Wisconsin U.S Rep. Paul Ryan’s annual “Path to Prosperity” budget plan was once considered a liability for the Republican Party. Ryan’s budget drew criticism from other GOP leaders for being “right-wing social engineering.”
Now, the Wisconsin representative’s annual budget has practically become the default setting for the GOP. Among the elements in Ryan’s latest version include defunding the Affordable Care Act, a cut in the corporate tax rate, zero cuts to the Pentagon, and a balanced budget in ten years.
Last week, Ryan’s budget passed the House of Representatives, 221-207, on a nearly party-line vote. No Democrats voted for it and ten Republicans dissented. These ‘nay’ votes included Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Paul Broun of Georgia.
In February, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun announced his intentions to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican, Saxby Chambliss.
Prior to his ‘nay’ vote, Broun took to the New York Times to express his displeasure with the Ryan budget, saying that it merely slowed the growth of government spending:
“I cannot vote for something that would trick the American people into thinking that Congress is fixing Washington’s spending problem, when in actuality we’d just be allowing it to continue without end. . . .
“Spending would grow by an average of 3.4 percent annually, only slightly less than the rate under President Obama’s plan, which is 5 percent a year. After 10 years – Mr. Ryan’s target for eliminating the deficit – the ‘Path to Prosperity’ will have spent $41 trillion, when the president’s plan would allow spending of $46 trillion.”
Broun’s stance on the Ryan budget was also felt in other quarters.
Fellow Georgia Republican U.S. Representative, Phil Gingrey, who has not declared for the Senate race, but is considered interested in it, also voted against the Ryan budget. Gingrey’s vote is widely perceived as a tactic to position himself as a true conservative in the Republican primary.
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 by special election, Broun has fashioned himself as one of the ideological successors to Ron Paul. In January, he introduced “Audit the Fed” legislation, HR 24, which currently has 137 co-sponsors.
Broun has also said, “Except for foreign policy, Ron Paul’s voting record and mine are virtually identical.”
However, he does have a collection of controversial quotes that have some political commentators calling it the “Akin-ization” of the Georgia Republican primary. The neologism refers to senatorial candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who caused a stir in 2012 for his comments about “legitimate rape” on a local television program.
One such incident occurred in 2012 when a leaked videotape showed Broun calling the Big Bang theory and evolution “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Although Broun was running unopposed, a write-in campaign for Charles Darwin garnered 4,000 in Athens-Clarke County, where Broun himself only received 16,000 votes.
Broun’s reputation as a firebrand may play well in a Republican primary. He may also be the most influential person running and it makes the Georgia U.S. Senate race one to watch in 2014.