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December 17, 2013
The Dismal Science
Saving Private Ryan
by Adam Smith

In the Army, the worst, dirtiest, and most dangerous jobs go to the privates. Peeling some potatoes, digging some holes for latrines, or hand to hand combat with the enemy, the privates never get the glamorous jobs.

The name “private” is synonymous with doing the dirty work. That is what made the movie Saving Private Ryan so ironic. So much effort for a dogface.

In Washington D.C., there is a Ryan doing all the dirty work. Paul Ryan is a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, and he recently, along with Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington), put a federal budget together that will fund the government for the next two years. The federal government may actually have a budget!

Although some Democrats may not like the agreement, it is the right wing party of the Republicans that is most vocal about the new budget deal. Ryan is a traitor. Ryan just killed his hopes to run for president in the future. Ryan is a RINO.

Is the agreement good for the economy?

First, the economy hates, hates, hates, uncertainty. There is no doubt that the uncertainty caused by Obamacare has been a drag on the economy. A government that constantly creates doubt about whether a budget will be passed, whether there will be more cuts in spending, whether deficit spending is going to skyrocket again, is not good for the economy.

This agreement finally creates some confidence that the government is not going to jerk around demand for the next two years. This is good.

The agreement keeps most of the sequester cuts except for some increase in military spending and a corresponding increase in domestic spending. These increases total about $36 billion dollars. That is about 1% of the total budget.

There is no doubt that there are areas in the federal government that could be trimmed (Dept. of Education, Dept. of Energy) but those cuts are not remotely possible with the current makeup of Congress. These increases, while not optimal, do address some pressing needs in the military and not at a ridiculous cost. This is a minor bad.

The agreement does, in a small way, work on decreasing the future payouts of entitlements. This is a big step forward. If we have learned one thing from the enactment of Obamacare (and there are so many more than one thing) it is that huge, unwieldy pieces of legislation can be hard to implement, hard to regulate, and can hurt many of the people it is trying to help.

Almost everybody (excepting a few on the fringe left) understands that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will have to be reformed or they will bankrupt the country. This agreement allows for a first step in the reformation of entitlements.

It is small, incremental changes to entitlements that will allow the entitlements to last long into the future and temper the unintended consequences on people. Small cuts but also, in my mind, symbolic ones. This is good.

This agreement shows that thinking Democrats and Republicans can come together and pass a serious piece of economic legislation. Keeping legislators like Ted Cruz, Harry, Reid, and the president out of the process obviously helped. This is good.

Paul Ryan is the only person in America that annually produces a document that shows a path to financial stability for the country. But far from being an ideologue, he understands what he can gain in the current environment and what the current economy can withstand.

Major slashing cuts to government spending would not be helpful right now to the economy. Calm consistency would be a wonderful reprieve. The current administration would do well to rein in out-of-control departments and agencies that keep changing the rules for business through issuances of regulations.

Paul Ryan is doing all of the dirty work to keep the government functioning and helping the economy. Those on the far right attacking Ryan sound like my three-year-old son when he did not get his way and throwing a tantrum (only a couple of decades passing make those tantrums now humorous).

In a way, the far right tantrum is predictable considering it is directed at one of the few adults in D.C. I hope all of us work on saving our Private Paul Ryan and those like him in Washington D.C. We need adults. The 20 million still looking for work depend on it.


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