Ryan's Plan: A Beginning, not an End

Who said that Paul Ryan's spending and tax overhaul plan is etched in stone?  Some critics are treating the Ryan proposal as a take it or leave it proposition.  Criticism of the plan has begun on the right.  John Stossel offered on Fox and Friends that Ryan wasn't going far enough in redefining programs.  Vasko Kohlmayer on American Thinker's pages today gives a critique, too. 

The criticisms are fair.  The Ryan plan applies the brakes to Uncle Sam's runaway train but doesn't stop it.  More needs to be done than just slowing Washington's race toward the fiscal cliffs.  The federal government needs to be reformed to avoid future financial debacles.  But some context helps in appreciating what Congressman Ryan is attempting.

Among House Republicans, Paul Ryan has consistently led on the call to rein in government spending.  Washington, D.C., isn't known as a city where courage abounds.  Suggesting any changes to Medicare, for instance, usually starts Washington politicians' legs wobbling.  Ryan deserves credit for going where most of his colleagues fear to tread. 

Ryan's proposal is best considered a point of departure.  Plans are, after all, plans; they can be negotiated and improved.  Certainly, there's time to do so.  The Ryan Plan may pass the House largely intact but is sure to die in the Senate.  President Obama would never sign the Ryan proposal into law anyway.  Ryan's proposal won't win serious consideration until January 2013, provided there's a Republican president and GOP control of the House and, likely, the Senate.

In the meantime, conservatives - and their libertarian brethren - need to bring on the criticism.  Nothing wrong with wanting a better budget plan.  Ryan should be encouraged by grassroots conservatives to reach out to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, whose budget proposal is more ambitious than the Congressman's proposal.  Likewise, Paul should sit down with Ryan.  The aim should be to develop a common cause, a broad front, whereby conservatives can move together on budget aims through the 2012 elections. 

Of course, there's nothing pretty about making sausage - policy and legislative sausage, that is.  Paul Ryan's a big boy; he can take being ground up a little in the process.  Ditto Rand Paul.  But at the end of the day, Ryan, Paul, and conservatives need to unite to push a comprehensive and ambitious plan to not just budget-cut, but to transform the relationship between the federal government and citizens.

Rest assured, liberals and Democrats would like nothing better than to see conservatives divided over the budget issue heading into the 2012 elections.      


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