Paul Ryan’s cruel vision for American health care will haunt Congress after his retirement

Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter, Think Progress

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is on his way out the door.

But while he’s largely failed to implement his vision before retirement — that is, to repeal Obamacare and privatize every safety-net program there is — Republicans aren’t going to stop trying to do so anytime soon. In fact, they’ll likely take cues from his record.

Throughout his time in Washington, Ryan built a career on portraying himself as a deficit hawk, somehow convincing people he’s some great wonk. In 2012, The New York Times’s James Stewart praised Ryan, calling his approach to tax reform “eminently sensible.”  Former Clinton administration budget chief, Alice Rivlin, called Ryan “smart and knowledgeable” and decided to partner with him on his quest to privatize Medicare, which failed.

But in reality, there’s nothing genius about a career spent trying to cut “entitlement reforms” — code for popular health programs like Medicare and Medicaid — to validate the notion that you’re a deficit hawk. Ryan has worked to scrap nearly every safety net program in existence, while ignoring the deficit.

His most ambitious proposal — to privatize Social Security — demonstrated he was too radical for even the Bush administration.

But that didn’t stop him. While you can’t call Ryan a moderate, you can call him ambitious, even tenacious.

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