August 18, 2012


Conservative Elite in Capital Pay Heed to Ryan as Thinker (ANNIE LOWREY, 8/17/12, NY Times)

[S]ince first coming to Washington in the early 1990s, Mr. Ryan has been closely tied to an intellectual world more concerned with the political agenda of low taxes, light regulations and small government than philosophical ruminations on work and freedom.

And since his emergence as the key Congressional Republican on the budget issue, Mr. Ryan has become a particular favorite of -- and powerful influence on -- the intellectuals, economists, writers and policy makers who are at the heart of Washington's conservative establishment.

Mr. Ryan "is the good think-tanker-as-politician," said Stuart Butler, the director of the Center for Policy Innovation at the Heritage Foundation, a right-of-center research institution. "When I'm having a discussion with Ryan, I'm talking to someone who knows the material as well as, if not better than, I do."

Mr. Kristol, who has been one of Mr. Ryan's loudest boosters in Washington, said, "He's a guy who, unlike 98 percent of members of Congress, can sit in a conference room or around the dinner table with 6 or 10 people from think tanks and magazines and more than hold his own in a discussion."

Aides and confidants of Mr. Ryan describe him as an earnestly interested, tactically minded policy thinker, with a deep knowledge of budget numbers and close ties with the right's influential policy heavies.

In his 20 years in Washington, Mr. Ryan has pursued ties with two groups of thinkers in particular: policy scholars at research groups like the American Enterprise Institute and commentators like Mr. Kristol and George F. Will of The Washington Post. The reputation for wonkiness is merited, people close to Mr. Ryan said. He goes home with a stack of white papers. He calls economists when he has questions about their budget projections or ideas.

He also athletically argues for his policy ideas among the city's policy elite in the white-tablecloth lunches, Capitol Hill meetings, private dinners and retreats where consensus gets formed.

Posted by at August 18, 2012 7:58 AM

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