Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order.
The 18-member panel needed 14 votes to send a 10-year plan to trim the debt to Congress for a vote. As his party’s then- ranking member on the House Budget Committee, Ryan led a bloc of three House Republicans who denied the additional votes needed.
All three Senate Republicans on the panel backed the plan and one of them, former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, said he believes the House Republicans who rejected it were beholden to an argument by anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist that the measure was tantamount to a tax increase.
“All of the House Republicans were disproportionately affected by the Norquist group on the issue of tax reform,” said Gregg, now a senior adviser at New Mountain Capital LLC. Ryan “clearly was the leader” of House Republicans in setting the terms of a grand debt bargain, said Andy Stern, a panel member and Democrat.
Ryan, now Republican Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, was joined by Representatives David Camp of Michigan, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and four Democrats in opposing a blueprint that would have reduced the federal debt by $3.8 trillion through a three-to-one mix of spending cuts and tax revenue increases. Ryan’s support would have likely drawn votes from Camp and possibly Hensarling and made it all but impossible for the president to reject a plan created by his own self- appointed commission.
Read more: Bloomberg