Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

Romney is even bolder and smarter than Reagan

Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan, the bold chairman of the House Budget Committee and a young rising star of the GOP, to be his running mate.

This means that Romney is even bolder and smarter than Ronald Reagan (no offense to the late 40th President intended; he’s my greatest political hero and one of the greatest US presidents ever).

Ronald Reagan was a great, bold, and smart president, but he did make a few mistakes, and arguably the most fatal one was to choose George H.W. Bush as his running mate, a decision that cost the GOP dearly in the 1990s and 2000s.

To find out why, let’s first recount the circumstances under which it was made. In 1980, during the Republican National Convention in Detroit, after Reagan had been nominated, he still had to choose his running mate and announce his name to the world.

The GOP establishment dearly wanted a RINO like Gerald Ford or Daddy Bush to be selected. They even threatened Reagan with withholding any support from him, including money from the GOP’s whale donors, unless Reagan would pick one of these RINOs.

Ed Rollins, who was a very close aid of Reagan’s at the time and would later chair Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign, narrates what happened:

“The short list for VP was down to Paul Laxalt, Jack Kemp, George Bush, Howard Baker — and heaven help us — Jerry Ford.

Reagan’s personal A-list included just Laxalt and Kemp….”

(Paul Laxalt is, of course, a former Governor of and Senator from Nevada, California’s eastern neighbor. He served as Governor in Carson City while Reagan run things in Sacramento; was a staunch conservative except on the issue of the MX missile; and he was a longtime trusted friend of Reagan’s.)

After noting that both Laxalt and Kemp would’ve made “superb vice presidents”, with Rollins specifically calling Kemp “the bridge to the next generation of conservatives”, Rollins goes on to say that:

“As usual, Reagan’s instincts were better than anyone else’s. I’d later learn that he didn’t always rely on those instincts. He’d fight like hell for the big things, but give in on the little ones. What he didn’t realize that night at the convention was that nothing was bigger than the choice he’d make in the next few hours. He let his handlers roll him on Laxalt and Kemp.”

So in the end, Ronald Reagan caved in to the GOP Establishment and chose Daddy Bush.

The decision had disastrous, though long-term, consequences for the Republican Party. Daddy Bush rode Ronald Reagan’s coattails to the White House in 1988, then impleneted liberal policies and broke his No New Taxes Pledge, and was unceremoniously booted out of the White House just four years later, crawling out of DC with just 39% of the popular vote. A party that stood at the height of its popularity and power in the 1980s was now out of the wilderness thanks to Bush and Republicans like him, with the Democrats controlling the White House, the House, and the Senate.

Eight years later, Bush’s son (who would’ve been a nobody if his daddy hadn’t been President) barely won the election by a smidgen, barely won reelection in 2004, and ruined the GOP’s reputation with his Big Government domestic policies and with the Iraq war that by 2005 began to become more and more unpopular. The  GOP, thanks to him, lost the Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. As a result, Barack Obama is now President.

These were the long-term disastrous consequences of choosing Daddy Bush as the VP candidate in 1980. Of course, Roanald Reagan could not have foreseen them. No one could have. But Ronald Reagan should have known that a RINO like Daddy Bush would’ve meant trouble sooner or later. He should’ve listened to his political instincts, which were sound.

But Mitt Romney has made a better decision.

Like Reagan, Romney is the underdog in a battle to unseat an incumbent, failed, extremely liberal Demoratic President, and is trailing him in the polls (although only by small margins). And like Reagan, Romney was certainly pressured and blackmailed by the GOP Establishment (if only it were as ruthless and as harsh with the Democrats as it is with conservatives!).

But unlike Reagan, Romney has not succumbed to this pressure and has chosen a conservative running mate.

And whereas Ronald Reagan sadly passed on the chance to pick the man who, at the time, was “the bridge to the next generation of conservatives” (Jack Kemp), Mitt Romney has chosen one of the leaders of the next generation of conservatives (and the political heir to Jack Kemp) as his running mate. And in so doing, he has provided for the Conservative Succession, an important goal as nicely explained by Jeffrey Lord here.

