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Potential 2012 GOP Presidential Candidates Embrace Ryan Budget Plan

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David Brooks, naturally, is a big fan of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget. He likes it even more than the Simpson-Bowles chairman's mark, that he liked as recently as a few weeks ago. So now, Brooks is thundering from his New York Times column that Ryan's "proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion." I'd say that he'd like my "0.8 percent unemployment plus everyone in the top one percent of income earners gets a free Pegasus" plan even more, but the Congressional Budget Office has refused to score it, saying, "Who the hell are you and how did you get in the building?"

The point is, your 2012ers are heeding Brooks and happily outsourcing their original thinking on budget matters to Ryan:

  • Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave Ryan's plan a glowing tweet. "The first serious proposal produced by either party to deal with the overriding issue of our time."
  • "There is hope!" 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin tweeted. "Serious & necessary leadership rolls out serious & necessary reform proposal. Good start."
  • "Thanks to Paul Ryan in Congress, the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington," former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a statement. But he left himself a little room to maneuver by offering that the plan "is going to be debated for several months to come."
  • "He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control," ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote in a press release. "Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page."
  • "Congressional Republicans are making the tough choices in the short and long-term to bring the Federal budget under control," says former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, via a statement, "and I urge the American people to stand with them in the face of the Democratic party obstructionism."

(Here are some specific examples of what Brooks believes to be "serious," by the way: "The Ryan budget doesn't touch Medicare for anybody over 55, but for younger people it turns it into a defined contribution plan." Yes, it's amazing how "serious" this is, asking the younger generation to continue to fund a product they won't benefit from themselves while locking in that senior vote. Additionally, Brooks says, "[Ryan] would reform the tax code along the Simpson-Bowles lines, but without the tax increases." Less revenue, to Brooks, equals more "seriousness.")

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