Paul Ryan votes for federal spending increase

On Thursday, Paul Ryan and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives—the party of spending cuts—voted to increase spending on a 329-91 margin. (Double-take). So much for fiscal austerity, eh? The 29-page continuing resolution, or CR, maintains government spending at $1.047 trillion for another six months.

What’s even more sublime than the cognitive dissonance is that Paul Ryan voted against his own damned budget proposal! His flip-flop truly makes him the only appropriate running mate for Mitt Romney. Ryan does, despite he and his party’s personal myth-building, have a history of voting for considerable federal government spending. Under Bush he regularly voted for federal spending; which, along with the Bush tax cuts, helped create $6.8 trillion in deficits from 2000 to 2008.

Under the CR, labor, health and education spending, for instance, will grow by close to $1 billion. The CR will also fund (gasp!) Obamacare. Defense spending will also increase, but will have to reckon with automatic budget sequester cuts in January 2013.

Instrumental in the passing resolution were 87 freshman GOP representatives, including firebrand Florida Rep. Allen West.

“I voted for it because we have to be adults,” says Rep. West. “We want to govern and we want to take care of our responsibilities and that is the most important thing. I am not going to come up here and cut my nose just to spite my face.”

Interesting. Could it have anything to do with the GOP not wanting to be labeled obstructionist by Democratic opponents as the elections approach?

Perhaps, but it could also be an acknowledgement by some representatives that the “starve the beast” strategy, in which tax cuts force spending cuts, have never really worked. Even Reagan realized that “starve the beast” didn’t kickstart the economy. He raised taxes 11 times during his eight years in office. This, coupled with spending cuts and Wall Street’s savings and loan chicanery led to economic upswing.

That is, until the savings and loan industry went bust. In the aftermath, America was plunged into a recession and George H. W. Bush had to compromise and raise taxes. When Clinton came in with his market-friendly approach and higher taxes on wealthiest Americans—and later buoyed by various market bubbles (dot com, housing)—the US was lifted out of recession and went on an economic tear that started to unravel in the post-9/11 world, but accelerated in 2007 with the sub-prime mortgage crisis. And we all know what W did—he unleashed massive spending and cut taxes. Result: more deficits and debt.

Well, Republicans these days aren’t as nuanced in their politico-economic approach as they were during the Reagan and Bush 41 years. And they could be counting on most Americans, especially those in their conservative base, remaining unaware of the spending increase vote. If that fails, they’ll pursue their most successful strategy—blame the Democrats.

More realistically, the GOP is likely banking on their prospects of gaining House and Senate seats, as well as getting Romney in the oval office, which would allow them to cut spending in early 2013.

Either way, you have to appreciate Paul Ryan & Co’s hypocrisy.