The Agenda

Brief Thoughts on Ryan and Bowles-Simpson

Steven Sloan and John Bresnahan of Politico have a story on Paul Ryan’s decision to vote against the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission’s final proposal. Only at the end does it glancingly reference the fact that the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission failed to consider the Medicare reform proposal Ryan had worked on with Alice Rivlin, President Clinton’s former budget director. Moreover, Sloan and Bresnahan don’t reference the fact that the commission essentially entrenched the four-tranche universal health system created under PPACA, which Ryan and other conservatives considered deeply flawed. Having worked tirelessly to oppose PPACA, why would Ryan and his allies endorse it just months later? Sen. Tom Coburn, with whom Ryan collaborated on an alternative to PPACA, did back the deficit commission’s final proposals, and he defended Ryan’s decision not to do the same. 

Far from being intransigent, it seems that Ryan was quite open to a compromise on revenue provided there was significant movement on structural entitlement reform. 

My favorite aspect of the story is its two references to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a stalwart progressive. First, there is this:

“There is not a flexibility in Paul Ryan,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who served on the commission with Ryan.“He saw the problem as spending, period, end of story. It wasn’t a matter of this is a revenue proposal that I could support.”

And then there is this, later in the piece:

To be fair, the liberals on the commission — including Schakowsky — were rigid in their beliefs as well and were unwilling to target entitlements and big cuts to social spending.

There is every reason to believe that Ryan was initially open to a compromise on revenue, yet as it became clear that PPACA was not up for substantive revision and that competitive bidding for Medicare wasn’t on the table, his appetite for giving the deficit commission’s proposal his blessing dwindled. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

Culture

Ezra Klein’s Intellectual Demagoguery

Ezra Klein wants you to know that he doesn’t think Sam Harris is a racist. “I’m not here to say you’re racist, I don’t think you are,” Klein explains in a two-hour debate with Harris on the latter’s podcast, Waking Up. “We have not called you one.” No, not at all. Klein is telling the truth ... Read More
Education

The Scholarship/Activism Balance — A Rejoinder

The Martin Center recently published an article by sociology professor Fabio Rojas, in which he argued that professors should maintain the right balance between their teaching and scholarship on the one hand, and activism on the other. In today's article, the Center's Jay Schalin pushes back somewhat. Schalin ... Read More
U.S.

The Book Comey Wanted to Write

Making the click-through worthwhile: the book James Comey had wanted to write, Facebook starts to feel useless to some writers, an infamous D.C. city councilman manages to make everything worse, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign finds its wish granted. What Did James Comey’s First Draft of A Higher ... Read More
Film & TV

Pro-Life Feminist

My paisana at the Human Life Review are hosting an event in NYC on Thursday, May 3, at the Sheen Center (18 Bleeker Street) for the airing of director Jim Hanon’s half-hour documentary, Pro-Life Feminist. After the viewing, he’ll join the trio of castmates -- Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, Aimee Murphy, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Good News for Pompeo

Looks like he's in, as he should be. https://twitter.com/TomCottonAR/status/987050849317867521 But this fight has been a hint of what life will be like for Trump if the Democrats somehow take the Senate -- they'd refuse to confirm anyone for anything. Read More