The Corner

‘The Paul Revere of Fiscal Problems’

If every Republican can become even half as capable as Paul Ryan at defending the GOP budget, it’s difficult to see how Democrats, in the absence of a coherent plan of their own, stand a chance in this debate. In this interview with CBS News, Ryan easily and artfully shoots down just about every Liberal talking point on his budget plan:

On saving (not slashing) Medicare:

RYAN: Part of the problem we have is a lot of people don’t realize just how bad Medicare’s financing in the future is going to become. People don’t realize that Medicare is growing at such an unsustainable rate that it has trillions of dollars of empty promises. So because Medicare is the biggest driver of our debt in the future, the future Medicare system, if it’s going to be saved, will have to be reformed, and a lot of people don’t like the notion of that –

Q: But is there no way to save it without moving to a system of premium support?

RYAN: Yes there is, and it’s what the president’s proposing which is to ration Medicare. We do not want — we do not believe in the idea of having a board of unelected people putting price controls and rationing on Medicare.

Q: But don’t you ration it anyway?

RYAN: The question is, where does the power go? Does the power go to the government, and have them make the decision on how Medicare will work? Or does the power go to the person, the senior citizen — I’m talking about people 54 and below — to see how they decide… We don’t want to have a monopoly, whether it’s a government monopoly or a health insurance monopoly. We believe the future of Medicare, to make is sustainable, is to put the power in the hands of the senior citizen, and subsidize the wealthy less and the middle and lower income person more. And at the same time we’re saying don’t make changes to people in an near retirement… That’s contrary to the president’s proposal. He wants his board of 15 appointees to just indiscriminately cut Medicare to save money…

On end-of-life care:

RYAN: Should that be something the government decides, or –

Q: Well, who decides?

RYAN: I think the family should decide. I really don’t think that government should put itself in a position of deciding how someone’s end of life care occurs. That is a philosophical disagreement. We don’t think the government should have that kind of power.

On “big tax cuts for the wealthy”:

RYAN: We’re not doing that. We’re not agreeing with the president’s tax increases.

Q: Well, 35 to 25 percent is a big cut.

RYAN: But in exchange for losing their tax shelters. So we’re saying — we call it revenue neutral tax reform. The tax reform we’re proposing is just like the tax reform the president’s bipartisan fiscal commission is proposing — supported by a majority of Democrats on the fiscal commission. We’re saying — in exchange for losing their tax shelters, the wealthy and corporations will get no tax shelters — we’ll lower everybody’s tax rates so we have a better economy, so we have better economic growth, so we don’t tax our producers more than our foreign competitors tax theirs…

Q: So you’re willing to cut loopholes for oil and gas companies?

RYAN: That’s exactly — yeah, we want to cut all these loopholes. The whole point is to clean up the tax code, get rid of tax shelters, so we can lower tax rates for everybody. That’s the kind of tax reform we’re talking about.

On running for president:

RYAN: Look, my job — and I think I have a good place right now — is to try and help be the Paul Revere of fiscal problems, is to help get the country on the right track on these economic and fiscal issues… I feel like I can make a contribution where I am right now and that’s where I plan on staying.

Consistent with everything he’s said in the past, but a shame nonetheless. Still, the thought of a Ryan-Obama debate is too enticing for conservatives to give up hope just yet (see today’s poll on the homepage).

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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