When you think of
Republican congressman Paul Ryan, terms like earnest, serious, and
important come to mind. So does the term old-fashioned. Ryan comes from
an old-fashioned place, the blue-collar town of Janesville, Wisconsin.
He cherishes the old-fashioned values of a faithful family man. He even
looks old-fashioned, with his white shirts and striped ties. And he uses
old-fashioned argument skills, persuasively weaving big-picture themes
with the numbers that back them up.
And Ryan has old-fashioned goals, too,
like saving America from fiscal bankruptcy, economic stagnation, and a
European-style entitlement state.
“Just look at what happened across the
Atlantic,” Ryan told me in a year-end interview. “We have to avoid that.
We must reclaim our founding principles of economic freedom and free
markets. We must preserve the American Idea.”
With this vision, and with a pro-growth
budget framework called “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” Ryan’s serious
ideas have seriously gotten under President Obama’s skin.
In a White House meeting this year,
Ryan’s superior knowledge of health care baffled Obama and left him
speechless. And the serious Ryan budget, which lowers spending by $6.2
trillion and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion over ten years, totally
outflanked the White House. It embarrassingly exposed the Obama
administration’s flimsy and inconsequential 2012 budget, which even
rejected the findings of Obama’s own Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission.
(Another Oval Office embarrassment.)
And when Ryan unveiled his first Medicare-reform package, which featured patient-centered consumerchoice
and market competition, the White House went nuts. Team Obama whipped
up a Mediscare panic, resorting to a fictional caricature of Ryan
forcing old ladies off a cliff. But the charge that the Ryan plan “ends
Medicare” couldn’t be further from the truth. The website PolitiFact
labeled this “the lie of the year.”
Ryan later amended his Medicare reform to
keep the existing system as an option, and bolstered it with a menu of
market-based private insurance plans to promote cost-cutting choice and
competition. But he did so with the bipartisan support of Sen. Ron
Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. How did the White House react? It went
rhetorically ballistic, although it couldn’t put together a serious
No, Ryan’s reforms didn’t quite resonate
in the White House. But they did force a serious debate about domestic
policy and the economy throughout the country. With his comprehensive
budget of deep spending cuts, entitlement reform, and tax simplification
-- a plan that would strictly limit government and unleash growth at
the same time -- Ryan became the most influential Republican of his
younger generation. Quite likely, he became the most influential thinker
in today’s GOP. For these reasons, Paul Ryan has been chosen as the Human Events Man of the Year.
The Ryan “Path to Prosperity” budget
passed the House this past spring. In effect, it became Republican
policy. Unfortunately, things went downhill after that.
The summer debt-ceiling crisis produced a
meager $1 trillion in spending restraint, way below the Ryan goals.
Then the Supercommittee, which couldn’t even produce a policy, fell back
on the trigger of another $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts. And
now the year is ending in a chaotic and unserious gridlock over the
temporary extension of a temporary payroll tax holiday that has no
economic-growth content and ultimately would blow more holes in the
Social Security trust fund and the overall budget. A disappointed Ryan
told me, “Tea Party enthusiasm hasn’t yet translated into the kind of
reforms we need. One-third of the government has only limited political
power.” He added that the 2011 budget narrative shows “the total
un-seriousness of the left in tackling problems.”
Nevertheless, the Republican budget
leader is an eternal optimist. He believes “there is a shift to the
right” in the country, “toward free-market approval.” He sees evidence
that “We are winning this debate.” He says, “The country will not accept
a permanent class of technocrats that will diminish freedom, enhance
crony capitalism, and allow the economy to enter some sort of managed
decline.” Ryan talks about “reclaiming founding principles,” and about
“fighting paternalistic, arrogant, and condescending government elites
who want to equalize outcomes, create new entitlement rights, and
promote less self-government by the citizenry.”
In other words, Rep. Paul Ryan is
offering a completely different vision than the one Obama outlined in
his Osawatomie, Kansas, campaign speech in early December. Ryan wants
“the right to rise,” not a third wave of liberal progressivism. He wants
to stop Obama’s attempt to add to the New Deal/Great Society with the
statist universal-health-care program called Obamacare and an effective
nationalization of the energy and financial sectors. And he completely
rejects Obama’s divisive, big-government, punish-wealth, tax-the-rich
“A ruling system of big business, big
government, and big-government unions does violence to the notion of
entrepreneurial capitalism,” Ryan told me. “Whether it’s TARP, Fannie or
Freddie, cap-and-trade, or Obamacare, this must be stopped.” Ryan
stands against what he calls “the moral endgame to equalize outcomes.”
He says: “No consolidation of power into a permanent political class.
Equality of opportunity, not result.”
Drawing from the Declaration of
Independence, Ryan believes that individual citizen power in a democracy
comes from God and natural rights, not government. And he believes
these natural rights flow directly to the people. It complements what
Reagan always said: Government works for the people, the people don’t
work for government.
