December 20 2011
My Candidate for Person of the Year: Rep. Paul Ryan
Carrie L. Lukas
Charlotte writes today on the stupidity of Time's pick for Person of the Year: They lump the Occupy Wall Street protestors together with protestors truly standing up against evil, forgetting that when it comes to protests, the message and cause really matters. Picketing a building to try to get someone else to pay off my loans is hardly an act of profound bravery.
This got me thinking of who I think deserves the label “Person of the Year.” I'm sure I've miss many important stories and figures who have an important impact on world events—and in my version of Person of the Year, I'm seeking someone whose impact was positive—but here's my candidate. Rep. Paul Ryan.
Yes, this is the Rep. Paul Ryan who, in spite of many calls from fiscal conservatives looking for a champion, decided not to pursue the presidency. He's also the Member who asked not to serve on the so-called “Super Committee” that was supposed to help pare down the federal deficit.
Yet his reasons for avoiding these high-profile posts speak to his commitment and character. He believes his cause—which, in a nutshell, seems to be reducing government spending to prevent burying the next generation (and the economy) under an insurmountable pile of debt—can be better advanced from his current post. He didn't want his attempt to pursue the White House to be cast as a referendum on the policy prescriptions that he believes are America's best hope for lasting economic prosperity.
Oh, and he also has young children and a family that he wants to shield from the glare of presidential politics, which suggests that he's simply a very good guy to boot.
As Charlotte and I recently noted, Ryan has just offered a bipartisan proposal for reforming Medicare to put it on sound financial footing. Under their proposal, they write, “participating plans would be forbidden to charge discriminatory premiums and would be required to cover everyone regardless of age, gender or health status.”
I disagree with this type of regulatory requirement and with the language that labels such pricing practices as “discriminatory” (for more on this topic, see this policy brief by IWF senior analyst Hadley Heath). But I just bet that Rep. Ryan does too, but that was part of the bargain in getting Sen. Wyden to support the proposal. Ryan seems to understand the need to compromise in order to advance the ball. Too often it seems that politicians are either willing to compromise everything for political expediency, or to want to remain totally pure and not bend on anything in order to maintain their personal popularity, even if that means never making any actual policy progress.
We need for political leaders like Ryan, which is why I'd nominate him the person of 2011. Who do you think deserves that title?