The GOP’s fiscal leader explains why House Republicans will vote to reform Medicare and why the public is ready to listen.
Has the president ever called him to talk? “Never once,” he says, notwithstanding Mr. Obama’s many public statements that he wants “aggressive” conversations with Republicans, especially Mr. Ryan. “He keeps saying that,” says the Wisconsin native, but “they don’t talk to us. It just doesn’t really happen. I don’t know what else to say.”
So goes the reality of today’s Washington, especially after Mr. Obama dropped his budget this week that does almost nothing about everything. To call it a punt is unfair to the game of football. That abdication makes Mr. Ryan, by dint of his expertise and his influence with other Republicans, the most important fiscal voice in Washington. As supply-siders used to say—and Mr. Ryan came of political age as a protege of Jack Kemp—Mr. Ryan is now the man on the margin. He says he’s determined not to waste the opportunity, notwithstanding the huge political risks.
“The way I look at things is if you want to be good at this kind of job, you have to be willing to lose it. Number two, the times require this. And number three, if you don’t believe in your principles, and applying those principles, then what’s the point?” He mentions limited government and economic freedom. “I believe these are the best solutions. I believe they will result in growth and opportunity for the country.”
“It’s important that we’re the growth party, and cutting spending now is really not pain and root canal. Wait until we don’t do that and what happens later. The question we have for ourselves in this country is, do we reform government, reform our entitlement programs, get these programs that were written in the 20th century to work in the 21st century, and have pro-growth policies to help our businesses that make us internationally competitive?”
“That’s growth. What austerity is, what pain is, is doing nothing, staying on the path we’re on. And then having our own debt crisis and having our own European kind of fix where you’re cutting everything and raising taxes.” He calls this a future of “managing decline.”