JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 17, 2011
National Review's Robert Costa observes that Paul Ryan's much-ballyhooed Roadmap is being stiff-armed by Republicans in Congress:
On Capitol Hill, praise for the Wisconsin Republican comes easy and often, full-scale endorsement of the roadmap less so. Most leading first-year legislators temper their words when discussing the plan. “I think it’s a good start; it’s not perfect,” says Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.). “We have to be able to be flexible.”
Rep. Kristi Noem (R., S.D.), a member of the House leadership team, tells us she likes portions of the roadmap, such as Ryan’s caps on spending, but “beyond that, I haven’t explored too far.”
Rep. Steve Chabot (R., Ohio), who returned to Congress this month after losing his seat in 2008, takes a similar tack. “We are still studying it, what the implications might be for the budget,” he says. “I’m not ready to announce a position. I’m sure there are parts of it that we agree with — probably the vast majority of it — but there may be some things we have problems with. We need more time.”
Rep. Patrick Meehan, a freshman from Pennsylvania, is “reserving judgment.” So is Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.). “It’s something we are digging through slowly,” he says. “I’m not prepared to make a statement on that.” Others point out that they like Ryan’s push to simplify the tax code and his focus on the debt, but become evasive when pressed for their opinion of its adjustments to Medicare and Social Security.
Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a freshman and a close friend of Ryan’s, understands the nervous response by many in his class. “This is Paul Ryan’s vision,” he explains. “Many members in the freshman class would be able to tell you a few good things about Paul’s roadmap, but could they all go out there and defend it? No.”
A “wholesale endorsement” of the roadmap, Duffy adds, is likely not forthcoming: “I have not heard a swell of support saying, ‘Let’s go endorse Paul’s roadmap.’”
Ryan's plan gets way too much credit for its fiscal seriousness -- it expands the deficit over the next decade, and the real savings start to bite decades into the future, when, of course, Congress will be free to ignore the plan's draconian Medicare cuts. The fact that even distant cuts make even conservative Republicans nervous says a lot about the prospects of small government conservatism.