Skip to comments.Defining Ryan (Why his budget is timid and does not go far enough)
Posted on 08/22/2012 12:17:10 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
With more than a third of American voters telling pollsters that they don't yet know enough about Republican vice-presidential candidate PaulRyan to have an opinion of him, the race to define the Republican congressman is fully joined.
Democrats clearly want to paint Ryan as an unbending ideologue who refuses to compromise and is unwilling to work with his opponents. Already Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod has taken to calling Ryan a "right-wing ideologue" and "quite extreme." President Obama himself refers to Ryan as "the ideological leader of Republicans in Congress."
It's impossible to deny that there has been an ideological component to Ryan's career inWashington. He has been an articulate spokesman for the idea ofsmaller, less costly government, and he is perhaps Congress's best-known advocate of entitlement reform. There is no doubt that in his heart he prefers markets to government control.
But any effort to paint him as an inflexible ideologue runs up against his demonstrable tendency toward pragmatism.
Throughout his time in Washington, Ryan has been the classic "half a loaf" type of conservative. Time and again, he has shown that he is willing to compromise and take far less than he had originally sought, as long as he is moving incrementally in the direction he wants to go. You won't find Ryan on the short end of any 434-to-1 votes.
Take, for example, the infamous "Ryan budget." Yes, it cuts spending and reforms Medicare though not Social Security but it was far from the most fiscally conservative budget offered by Republicans this year. Just compare Ryan's budget with the one proposed by Senator Rand Paul(R., Ky). Ryan's budget takes 30 years to reach balance. Paul's would have balanced the budget in five years. Ryan would cut government spending by $4.1 trillion over ten years. Paul would have cut spending an additional $4 trillion over that period. Ryan's budget didn't touch Social Security. Paul's would have raised Social Security's retirement age and means-tested the program. Now, that is a fiscally conservative budget.
In fact, Senators Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) also offered budget proposals that cut spending more than Ryan's budget did. Ryan was willing to push the envelope on spending cuts, but only as far as he could while still getting the votes of moderate as well as conservative Republicans. Yes, his budget is conservative, but it is hardly radical. According to the National Journal, Ryan works with Democrats about as often as any Republican does.
Most famously, he collaborated with liberalsenator RonWyden (D., Ore.) to develop the latest iteration of his Medicare reform plan. In fact, the evolution of Ryan's Medicare plan shows both the promise and the perils of his pragmatism.
Ryan's first Medicare reform plan was fairly accurately described as a voucher program: Seniors would each receive a support payment roughly based on the current per-capita amount ofMedicare spending. Wealthy seniors would receive somewhat less, poor and sicker seniors somewhat more. The RyanWyden plan, on the other hand, abandons the voucher concept in favor of a pure premium-support model.
Similarly, Ryan's initial plan would have moved allfuture seniors who are younger than 55 today into the new private-insurance system, and traditionalMedicare would be eliminated for new recipients. However, by the time he launched the second iteration of his plan, he had agreed to retain traditionalMedicare as an option; seniors would be free to choose between the traditional program and the premium-support model.
Ryan also gradually agreed to loosen his proposal's cap on overallMedicare spending. In his original plan, Medicare spending would not be allowed to grow any faster than the overall economy. In Ryan-Wyden, the cap is GDP growth plus a full percentage point. At the same time, the burden for exceeding growth caps has shifted from seniors themselves, who would have been required to pay more out of pocket under the originalRoadmap for America's Future, to providers, who will have their reimbursements reduced under Ryan-Wyden.
The budget passed by the House this year was in some ways closer to Ryan's originalMedicare proposal than to the Ryan-Wyden plan. But Ryan has clearly shown that he is willing to water down his ideas if doing so garners Democratic support.
The downside of Ryan's pragmatism is that each change has weakened his proposal. His original proposal would have reduced Medicare spending by far more than Ryan-Wyden. Given that even the most optimistic scenarios show Medicare running $38 trillion in the red, Ryan's retreat is not a step in the right direction.
