Larry Kudlow

 

When you think of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, terms like earnest, serious and important come to mind. So does the term old-fashioned. Ryan comes from an old-fashioned place, the blue-collar town of Janesville, Wis. He cherishes the old-fashioned values of a faithful family man. He even looks old-fashioned, with his white shirts and striped ties. And he uses old-fashioned argument skills, persuasively weaving big-picture themes with the numbers that back them up.

            And Ryan has old-fashioned goals, too, like saving America from fiscal bankruptcy, economic stagnation and a European-style entitlement state.

            "Just look at what happened across the Atlantic," Ryan told me in a year-end interview. "We have to avoid that. We must reclaim our founding principles of economic freedom and free markets. We must preserve the American Idea."

            With this vision, and with a pro-growth budget framework called "A Roadmap for America's Future," Ryan's serious ideas have seriously gotten under President Obama's skin.

            In a White House meeting this year, Ryan's superior knowledge of health care baffled Obama and left him speechless. And the serious Ryan budget, which lowers spending by $6.2 trillion and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion over 10 years, totally outflanked the White House. It embarrassingly exposed the Obama administration's flimsy and inconsequential 2012 budget, which even rejected the findings of Obama's own Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission (another Oval Office embarrassment).

            And when Ryan unveiled his first Medicare-reform package, which featured patient-centered consumer choice and market competition, the White House went nuts. Team Obama whipped up a Mediscare panic, resorting to a fictional caricature of Ryan forcing old ladies off a cliff. But the charge that the Ryan plan "ends Medicare" couldn't be further from the truth. The website PolitiFact labeled this "the lie of the year."


Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.