Ryan Lizza has a long profile of House budget chairman Paul Ryan in the latest issue of the New Yorker. Here's an excerpt:
In 2009, Ryan was striving to reintroduce himself as someone true to his ideological roots and capable of reversing his party’s reputation for fiscal profligacy. A generation of Republican leaders was gone. Ryan had already jumped ahead of more senior colleagues to become the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, and it was his job to pick apart Obama’s tax and spending plans. At the table in his office, Ryan pointed out the gimmicks that Presidents use to hide costs and conceal policy details. He deconstructed Obama’s early health-care proposal and attacked his climate-change plan. Obama’s budget “makes our tax code much less competitive,” he said, as if reading from a script. “It makes it harder for businesses to survive in the global economy, for people to save for their own retirement, and it grows our debt tremendously.” He added, “It just takes the poor trajectory our country’s fiscal state is on and exacerbates it.”
As much as he relished the battle against Obama—“European,” he repeated, with some gusto—his real fight was for the ideological identity of the Republican Party, and with colleagues who were content to simply criticize the White House. “If you’re going to criticize, then you should propose,” he told me. A fault line divided the older and more cautious Republican leaders from the younger, more ideological members. Ryan was, and remains, the leader of the attack-and-propose faction.
When you're done reading Lizza's piece, be sure to read Stephen F. Hayes's recent cover story for THE WEEKLY STANDARD (if you haven't already) on how Ryan became the intellectual leader of the GOP:
Ryan, the seven-term representative from Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, speaks quickly, as if the coming collapse might happen in the middle of his remarks if he takes too much time. It’s a bracing message. He is saying, in effect, that the American experiment, our 236 extraordinary years of self-government, is on the verge of failure.
And yet Ryan is smiling. It’s not the phony grin of a politician seeking votes, or the half-smirk of a charlatan putting one over on a group of rubes. It’s a real smile—the eager smile of someone excited to share important news. Paul Ryan believes he has the solution to these problems. And after a long and often lonely fight to convince his fellow Republicans that they should be talking about these issues, Ryan is succeeding.