Mitt Romney is 64. He will be the last Baby Boomer to be elected President. Paul Ryan (born in 1970) is a member, indeed a leader, of the next generation of conservatives. Nominating him for Vice President will practically guarantee him (if he and Romney win this election) the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016 or 2020. It puts him firmly in line to become the party’s standard bearer by then. And as a consequence, it will bring about a whole new generation of conservatives into the highest echelons of the federal government, including the executive branch.

It means that a Conservative Succession, a turnover from one generation of Republicans (a moderate one) to another, more conservative and far bolder generation of Republicans, has been provided for.

And therefore, it means that conservatives, indeed all Americans who are not liberals, now have a reason to vote for Romney rather than just against Obama.

Or, as Jeff Lord put it in his masterpiece article:

“The irony here for Romney and conservatives is that at this point they badly need each other. Romney needs an energized conservative base to both defeat Obama and govern successfully. Without enthusiastic conservative support, Obama wins.

And conservatives? They are in fact the heart and soul of the modern GOP. They have, in many ways, de facto control of the party. It is in the conservative interest to make absolutely certain that in electing Mitt Romney they are paving the way for, yes indeed, a post-Romney presidency.

Understanding that if in fact Romney is elected, at some point whether in four or eight years, there will be a Conservative Succession.

And that Conservative Succession must be provided for now — in 2012. With a young conservative who has Nixonian staying power, and who himself or herself is willing and able to bring along other young conservatives as he or she makes his way through the corridors of power.”

You can read the whole thing here: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/06/12/mitt-romney-and-the-conservati/2

Paul Ryan is right; the generals are wrong; or “how dare you question Obama’s infallible generals”!

Recently, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, decided to stop Obama’s process of gutting America’s defense, reject his pseudo-strategy, and pass a budget that adequately funds defense – adequately according to their and their advisors’ judgment, not that of Obama and his penny-pinchers in the Pentagon.

When asked by defense cuts’ supporters why he wants to provide more funding to the DOD than the DOD itself and the Joint Chiefs request, he replied, “I don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice.”

When he said that, the Democrats, other defense cuts’ supporters, and the media went ballistic, claiming that Ryan had called the generals “liars” and had insulted them, and calling on him to apologize. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey himself took umbrage at those words, while still claiming that the DOD developed a strategy first and a budget second when everyone knows it’s not true:

“[Ryan was] calling us, collectively, liars. (…) I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

But Paul Ryan and other pro-defense Republicans is right, and their critics are dead wrong, for the following reasons.

Firstly, we know that Obama has a habit of pressuring senior generals to change their testimonies to suit their agenda. Just ask 4-star General William Shelton, the commander of USAF’s Space Command, who says Obama pressured him to do just that.

It is quite conceivable that the Joint Chiefs were also pressured to testify, wrongly, that the $487 bn in defense cuts ordered by Obama is survivable.

General Dempsey himself, before he was confirmed, testified that deep defense cuts would weaken defense, that “national security” spending did not cause the deficit problem and that cutting it will not solve it.

More recently, he said, quite correctly, that sequestration of defense spending (the second round of BCA-ordered cuts, totalling another $600 bn) would mean “we would no longer be a global power”. Today, under obvious pressure from the White House and other defense cuts supporters, he claims he was misunderstood and that he only meant that “we wouldn’t be the global power that we know ourselves to be today.”

No, General, that’s not what you originally said. That’s what the White House now tells you to say. I’m sure that if the White House told you “say that the sequester would be harmless”, you would be saying exactly that.

While I wouldn’t call the generals liars or fools, this is not the first time that someone has coached witnesses to deliver a favorable testimony.

Secondly, no matter how hard the generals and civilian DOD bureaucrats may insist to the contrary, the FACT is that Obama’s defense budget cuts mandate drove the pseudo-strategy the DOD issued in January, not the other way around. Obama demanded deep defense cuts, and the DOD had to produce a “strategy” to fit these cuts. That’s what happened, despite the generals’ and civilian bureaucrats’ pretensions to the contrary.

