Grading Seriousness On A Curve

Aug 17 2012 @ 7:33am

by Patrick Appel

Douthat argues that Ryan has "pushed his party in a politically risky but more responsible direction ":

Most Republicans would have been happy to hang the White House’s decision to help pay for its health care bill with $700 billion worth of Medicare cuts around President Obama’s neck without proposing any entitlement reforms of their own. But Ryan didn’t just propose a much more sweeping Medicare overhaul, he proceeded to do the hard work of persuading his fellow House Republicans to actually vote for his entitlement-reforming budget – twice.

In a later post, he defends Paul Ryan's seriousness:

[T]he ongoing attempt to portray him as unserious and uncourageous holds him to a standard that no figure in American politics, President Obama very much included, comes even close to meeting. No other American lawmaker has been as active as Ryan across so many policy fronts these last few years. No other Republican — with the arguable exception of Tom Coburn, who’s retiring after this term — has staked out so many specific and controversial positions on difficult issues. Ryan’s supposedly “sophisticated” liberal critics like to downplay this reality, preferring to paint him as a kind of flimflam man instead. But they aren’t actually sophisticated, and he’s actually legit.

Jonathan Bernstein counters:

If you think that bipartisan budget-balancing is important then you really have to talk about Ryan's central role in keeping the Simpson-Bowles group from succeeding; had Ryan chosen to support a plan, it almost certainly would at least have been approved by the commission, and would have in my view at least have had an excellent chance of being adopted by Congress and signed into law. Granted: that would really have forced him to take on important interests and people within his own party, in a way that fantasizing about ending traditional Medicare and Social Security don't do. And because he wasn't willing and really has never been willing to do that, Douthat's case for Ryan just won't hold up.

Galupo's primary complaint about Ryan:

My problem with Ryan isn’t on the entitlement reform side; it’s on the revenue side. His assumption that another round of supply-side tax cuts will spark growth and unleash pent-up consumer demand strikes me as just as wooly-headed as the Tea Party freshmen’s knowledge of the federal budget.??