Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is feeling a bit lonely.
Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, proposed his Roadmap for America’s Future nearly two years ago hoping to spark a debate on how to bring down the burgeoning government debt.
“I wanted to go out there, not necessarily saying I have all the answers. I wanted to put a plan out there, saying here’s how I would do it; please come up with your plan so that we can get the debate going,” Ryan said Thursday in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington. “Unfortunately when I jumped in the pool and asked others to jump in the pool, we haven’t had many folks swimming around.”
Fellow Republicans have been slow to voice their outright support for Ryan’s “roadmap,” which calls for simplifying the income tax, eliminating the current corporate income tax and replacing it with a business consumption tax of 8.5 percent on goods and services, and repealing health care reform and replacing it with income tax credits for individual and family plans.
It also seeks to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, three entitlements that Ryan cited as culprits in driving up government debt.
In his speech, Ryan suggested that some of his colleagues are declining to be specific about policy initiatives out of fear it will hurt their chances in the November midterm elections.
“They’re talking to their pollsters and their pollsters are saying, ‘Stay away from this,’” Ryan said.
Ryan hatched his plan in 2007 and proposed it in the final months of the presidency of George W. Bush.
“It became clear to me that we were just going to continue to hit each other as two political parties, where if you step out with anything bold, anything different, anything remotely considered politically risky, you will be beat up and lose and nobody will follow you, and you will come for an impasse,” Ryan said. “That’s where our politics have been for a long time.”
“I do not believe that these are ultra-conservative reforms,” Ryan continued. “I think they are practical, common sense things.”
Ryan cited statistics from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that predict the government’s public debt as a share of the gross domestic product will rise from 37 percent in 2005 to 87 percent in 2020.
“This is the path we are on, and it is completely unsustainable,” said Ryan. “It will crash our economy, and this is really an irrefutable point.”