Ryan willing to grab ‘third rail’
of entitlement reform

For those who harbored doubt about Mitt Romney’s willingness to play bold, doubt no longer. The selection of Paul Ryan was the single boldest choice Romney could have made, framing the election choice between the fiscal miscreant, President Barack Obama, as starkly as one could imagine.

Romney simply could not have picked a more formidable person – someone with overwhelming intellect, keen understanding of economic and budgetary nuance, ability to navigate the cross-currents of Washington, courage by the buckets, charisma by the truckloads and vision by the metric mile – than Ryan. That is what makes Romney’s selection safe.

What makes his selection bold is that Ryan is the only man in Washington with the wattage and moxie to put pen to pad and spell out an all-in plan to reform entitlements, cut the deficit, chop the debt and lay groundwork for wholesale reform of the federal tax code.

Any proposal as big as the Ryan Plan brings huge risk, of course, but Romney pushed all that to the wind.

Until now, Romney has been Mr. Cautious. His candidacy has been a wall-to-wall exercise in plodding, disciplined, methodical consistency – did I mention cautious, too?  Most days, even when effective, it hasn’t been exactly exhilarating to watch.

But all that changed when Ryan entered stage right. Everything most people thought they knew about Romney’s candidacy went out the window. Romney, it seems, has his sights on something bigger than eking out an electoral win.

To wrestle the debt, or not. To reform Washington, or not. To fix the economy and confront looming calamities with bold leadership, or stay the course plotted by Greece. To rebalance a Medicare program with an unfunded liability of $100 trillion or re-elect that blundering dunderhead Joe Biden. These are the questions that, thanks to Ryan’s selection, will dominate the presidential discourse over the next 75 days.

The Ryan pick was transformative because Ryan’s record is transformative.

In the nation’s capital full of weasels, wusses and wannabes, Ryan is the antithesis of all that. While most members of Congress quaked or faked in the shadow of a growing fiscal black cloud, Ryan jumped into the fray unafraid, grabbing the “third rail” of American politics, entitlement reform, when no one else has or would. And the Dude has done it with more command and panache than the Old Spice guy.

Sidebar: It’s hard to tell what makes the liberal intelligentsia angrier—the fact that Ryan is so much smarter than they are, or the fact that Ryan is so much cooler. Whatever the case, he’s obviously both. And when Ryan debates Biden, we’ll find out exactly which political party is anti-intellectual.

To understand this man’s gravity, it is important to understand the Ryan Plan in its full and proper historical context. It represents the single largest proposed overhaul of government since LBJ’s Great Society, only in the other direction. Not since Maggie Thatcher busted Great Britain’s unions and denationalized her country has another western leader levied so thorough and so bold a plan to tame big government as Ryan.

The Reagan Revolution, for all its enduring glory, was largely a fight over the revenue side of the federal estate. While there’s plenty to like in the Ryan Plan for tax cutters, at its core it restructures, retools and resets government in ways more bold than even Reagan offered.

And but for that droll, crusty Mormon who refuses to release his tax records (by whom I mean Harry Reid, of course), the Ryan Plan might already be law, at least in part.

As one would expect, Obama pounced quickly on the Ryan nod. The usual stuff came from Mobsters of Hope in Chicago: Romney loves the rich as much as Ryan hates the old, and they both want to fire your grandpa just in time to make sure your grandma dies of cancer.

But it all sounds like so much background noise in the shadow of a pick as glorifyingly gutsy as Romney’s selection of Ryan. This go-round, Obama will have to do better than the same old carpet-bomb imbued with the usual bile.  Who knows? With Ryan chasing him around the country, the president might even be forced to outline a plan to clean up the mess that’s accumulated on his watch.

He could call it the Obama Plan. It would be four years late.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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Peter, I could be wrong but I have heard both Romney and Ryan say numerous times that there will be no changes to Medicare for anyone 54 years or older.  For younger people and trying to get cost containment in place, I think they will be looking at a number of alternatives, including vouchers for those desiring to get their own private health insurance.  On the other hand Obama is preparing to strip some 700 plus million dollars out of Medicare to help pay for Obamacare.  Ask yourself, what will that do the existing Medicare services and co-payments?  The bottom line is that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Healthcare System in the United States, starting with ways to reduce the costs of both medical services and private insurance premiums.  That is the first thing that should have been done with Obamacare, but wasn’t.  Most Americans still have no idea of the crap that is still hidden away in those 2000 pages of legislation and the damage it will do to healthcare in the country.  Romney/Ryan will repeal Obamacare, go back to square one and start all over again.  Let’s face it, if the entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicade, Social Security & Welfare) are not revised and put on a financially sound footing, they will all go bankrupt and the recipients will then get nothing.  One has to wonder, could this be Obama’s vision for the future of America as the new Socialist Utopia?  Peronally, I don’t want to find out and come November, Obama has to go.

“There you go again”, Ronald Reagan might have chided Josh Penry for rejoining the team of pathological Republican liars (Romney-Ryan) to sprinkle “fairy dust” on gullible local “conservatives” (“Ryan willing to grab ‘third rail’ of entitlement reform”, August 17, 2012).

Apparently, Penry missed Monday’s Republican “talking point”:  because of Ryan’s proliferating prevarications, the term “entitlement reform” is now discouraged in favor of the deliberately misleading, disingenuous, and oxymoronic “saving” or “preserving” those programs (particularly Medicare).

Moreover, to glibly characterize President Obama as a “fiscal miscreant” willfully and dishonestly ignores thirty years of empirical evidence to the contrary.

Republican icon Reagan and Bush I doubled the national debt (as percent of GDP) by using massive deficit spending to “stimulate” the economy while attributing economic growth to tax cuts (“Voodoo economics’), prompting Reagan’s own Budget Director David Stockman to resign in protest.

Bush II increased the national debt by another 50% by using “off-the-books” deficit spending to fund two more tax cuts (hoping to magically “stimulate” the economy), two wars, and Medicare Part D – all of which “fiscal conservative” Paul Ryan voted for. 

Since President Obama took office, the national debt has increased by another 33%—much of which is attributable to Bush and Ryan.  As Stockman wrote in the New York Times on Monday, President Obama inherited a debacle caused by “thirty years of Republican apostasy” that “crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt”.

When President Obama responsibly proposed similar fiscal stimuli as employed by Republicans, Ryan voted “no” – opining that they would be ineffectual.  Ryan then aggressively sought stimulus funds for his district, because they would “create jobs”—but lied to his constituents and the press about doing so, all-the-while preaching that Obama’s stimulus was “a failure”.

Welcome back to the liars’ club, Josh.
              Bill Hugenberg
              543 Rim Drive
              Grand Junction, CO 81507
Word Count = 300         257-1998

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