Rep. Paul Ryan: "Let's Pass A Bill To Cover The Moon With Yogurt"

July 28, 2011 6:51 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rep. Paul Ryan

Late this afternoon, Republican leaders postponed the scheduled vote on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) debt-ceiling proposal because it did not have enough support to pass. Shortly before that awkward announcement, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered a fiery speech on the House floor — not defending Boehner's plan, but rather attacking the alternative plan offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-WI).

Ryan was incensed that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) counted reductions in future war spending as savings in its analysis of Reid's plan. "I've got a better idea," he said sarcastically. "Let's pass a bill to cover the moon with yogurt that will cost $5 trillion today. Then let's pass a bill the next day to cancel that bill. We could save $5 trillion!"

The problem with Ryan's complaint, of course, is that Republicans counted the same savings to arrive at their calculation that Ryan's contentious budget proposal would cut $6.2 trillion. For Ryan to complain about his own accounting method now is profoundly hypocritical. Worse, he still cited the same $6.2 trillion figure just moments after accusing Democrats of "budget tricks and accounting gimmicks."

In the speech, Ryan also repeated the Republican talking point that raising the debt ceiling amounts to giving President Obama a "blank check" — an incoherent falsehood that ignores both Congress' authority over federal spending and the fact that raising debt ceiling merely allows the U.S. to "pay obligations already incurred."

Given Ryan's chronic dishonesty about his own ideas, his hyper-partisan speech today shouldn't come as much of a surprise. But don't forget that this is what passes for "serious" and "courageous" in the modern Republican Party.

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