On Monday's Today on NBC, Obama spinner Stephanie Cutter claimed Paul Ryan's never bucked the Republican Party line in the Bush years. But at Time magazine's Swampland blog, reporter Jay Newton-Small describes the reality: Ryan didn't like the Bush trend. "I quickly learned Ryan was the go-to person for a fiscal conservative quote – a Republican disgusted with his own party’s profligate spending who not only lambasted the President but also voted against every omnibus appropriations bill."
Ryan was "seven years ahead of the Tea Party," she wrote:
Over the next few years, it became clear Ryan was more than a Club for Growth, anti-tax conservative. He was an ideologue and proud of it. During a 2005 mark-up of legislation overhauling the nation’s defined benefit pensions, which the government insures, Ryan urged his GOP colleagues to do better to protect American taxpayers. He was the only Republican on the committee to vote against the bill. Ryan was about seven years ahead of the Tea Party in that regard.
In fact, the GOP establishment seemed terrified that Ryan's budget plans were politically dangerous:
He spent much of 2007 exchanging drafts with the CBO before he rolled out his plan in 2008. Republican leaders took to the plan the way a frail invalid might ride a rollercoaster: thrilled, but also terrified the ride might kill them. Despite taking on every sacred cow in the pasture, Ryan’s Road Map became a signature issue for Tea Party candidates in 2010.
Ryan admits his view of the world has been myopic at times, usually bent through a budget lens. He’s not likely to win over the national security hawks or social conservatives. [??] But in a Tea Party era, Ryan inspires enthusiasm and all but dares Democrats to take the low road.
As Ryan told me in 2010 about his Road Map: “I really sincerely hoped that a few other people from Congress from both parties would start throwing their plans out there and then we’d get into the business of debating these things. But, unfortunately, we’re going to have to go through another round of turning these things into third rails and political weapons. What I’m trying to do is change the nature of the third rail from, ‘Touch this program and you die,’ to, ‘Fail to fix the problem and you die politically.’” Romney is about to put this theory to the test.
Newton-Small demonstrated that "how Ryan carried himself on the Hill" -- principled, personable, and not attention-hogging -- is helping reporters be less poisonous in their evaluations.