What's particularly interesting is that Howie is no left-wing sap. If anything, I think folks in the liberal blogosphere feel that Howie might even lean a bit right at times (I know he'd deny that he is, I'm simply reporting what the sometime perception is on my side of the aisle). So that's why this article is particularly interesting. It means that even those in the middle are starting to perceive Paul Ryan as "somewhat radical," and that's interesting (it's also not particularly good news from Romney/Ryan).
But watch out: Romney’s choice may look very different in the coming weeks.
It’s not that the mainstream media have ignored Ryan’s long record of wanting to drastically shrink and revamp government programs, especially Medicare and Medicaid, while pushing tax breaks that disproportionately favor the wealthy. But this somewhat radical agenda is wrapped in the gauzy overlay of an earnest young man who genuinely wants to keep the country from marching off a fiscal cliff.
Ryan may have energized the right—Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch appear ecstatic about his elevation—but the congressman has a long paper trail that could alienate moderate swing voters. If Newt Gingrich could assail Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right-wing social engineering,” little wonder that the Obama team is salivating over the prospect of hanging the Ryan record around Romney’s neck.
Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, adopted by the House, could wind up costing future retirees $6,000 a year as medical costs outpace the fixed benefits, according to independent studies. Conservatives are pushing back against this assessment, with National Review publishing several pieces Monday on the Democrats’ “Mediscare” tactics.
But the details—that Ryan has changed his original plan, that seniors would have a choice of plans and some would be subsidized by the government—are complicated. Kind of like the way that Obamacare is difficult to explain. And if the voucher plan didn’t cost elderly recipients a dime, how much money would it save?
Ryan’s response is that his plan is preferable to the Democratic approach of doing nothing (though how does that square with the charge he and Romney make that the president wants to cut $700 billion from Medicare?).