Ryan’s ‘Roadmap’ draws white hot national spotlight

    U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) is raising his national profile, but he denies he is positioning himself for a bid to run for president in 2012.

    The “Roadmap for America’s Future 2.0” proposed by Ryan received some generally favorable reviews from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week and some predictably negative reviews from critics on the left.

    The CBO issued a 50-page report about Ryan’s plan.

    “The Roadmap, in the form that CBO analyzed, would result in less federal spending … On balance, those changes would reduce federal budget deficits and the federal debt,” the CBO stated.
    The CBO report also said Ryan’s plan would reduce the number of uninsured people in America.
    “Over the next 10 years, removing the existing tax exclusion and replacing it with the fixed tax credit for the purchase of health insurance, as specified in the Roadmap, would decrease the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law. That decrease would occur because the move to a fixed refundable tax credit would have the effect of increasing the subsidy for health insurance to lower-income people, who are also most likely to be uninsured,” the CBO stated.

    To view Ryan’s summary of his “Roadmap,” click here.

    House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has gone to great lengths to insist that Ryan’s “Roadmap” is not the official Republican Party budget plan, although it appears to be the only budget plan submitted by a Republican in Congress so far.

    "Paul Ryan, who’s the ranking member on our budget committee, has done an awful lot of work in putting together his roadmap," Boehner said. "But it’s his. And I know the Democrats are trying to say that it’s the Republican leadership. But they know that’s not the case."

    Ryan’s plan was criticized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

    "Anybody who wants to see the difference between Democrats and Republicans need only look at their budgets," Pelosi said. "The Republican budget provides tax breaks for the wealthy, it ends Medicare as we know it, and privatizes Social Security. Here they go again. Rehashing the same failed Bush policies."

    Ryan’s “Roadmap” also is attracting national media attention. MSNBC commentators Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow assailed Ryan’s plan as an attempt to eliminate Medicare and privatize Social Security.

    In response to the allegation that he wants to end Medicare, Ryan retorted, “Under the President’s budget, Medicare would simply grow itself right into bankruptcy. Unlike the Majority’s health care overhaul that cuts Medicare by nearly a half-trillion dollars to create a new entitlement, the Roadmap makes no change for people 55 and older. The Roadmap makes Medicare  permanently solvent so that it can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for today’s and future generations of seniors. The Medicare reforms provide future beneficiaries (those currently under 55) with  health coverage options just like the program enjoyed by Members of Congress.”

    In response to the allegation that he wants to privatize Social Security, Ryan said, “The Roadmap makes no change for those 55 and older. It provides future retirees with the option to either stay in the traditional government-run system or to enter a system of guaranteed personal accounts. Neither option is privatized. In the personal-accounts system, the accounts are owned by the individual, and managed and overseen by a government board – not a stockbroker or private investment firm. People choosing the reformed system select from a handful of low-risk, government-regulated options – just as Members of Congress and Federal employees do.”

    Ryan also defended his plan in an interview with Fox News, telling John Stossel that he believes America is on a "road to serfdom."

    Meanwhile, Ryan received rave reviews from conservative columnist George Will, who suggested in his column in The Washinton Post that Ryan would make a fine GOP vice presidential candidate.

    "Funding entitlements – especially medical care and pensions for the elderly – requires reinvigorating the economy. Ryan’s map connects three destinations: economic vitality, diminished public debt, and health and retirement security." Will wrote. "To make the economy – on which all else hinges – hum, Ryan proposes tax reform. Masochists would be permitted to continue paying income taxes under the current system. Others could use a radically simplified code."

    Even former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said last week she was "very impressed" by Ryan.

    As for Ryan’s assessement of his own future political ambitions, he told ABC News, "I’ll give you as Shermanesque a quote as I can. I am not going to run for president. I’m just not going to do it. My head’s not that big, and my kids are too small.”

    Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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