On Sunday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan reiterated a message that House Republicans have been trying to push since the fiscal cliff deal happened: The GOP is unafraid to let the sequester take effect.First, this is a perfect example of how Paul Ryan likes to straddle the fence. On the one hand, he's trying to sound like Republicans think these spending cuts are a good idea—or at least a better idea than getting rid of them entirely. On the other hand, he's trying to blame Democrats for the spending cuts. If only Democrats would cut other (nameless, always nameless) things, Ryan seems to be saying, then we wouldn't have to embrace these automatic spending cuts.
“I think the sequester is going to happen,” Ryan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others–and they’ve offered no alternatives,” Ryan said.
The thing is, nobody is forcing House Republicans to accept the automatic spending cuts. In fact, in the tax cliff deal the cuts were postponed by two months. If they don't like the cuts, they could postpone them again. I'm sure Democrats would sign up. And if they really want deficit reduction, they can agree to replace the cuts with a different mix of cuts and revenue increases. But if they want to leave things the way they are, then they shouldn't blame Democrats. Instead, they should claim credit, because the only reason the sequester will remain in place is if Republicans want it to.
Of course, if Ryan does end up going down the path he hinted at over the weekend, it will be a neck-snapping reversal from his position during the 2012 campaign when he railed against the sequester's spending cuts at every opportunity, even partially blaming the attacks in Benghazi on the looming automatic cuts. Then again, his 2012 position was a neck-snapping reversal from his position in 2011, when he forced the legislation that created the sequester through Congress. The moral of the story: if you've ever asked yourself how Mitt Romney would have handled his flip-flops if he were better looking and a better actor, Paul Ryan is your answer.