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Paul Ryan at AEI

The Wisconsin congressman delivers a speech on 'The Battle' between free enterprise and liberalism.

2:11 PM, Jul 21, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin delivered a speech at AEI today on the fight against big government. You can watch the speech below:

From my perch in the audience, I thought the speech worked best when Ryan descended from the heights of principle to the mundane details of his Roadmap, which remains the GOP's most serious and audacious plan for restructuring the American welfare state.

I'd also note that Ryan introduced a monetary component to the Roadmap, calling for "sound money." This was the first time I've heard him talk about money, and I was disappointed when he did not talk about monetary policy in more detail.

Hawks can rest easy. During the Q&A, Ryan said of the defense budget: "Looking at the baseline, you have to have net increases." But he also made it clear that he thinks procurement should be streamlined and economies found.

Finally, in his speech Ryan attacked the "progressivist" agenda. Leaving my personal qualms on this aside, why not just call it "liberalism"? It worked for Reagan. Americans know what liberalism has come to mean in modern American politics, and they do not identify with it. And it is much easier to pronounce "liberalism" than "progressivist."

It was clear from the audience reaction that Paul Ryan is a conservative superstar. Yes, he does not want to run for president. But that is different from having to run for president, or joining a ticket as vice president. Ryan may face both options before long.

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