Obama demanded $400 bn in defense cuts on April 13th, 2011, during a budget issues speech at the GWU – long before there even was any talk of a debt ceiling deal. At the time, even his own SECDEF, Robert Gates, was surprised of the defense cuts mandate, and the DOD had to start working out how to implement them. Then, on August 1st, Obama negotiated a debt ceiling deal that mandated $487 bn in cuts from “security spending”, which Obama slapped exclusively on the DOD.

Only later was there any talk of a “strategy” to fit these cuts. Before April 2011, the DOD was not working on any “strategy” and was hoping that the cuts of January 2011 would be the last. Indeed, Gates himself cautioned against any further, let alone deep, additional defense cuts repeatedly, both in DOD briefings and Congressional testimonies. Yet, in April 2011, Obama slapped a $400 bn defense cuts mandate on him and the DOD.

Even if someone claims “the DOD knew for a long time that more budget cuts would be coming”, that doesn’t help them. In fact, it only proves my point. Budget cut mandates came first; the strategy came only later. Thus, the National Journal lied when it claimed

“Ryan’s frank rebuke of the generals came as he repeated an oft-heard Republican complaint: that the fiscal 2013 defense request (…) was not “strategy-driven,” but rather was based on an artificial spending cap imposed by the White House.”

That is not a mere “oft-heard Republican complaint”, that is a FACT. The FY2013 defense budget proposal was NOT strategy driven. It was based on an artificial spending cap that Obama instituted as early as April 2011 – long before there was any “strategy”!

And the DOD’s genuine strategy from just 2 years ago (when budget circumstances were even worse), the 2010 QDR, is quite different from this pseudostrategy. It called for a much larger and more capable military than this pseudostrategy calls for. Did the world become much safer in the last 2 years? No. Obama decided to cut defense even more deeply.

Thirdly, can’t we see it for ourselves that Obama’s new defense cuts would severely weaken the military? They include, inter alia, scrapping one third of the cruiser fleet (the 7 youngest cruisers), retiring 2 amphibious ships and many other vessels, eliminating 7 fighter squadrons, cutting funding for bombers by 40%, eliminating many crucial weapon development programs (including lasers, other directed energy weapons, and railguns), delaying many other crucial weapon programs (including the next-gen cruise missile) and procurements (including SSNs and SSBNs), cutting the shipbuilding plan by 16 vessels, cutting the already-underfunded nuclear-weapon-modernization program by 15%, and cutting 27 strategic and 65 tactical airlifters when the USAF already has too few of them. Anyone with half a brain should understand that this will weaken the military.

Fourthly, the generals are humans, not gods. They are not infallible – no more than I am or you are. As mere humans, they are just as prone to grave error – including a severe error of judgment – as everyone else. It’s time to stop fetishizing generals.

Lastly and most importantly, determining what’s necessary to defend America, and providing the necessary resources, is NOT the generals or the DOD’s job. It’s Congress’ job. The Congress is supposed to make America’s defense policy, and the generals, along with DOD civilians, are supposed to merely execute it. In other words, the Congress makes policy, and the generals are to obey.

The US Constitution vests the prerogatives to “provide for the common defense (…) of the United States”, “to raise and support Armies”, “to provide and maintain a Navy”, to make laws for governing the Armed Forces, to summon and discipline the Militia, to declare war, to punish piracies and felonies on the high seas, and to make appropriations SOLELY in the Congress. The Constitution gives Congress, and ONLY the Congress, the prerogative to make America’s defense policy – to determine both defense budgets AND programs and the force structure (along with bases, deployments, wars, and the UCMJ).

Of course, to make informed decisions, it needs the advice from many sources – and that includes not only serving generals, but also former military officers, independent analysts and study panels (such as the Hadley-Perry Panel), Congressional advisors/analysts, the CRS, and others.

But Congress is supposed to rely, above all, on its own knowledge and sound judgment (if it’s capable of rendering any – and it’s supposed to be). It should NOT fetishize generals and DOD bureaucrats, nor is it supposed to defer to them, let alone to President Obama. It must rely primarily on its own judgment and knowledge, for it, not the generals, is to make defense policy decisions (and take responsibility for them).

