leaders don’t have “the burden of governing.” Passing legislation that never sees the light of day in the Senate isn’t governing.

The Republican House majority has little more power than the Republican Senate minority. Both can block legislation, at least under current rules. Alternatively, both can reach across the aisle and work with Democrats on a given matter. Neither can govern.

Ryan and Rubio both have reached across the aisle on major matters — Rubio on immigration reform and Ryan on the budget. Ryan’s effort in this regard is considerably less objectionable than Rubio’s, but nothing to write home about. And word is that Ryan favors amnesty-style immigration reform not unlike Rubio’s.

In any event, Ryan’s illusory claim that he carries the burden of governing raises the concern that he may be too willing to yield ground in order to maintain his illusion.

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