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Ways To Think About The Gingrich-Ryan Thing

1.  Gingrich should not be President.  Obviously.

2.  More importantly as Ross Douthat points out, we should avoid two temptations in talking about the Medicare reforms in Ryan's Path To Prosperity.  First, we should avoid and stigmatize the kind of cynical, short-sighted, and incompetent triangulation displayed by Newt Gingrich. We are already having a "national conversation" on these matters, and Paul Ryan has done more than any other politician to advance that conversation.  Politicians who combine hyperbolic attacks on Ryan with fantastical policy alternatives (end waste and fraud? really?) are worse than wasting our time.  They are damaging our ability to think through our problems.  It would be a good thing if other Republican politicians took this lesson from Gingrich's fiasco.

The second temptation is more subtle.  Ryan's PTP has political and (I think) policy problems.  Support for the PTP's Medicare proposals should not be a litmus test for either presidential or congressional candidates.  Constructive disagreement from the right should be welcomed.  We need more and more Ryan(ish) plans competing in the marketplace.  If the 2012 Republican presidential nominee has a Medicare strategy of "cut fraud" and "have a national conversation", the Republicans will certainly have failed to be equal to the moment.  If the Republican nominee is running on an unmodified PTP, they will be worthy of respect, but they will have missed an opportunity to give themselves the best chance to win and implement the change we need. 

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