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The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea…
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The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea (edition 2014)

by Paul Ryan (Author)

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Beginning with a careful analysis of the 2012 election, including a look at the challenge the GOP had in reaching a majority of voters and the prevalence of identity politics, Paul Ryan examines the state of the Republican party and dissects its challenges going forward. Ryan also offers a detailed critique of not only President Obama but of the progressive movement as a whole -- its genesis, its underlying beliefs and philosophies, and how its policies are steering the country to certain ruin. Culminating in a plan for the future, Ryan argues that the Republican Party is and must remain a conservative party, emphasizing conservatism in a way that demonstrates how it can modernize and appeal to both our deepest concerns and highest ideals.… (more)
Member:INTLXS
Title:The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea
Authors:Paul Ryan (Author)
Info:Twelve (2014), Edition: 1st Edition, 304 pages
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The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea by Paul Ryan

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​When I read ​a ​political book released just prior to an election, my initial assumption is that the author is positioning him(her)self for higher office. Although I just saw a week or so ago a statement made by the author of this book, Paul Ryan, that he would NOT be running for President in the next Presidential election if Mitt Romney decides to run again, nonetheless I assumed that Ryan wrote "The Way Forward"​ to be sure he's included in the short list of possible nominees for the G.O.P to spot in the 2016 race.

Assuming that Paul Ryan is interested in running for President, my next ​thought was whether he'd aim his message at the Party loyalists, to show he's a better Republican than his potential opponents, or if he'd ​temper his ideas somewhat to gain support of the growing number of political Independents and possible swing voters in the Democratic Party. ​Some combination of those two approaches seems to be required in order to win a national election. The roadmap ​​for success seems to require first appealing to the extreme wing of your political party, since they're typically the most likely voters in the Primaries, and then to shift back toward the center for the general election once the party nomination is locked up. ​I think it can be difficult to write a book with that long-term goal in mind, ​i.e., showing that you're conservative enough to get the Republican Party nomination, and yet still convey enough moderation to be appealing to Independents or possible swing Democrats. If that was among his reasons for writing the book, I thought ​Ryan did a fairly good job of accomplishing that goal.

Ryan ​established his Party credentials early, including plenty of discussion​ in the initial chapters of showing how important family values, religion, community, hard work, prayer, hunting, love of Country, etc., were in his youth and in developing his character. ​His description of his early life hits on all the ideals of American youth, especially when he describes how he spontaneously broke out into song and sang 'America the Beautiful' after climbing to a scenic overlook while hiking as a youngster. It reminded me of Sarah Palin's first school memory, as described in "Going Rogue" of being so proud to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance" in her classroom. How can you not immediately not like people like that.

If you want to get more into Ryan's political life and policies, you might skip the first couple of chapters and get into his adult life. There, he again hits the key points you'd expect, e.g., small government, low taxes, free markets, fewer regulations, independent community and charitable foundation initiatives, etc.
He also ​include​s enough Obama bashing and dismissal of "Liberals and Progressives" (he didn't seem to use the term Democrats very much) to satisfy ​most ​​Party loyalists, ​yet didn't make the entire book about nothing but bashing the op​p​os​s​i​ng party, leaving room for appealing to Independents.

I'm sure Obama supporters would take issue ​with any number of things Ryan blamed on ​personally on ​Obama. For example, ​while oil production in 2011 and 2012 from Federal land and offshore wells FELL under Obama, ​and oil production on private land INCREASED, ​and one can blame Obama and his policies for that, ​​but everyone might not agree with Ryan that this means Obama is anti-oil. Given the uncertainty of the cause of the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, ​many ​may ​believe ​it ​was prudent ​at that time ​to issue a moratorium on offshore oil drilling and permitting until the cause could be assessed and corrections made. Also, while ​Ryan implied that ​Obama was personally ​responsible for trying to kill the Air Force A-10 Warthog ​air​plane to save money​,​ ​risking lives of military personnel on the front lines, my recollection was that it was an Air Force ​cost-saving ​decision ​as a result of​ Sequestration and Congressional ma​n​dated ​across the board spending cuts. There were other ​possible arguable ​items​ Ryan included, ​beyond ​criticisms​ about ObamaCare, the budget deficit, bailouts to prevent a recession / depression, etc.​ But, like political campaign add​s​, it's ​all ​a matter of perspective​, and he does need to appeal to his ​Party ​base​.

