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Monday, August 22, 2011

Ryan's candidacy would force the 2012 election campaign beyond platitudes about the debt crisis

This report on a conversation between Paul Ryan and Chris Christie strikes me as important — indeed, electrifying (emphasis mine, elisions in original):

[S]ome of the most interesting developments last week took place away from the cameras in the solitude of the Rocky Mountains, where Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan consulted with friends and family about whether he should join the race. Ryan has been quietly looking at a bid for nearly three months, since Indiana governor Mitch Daniels called him to say he wasn’t running. But that consideration took a serious turn over the past two weeks, following a phone call with New Jersey governor Chris Christie in early August.

Ryan and Christie spoke for nearly an hour about the presidential race, according to four sources briefed on the conversation. The two men shared a central concern: The Republican field is not addressing the debt crisis with anything beyond platitudes.

Ryan, on the other hand, is the author of the detailed “Path to Prosperity” budget that passed the House last spring. His plan proposes structural reform to ensure the long-term viability of Medicare and other entitlements.

Christie has echoed Ryan’s concerns. In February, he gave a tough speech at the American Enterprise Institute, chastising Republicans for their timidity on entitlement reform and spending. “Let me suggest to you that my children’s future and your children’s future is more important than some political strategy. .  .  . We need to say these things and we need to say them out loud. When we say we’re cutting spending, when we say everything is on the table, when we say we mean entitlement programs, we should be specific,” Christie lectured. “Here is the truth that no one is talking about: You’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security.... We have to reform Medicare because it costs too much and it is going to bankrupt us... And we have to fix Medicaid because it’s not only bankrupting the federal government, it’s bankrupting every state government. There you go. If we’re not honest about these things, on the state level about pensions and benefits and on the federal level about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, we are on the path to ruin.”

Gov. Christie was characteristically blunt in that speech. And his very point is that bluntness is not only worth the risks, it's not only the right thing to do, it is absolutely essential.

Anyway, as they say, read the whole thing, and decide for yourself. But it sounds to me like both Gov. Christie and Chairman Ryan are coming to a shared conclusion that events — and even destiny — are impelling a Ryan candidacy. And they are right.

Let me say something else just as important, and just as blunt:

Barack Obama is going to base his 2012 campaign on demagoguery against the Ryan budget whether Paul Ryan is the GOP nominee or not.

Pretending it didn't pass the House, pretending it wasn't voted for by most GOP Senators — these are not options on the table. And you are simply delusional if you think Obama is going to fail to get the best possible use he can out of the Ryan budget as a political weapon, or that there's any way the GOP nominee can keep Obama from his best efforts.

So our choice is who we want to have as our side's spokesperson in defending and, indeed, advocating the Ryan budget.

The truth, if communicated clearly and forcefully, is a platform we can indeed win on. The Ryan budget would have kept our national debt rating from being downgraded. The Ryan budget would actually save Social Security and Medicare from the collapse that is a mathematical certainty under existing law. The Ryan budget will dispel the cloud of dread over the economy, and free the private sector to restore job growth and prosperity, thereby resulting in more government revenue collections without any increase in tax rates or brake on productivity. It's not perfect, and in some respects it may not go far enough, and it contemplates a slower rate of change in the national direction than many conservatives want. Nevertheless, it is real, and it is specific, and it is on the table. The medicine it contains will be bitter but we can honestly expect it to be effective, and there are no other alternatives.

Our side owns it. If you can't see that, you've had your eyes closed and your head in the sand since at least February. And given that we own it, we must not fail to make the best use of it that we can — boldly and without any trace of shame, for what is shameful are those who deny the problems and seek to maintain the status quo!

In poker, you want to be pushing all your chips in when you have a "monster hand." You may still lose. But that is the way you win big. Election Day in November 2012 will be the showdown, folks. So yeah, I'm not just willing to take the risk of doubling down on the Ryan budget by nominating Paul Ryan for POTUS — I'm eager to do that. I'm eager because it's the rational, logical, calm choice for this situation.

