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The Paul Ryan 2012 budget: What he learned in 2011

The Paul Ryan 2011 budget sounded like a graduate thesis on statistical steroids. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget is an 80-page campaign commercial.

By DCDecoder / March 26, 2012

House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisc., on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Washington.

(AP Photo/CBS News, Chris Usher)



Paul Ryan’s budget, 2012 edition, looks substantially like its 2011 predecessor. But it doesn’t sound the same.
Gone are the snippets from political philosopher John Locke and the venerated words of various saints of American political history — Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt among them.

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In short, Ryan 2011 sounded like a graduate thesis on statistical steroids. Ryan 2012 is like an 80-page campaign commercial.

The distinctions help map out where the country was in 2011, how Republicans have responded to the initial Ryan budget, and how they see the budget in the context of the 2012 campaign.

Back in 2011, Republicans had just surged back into the House of Representatives on a wave of back-to-the-roots conservative groundswell. Under the broad heading of the "Tea Party,"  the movement that gave Paul Ryan the gavel of the House Budget Committee,  was going to get its out-of-control government, Obamacare, the stimulus, bailouts of the automotive and financial industries under control.

At that moment, Ryan wrote a budget that sounded like it could be delivered as the keynote for the Jim DeMint Prize in Economic Freedom. Ryan tied the Declaration of Independence (publication date: 1776) with Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” (publication date: 1776), noting a confluence of moral and economic sentiments.

It made a brisk walk from there through Locke, George Washington, Alexis de Tocqueville and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who give us one general thought: Commerce is good, America is great because it recognizes this, and American commerce is part and parcel of the nation’s moral underpinnings. From there, the 2011 budget propositions grew.


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