David Brooks of the NYT strikes me as a fair-minded, middle-of-the-road kind of guy. He’s not an arbitrary defender of the political left or right. That’s why when he says that Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, has released “the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes,” it’s noteworthy. Brooks explains:
Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president’s passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.
His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. Any candidate hoping to win that nomination will have to be able to talk about government programs with this degree of specificity, so it will improve the G.O.P. primary race.
The Ryan proposal will help settle the fight over the government shutdown and the 2011 budget because it will remind everybody that the real argument is not about cutting a few billion here or there. It is about the underlying architecture of domestic programs in 2012 and beyond.
The Ryan budget will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.
Read the whole thing. And here’s a distillation of the Ryan budget, or for all you young, hip types, here’s the obligatory edgy video (with weird music to boot – why are Republicans so bad at this stuff?).