Congressman Paul Ryan is a good looking guy. Or so I am told, as I really hadn't noticed. He's smart, energetic, and moving up. He has big ideas. He could be the Republican nominee for Vice President. If not this election, four years from now.
Congressman Ryan also just proposed a comprehensive plan, The Roadmap for America's Future, that may end up being his party's agenda in the coming years. Or it may be the roadblock to Paul Ryan's future.
The room at Janesville City Hall was packed. Aides scrambled to bring in more chairs. Ryan stood in the center with the screen behind him. He could have been a vice president of finance of a local corporation explaining the profit and loss sheet with his Powerpoint presentation and his laser pointer.
Ryan admitted his plan is not something we can expect to happen right away. After all, he told the packed house, "Here’s the problem with Congress. We’re told, ‘Don’t try something that’s risky; there’s an election next year.’" Of course, Ryan adds, there’s always an election next year. He gets applause for the line, but the questions about the plan are skeptical.
I think the reception was generally positive, even from the members of the audience who were not members of Americans for Prosperity. But the audience wasn't exactly ready to march out onto the battlefield with a cry of "For St Paul and Entitlement Reform!"
The alternative, Ryan warned, is to watch government spending consume more and more of our gross domestic product, crushing the standard of living and reducing America’s competitiveness in the world.
It’s a bold plan, all the more daring when you consider that the most applause Congressman Ryan received all evening was when he switched topics to oil production. There were very few in the room who objected when Ryan suggested drilling for more oil in Alaska, in the Rocky Mountains and off the coast of Florida. When he said, "Build more oil refineries" you would have thought he was telling Janesville he was secretly Oprah and giving them all a free car.
But Ryan warned the audience that while most of them were supportive of more domestic oil production, "You should see all the letters I get against it."
At that moment I flashed back to the end of "Von Ryan’s Express." Sinatra is laying dead on the tracks, riddled with holes by the Germans as the soldiers who reluctantly followed him escape to freedom.
Congressman Ryan’s future is often talked about in terms of a possible Senate candidate or even vice president. We’ll see if he can avoid the tragic movie ending while leading us to entitlement reform.
On the other hand, how often can I work a Frank Sinatra reference into a column for the Waukesha Freeman?
For proof that I was there, Tee Bee at the Badger Blog Alliance caught a picture of my good side. Can you see the halo?