The most fascinating state in the great Republican/Conservative/Tea Party uprising of 2010, in my opinion, was Wisconsin. The Badger State I had always felt was pretty liberal, but this year the R’s took over both chambers of local government, plus Gov-elect Scott Walker, Sen-elect Ron Johnson, and Rep-elect Sean Duffy among others. It’s also home to the Ayatollah of fiscal conservatism…Congressman Paul Ryan.
Ryan’s the cat who, while most officials are urged to run far away from any serious entitlement reforms, is intellectually honest over what the problems are and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks the fixes are (see America’s Future, A Roadmap for). The conventional wisdom is that the voters won’t respond positively, but when you look at the gains Republicans made throughout the Midwest (Wisconsin is only where most of my favourites come from), apparently a little honesty can go a long way.
So sayeth USA Today…
Ryan’s landslide in a southeastern Wisconsin district formerly held by Democrats may be a testament to the national mood when it comes to red ink, budget watchdogs and local business groups say. As President Obama and Congress turn their attention from energizing the economy to balancing the budget, even sacred items such as retirement programs will be fair game — something Ryan tells his constituents regularly.
“They know that he talks straight,” says Michael Kobylka, president of the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce, the local business coalition. “It’s those third-rail issues that nobody has wanted to talk about that are part of the problem.”
If the Tea Party movement that helped sweep Republicans to greater power this month is to have an impact in Washington, getting control of the national debt would be a logical place to start. A bipartisan presidential commission reports its findings Wednesday, Obama delivers his proposed 2012 budget early next year, and Congress must vote to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit before it’s breached next spring.
Of course, all of these people need to be held accountable for what they campaigned on. Telling people that some hard decisions need to be made is one thing. Actually making those hard decisions is another thing altogether, as was evidence by the fact that the GOP didn’t when we controlled all of Washington over most of the last decade.
The decisions the voters made this past Election Day in states like Wisconsin give me reason to believe we’re ready, and Paul Ryan is one of the cats ready to lead the way. Let’s hope he isn’t the only one.