Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paul Ryan: Pragmatic Conservative?

Romney's VP pick Congressman Paul Ryan is vilified by the Obama campaign and the left as a right wing extremist.  The idea of course is to cause the public to be fearful of him.  How conservative is he? 

Michael Tanner of the more libertarian Cato Institute has an interesting take on Ryan.
Democrats clearly want to paint Ryan as an unbending ideologue who refuses to compromise and is unwilling to work with his opponents. Already Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod has taken to calling Ryan a “right-wing ideologue” and “quite extreme.” President Obama himself refers to Ryan as “the ideological leader of Republicans in Congress.”

It’s impossible to deny that there has been an ideological component to Ryan’s career in Washington. He has been an articulate spokesman for the idea of smaller, less costly government, and he is perhaps Congress’s best-known advocate of entitlement reform. There is no doubt that in his heart he prefers markets to government control.  But any effort to paint him as an inflexible ideologue runs up against his demonstrable tendency toward pragmatism.

Throughout his time in Washington, Ryan has been the classic “half a loaf” type of conservative. Time and again, he has shown that he is willing to compromise and take far less than he had originally sought, as long as he is moving incrementally in the direction he wants to go. You won’t find Ryan on the short end of any 434-to-1 votes.
He concludes by saying:
All of this means that Ryan is not really the government-slashing savior envisioned by some conservatives. It also means that he is not the ideological hard-liner portrayed by some liberals. He is, in fact, likely to disappoint his conservative backers on occasion. But he may also be able to work across party lines to really change the disastrous course we are now on.
Ronald Reagan comes to mind.  He was viewed as a conservative.  But through his work as a union rep in Hollywood, he learned the art of compromise and making a deal.  Looks like Ryan maybe cut out of that mold.

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