Politics aside, Ryan says it’s all about the ideas
Congressman Paul Ryan says the public is ahead of the political class when it comes to understanding the gravity of the problems our country faces. “They’re ready for solutions,” he said.
In an interview Monday in Delavan, Ryan said he thinks the time has come when voters want to elect people who have ideas and solutions — and he’s optimistic his ideas are the ones they’re looking for.
The Democrats, he says, just don’t have any ideas.
Ryan is back home this week traveling the district in his mobile office. In addition to helping constituents solve problems with the federal government, Ryan is sure to hear plenty about the issues that will drive this fall’s election.
Although it’s likely the political stalemate will continue from now until the election in November, the proposals pushed by each side give an insight into how each would frame the issues for the upcoming campaigns.
Just a week ago, the House passed a reconciliation budget proposed by Ryan’s House Budget Committee that would replace about $110 billion in cuts set to go into effect early next year.
The plan would scale back cuts in the military, but other savings would come from things that Republican House members know Democrats would never agree to. They include cuts to Medicaid, food stamps and funding to implement President Obama’s signature health care law.
When asked about the political strategy of putting forth a plan that had no chance of being enacted, Ryan seemed perplexed that it would be seen as a political maneuver.
“It’s something I believe in,” Ryan said.
But on his blog, Democrat Rob Zerban, Ryan’s likely opponent in the fall, called the plan a “bombs, not bread” budget. “Once again Congressman Ryan refused to listen to our military leaders and instead placed his entire deficit-reduction plan on the shoulders of families and seniors around our country,” Zerban wrote.
Of course Ryan doesn’t exactly see it that way.
Ryan is lauded for his conservative credentials, and shrugged at the suggestion that many of his positions are moderate.
However, he acknowledges that many of those ideas have had bipartisan support in the past and harken back to the days when both parties could compromise.
Does he think tax cuts are the key to job creation? He’s promoting tax reform, which eliminates a wide range of tax breaks that allow companies like Apple to pay a 9 percent tax bill and GE to avoid paying any taxes at all. “If taxes go up for some, that’s OK,” Ryan said.
Does he think we need to slash government spending right away? Many of the tea party freshmen (who Ryan credits with passing his House budget) are unwavering in their belief that government needs to stop deficit spending right away. Ryan, however, says we can avoid the turmoil that austerity measures have caused in Europe by pursuing a course of fiscal responsibility. The day of reckoning is coming, but it’s not here yet.
The challenge, he says, is that every time there’s a proposal to eliminate a tax break or spending program, what he calls the tax expenditure lobby comes calling.
“If we propose eliminating a tax credit for wind turbines, the wind turbine lobby shows up to oppose it,” he said.
Ryan acknowledged that most tax breaks go to the top 2 percent, but they fight hard to keep their benefits. (Of course they fight hard, and have plenty of money behind them.)
Ryan says the key to making those reforms comes from voters. If they begin to understand the benefits of reforming the hodge-podge complexity of our tax system, it will allow legislators to get the job done, he said.
And why haven’t any of those ideas gained traction?
Ryan lays the blame squarely at the feet of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
And the Republicans’ unwillingness to support anything coming from the White House or Democrats? That’s on Obama and Reid, too.
However, if there is room for agreement, both Democratic and Republican voters wonder why we can’t at least get a few things done.
So come November, we’ll find out if Ryan’s hunch about the electorate is true.
Are they ahead of the political class enough to elect a Congress and president who have the right ideas to get something done?