This entire  argument has four root causes. One is the understandable, but wrong deference to generals on defense policy caused by the fetish of generals. The second one is the overall worship of supposed “experts” (generals on defense policy, the SCOTUS on the Constitution, the IPCC on “global warming” – remember how skeptics like Jim Inhofe were treated when they questioned the saintly IPCC?) that Americans have been forced to perform since their primary school days. People are taught to blindly listen to “experts” and never question them; if you do, you’re condemned universally. Thirdly, decades ago, the Congress ceded its Constitutional prerogatives on defense policy to the Executive Branch long ago.

And fourthly, as schoolchildren and adults, members of Congress, like all Americans, were constantly taught and told NOT to think for themselves, to rely on others for judgment, and to defer on others on various issues. Such indoctrination not to think independently has caused most of them to be unable, or afraid, to render independent judgment.

And this needs to be corrected. Members of Congress are supposed to think for themselves, not defer to others.

Paul Ryan and HASC Republicans have shown they are capable of doing that. For that, they should be praised, not pilloried.


Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan

Recently, Congressman Paul Ryan has published his Budget Plan for FYs2012-2021. Many people complain, and rightly so, that his budget plan, by itself, is insufficient to erase the annual budget deficit of $1.65 trillion.

But not everyone can credibly criticize Congressman Ryan. Among those who cannot credibly do so is unrepentant liar, pseudoconservative whiner Vasko Kohlmayer, who has recently written a ludicrous, factually-wrong article that has unfortunately been published on AT.

Kohlmayer, who has NEVER proposed any plan for a balanced budget and has NEVER proposed any significant federal spending cuts (except to military spending – more about that later), dares to criticize his plan for being insufficient and even dares to claim that his proposal  is actively damaging and harmful!

So for Kohlmayer, and apparently also for AT’s editors, the largest spending cut proposal proposed by ANY politician during the last 30 years, is actively damaging.

But that’s just the last paragraph of that article, which is full of factual errors and blatant lies written by a totally ignorant fool.

The article says that the Ryan Budget Plan is not serious because it supposedly doesn’t contain any significant spending cut proposals. What planet does Vasko Kohlmayer live on? It proposes to reduce annual federal spending by $620 bn, $120 bn more than what Sen. Rand Paul has proposed and 20 times more than what Ryan’s House GOP colleages have proposed. It’s the largest spending cut proposed by any politician during the last 30 years.

The article is full of such errors and lies, but you can get an accurate idea from this summary. Vasko Kohlmayer is, of course, the same ignorant fool who, not that long ago, blamed the budget deficit on the Big Bad Pentagon, vastly exaggerated America’s annual military spending, vastly UNDERSTATED America’s entitlement spending, claimed that entitlements do not constitute one category of spending, and singled out the DOD (and ONLY the DOD) for significant budget cuts while not proposing any cuts of entitlement programs. Which means he isn’t a conservative, or even a fiscal conservative, but rather a strident liberal who opposes a strong defense but is keen to defend entitlement programs. Just like the Dems.

Speaking of military spending, here is the Congressional testimony (posture statement) of Admiral Michael Mullen, USN, Chairman of the JCS, who says that the national debt is the #1 threat to America’s nat-sec:

“At about 4.5% of GDP, the return on U.S. defense spending has been immense and historic:  preventing world war between great powers, securing the global commons and the free flow of international trade and natural resources, combating terrorism across the globe, and protecting the American people and our allies.  However, our operations have come with stresses and strains as well as costs to our readiness.  For this reason, if we are to continue to execute the missions set out by our strategy, we must recognize that returning from war and resetting the force is costly and will require several years of continued investment.  Congressional support is required for our forces, their families, their equipment and training, and our military infrastructure to ensure the success of our ongoing efforts and for us to be ready to respond to new and emerging security challenges.The President’s National Security Strategy, the recently released National Military Strategy, and the President’s Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistandescribe our military approaches and ongoing operations in great detail.  This posture statement will focus on the strategic priorities for the military and the Congressional support we need.  My priorities remain defending our vital interests in the broader Middle East and South Central Asia, improving the Health-of-the-Force, and balancing global strategic risk.”

