Paul Ryan Wants to Stop the Past from Becoming Prologue

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 12 2013 11:41 AM

Paul Ryan to Avoid the Battles of the Past While Repealing Obamacare

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) presents his budget plan during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

My colleague Matthew Yglesias is tearing through the House GOP budget proposal like a termite through balsa wood. I'm writing about the proposal in full today, a bit later, but Ryan's well-built press conference—flanked by the Republican members of his committee and by screens playing Powerpoint presentations—was a controlled series of contradictions.

The first question from the press: Why did Ryan assume the tax revenues from the fiscal cliff deal? He'd voted for that deal, but he wanted lower rates.

"We're not going to refight the past," said Ryan, "because we know that that's behind us." The "anti-growth tax code" would be replaced, in a manner to be dealt with by the Ways and Means Committee.

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Second question: Why did the budget assume the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, given that this can't happen while Barack Obama is president?

"We don't like this law," said Ryan. "More importantly we believe that this law is going to collapse under its own weight. Please know that when Americans see exactly what this law entails—they have not seen all these details—people who lose their health insurance, their jobs, they're not going to like this law."

So they won't refight the past. They'll stop the past from becoming the future.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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