The Corner

re: Paul Ryan’s Mentor

Bob: My first magazine article after Obama’s election in 2008 was called “Congressman Kemp’s Playbook,” and it was about how to revive supply-side economics following a bad election, much as Kemp gave them life following the Republican defeat in 1976. I interviewed a bunch of old Kemp hands, including Alan Reynolds, and finished the story this way:

Reynolds isn’t sure whether such a political entrepreneur inhabits the House today, but he does point to 38-year-old Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as a possibility. Earlier this year, Ryan proposed comprehensive legislation that tackles entitlements and taxes. One of its big ideas is a two-rate modified flat tax. It didn’t catch fire in 2008, and chances are it won’t in 2009 either.

Still, Ryan seems determined. The more the economy stumbles, the more likely a political innovator will get a hearing. And it doesn’t hurt that he learned politics from a good teacher. His old boss? Jack Kemp.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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