Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban really wants to debate Paul Ryan.

Zerban, who is challenging Ryan for a U.S. Congress seat, says it’s a diss to his 1st congressional district if Ryan doesn’t commit to at least one debate. Described by many pundits as the top intellectual mind of the Republican Party, Ryan excels in economic and fiscal policies. He’s a policy wonk for sure, but also possesses the finesse to communicate his ideas in a relatable format. To challenge an “ideas guy” to a debate takes some grit, but Zerban doesn’t deserve a debate.

The purpose of political debates, broadly speaking, is to inform constituents about where the candidates stand on important issues. In the case of an incumbent, this involves vocalizing ideas and defending a voting record. But Ryan’s ideas and voting record are now the subject to national scrutiny by journalists, bloggers, economists, think tank analysts, and partisan advocacy organizations. What can a debate with an untested county supervisor add to the national discussion?

When asked whether Ryan would commit to a debate with Zerban, local spokesman for Ryan’s campaign, Kevin Seifert, said they would take a wait and see approach. Seifert expressed that Ryan has represented the 1st congressional district for 14 years; his constituents know where he stands on the issues.

Let me add to Seifert’s point here. Ryan has not been timid about his views on pretty much anything from entitlement spending to tax reform. For years, Ryan has sounded the fiscal alarm, introducing multiple budgetary plans that sought to reform third rail issues like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Historically, these programs are the “third rail of politics” because politicians silly enough to touch them tend to find themselves out of a job.

If Ryan refuses a debate Rob Zerban, it’s not because he’s ducking a challenge by a formidable opponent. It’s because the debate is unnecessary. Debates tend to prove two things: who has the better ideas and who is better at communicating them. Fortunately for Ryan, he has skills in both areas.

Even if Zerban were a quick study and proficient at communicating, the debate would likely be a wash. If he’s not particularly adroit, he’ll last about as long with Ryan as a balloon in a room full of kittens.

Wisconsin is abuzz with rumors that Congressman Paul Ryan has been mulling over Presidential bid among the nation's politicos.  In the past 5 years, the 41 year old "young gun" has forged a reputation of being the intellectual brain-trust of the Republican Party.  With an expertise in economics and a zest for intellectualism, Ryan finds no difficulties presenting a fiscal argument; and he is only politician to date with a comprehensive plan to overhaul the country's entitlement programs.  Below are five reasons why Paul Ryan should run for President.

First, Ryan has a plan.  Democrats have criticized the Republican Party for being "the party of no," a slap at the GOP for opposing President Obama's progressive agenda.  Yet when the criticism was levied, Democrats had genuine control of the Legislative and Executive branches of government.

Ryan's "Roadmap" is forcing Democrats to address the insolvency of our federal entitlement programs and exposing - to some extent - the problems we have with government spending.  Case and point, the county hasn't had federal budget for three consecutive years and the nation's credit rating was downgraded for the first time in American history.

Ryan's proposal to overhaul of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security is politically risky.  However, his ideas are economically sensible earning a strong endorsement by the CBO, scoring Ryan's overhaul of Medicare and Social Security as achieving solvency for future generations.

Second, Ryan is young, intelligent, and articulate.  To go head to head with President Obama, you need a candidate who is quick on his feet, performs well on TV, can explain the nuances of a plan with eloquent ease, and can uncoil the mistakes made by the current administration with simplicity and credibility.

Third, Ryan is a quick study.  Ryan has a good grasp of the issues and excels in debates.  As a policy wonk, there is little concern he cannot swiftly master issues not in his repertoire.

Fourth, Ryan is fact-driven - a quality embraced by a public growing weary of increased partisanship.  No politician is without prejudice, but we learn to trust those whose objectives aren't one and the same in catapulting their careers.  Ryan is genuinely driven to eliminate a debt crisis that threatens to saddle future generations with economic burdens.

For this reason, Ryan is comfortable explaining our nation's economic trajectory using tools like charts and graphs to elucidate his analyses.  Ryan is a Republican and owes loyalty to his party, but he has no problems calling them out for their fiscal blunders.  We need a candidate who doesn't casually dismiss logic or data when they don't support party prejudice.  With the economic state our nation is in, we can't afford any less.

And fifth, Ryan should run for President because the options are lackluster.  Besides Governor Rick Perry, there is no Presidential candidate inspiring confidence that fiscal reform is imminent.  Perry touts the robustness of Texas' economy, which may or may not be the results of his conservative policies; and Ryan can point to reform-minded ideas that have gained the support of economic scholars and the chief actuary of Medicare.


There are many important factors that Congressman Ryan will have to weigh before making his decision final.  A chief concern is how Ryan's Roadmap could play out in the primaries.  Republican opponents could distort his overhaul of entitlement programs as radical and potentially hindering his ability to appeal to moderates.

Another concern is that it's too early in Ryan's career to run for President.  Yet, Obama's Presidential candidacy shows that young, charismatic politicians can gain the public's trust under the right circumstances.  Obama won the Presidency using abstract solutions and a sharp barbs against the Bush Administration.  Ryan, however, is armed with concrete fiscal ideas scored by budget offices and health care actuaries.  His focus on reformist policies could reassure the public that he - unlike the current President - is concerned more about the nation's fiscal health than what the polls say.  If any young gun can pull it off, it's Paul Ryan.


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