New House Speaker John Boehner gets tons of attention for turning on the waterworks, but the real House Republican to watch is Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. He is an economic-policy wonk who brings knowledge and conviction to his job as chairman of the all-important budget committee.
In a televised interview, Ryan made it clear he is not one of those Republicans who practices "crony capitalism."
Reforming business taxes, he insisted, means "broadening the base and lowering the rates," a code for ending special exemptions engineered by lobbyists and campaign contributions. One of the most egregious loopholes is that some hedge-fund profits are taxed at the lower capital-gains rate instead of ordinary income, saving investment managers millions.
"We're not looking out for special interests that have a little piece of the tax code carved out to erect barriers" against competitors, he told Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal. "We're looking out for the American people and the American economy."
Ryan has been in the House since 1999 but turns only 40 this month. Among other points, he warned states like California and New York not to come to Washington with a tin cup.
"We can't do a bailout," he said, adding that rescuing one spendthrift state would effectively transfer all state debt to federal taxpayers.
He also talked about the "morality" of reducing spending and the size of government. "We're becoming a country where we have more and more takers and less makers," he said. "We don't want to turn the safety net into a hammock."
Finally, change worth believing in.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his comments on additional topics, click here.