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Ryan’s Raiders

The GOP class of 2010 is the key to his influence.

Aug 27, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 46 • By FRED BARNES
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Beginning in early 2011, 30 meetings were held in the conference room of McCarthy’s Capitol office, chiefly for the freshmen but also for other House Republicans. These were hour-long “listening sessions”: They listened to Ryan. Robert Costa of National Review dubbed the attendees “students of Paul Ryan.”

Ryan has an unusual teaching style. He suffers fools gladly. Peter Roskam, the deputy Republican whip, told me Ryan reminds him of what St. Ambrose, the 4th-century bishop of Milan, said about proposing rather than imposing. He presents an idea, not an argument. It works.

In those sessions, Ryan’s army was born. His budget had been poorly received by Republican veterans in 2009 and 2010. It had only a handful of cosponsors. The freshmen changed that. In 2011, when the budget, including the reform of Medicare, passed the House, only one freshman, David McKinley of West Virginia, voted no. This year, when it was approved again, four did. House Speaker John Boehner, quietly allied with Ryan, was fully behind it. Better yet, Romney embraced it.

Ryan, his army, and conservative reform—less government, reduced spending, lower taxes, entitlements rescued from bankruptcy—are now embedded in the political culture. Ryan is running in two elections. If he and Romney lose, Ryan is likely to be reelected to his House seat. And most of his army will return. Washington has changed.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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