The congressman calls himself a
second-generation supply-sider, flowing from his mentor Jack Kemp. He
knows that growth incentives work, and that our tax system should reward
success, not penalize it. Ryan frequently notes that Obama’s vision
would raise federal tax rates toward 50 percent, which doesn’t even
include increasing state and local tax burdens. Countering this, the
Ryan roadmap features a modified flat tax, with two brackets and a 25
percent top rate.
But Ryan also believes that under the
threat of fiscal insolvency, supply-side tax cuts must be accompanied by
entitlement reform, deep spending cuts, and an end to corporate
welfare. Rounding out his policy proposals, the budget chief wants the
Federal Reserve to move to a single mandate for price stability and a
So, many have asked, why didn’t the
intellectual and policy leader of the GOP run for president? His
supporters continue this drumbeat, with many hoping for a deadlocked
convention in August, and the emergence of an optimistic, pro-growth,
center-right man with a clear vision to save the country.
Well, here comes the old-fashioned Ryan, a
man who’s interested in policy, not personal ambition. He also has to
help raise his young family. He and his wife Janna have two boys aged
seven and eight and a girl aged nine. He’s been teaching his
nine-year-old Liza how to shoot a .243 light-caliber Remington 700
bolt-action hunting rifle. The weekend before Christmas, he took his
crew to Medieval Times on the North Shore of Chicago, where they watched
knights on horseback jousting with each other while eating a little
junk food. Family is clearly more important right now than presidential
So would he become OMB director in a
Republican administration? “I don’t think about it,” he said. But for
the 2012 election, Ryan has a political vision: Republicans must develop
and communicate a clear policy agenda along the lines of his “Path to
Prosperity.” Then, should they win, the GOP can use this agenda to
“Reagan had this right,” Ryan told me.
For the congressman from Wisconsin, it’s the American Idea. That’s
Ryan’s vision. And the Republican party better take notice, because this
election could be America’s last chance for a very long time.
[Editor's note: This column originally ran on December 23, 2011]
let the liberal media convince you that Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan for his VP running mate was a bad choice. Paul Ryan is one of the most intelligent
and patriotic members of Congress and the liberals are terrifiedof someone who can articulate both the problems and solutions to our
nation's problems. We will fight together to make sure we win and Obama
is a one term President.
As the battle for the hearts and minds of voters heats
up, our campaign to educate voters is having an impact and Liberals are getting nervous. Your efforts and support of organizations like TheTeaParty.net
is giving a voice to the previously silent majority. I have a few words
for President Obama, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Nancy Pelosi
and Maxine Waters. The Tea Party has not gone "straight to
hell" and we are coming in November to finish the job we started in 2010
to take back America!
November 2012 is without question THE most important election in our lifetimes. Never
before has the need been greater for individuals to stand up against a
government that has forgotten who they were elected to represent. If our
country is to survive, we must do everything we can to assure that Congress is in the control of conservatives who believe in the
principles found in the Constitution.
The tea party movement would not have been necessary but for spineless politicians who refuse to make the needed choices to rein in spending, focusing rather on what will win them the next election. We have taken
names and it's time those determined to sell out America are removed from office.
Many in the media and Liberal movement would love to declare the tea party dead! They
underestimated our strength in 2010 and they will again in November.
Another four years of failed leadership by Obama and Harry Reid is simply not an option.
Help us prove them wrong and defeat Barack Obama's
liberal agenda. Show that you support for the Tea Party is strong by
voting in our poll below.
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Paul Ryan is not a safe pick. In fact, it is a pick that
suggests Mitt Romney knows he needs to shift momentum in the race. When
the GOP is winning on all the major polling questions of debt, deficit,
and economy and still losing overall — the polling can’t all be wrong,
including Fox News — the Romney camp needs a new direction and a more
What they had been doing was not and is not working.
Paul Ryan works. The most recently named Human Events Conservative
of the Year is a lightening rod on the left for the Ryan plan, which
balances the budget over the next two decades. What was not enough for
some conservatives is too much for some liberals. Paul Ryan exposes the
left’s great lie. They think they can just raise taxes on those who
make $250,000.00 a year or more and never have to cut spending or fix
Paul Ryan not only exposes that lie, but he has plans to solve it.
He does so as a fresh, young face who is not at all scary to old people
and relates to them and to young people. He himself is in his early
40′s with small kids. He’s from a swing state, out performed John
McCain in his home district, and is telegenic and articulate. Paul Ryan
is what Mitt Romney needs.
The left will demonize and demagogue Paul Ryan. They’d do that to
anyone. This is a party that is currently accusing MItt Romney of
murder and previously accused Paul Ryan of killing old people. The only
problem is, the old people are receptive to Paul Ryan’s message. The
bluster you hear today is a Democratic Party excited to have their bogey
man as the Republican veep pick, with a little bit of nervous
apprehension about what Ryan is capable of.
The sighs you hear are Republicans sighing some relief. Finally, the
Romney campaign has a spokesman who can do what Mitt Romney has never
been capable of doing — defend success and articulate a message of why
we must reform our nation’s budget and support free markets.
After all the Romney campaign missteps and flubs of the past few weeks, I am encouraged. But we should be clear here: it is not enough, but it is an excellent start to a reboot.