URL: http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/2011/02%20February/Mullen%2002-17-11.pdf

And here’s a part of what Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has recently written on the blog of the Heritage Foundation:

“Defense spending may be an attractive target in the Budget Committee markup and on the House floor shortly thereafter, but the Constitution prioritizes providing for a common defense and spending on defense should not be treated as equal to other portions of federal spending.  There is no question we need to make sure we get every penny’s worth of value out of defense spending, but simply slashing defense is not the answer.  Not only are there serious risks associated with cutting defense, it also would mean that we are cutting a constitutional priority of the government to pay for a series of programs of questionable constitutional merit.”

You can read the whole thing here.

In sum, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan is not only a serious proposal, it’s the ONLY serious budget proposal put forward by ANY living politician.

UPDATE: So far, the only potential GOP presidential candidates who have endorsed the Ryan plan are Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty. However, Palin has endorsed it in unambigous words on Twitter:

“There is hope! Serious & necessary leadership rolls out serious & necessary reform proposal. Good start (from Dec. http://on.wsj.com/eP0Kwo)”

Whereas Romney and Pawlenty have endorsed in it ambigous, mild words which will allow them to dump Ryan and his plan if need be.

Comments on other people’s comments on defense spending and FP

4 days remain before the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor – a consequence of refusal to adequately invest in defense.

Sadly because the US has a $1.29 trillion annual budget deficit (which was not caused by defense spending), most politicians and commentators are discussing whether to significantly reduce American defense spending, and if so, how deeply. They include leftist politicians such as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (CPSU-IL), Congressman-elect Allen West (R-FL), Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson, and AmSpec writers Joseph Lawler, James Antle and Philip Klein. Sadly, usually the debate is about how deeply, not whether to, reduce US defense spending.

The most extreme plan is the one proposed by Schakowsky, an extremist liberal from an extremely liberal state (IL). According to Philip Klein:

“On one end of the spectrum is a proposal advanced by the most liberal member of the deficit panel, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Her plan calls for drastically cutting the military budget while raising income taxes, estate taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and capital gains taxes. She would implement “cap and trade,” add the government-run plan, or “public option” to ObamaCare, and have the federal government “negotiate” drug prices. In addition, she would spend $200 billion on more stimulus projects. In sum, her plan would put America on an accelerated course toward a European-style welfare state.”


Reducing defense spending – the most crucial item in the federal budget – is the absolutely worst option the federal government could pursue.

Schakowsky’s plan is even worse than that. Not only would it dramatically cut defense spending, it would also dramatically INCREASE domestic spending by adding a government insurance option, greatly increasing pseudostimulus funding (you think the $787 bn Obama stimulus was bad? This one would be even worse!), and growing other domestic government programs. On net, it would GROW federal spending and the budget deficit, even despite the massive defense spending cuts it proposes. Even the massive tax hikes it proposes would grow rather than shrink the budget deficit, because corporations and individuals would simply relocate to low-tax countries like Lichteinstein.

This ridiculous plan also proves that I was right all along: defense spending cuts will not even significantly shrink, let alone abolish, the budget deficit. The DOD (whose FY2010 budget was $534 bn) could be abolished entirely and there would’ve STILL been a $700 bn annual budget deficit.

Philip Klein mentioned that a stark contrast to Schakowsky’s proposal is the plan developed by another member of the Deficit Reduction Commission, Paul Ryan, the GOP’s budget expert.

Klein mentioned that the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) does not call for any defense spending cuts. What he did NOT mention is that Ryan’s plan, called the Roadmap, would actually balance the federal budget completely (i.e. completely eliminate the budget deficit) in the long term, as certified by the Congressional Budget Office. It would also prevent entitlement programs from burying America under an even bigger mountain of debt than the current one. Needless to say, this means raising the retirement age. Which Ryan has publicly acknowledged.

In the final paragraph of his AmSpec article, Klein asked, “Do they want to maintain global military supremacy, or are they comfortable adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy and curtailing our military commitments?”

