Paul Ryan may not be the genius that everyone in DC thinks he is, but he's certainly a politician. Responding to Harry Reid's unequivocal support for Social Security during last night's MSNBC interview, Ryan responded:
I’m boggled. That just boggles my mind…I would argue, even though, it’s not really a driver of our debt, it’s not a significant part of our debt problems, it would build great confidence, fixing Social Security on a bipartisan basis, because it would tell not only the credit markets that Americans are getting their act together, it would buy us more time and space with them, it would show that our government’s not broken.Now it's possible that the Democrats will successfully use this to discredit Ryan on this subject and inform the American people that even the most strident safety net destroyers know that SS is not a deficit issue. And maybe the public is jaundiced enough about the "markets" that they will see this for the silly reasoning it is. Let's hope so.
But the audience Ryan was trying to reach with that statement has just a little bit more power than all the rest of us put together on this. His name is Barack Obama and he has long signaled that he really, really, really wants to make a deal (aka the Grand Bargain).
And Ryan just backed Tim Geithner in what's been reported as the battle for Obama's soul within the White House:
Geithner and his lieutenants argue that benefits reform will give the markets confidence that Obama and Congress have the will to address the problem of long-term national debt...
I suspect Geithner is just blathering nonsensical CW and that Ryan is just lying outright, but if you don't care about the reasoning, this sure looks like bipartisan agreement to me. And everyone knows we've got a president who loves bipartisanship.