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Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan's Road Map.

Jul 19, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 41 • By FRED BARNES
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For now, the Road Map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Senator Jim DeMint praised it in his book Saving Freedom. Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”

Ferguson sees the Road Map as “radical fiscal reform,” which it is, and said Washington should recognize it as the alternative to “the Keynesian option,” which Washington doesn’t. “I’m depressed how few people in Washington are prepared to talk about” the Road Map option, he said.

Ryan isn’t depressed. “As soon as people become informed and know the details, the more they like it,” he told me. He says the Road Map is “based on a fundamentally different vision” from the “government-centered ideology now prevailing in Washington .  .  . and restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship, and opportunity.”

The full plan—“A Road Map for America’s Future”—is outlined in a formidable, 87-page document. It would give everyone a refundable tax credit to buy health insurance, allow individual investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security, reduce the six income tax rates to two (10 and 25 percent), and replace the corporate tax (35 percent) with a business consumption tax (8.5 percent). And that’s not the half of it.

As ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Ryan was able to get the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to run the numbers in his plan. CBO concluded the plan would “make the Social Security and Medicare programs permanently solvent [and] lift the growing debt burden on future generations, and hold federal taxes to no higher than 19 percent of GDP.” Pretty impressive results, I’d say.

The Road Map does one more thing. It would give Republicans an agenda if they gain control of the House or Senate in the midterm election—or a mandate if they win both. “What’s the point of winning an election if you don’t have a mandate?” Ryan asks.

He doesn’t expect a mandate in 2010. “I need to make sure these ideas survive this election,” he says, and set the stage for “the most ideological, sea-changing election in our lifetime” in 2012. Merely survive in 2010? The Road Map can do better than that. How about thrive?

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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