By the Left Coast Rebel
Gene Healy at Reason.com:
Some conservatives are considerably more exuberant, viewing Ryan as the budget-slashing paladin we've long been waiting for. As a curmudgeonly libertarian, it's my job to pour cold water on the flames of political passion. So -- hey girl: If you're over the moon about the Ryan pick, let me confess: I'm not so excited. And I just can't hide it.
Ryan was a loyal soldier throughout the free-spending George W. Bush years, voting for No Child Left Behind and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, among other debacles. At the dawn of the Tea Party, Ryan lent his support to the auto and bank bailouts. He voted for TARP and gave "one of the most hysterical speeches" demanding others do the same, as Michelle Malkin observed in 2009.
In a newly popular YouTube video, the articulate congressman lambastes Barack Obama for creating, in Obamacare, yet another entitlement we can't afford. It's an impressive performance, but in 2003, Ryan voted for Bush's prescription-drug entitlement, adding over $16 trillion in unfunded liabilities to the national tab.
Ryan's much-hyped budget plan would eliminate the deficit, "but not until 2040 or so," my colleague Mike Tanner explains, and his cuts in domestic discretionary spending amount to an average of just $35.2 billion per year below what Obama himself has proposed.
More at the link.
Based on his recent and fairly recent track record, I understand the trepidation many Tea Partiers and libertarians have toward Paul Ryan. Did he betray his supposed fiscal conservative cred for sheer political expediency? Can fiscal conservatives trust him to do the right thing when the going gets tough (for example: arguing for a strong 'no' on future bailouts, socialism, industry takeovers, etc.?). Would he as veep?
|Paul Ryan: Antidote or hype?|
I mean, come on, the auto bailouts? Obama's "stimulus" bills? Really? Voting to make the Patriot Act permanent? Come on.
Unfortunately, though, the fact that I personally like Paul Ryan says less about him talking the fiscal conservative talk but not walking the walk than it does that he is one of the only adults in D.C. that actually has the ability to communicate the fiscal dangers this nation is in the midst of/confronting and has put forth some kind of plan to at least start the desperately-needed discussion.
As my good buddy WC Varones (hardly a Republican hack) puts it:
It's a bold choice. Most folks thought Romney was a wimp and would go for a safe choice like Rob Portman. Ryan has actually proposed a budget plan (something the Senate Democrats haven't done for years), which leaves him open to the Democrat attack machine about what might get cut. They'll try to scare seniors in particular that he wants to take away their Medicare. Ryan's budget doesn't go far enough, of course, and relies on overly optimistic growth assumptions, but like the Simpson-Bowles plan that Obama strangled in its crib, it's a step in the right direction and a good starting point for discussions.
Ryan has his flaws. He voted for TARP and S-CHIP and Medicare Part D. But he's one of the few adults in Washington actually willing to discuss the fiscal crisis. And he is young, smart, energetic, charismatic, and will make Joe Biden look like he's singing The Villages in the debate.
Being Romney's veep at least puts fiscal/entitlement reform issues on the table and as a tea party-supporting libertarian kinda guy, I'm excited about that.
Unfortunately, limited government proponents such as Reason's Nick Gillespie also noted earlier this year (when the Ryan budget was passed by the House) that,
Ryan's plan is weak tea. Here we are, years into a governmental deficit situation that shows no sign of ending. How is it that Ryan and the Republican leadership cannot even dream of balancing a budget over 10 years' time? All of the discussion of reforming entitlements and the tax code and everything else is really great and necessary - I mean that sincerely - but when you cannot envision a way of reducing government spending after a decade-plus of an unrestrained spending binge, then you are not serious about cutting government. If Milton Friedman was right that spending is the proper measure of the government's size and scope in everybody's life, then the establishment GOP is signaling what we knew all along: They are simply an echo of the Democratic Party.
More: read my post earlier this year on the Ryan budget here, or for a different perspective on Paul Ryan, check out Western Hero's excellent post from earlier this year.
Additional must read: Dave Nalle @ the Republican Liberty Caucus: "Paul Ryan: The Establishment's Idea of a Radical"