Paul Ryan sounds reasonable--he wants "a breakthough" instead of a crisis. He correctly identifies mandatory spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as the biggest fiscal challenges. He wants to "talk specifics" and get the "conversation" going.
But here's what he doesn't say:
- He doesn't say how the negotiations should be conducted, or what timeframe is reasonable. You can't do any important reform of entitlements in less than three months, and it probably should be longer. We'll need a fairly long-lasting Continuing Resolution and debt limit to do that. Ryan isn't brave enough to admit this forthrightly.
- He lauds the 1982 SS reform, especially the rise in the retirement age. For some reason, he doesn't mention the major increase in the SS tax rate. Actually, we know the reason. He can't mention a tax increase because it's forbidden among "conservatives."
- He lauds the Medicare reform proposals he and Senator Wyden made, but ignores that he misrepresented Wyden's position and greatly angered Wyden in the process.
- He doesn't mention Obamacare, so delaying it, defunding it, or repealing it doesn't seem to be part of his plan, at least in this op-ed.
So I don't trust him. I'd like to see how he follows up on these suggestions. How specific does he get? Once I see that, I'll know whether he's serious or not. I won't give up on him at this point because a mildly reasonable Republican leader is an extremely rare and helpful thing right now.
Ready for heavy negotiating, or just the same old?