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Paul Ryan's 'Better Way' points in a worse direction

House Speaker Paul Ryan set out to prove that Republicans are a governing party with a real agenda. He's accidentally proving the opposite.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids, Iowa April 11, 2014.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids, Iowa April 11, 2014.
This time, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was serious. The Republican leader said it was finally time for the House GOP to have a governing agenda -- more than five years after it took the majority -- and demonstrate the party's commitment to a meaningful, concrete set of principles. Ryan called it a six-part "Better Way" plan.
"What you will see with these [six releases] are detailed policy papers," the Wisconsin Republican declared. "We're not talking about principles here. This is substance. It's going to be a clear explanation of the policy changes that are needed in these areas."
Was that true? Well, it's a funny story, actually.

House Republicans' ObamaCare replacement plan will not include specific dollar figures on some of its core provisions, and will instead be more of a broad outline, according to lobbyists and aides. [...] Keeping the plan in the form of a broad outline puts off decisions some of the difficult tradeoffs and preempts lines of attack that would be raised with a specific and detailed plan.

Oh, I see. Putting together policy proposals is difficult, so Ryan and House Republicans prefer not to invest the effort.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of Ryan's health care "task force," recently urged the media to "give us a little time, another month or so," before the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act would be ready for its big unveiling.
Two months later, if The Hill's reporting is accurate, they're nearly ready to show us "a broad outline" of ideas we already know they support, and which wouldn't make much of a difference in providing health security to the public.
In fact, as luck would have it, an interesting anniversary is upon us.
As we discussed when the Republican "task force" was created early last year, the political world may not fully appreciate just how overdue this GOP health care plan really is. It was on June 17, 2009 that then-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) made a bold promise. The Missouri Republican, a member of the House Republican leadership at the time, had taken the lead in crafting a GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and he was proud to publicly declare, "I guarantee you we will provide you with a bill."
The same week, then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters that the official Republican version of "Obamacare" was just "weeks away." We'd all see the striking proof that far-right lawmakers could deliver real solutions better than those rascally Democrats.
It turns out, Blunt's proclamation was exactly seven years ago tomorrow -- and Paul Ryan's "broad outline" isn't quite ready yet.
We've documented the reasons GOP lawmakers keep failing to craft their own ACA alternative, so let's instead focus our attention today on the Speaker's "Better Way" blueprint.
It started with Ryan's plan to address poverty, which turned out to be laughable. His national-security vision soon followed, and it was not only ignored, it was quickly contradicted by his party's presumptive presidential nominee. Part Three in the Wisconsin congressman's agenda was a deregulation plan that was just a warmed over version of the stale GOP wish list.
And the next step, apparently, is a "detailed policy paper" outlining the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act -- without the details.
As we talked about a few weeks ago, the Speaker of the House has been eager, if not desperate, to show that he and his Republican conference are serious about governing -- so serious that they've spent months crafting a new six-point, election-year agenda. So far, however, the agenda is hollow and meaningless.
Ryan set out to prove that Republicans are a governing party. He's inadvertently helping prove the opposite.