Or if you want, in honor of the changing season, a football metaphor instead: Sometimes you decide not to play it cautious, and you don't keep that blocking back in to guard against the maximum blitz that you know is coming. Sometimes you smile when your QB spots that blitz, and because he is the team captain and a star in whom you have more confidence than anyone on your team, you want the ball in his hands to exploit the vulnerabilities created by that blitz. Paul Ryan is our Roger Staubach or Joe Montana. (Or being from Wisconsin, maybe he'd pick Bart Starr or that Brett whatever-fellow. You know what I mean.)

Conservatives must take their counsel on this matter from George S. Patton (himself quoting Danton or perhaps Napoleon or Frederick the Great): "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" If we are not bold enough to tell the truth, we will not win, or deserve to, and we cannot put things right.

Posted by Beldar at 12:38 AM in 2012 Election, Budget/economics, Congress, Obama, Politics (2011), Ryan | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 22, 2011 2:09:26 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Why, then, is the GOP field generally hiding behind platitudes? I think it likely that this is the way the "smart money" is betting. "Smart" in the sense that GOP appropriators e.g. Don Young of Alaska, or witlings e.g. Fred Upton of in-the-dark-but-at-least-they-aint-incandescent-bulbs think they can wave this issue, and promptly heave it into the deep freeze after winning in 2012.

Nuts. Such witlings are going to test any GOP Prez. I would remind you that sending Ryan from the House to the Executive Mansion, will remove a force for good from the House. I think this fact weighs in Boehner's encouragement of Ryan. Getting rid of The One is important. But getting a good Congress is vital too. Given the gerrymandering of the House, I think defeating Democrats is approaching diminishing returns. There's a lot of GOP hogs who need to be sent to the Primary Slaughterhouse. If they aren't I can see a third party on the horizon in 2014. It would have a lot of attraction.

It's also worth mentioning that poltics, unlike sports, doesn't have any relatively easy rules to follow, and hence sports metaphors are as likely to cause trouble as they are to generate udnerstanding. A better exmaple is Tom Dewey's 1948 campaign against Harry Truman. He stuck to platitudes, talked about uniting the country with leadership. Meanwhile Harry was ordering up plenty of broadsides from Hell. I'll subscribe to your original point that the Right owns the Ryan budget and better yell for it as hard as we can.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) Ronnie made the following comment | Aug 22, 2011 5:25:22 AM | Permalink

Oh yeah! I'm finally starting to get excited about this election. What really encourages me that he is in is the hiking trip with Bill Bennett. I've always thought there was a chance Ryan would get in because Bennett who is a very close friend never closed the door on Ryan getting in. This told me that he knew Ryan hadn't closed the door.

I agree with everything you said. I want 2012 to be a debate over the big issue that face us as a nation. How much government? I don't believe there is a better technical spokesman, but yet appealing and trustworthy one than Paul Ryan. All of the other candidates speak in platitudes, because they own a command of the details about these issues. I'm convinced that Ryan can convince the American people that he is on the right side and Obama is promising them sand castles in the air.

I would also add that the other most impressive voice on these issues have been Marco Rubio( He is scheduled to speak at the Reagan library on this very issue tomorrow,8-23-11). Rubio speaks to the this issue in a different way than Ryan. Rubio is like the meta-narrative and Ryan is the narrative. Ryan gets to all the details, whereas Rubio is able to paint the picture at a higher level of what we are against. Rubio was one of the few to stand up and defend Ryan when a lot of Republicans started shying away from him. I'm reading to purchase my R&R Express bumper sticker now!

(3) RiverRat made the following comment | Aug 22, 2011 12:20:02 PM | Permalink

Bill,

Every point you've made I'll agree with but must ask if you think Ryan could actually win the presidency on this issue alone and with an absence of executive experience?

Personally, I don't think so. But I'd sure as hell support a Perry/Ryan ticket if Rick will embrace Ryan's thinking.

Now writing from Cedar Park and not Cali. :-)

(4) dchamil made the following comment | Aug 24, 2011 9:57:38 AM | Permalink

Wikiquote in French attributes the "de l'audace" quote to Georges Jacques Danton.

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