This Keg Attack Must Not Stand

by Rich Lowry

At the National Review Institute ideas summit over the weekend, I talked to Speaker Paul Ryan about health care reform. One of Ryan’s throwaway lines has gotten a disproportionate amount of attention. He said of Medicaid reform that “we’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg.” It was a reference to a long-ago party that I had mentioned earlier that friends of mine threw on Capitol Hill and Ryan attended before he first ran for Congress. This line has occasioned reflexive outrage on the Left. Jonathan Chait, for instance, wrote a post declaring that Ryan finally confessed his monstrous intentions in this “uncharacteristic fit of candor.” It’s always a drag to have to explain a light-hearted remark to the willfully humorless. But the point that Ryan was clearly making in context, as any fair-minded person would realize, is simply that conservatives have long wanted to reform Medicaid. This happens to be unassailably true. The Left may disagree with the policy, but it isn’t a gotcha moment when Paul Ryan says conservatives have been pursuing it for decades, even in a jocular way.

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