Last summer, he gave a foreign policy speech suggesting that the most pressing reason we need to solve our budget problems is so we can continue being the world’s policeman. “We can and we must remain committed to the promotion of stable governments that respect the rights of their citizens” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ryan insisted. It seems he’s learned absolutely nothing from a decade spent wasting American blood and treasure making the world safe for democracy abroad.
Wars aren’t free: We’ve spent over $1.3 trillion in direct outlays on the War on Terror abroad, with the true cost much higher. The Pentagon makes up about 19 percent of the federal budget. If you leave it off the table, as Ryan does, you’re just not serious about staving off fiscal Armageddon.
I’ve been in D.C. nearly as long as Ryan has. And since this is a town where Bethesda’s Tom Friedman passes for a deep thinker, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that Ryan has developed a reputation as a serious fiscal conservative.
He’s not. But there’s a silver lining here: his selection means that the 2012 campaign just might bring us a serious discussion of these issues.