Paul Ryan – A Role Model for Washington Leadership

I have exactly one bumper-sticker on the back of my car, and you’re looking at it. I’m talking about the photo to the side of this column – the one featuring an image of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Most of my friends have absolutely no idea what point the sticker is making, which I suppose is understandable. Aside from the fact that we live in Colorado and not Wisconsin, a lot of them aren’t nearly as engaged in politics as I am. Thus, they don’t recognize his face. When one of them asks me the meaning of the sticker, I explain that it’s a parody of the iconic “Hope” image from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. I tell them who Ryan is and what he’s about. I describe why the “Math” mantra stands for the solving of our country’s serious problems with logical, fact-based solutions, rather than with the empty, emotionally-driven slogans that our president has been relying on for four years now.  Well, I try to sum all that up in layman’s terms anyway. My friends politely nod and grin, but I’m pretty well convinced that they don’t think the bumper-sticker is nearly as clever as I do. Oh well.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan of Paul Ryan and his leadership. I have been for some time. If he would have decided to run for the presidency as it was rumored last year, I would have been an enthusiastic volunteer for his campaign.

The reason why is simple: I believe he’s quite possibly the only leader in Washington who both understands the dire state of our country’s economic future AND has the guts, knowledge, and drive to actually fix it.

Ryan offered proof of this once again this week when he unveiled a GOP annual budget that dared to cut even more from our federal deficit than the one he proposed last year. Like last year, he put forth critical entitlement reform which has long been considered the third rail of our national politics. It’s also a must if we are to have any chance of avoiding economic armageddon in the foreseeable future. After all, the largest problem facing our economy today is our national debt, and our entitlement programs are indisputably the leading drivers of that debt. These programs are collapsing under their own weight. That’s a fact. They’re bringing in less money than they give out, and they’ll all become insolvent within a matter of years.

Anyone with half a brain in Washington already knows this, but it hasn’t stopped the Democrats from already decrying Ryan’s plan with the same tired song of blatant misrepresentations and shameless fear-mongering that they performed last year.

Sadly, most politicians view their job as a profession and not a public service. Their primary goal is not to deal with problems, but to stay in power. So, if it’s politically detrimental for them to deal with a problem, they’ll have no qualms in running away from it… even if that means passing the problem on to future generations that include their children and grandchildren. They won’t only hide from the problem but they’ll attack whoever steps forward to try and solve it. Demagoguery is their weapon of choice and they’ll use it relentlessly to scare enough votes out of the electorate to win more seats for their party.

Paul Ryan knows this all too well. He’s pointed out such slander across both sides of the aisle, and he’s been burned by it himself time after time.

Last year, President Obama challenged congress to come up with serious solutions for fixing our country’s entitlement programs. He even pledged a truce on partisan sniping over the issue, saying, “We’re not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as, ‘Well, you know, that’s — the other party’s being irresponsible. The other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens. That the other party is doing X, Y, Z’”.

Paul Ryan, who has become the Republicans point man on economic issues over the past couple of years, answered the challenge with his presentation of the GOP budget that included substantive reform to Medicare and a reduction of $4 trillion from the deficit. Ryan was frank in his belief that critics would distort his proposal for their own political gain. He just didn’t realize how far up the defamation would go.

To address Ryan’s budget and the economy as a whole, President Obama invited the congressman to a speech he planned to deliver at George Washington University. He even reserved a seat for the Ryan directly in front of the podium. The congressman was reportedly hopeful that the president was going to take his budget seriously and perhaps offer additional ideas of his own. Instead, Obama proclaimed to the world that Ryan’s budget would essentially lead to the destruction of America, including letting bridges collapse and forcing autistic and disabled kids to fend for themselves. It was truly a double-cross and one of the more shameful examples of demagoguery ever put on display by a president. A complete failure of leadership on the most important issue of our time.

It didn’t end there. The Democratic party followed suit with a well-financed attack campaign on the GOP budget. The message coming out of the DNC was that the plan would end Medicare for the millions of senior citizens that depend on it – a completely false charge that the non-partisan, fact-checking organization, Politifact later labeled the “Biggest Lie of the Year.” Despite the lies, the campaign was effective. Though the bill passed the House, it died in the Senate and the Democratic party even won some special-election seats by running on the issue.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Ryan’s own party threw him under the bus. Recognizing the political conundrum, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate shied away from the budget and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich went as far as claiming that it was “right wing social engineering.”