I think that regarding American military supremacy (which has already eroded over this decade, BTW), the answer is obvious: it must be restored. But Klein is offering Americans a false choice:
either a strong military AND a promiscously interventionist foreign policy, or a weak military and an isolationist foreign policy. This is a false choice and Americans should reject it.

What America needs is a strong defense (and therefore a defense budget not smaller than the current one, i.e. not smaller than 3.65% of GDP), coupled with a new foreign policy which, to borrow words from a former President, “recognizes the indispensability and the limitations of America’s role in the world”. This means that, even as America needs to maintain a strong defense, it needs to seriously reconsider all of its commitments to foreign countries and organizations, scale down or end some defense commitments, and bring troops back home from countries where they don’t need to be (e.g. Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iraq and Afghanistan). A promiscously interventionist foreign policy would be bad for the Treasury as well as the military, because would waste limited DOD resources.

Allen West has endorsed defense cuts, as well a policy of ending wars of nationbuilding (which are financed by a separate GWOT supplemental budget) (http://spectator.org/blog/2010/11/30/possible-way-forward-on-defens). While I agree that the US should stop waging wars of nationbuilding, I believe he’s flat wrong on defense cuts.

The truth is that defense spending cuts are NEITHER necessary to balance the budget NOR acceptable under the present military circumstances (i.e. the multiple serious military threats America is facing).

Defense spending (not including spending on Iraq and Afghanistan) accounts for a paltry 14.87% of the total federal budget and only 3.65% of GDP. Those are miniscule numbers. The DOD is clearly not to blame for America’s fiscal woes. Moreover, 3.65% of GDP is such a paltry amount that it’s evident to anyone who isn’t blind that the DOD can’t do with less.

Cutting defense spending (rather than GWOT spending) when it is already so small would severely weaken the US military, and is therefore an utterly unacceptable option. The DOD’s share of GDP has been permanently under 4% since FY1996, and the current defense budget is the SMALLEST (as a percentage of GDP) since FY1948, together with its Clinton-era and Bush-era counterparts.

Also, Antle, West and the journalist who interviewed West all neglected to mention an inconvenient truth: the fact that defense is a constitutional DUTY of the federal government, rather than an option that the federal government might or might not undertake. It is not for the FG to dither whether or not to provide for the common defense – it is its duty to do so.

As Ronald Reagan correctly said in 1985: “we must not relax our efforts to restore military strength just as we near our goal of a fully equipped, trained, and ready professional corps. National security is government’s first responsibility; so in past years defense spending took about half the Federal budget. Today it takes less than a third. We’ve already reduced our planned defense expenditures by nearly a hundred billion dollars over the past 4 years and reduced projected spending again this year.

You know, we only have a military-industrial complex until a time of danger, and then it becomes the arsenal of democracy. Spending for defense is investing in things that are priceless—peace and freedom.”

Earlier, a New America Foundation pseudoanalyst, Parag Khanna, has falsely claimed that

“The United States still has the world’s most powerful military, of course, but its utility is diminishing as the capacity to deter and resist spreads…. More fundamentally, the world has quickly become multipolar, with the European Union a larger economic player than the United States while China rises quickly on all measures of hard and soft power.”

Firstly, the US military is no longer the world’s strongest. The PLA is. Secondly, it is incorrect to say that “its utility is diminishing”. The US military is useful for a wide range of purposes, including deterring America’s enemies and rogue states. Bullies can be deterred only by military means.

As for the EU, it’s incorrect to say that it’s a larger economic player than the US. True, it has a larger GDP than the US, but it’s a confederacy of 27 different countries which don’t have a common currency (11 countries are not members of the Eurozone), a common leader, a common military or a common foreign policy. The EU is not a country, not anymore than the OAS or NAFTA is a country. Moreover, the EU’s economy is, by many measures, inferior to the US economy.


As Ryan’s Roadmap, and my own Blueprint for a Balanced Budget have shown, defense cuts are not necessary to balance the federal budget. And, as the threats menacing the US (such as North Korea) have shown, reducing the defense budget (or weakening the military in any other way) would be an utter folly. The Congress must not do so.