Ryan: Is his budget plan ‘extremist’?

Paul Ryan's budget and vision of a downsized government are now central issues in the election.

It’s official: “Compassionate conservatism is dead,” said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. By picking House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has surrendered to the Tea Party/Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party, entrusting his budget and fiscal policy to a PowerPoint-wielding Young Gun who’s become the GOP’s ideological leader in Congress. Clean-cut, relentlessly fit, with “an Irish altar boy’s widow’s peak and droopy, winsome blue eyes,” Ryan may be “the cutest package cruelty ever came in.” His “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint would give massive tax breaks to the wealthy, said Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Washington Post, while forcing those on food stamps, Medicaid, and other social-service programs to absorb a stunning 60 percent of his spending cuts. He’d help pay for tax cuts for millionaires like Romney by turning Medicare into a voucher program that puts seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies. It’s a thoroughly heartless vision, but exactly what you’d expect from a man who says he was inspired to enter politics by libertarian heroine Ayn Rand, who praised selfishness as a virtue, and disdained the useless “parasites” and “moochers” who live off successful capitalists’ tax dollars.

Ryan is no radical, said Michael Gerson in WashingtonPost.com, and he frightens liberals because his vision of government is so persuasive. A true budget and policy wonk, he’s developed a detailed, “thoroughly modern conservative approach to governing”—one that will shrink our Leviathan government, stimulate economic growth, and pull the country out of the ditch. Democrats insist Ryan wants to do away with Medicare, said Avik Roy in Forbes.com, but it just isn’t true. His latest budget—the one Romney endorsed—not only keeps Medicare as it is for everyone currently over 55, but gives future seniors the option of either staying in Medicare or switching to the new voucher system.

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