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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) debates Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R) during the U.S. vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky October 11, 2012.      REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS USA PRESIDENTI
In 2012, Paul Ryan said looming automatic budget cuts had encouraged the attack in Benghazi
In light of Paul Ryan's newfound rediscovered appreciation for the spending sequester's automatic defense and domestic cuts, let's take a trip back in time to four months ago when Ryan was making the case during the 2012 vice presidential debate that the sequester's potential spending cuts emboldened the terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Responding to a question about Mitt Romney's rash response to the attack, Ryan said:
Let's recall that they [the Obama administration] disavowed their own statement that they had put out earlier in the day in Cairo. So we had the same position, but we will -- it's never too early to speak out for our values.

We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting; when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights.

And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we're cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. They're more brazen in their attacks, and are allies are less willing to...

And with those ellipses Vice President Joe Biden could not take any more of Ryan's nonsense. He interrupted Ryan, and said that Ryan's statement was—you guessed it—"a bunch of malarkey." Biden was right, but now that Ryan once again supports moving forward with those spending cuts, isn't it fair to conclude that Ryan—by his own logic—is standing with the terrorists? Yes, that's absurd, but in my defense, I'm not agreeing with Ryan—I'm just taking his argument to the logical conclusion.

Continue below the fold to find out how Ryan's argument gets even more knotty—it turns out that he not only voted for the sequester, but in 2011 proposed the exact same level of military spending as the president.

It turns out that Ryan's position gets even more knotty, because it's not just the he now supports something that he said in 2012 would undermine America, it's also that he actually supported the legislation that originally created the cuts that he he subsequently opposed and now supports again. Take another trip down memory lane to re-experience Ryan trying to B.S. his way out of that:

NORAH O'DONNELL (CBS News): Congressman, these defense cuts are part of the Budget Control Act. You voted for the Budget Control Act. In fact I went and looked, you put on the a statement at the time it was passed and you called it a victory, and you called it a positive step forward.

So, you voted for defense cuts. And now you're criticizing the president for those same defense cuts that you voted for and called a victory.

RYAN: No, no, I have to correct you on this, Norah. I voted for a mechanism that says a sequester will occur if we don't cut $1.2 trillion spending in government.

No, Norah. You're wrong. I didn't vote for it. Instead, I voted for it. So don't say I didn't vote for it, because I did vote for it. Er, I mean, don't say I did vote for it. Because I don't support it now. But I did vote for it. And I reserve the right to say whatever the fuck I please at any point in the future. Okay?

O'DONNELL: Congressman, it's my understanding that as part of the Budget Control Act there was not just the sequestration, the defense sequestration, but there is also $1 trillion in immediate spending cuts, which included the defense cuts, almost $400 billion that were proposed by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mr. Dempsey, as well as Secretary Panetta. And you also voted for those.

And now you're saying that you didn't vote for them?

RYAN: We can get into this nomenclature. I voted for the Budget Control Act but the Obama administration proposed $470 billion in defense cuts. We don't agree with that. Our budget rejected that. And then on top of that is another $500 billion in defense cuts.

O'DONNELL: Right, it's a trillion in defense spending. And you voted for it.

RYAN: No, Norah, I voted for the Budget Control Act.

O'DONNELL: That included defense spending.

RYAN: Norah, you're mistaken.

Yeah, Norah. Get your facts straight. Congressman Paul Ryan only voted for whatever he voted for that serves his particular needs at this very moment. Don't go getting technical and stuff about what he did or didn't vote for and what it did or didn't do. That's irrelevant. What matters is Paul Ryan has killer dimples and tremendous abs. And he will get wonky with anybody. Literally, anybody. Anytime, anywhere. Wonk off on demand.

Meanwhile, speaking of wonking off, let's be fair to Paul Ryan. Because even though he spent the 2012 campaign demagoguing on defense spending, the one good thing about his 2011 budget proposal was that he didn't propose spending a single dime more on defense than President Obama.

Paul Ryan Budget Plan from 2011 compared with President Obama's budget plan

Click to enlarge

That's from page S-4 of Ryan's 2011 budget plan. Notice all those zeroes? That's the difference between President Obama's budget proposal and Paul Ryan's proposal: nothing. So in more ways than one, by flip-flopping on his 2012 position on defense cuts, Ryan is going back to where he started in 2011.

Personally, I think this obsession with the deficit is misguided, but given the existence of the obsession, there are worse things Paul Ryan has done than embracing the sequester's spending cuts. But as long as that's what he's doing, he should have the courage to admit it, unless all this stuff about wonkiness is just a smokescreen to disguise the fact that he is, at core, just a typical political hack.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 09:32 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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