This episode, which is far from over, illustrates that all congressmen are subject to strict vigilance. "Trust" is no longer enough. This is a day-by-day affair that involves daily proof of their commitment, because our fiscal crisis permits no time for rest. Beltway intoxication is such a powerful contagion that truly conservative representatives are going to have to make a special and persistent effort, not just to govern responsibly but also to take their case to the people regularly.
If Rep. Ryan and the leadership believed their initial proposed cuts were in line with their pledge, they probably should have done a better job explaining it so that even their strong supporters weren't left in the dark over whether the numbers were being manipulated (e.g., based on Obama's proposed budget instead of last fiscal year's).
In scanning House Speaker John Boehner's and Rep. Ryan's websites, nothing appeared to jump off their home pages addressing the internal disputes over the proposed budget cuts. I may have missed it, but the point is that we shouldn't have to look for it. As conservatives in their corner, we shouldn't have to feel like passengers on a commercial airline experiencing wicked turbulence and hearing no reassuring words from the cockpit. It's time for them to get out their bullhorns and explain it -- early and often -- because their success in these budget wars depends on strong support from their grass-roots allies.
On the other hand, those of us in the grass roots, while holding our representatives' feet to the fire, should also not just be gratuitous critics -- and I'm certainly not trying to be one of those with this column. We should encourage them when they're on the right track, such as with their vote to repeal Obamacare. Though the repeal effort failed in the Senate, House Republicans are planning to vote to block spending for Obamacare, which is important because the White House intends to proceed with its implementation in defiance of the recent federal court order invalidating the law.
I do believe Paul Ryan is the real deal on budget and serious entitlement reform, and I'm encouraged by most of what I'm seeing from him, Boehner and the rest of the GOP leadership team. What they're doing is far more difficult than our work as sideline critics.
But we're not always going to be satisfied with their pace, so we should be immensely gratified that aggressive freshmen prevailed upon them to increase the cuts. This kind of conflict resolution we can support.