His party just caved on holding the debt ceiling ransom in exchange for gutting the Affordable Care Act and other nutty ideas. Aghast at just how badly their party fared in past such adventures, all the top Republican leaders in the House from Speaker John Boehner on down voted for a "clean" bill raising the debt ceiling without conditions -- except Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville). The House Budget Committee chair just couldn't see his way to doing that, and so he voted against the debt ceiling increase.
Ryan did it even though he didn't have a problem voting for multiple debt ceiling reauthorizations when George W. Bush was in office and seeking debt hikes over and over. Indeed, as Jon Perr wrote at DailyKos.com last month, before the rest of the hierarchy caved, "GOP leaders including Boehner, McConnell, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and John Cornyn didn't just vote for seven increases in the debt ceiling. In November 2004, they all voted for the very kind of "clean" debt ceiling bill they refuse to offer President Obama now."
So why did he switch views? For one thing, Ryan was a key participant in the GOP hierarchy's private meeting, held soon after Obama's first election to the White House, where the plot was hatched for Republicans to oppose Obama at every turn, no matter what damage it might cause the country. Ryan's obviously still right by that scheme. Very right.
But Ryan's now on record for being amazingly inconsistent and hypocritical. We should not overlook that Ryan's own proposed 2012 federal budget would have required $6 trillion in new debt over the succeeding 10 years, thus in turn requriing a substantial increase in the federal debt ceiling. Which, based on the latest example, he presumably would have voted against!
"Reagan proved deficits don't matter," Dick Cheney said when the Bush administration was amassing red ink. He could have added: "Ryan will prove it again." Except when deficits do matter-- and apparently they matter only when Paul Ryan is trying to score political points instead of doing the country's business in a responsible way.
As Kevin Drum noted at Mother Jones: You'd almost be forced to think Ryan still harbors presidential ambitiions and is only too happy to send symbols to the GOP's wingnut base.