Is Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan too Bold for the GOP?

Jay Newton-Small

…at the heart of Ryan’s revolution is his Roadmap for America’s Future–an ambitious 87-page, 75-year plan for getting America back in the black. Ryan has been thinking of this plan for years, but it wasn’t until he became ranking member of the House Budget Committee in 2007 that he had enough clout to get the Congressional Budget Office to crunch his numbers. He proposes semiprivatizing Social Security by allowing younger workers to divert part of their payments to individual accounts they could access at retirement. He suggests abolishing Medicare and replacing it with vouchers for private insurers. He proposes capping total spending and freezing nondefense discretionary spending, though he leaves defense spending untouched.

Ryan is the first to admit that his plan is not perfect. He knows the cost of health care could outpace the value of the vouchers, thereby shunting much of the tab onto patients. A study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that his plan would actually increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion by 2020 because it doesn’t take into account $4 trillion in lost tax revenue. Ryan disputes the calculations behind those numbers but says he’d be willing to increase taxes to fix any shortfalls. In early August, liberal economist Paul Krugman took a whack at Ryan’s plan and declared it as hollow as a piñata. “Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought,” he wrote in the New York Times. “He’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s drenched in flimflam sauce.”

Ryan replies by noting that someone has to go first. “I really sincerely hoped that a few other people from both parties would start throwing their plans out there, and then we’d get into the business of debating these things. But unfortunately, we’re going to have to go through another round of turning these things into third rails and political weapons,” Ryan says in an interview in his office.

If Ryan is the most intellectually serious Republican at the moment, that’s no guarantee he’ll be successful. Only 13 GOP House members have endorsed his Roadmap. “Parts of it are well done,” House minority leader John Boehner says but then pauses. “Other parts I’ve got some doubts about, in terms of how good the policy is.” For now, it’s mostly Democrats who love Ryan. His plan, says Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, “is a gift. I totally respect Paul’s courage for putting this out there. But we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about how we’ll be fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare.” Ryan is philosophical about his predicament. “The appetite is much stronger outside the Beltway than inside,” he says. “The political class up here is in the old thinking, which is, This is such a political weapon, don’t touch it, don’t touch it, don’t touch it, you’ll die. Because they listen to the pollsters.”…

The complete article is at . H/T

Read also at Time, Paul Ryan: The GOP’s Answer to the ‘Party of No’

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