One wouldn’t have blamed the House Republicans if they stayed silent on entitlement reform this year, in hopes of waiting until after the 2012 election before removing their tails from between their legs. I’m sure the temptation was there. Thankfully, the GOP has at least one persistent leader who recognizes the urgency of the problem and did not let that happen. I’m not talking about any of the presidential candidates. Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are still speaking in broad terms when it comes to entitlement reform because they’re afraid of being put on the defensive the same way the Republicans in congress were last year. I’m talking about who I consider the de facto leader within the GOP, Paul Ryan.

With this year’s budget, it seems the Republican party is firmly behind him. I hope the support sticks. If it doesn’t, I’m convinced that the congressman won’t be detoured. He’ll continue to spit out as many bold bills as it takes to get this nation’s fiscal house in order, whether it be through their passage or through forcing media attention to the severity of the problems we face. I’m convinced that he’ll continue to reach across the aisle to people like Senator Ron Wyden and even former president Bill Clinton in hopes of building a consensus. I’m convinced that he’ll remain a strong, articulate defender of the types of policies that will save this country from falling off a cliff, without worrying about how it will hurt him politically.

By now, it probably sounds like I’ve got a man-crush on the guy, but I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due… especially when there’s very little done in Washington that deserves credit. Paul Ryan’s a genuine leader, and fiscal conservatives like myself couldn’t ask for a better advocate than him. Now… If we could somehow figure out a way of getting him on the presidential ballot.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Agraphicartist

    Your points are all taken with one exception.  Mr. Ryan refuses to address the death and destruction of our children and our economy on two fronts.  War will drain an economy and make a very few people incredibly wealthy.  Mr. Ryan does not find this as a problem.  He addresses Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as if they, not the Congress and the POTUS, are at fault for the economic straits we are in.  The second front is even more dire.  When corporations are able to ship jobs to China, where they pay 23 cents an hour to replace American jobs at much higher rates of pay and when those same corporations are rewarded with billions in tax breaks for their private jets, yachts and parties, when Wall Street can manipulate the price of gasoline so that they make millions while average Americans choose between getting to work and eating, America is under attack by people like Mr. Ryan.  Listen to what the candidates have all said.  Have they issued any statements showing their disgust at Wall Street executives thumbing their collective noses while they drink champagne, looking out on the protesters who only want fair labor practices, a fair shot at the American dream.  No, Mr. Ryan, your comrades in the Teathuglikkkon party may be snowed by your B/S but we of the 99% of the rest of America are not.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC36UFUX3FP57OIQ74YHHQUL3M wally

    Amen.

  • cmacrider

    John:  Aside from the fact you understate the courage, integrity, and dedication of Paul Ryan, I am glad to see a journalist giving this man the credit he deserves.  Ryan can no longer be simply classified as a politician …. he deserves to classified as a statesman.

    • John Daly

      Agreed. Patriot is more the word I was thinking of.

      • cmacrider

        John:  I don’t intend to quibble.  But Ryan’s proposals, if accepted, would directly benefit me as a Canadian.  Therefore his policies are more than just “patriotic” they take him into the sphere of being a “statesman.”

  • Glen

    He is by far the most knowledgable and courageous man in either party’s political leadership.  Good piece John.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

      Paul Ryan’s budget is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to everyone else. It reduces the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year. The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.

      • John Daly

        Thanks for providing a perfect example of what I’m talking about, Wil. Ryan’s plan SAVES these entitlement programs. It’s leaving them “as is” that is killing them.

      • Glen

        If what you say is so, it would give the rich $150,000 to hire more poor people, grow the economy and give others the opportunity to enjoy prosperity while preserving the safety net programs for those who still need them.   Sounds better than Obama’s approach which is to portray those who prosper as evil and pitting them against those who aren’t. 

        Or the feds could take that $1500,000 and waste much, then fund programs that create more dependency & poverty.  Your vision is quite cruel, Wil.

        • Agraphicartist

          There has not been one single American hired by the “job creators” in American factories in the United States since the Bush tax cuts for the rich took effect.  Not one.  If we put an excise tax on imported goods that would be equal to what it would cost to manufacture in the United States with American workers, and gave those corporations that build, produced and sold in the United States with American workers, this would all go away.  More Americans working means more taxes coming into the coffers, instant resolution to the deficit.