With regard to Paul Ryan’s criticism of Newt Gingrich, I respectfully disagree with Joe Lawler’s assertion the other GOP candidates have “signed on” to Ryan’s fiscal reforms. Although some of the candidates have had kind words for various aspects of Ryan’s plan they haven’t exactly fallen all over themselves to give his plan their unconditional, wholehearted endorsement with perhaps the notable exception of Jon Huntsman.
Back in May, prior to his entry into the presidential race, Huntsman penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he praised Ryan’s efforts towards saving Medicare:
I admire Congressman Paul Ryan’s honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meets its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.
Michele Bachmann voted in favor the Ryan budget plan back in April and has expressed support for his Medicare reforms but with asterisks. She is concerned the plan could impose additional costs on seniors.
On his campaign website, Rick Perry has the following to say about Ryan and Medicare reform:
Lawmakers like Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Jim DeMint, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman have recognized the importance of tackling Medicare’s fiscally unsustainable future and put forward serious, credible proposals that deserve to be fully considered and debated as the nation moves forward to reform Medicare.
Holding the view that Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan ought to be “fully considered and debated” is hardly the same thing as supporting it especially when he puts it on par with plans put forward by Joe Lieberman. However, Perry and Ryan do seem to be far more in simpatico when it comes to Social Security.
Rick Santorum supports Ryan’s policy prescription in principle he doesn’t believe it goes far enough to cut into the deficit.
Ron Paul is far more disdainful of Ryan’s budget than Newt has ever been. Paul argues that Ryan’s measures don’t dismantle the welfare state much less stop America from “being the policeman of the world.”
As for Mitt Romney, he supports Ryan’s plan if necessary but doesn’t necessarily support Ryan’s plan. Under Ryan’s plan only those 55 or over would be eligible for traditional Medicare while those under 55 would get to choose from an array of different plans but not traditional Medicare. For his part, Romney would allow those under 55 the option to also remain in the traditional Medicare program. This is not an insignificant difference.
I’m not so sure that Newt and Ryan are all that far apart on Medicare reform. While Avik Roy criticizes Newt for wanting “to create a Newtified version of Medicare Advantage”, FreedomWorks praises the Ryan plan in part because it transforms Medicare into a “consumer choice system” and cites Medicare Advantage as a successful model of consumer choice.
As someone who was eager to see Ryan make a presidential bid, I think he’s being a bit thin skinned here. Granted, “suicide” is a strong word but I would say most of Newt’s competitors are at best paying Ryan lip service. Besides if Ryan thinks his proposals are what’s best for America and if time is of the essence then why not run against Obama? Could it be that Ryan has doubts that he can beat Obama? Would his candidacy be, dare I say, a suicide mission?
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