​Moving from specific criticism of Obama and on to criticism of "big government", ​Ryan ​easily finds some low hanging fruit. ​There are many cases where small private initiatives perform better than large Federal Programs. Ryan talks about several of these. ​One example Ryan offers regarding failures of government programs versus private initiatives is Bob Cote's Step 13 program for homeless and alcoholics. This program has a better success rate than many similar Federal initiatives. But even in some of these criticisms of the failures of big government programs, there ​are some cases where private initiatives got their start from Federal Programs and Grants. So ​a case can be made on either side of the argument, dismissing any Federal spending on support for the poor​, and ​to ​depend solely on private char​i​ties and donations​ may not succeed either​, since without those grants and government sponsored seed​ fund​s, some of those private programs wouldn't have been able to be successful.

But enough of the critical aspects. On the positive side, ​​one thing which would appeal to me after watching a very ineffective Congress, would be some ​indication of a willingness to cross the aisle and work with ​all ​members of congress​, regardless of party affiliation, as well as an ability to ​be honest enough to ​recognize that neither political party is above criticism. ​And in this regard​,​ he succeeded. He reminded ​readers of his budget agreement​, ​ prepared by himself along with his ​Senate counterpart on the Budget Committee​, Democratic Senator Patty Murray​. This was one of few bipartisian agreements ​which ​the 111th Congress accomplished, and ​Ryan ​​seemed proud of that accomplishment.

​That recognition that both parties need to work together to find solutions appealed to me. Ryan talked frequently of Reagan in this book (and very little of G.W. Bush), so I assume the style of Reagan working with Tip O'Neill, or possibly even of Clinton working with Newt Gingrich, is a style he'd prefer to emulate. While those Presidential / Congressional relationships weren't without contention, some common ground was eventually reached, and things like tax breaks, welfare reform, and deficit reduction eventually came to pass. Ryan express no interest in following the current relationship as demonstrated between Obama, McConnell, and Boehner. ​

​In terms of specific programs and recommendations, Ryan's focus in Congress has been in budgeting,​ and he spend​s​ a fair amount of time talking economics. I was specifically interested in any ideas he would put forward to discuss the high cost of our entitlement programs and how to fund them going forward. ​That's been a difficult area for the current as well as past Administrations, and it was disappointing ​when he wrote about how his idea to use the ​2000 ​budget surplus​,​ which Bush inherited​​,​ ​was rejected. Ryan wrote that he proposed using the budget surplus ​​to beef up the Social Security ​Program, only to have Cheney quickly dismiss the idea saying "... we're not doing that". That opportunity was squandered by deciding it was better​, politically,​ to give the money back to the voters through tax cuts​,​ and allow ​any deficit problem​s to ​be deferred for later years. ​And here we sit with the surplus long gone and a worse situation with Social Security.

​But I liked the fact that he ​was willing to ​at least ​discuss ideas for saving Social Security. I believe t​hat​ it's time to take some of the steps​ in that direction. I also was glad to see that Ryan ​touched on ideas for improving our tax code​, immigration reform, and educational system problems. ​ But the question is whether or n​ot ​any ideas and initiatives he may have can ever be implemented by a reluctant and broken Congress.

Other areas I would have been interested in Ryan addressing in his book​, especially if he has Presidential ambitions, include discussions of his positions in Foreign Policy, dealing w​ith terrorism, ​environmental issues, ​renewable energy and energy policy, support for research and development of new technology, etc.​ He was basically silent on these important issues, but I recognize that all books must have some limits. ​ ​
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  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
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Beginning with a careful analysis of the 2012 election, including a look at the challenge the GOP had in reaching a majority of voters and the prevalence of identity politics, Paul Ryan examines the state of the Republican party and dissects its challenges going forward. Ryan also offers a detailed critique of not only President Obama but of the progressive movement as a whole -- its genesis, its underlying beliefs and philosophies, and how its policies are steering the country to certain ruin. Culminating in a plan for the future, Ryan argues that the Republican Party is and must remain a conservative party, emphasizing conservatism in a way that demonstrates how it can modernize and appeal to both our deepest concerns and highest ideals.

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