GOP Candidates: What's Your Position on the Ryan Roadmap?

On Meet the Press last weekend, Dick Armey challenged Republicans to show some courage and get behind the "Ryan Roadmap". He even had a catchy line, expressing Tea Partiers' rightful disgust with "American public policy dominated by Democrats that don't care and Republicans that don't dare."

The "Roadmap" is Congressman Paul Ryan's proposal to restore fiscal sanity to Your Federal Government. You can read about it here. Although I suggest you Read The Whole Thing, here are some high points:

  • Big changes to the tax code, with the goal of keeping the tax burden to 19% of GDP, roughly the post-WW2 average. Most of the changes involve simplification. Two income tax rates, 10% and 25%. Zero taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends. The AMT would be junked. Individuals (however) could opt to pay taxes under the old system, or (equally likely) to have their eyeballs gouged out with a rusty fork.

    (Just kidding about that last bit.)

  • Junk the corporate income tax; businesses pay an 8.5% "consumption tax".

  • Preserves Social Security for folks over 55, but allows those younger to sock away a third of their current taxes into private accounts. Makes retirement age increases and COLA fixes.

  • Preserves Medicare for over-55s, establishes an (approximate) $11K "payment" per year for others as they become eligible, indexed for inflation, allows greater use of tax-free Medical Savings Accounts.

  • Similar big changes for Medicaid.

  • Even with all these changes, the Roadmap doesn't forecast a balanced budget until 2063.

Think about that last point a bit. The Roadmap might be deemed "radical", but even with its radicalism, we don't get spending back into line with revenue for over 50 years. And the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be.

What that implies to me is: anything less radical will be unable to get spending under control at all. And closing one's eyes real tight and hoping the problem will magically vanish shouldn't be an option.

And what that further implies is that candidates for Federal office have an obligation to either say: "yeah, that Ryan Roadmap is a pretty good idea" or describe (to a similar level of detail) what they propose to do instead.

I can understand why candidates might be scared to embrace the Ryan Roadmap. It's easily demagogued (you can watch Governor J. Granholm do that at the link above). As long as you stay with comfortably vague proposals about "waste"—who's for waste?—you're not going to scare anyone. And if your top priority is simply to get your hands on political power, then you'd probably want to play it safe and avoid talking about the Roadmap.

But (on the other hand) you're not going to impress, let alone inspire, me. We in New Hampshire have a primary coming up on September 14 and, as a registered Republican in New Hampshire Congressional District 1, I'd prefer to vote for candidates for the Senate and House brave enough to support the Roadmap.

The state GOP has a candidate list with links to each candidate's website. Each website has either a contact web form or an e-mail address. I used each to ask all but one candidate:

I would like to know where [Candidate] stands on the "Ryan Roadmap". (http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/)
As I type, I've received two responses:
  • Congressional candidate Peter Bearse wrote:
    I like the roadmap and salute Rep. Ryan for his initiative and leadership.
    Good enough for me! In addition, Dr. Bearse suggested I check out his "Pledge to Constituents" and kindly provided two Microsoft Word docs (which I've posted here and here).

    Dr. Bearse is—how can I put this gently?—not a front runner. He's not getting invited to debates. He has some positions (primarily on campaign finance) that I find sketchy. But so far, because of this single issue, he's got my vote.

  • Jill Neunaber, political director for Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne responded:
    Ovide is an enthusiastic supporter of Congressman Ryan's roadmap. Ovide met with the congressman during his last visit to New Hampshire and sites [sic] it frequently on the campaign trail.
    Again: good enough for me. Ms. Neunaber also suggests reading Ovide's—we are suppsed to call him Ovide, I guess— oath, a 15-point pledge to voters on what he will and won't do. I don't agree with everything there, but (again) because of this issue, he's so far got me.

If I get any more candidate responses, I'll post them.

Footnote: I didn't bother with Senate candidate Gerard Beloin, even though he's listed on the GOP site, because he seems to be, um, way out of my comfort zone. There are a few other candidates on the ballot that the GOP doesn't list at all. One of them is quoted here: "I am not a nut." See if you agree.


Last Modified 2010-08-30 1:10 PM EST