Ryan's Bipartisanship Fib

by Jonathan Chait | April 6, 2011

One reason I keep writing about Paul Ryan, aside from the centrality he's assumed in the role of Republican policymaking, is that he's managed to cultivate a reputation for honesty that may reflect his personal charm, but is totally at odds with the evidence. Case in point: Ryan has been boasting about the bipartisanship of his Medicare privatization:

[A]t Tuesday’s big roll-out press conference, Ryan was quick to boast about his Democratic partner.

“Alice Rivlin is a great, proud Democrat,” Ryan said, citing her position at the Brookings Institute and as the head of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bill Clinton. “This path to prosperity builds upon those Ryan-Rivlin plans that we put in here.”

Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he delivered a similar line when asked where he might be willing to compromise. 

“Alice Rivlin and I designed these Medicare and Medicaid reforms,” Ryan said. “Alice Rivlin was Clinton’s OMB director… she’s a proud Democrat at the Brookings institution. These entitlement reforms are based off of those models that she and I worked on together.”

Later, at an event at the American Enterprise Institute, Ryan invoked the name of the first-ever director of the Congressional Budget Office again in explaining his plans for Medicare.
“I worked with Alice Rivlin,” Ryan told the crowd. “She and I were the chairs of the health care task force in the commission, and we agreed on a structure, which is not the voucher structure but a premium support structure.” 

Listening to that, you'd probably think Rivlin endorses Ryan's plan. She doesn't:

“We talked fairly recently and I said, ‘You know, I can’t support the version that you have in the budget,” Rivlin said in an interview with POLITICO. “I don’t actually support the form in which he put it in the budget.”
“That’s not quite fair,” Rivlin added when informed that Ryan had used her name to advocate his plan. “We had worked together but the version that’s in the budget resolution is not one that I would subscribe to.”

In all three mentions of Rivlin, Ryan carefully hedged his wording to leave his audience with the impression that she supports his plan without quite saying so directly.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/86302/ryans-bipartisanship-fib