But he's a got a phrase he uses quite a bit, which is very slogan-y - something a plain-spoken political stumper would come up with - and he used it again today while answering questions at the e21/Manhattan Institute forum, hosted by the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot: "makers and takers." He likes to say that we are increasingly becoming a country where we have more takers than makers, and we need to get back to producing more makers.
The term is, for this wonkiest of elected officials, his unifying concept that ties together his rabbit-hole detours into policy particulars. Ryan was very clear in today's talk that entitlement reform, budget cutting, new House rules on spending, and everything else he is known for, are all about growth, not austerity (austerity being what you do, he says, when it's too late and you're in an all-out debt crisis). And we need to care about growth, because - you guessed it - we are quickly trending to a society of takers, not makers.
Getting rid of the built-in pro-taker policy of the health care law, the multi-trillion dollar debt burden fueled by out-of-control entitlement programs, and cutting waste that imposes additional burdens on the economy - all of this is to pave the way for a growth environment.
And so, Ryan says, all of that needs to be done in conjunction with positive policies (which the GOP hasn't completely worked out yet) in these areas:
- Tax reform that results in simpler, lower tax rates
- Regulatory reform that creates certainty and predictability, and which are efficient and "honest"
- Sound money. The GOP needs to be "the party of sound money" that pushes the Fed to ensure our money is a reliable store of value
- Tort reform that eliminates growth-slowing lawsuits
- More trade
- Energy policy that lowers commodity and fuel prices and creates jobs
(e21 will be posting the video of the event here when it's available)