The Ryan Express

Paul Ryan is out this morning with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal previewing the budget plan he will unveil at 11:30 eastern one floor up from my office on 17th Street.  He acknowledges the demagoguery that will soon be coming his way:

We assumed there would be some who would distort for political gain our efforts to preserve programs like Medicare. Having been featured in an attack ad literally throwing an elderly woman off a cliff, I can confirm that those assumptions were on the mark.

When I spoke with him last weekend I asked him about Oregon’s Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who has broken from the rest of the Democratic establishment to say he can work with Ryan on entitlement reform.  Not only did Wyden take a boatload of criticism for his independence, but the Democratic leadership has threatened other Democrats against following Wyden’s lead.  But Ryan said he’s had a significant number of Democrats tell him privately that after the election, they’ll be prepared to deal.  A true profile in courage, today’s Democrats.

I’m reminded in an odd way of Walter Mondale in 1984.  Liberals loved it when he said, in his acceptance address, that he’d raise taxes—and so would President Reagan.  “He won’t tell you; I just did,” Mondale boasted.*  I am given to understand by some sources other than Ryan that Obama’s people know that entitlements have to be cut, and have a plan for doing so after the election.  Ryan could borrow Mondale’s line and turn it around on Obama on entitlement reform: “He won’t tell you; I just did.”

By the way, the Obama team’s political idea for this is amazing (as I understand it from some insiders speaking off the record): they want tax increases first—on everybody, thinking that higher taxes will spur public support for entitlement reform.  Yeah, I don’t believe them either.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s chart below shows the alternative futures.

*Mondale meant income taxes, of course, especially on the rich.  Instead, Reagan cut personal income tax rates again, in 1986.  So don’t try to run that “Reagan raised taxes” line in the comments section.