Geoffrey Kabaservice applauds Paul Ryan the man - but warns of the direction in which Ryanism will lead the GOP.
Ryan’s budgets are not moderate documents, and Ryan’s plan is not fiscally conservative but radical. Fiscal conservatism, if it means anything, requires that policymakers use both revenue increases and spending cuts to bring the budget into balance over the long term. By refusing to consider any tax increases at all, and in fact proposing to slash corporate and individual taxes by some $4 trillion above and beyond the Bush tax cuts, Ryan sides with those for whom fiscal policy is a matter of theology rather than economics.
It’s possible that the budget plan is just Ryan’s extremely, extremely aggressive negotiation opener, and that at a moment of crisis in some smoke-filled room (or its healthful present-day equivalent; Ryan after all is a physical fitness fiend) he would be capable of finding compromise with Democrats. But the evidence strongly suggests that he believes what he says, and his emergence as a Tea Party hero means that he would have great difficulty modifying his positions even if he wanted to. The problem with Romney’s selection of Ryan is not only that it commits the GOP to the budget’s radicalism; it’s also a symbol that both the GOP and the conservative movement are coming unmoored from their traditional beliefs and restraints.