Still, it might have been justified if Ryan's willingness to compromise had attracted substantial Democratic support. But, in the end, it was the Democrats who refused to budge. Senator Wyden was the only Democrat to join with Ryan, and even he later backed away from his support under pressure from his caucus.
Ryan's pragmatic streak has also led him to cast many votes that seem to contradict his reputation as a budget hawk. Ryan would no doubt say that he won important concessions in exchange for those votes for instance, getting health savings accounts included in the Medicare prescription-drug bill or that the alternatives were worse. But any way you look at it, those votes hardly make Ryan an inflexible budget cutter.
All of this means that Ryan is not really the government-slashing savior envisioned by some conservatives. It also means that he is not the ideological hard-liner portrayed by some liberals. He is, in fact, likely to disappoint his conservative backers on occasion. But he may also be able to work across party lines to really change the disastrous course we are now on.
And the alternative to Ryan is? Oh, I know. It’s Biden, not perfection.
Irrelevant at the moment. Bring it up again in January.
” - - - “Ryan budget.” Yes, it cuts spending - - - “
Ryan does NOT cut year-to-year spending on any Federal line item.
Ryan INCREASES the year-to-year Federal spending on all Federal line items.
Ryan just reduces the rate of INCREASE in Federal spending. NO cuts anywhere!
The Ryan Budget will keep on INCREASING the National Debt until he is 60 years old, IF all of his assumptions work out as he predicts.
Irrelevant at the moment. Bring it up again in January
Ryan’s budget is a bigger fraud than Cato lets on. It does nothing that it promises to do, and it is predicated on huge assumptions of unprecedented growth (2 percent unemployment?) to “grow” our way out of debt. The idea that it will balance the budget in 30 years is based on unrealistic assumptions.
“Irrelevant at the moment. Bring it up again in January”
Okay, then don’t say anything positive or false about it again until January. None of the “leaders” in either party have a plan to deal with the debt we all agree will soon collapse the entire economy.
RE: The idea that it will balance the budget in 30 years is based on unrealistic assumptions.
A lot can happen in 30 years. Hillary could become president and congress could revert to Democratic control. This budget assumes that future congress will abide by it.
TOO UNREALISTIC if you ask me.
So rather then be the useful idiots of the Democrat media machine, "conservatives" need to be absolutely focused on defeating the 100% negative. Once that is accomplished we can focus on fixing the 70%ers
One side has a plan that goes 70% in our direction and the other side wants to go 100% in the complete opposite direction. By spending all our time shooting the 70% in the back we do ONE thing, we make sure we get the 100% we oppose elected.
So rather then be the useful idiots of the Democrat media machine, “conservatives” need to be absolutely focused on defeating the 100% negative. Once that is accomplished we can focus on fixing the 70%ers
It’s not 70% in our direction. It’s a gimmick and just reasserts failed policies under a conservative guise. It does nothing. Neither party is doing anything.
Quit being a fool. Getting 70% of something is much better then getting 100% of nothing.
The men running for President - the men who have a budget to run on - are Romney and Obama...
TARP loving Ryan, no thank you.
Exactly. If Romney-Ryan win, then we have won the ideological debate that we need to start cutting somehow. The details don't matter all that much, because once it gets into congress it will be a free for all with every lobbyist. But the tide will have turned. And I believe in four years the public will still be ideologically in favor of balancing the burget. Its either that or go with Europe and collapse, and we can see our future from here, so I don't think we swill choose it.
” - - - Irrelevant at the moment. Bring it up again in January.”
Yeah sure, let’s all kick the can down the road.
Never try to solve problems when politicians need your vote.
Just wait until next election, then we will have plenty of time to solve this problem.
Better yet, if we ignore the problem, it always goes away, right?
BTW, let us let the Democrats set the agenda of what problems we should try to solve - - - .
After all, as good RINO sheep, we should never hold our candidates accountable for their proposals that will not work, by simple inspection.