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Rep. Ryan attacks debt, scares GOP

Our Readers Who Comment are mostly unified in the view that the national debt is a problem, but they're divided on the question of whether Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, has the right answers to the problem.

Some readers think Social Security and Medicare do indeed need overhauls. Some suggest defense spending and farm subsidies are good targets for spending cuts. There is sometimes grudging admiration that there is a Republican talking about hard choices that go beyond the standard party line.

As Perry Bacon Jr. writes, Ryan's "ideas are provocative, to say the least. They include putting Medicare and Medicaid recipients in private insurance plans that could cost the government less but potentially offer fewer benefits; gradually raising the retirement age to 70; and reducing future Social Security benefits for wealthy retirees."

We'll start with fgill1, who wrote, "Ryan deserves a lot of credit for laying out a specific plan out of our deficit nightmare. It is a hard path and Americans may decide that it is too hard but he is not sugar-coating the choices. If people give his ideas a fair hearing then they will at least know where they stand."

But printthis said, "I will listen to Ryan when he backs giving up the
Bush tax cuts that got us here."

And onesideplease wrote, "His words shout inexperience. His demeanor reflects a lack of familiarity with economics, history, and especially, economic history. But you can't blame anyone in the GOP for trying. Since their leadership is either absent, arbitrary, or extreme."

Beacon2 said, "He has a degree in economics and political science. He will see the wisdom of bringing back the 90% tax bracket to reduce the deficit."

timothy2me wrote, "Yikes A Republican who is not only smart but tells the truth. An actual conservative among the twisted gaggle of claimants to the name."

edwhite3 suggested that "Rep Ryan is taking a huge risk with his forward-looking, fiscally responsible approach here. If Rep Ryan wishes to earn the votes from the leftists in his state, he'd better wise up and start blaming his predecessor for his personal failures and when caught in outright lies. Or at least he needs to learn to blame Fox news/Limbaugh/Beck/etc."

To which blert replied, "Earning votes in Wisconsin isn't hard for Ryan. The state tends to reward independent thinkers, so Ryan would probably fare reasonably well at the state level. For now, he represents a legislative district that is not terribly competitive. It would take a very, very talented Democrat to knock Ryan off. More likely, a Republican would beat Ryan in the primary. I don't foresee either scenario happening anytime soon..."

TexfromNewMex wrote, "Wow, an educated republican, what a rare bird. I wonder if he is willing to take on defense spending, or farm subsidies? How about subsidies to the oil industry? People don't talk about these things because they are used to buy votes. Defense is full of waste and neither party will take it on despite the fact that it is ruining our economy."

And eyendall2 said, "Repeat after me, the problem is not medicare and Social Security, although there is plenty of scope for reforming these problems, but the out-of-control military/security spending and the refusal to pay for two wars with higher taxes. Duh!"

rockyjs observed that "I don't know that I necessarily agree with this guys plan, but at least he's a Republican with a brain and he's using it thoughtfully to try to solve a big problem. Something new for the Republicans who appear to have Pea Brain Palin as their standard bearer these days."

cassandra9 wrote, "Only a rigid ideologue refuses to address the problem of the Bush tax cuts. But then the whole point of the Bush tax cuts was to raise the deficit so that the conversation would be about cutting entitlement programs. It was always a give to the wealthy then take from the middle class policy. The Republican idea of America seems to be that this country is about being rich, and if you aren't rich, then this country really isn't for you..."

shel_zahav said, "This is exactly the kind of person we need. Somebody who is actually serious about solving problems without resorting to mind-numbing nonsense like 'hope and change.' "

johndoe46 wrote, "I, as an independent voter, would support this man and anyone else who has the political spine to sign on with him."

weeksj said, "...Mr. Ryan addresses the debt problem all right, but his "roadmap" is massively skewed to favor the upper classes in America; a fact which he tries to conceal. This isn't the way forward."

We'll close with Virginia_Mom, who wrote, "I agree that Paul Ryan IS heroic for stepping forward and stating the obvious ... our debt is too large and it will not magically go away on its own... It really doesn't matter which party caused the debt... nor is it a question of which government programs and services will have to be cut (human services AND defense will have to be included.) The only question is how much bigger will the next crisis have to be before our representatives actually do what we have elected them to do rather than run this country further into the ground."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 2, 2010; 8:56 AM ET
 | Tags: Defense Spending, Medicare, Ryan, Social Security  
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