Paul Ryan's decision to say 'no' leaves him in a good spot
By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board
Despite declining to enter the presidential theater, Ryan remains one of his party's most innovative and thoughtful voices on fiscal and economic matters.
"I am where I am. I like where I am," he told the Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert. "I feel like I can have a huge impact on the course of the debate in this country."
We have disagreed with Ryan from time to time; we think his incessant demand to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, for example, voiced in the Gilbert interview, is not only shortsighted but just plain unrealistic. It's not going to happen anytime soon. But the congressman is a thoughtful conservative who, like his mentor, the late Jack Kemp, is an ideas machine, especially in the areas of entitlements and tax policy.
The nation's laws in both areas need serious reform. This nation's government has not fully accounted for the coming burden of baby boomer retirements on Medicare and Social Security, which is a fiscal tsunami against which the nation right now is not well-defended. Corporate taxes remain too high and companies have to spend millions sorting through the dozens of loopholes to lower their effective burden to a competitive level. The tax law for individuals is nearly indecipherable. Can anyone actually do their own taxes anymore? There has to be a better way, and we hope with Ryan's leadership, Democrats and Republicans alike can work to find it.
"If we get it right in Congress, I think that can also help us win the presidency," Ryan told Gilbert. "In the intervening two years, Republicans need to show who we are."
Indeed, they do need to do that. And if that means following Ryan's lead by offering smart, workable plans that can attract bipartisan support, the GOP will deserve credit. But if it means simply saying "no" to anything the president or his party propose and offering nothing of substance themselves, well, then that will deserve a different response.
We will support Ryan when we can; oppose him when we must. But there is little question that Wisconsin's influence in the federal government is enhanced by his new position.