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No More Swinging for the Fences

Paul Ryan, Mr. Prudence.

Feb 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 20 • By FRED BARNES
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What would it look like? Ryan has assigned the budget committee staff to lay this out in terms the average person can understand. At the least, a crisis would involve higher interest rates, slower growth, more inflation, and a declining standard of living.

In the meantime, Ryan has an agenda that is his alone to pursue—at least among the potential Republican presidential candidates. As an acolyte of Jack Kemp, his first boss when he came to Washington after college two decades ago, he favors a new round of welfare reform and expanded opportunity through economic growth.

When he addressed the Kemp Foundation in December, he talked about a new “vision” of how to reduce poverty. “We must come together and advance new strategies for lifting people out of poverty,” he said, and he’s not waiting for others to answer his call. Ryan has told the budget committee staff to develop new ways of expanding opportunity and helping the poor help themselves.

As a political issue, attacking poverty may not grip most Americans, particularly the Republican rank and file. But it’s a noble cause and sets Ryan apart. And when he talks about poverty, he doesn’t sound prudent at all.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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