Paul Ryan talks a good game on deficit reduction, but his numbers don't quite match his words, critics tell NPR. Under his plan, "even with optimistic assumptions about revenues ... he still doesn't balance the budget for 20 years or so," says a federal budget analyst. "The Paul Ryan budget plans are tax cuts masquerading as deficit reductions." And he's supported plenty of deficit-boosting policies, from Bush tax cuts to war "that's not paid for."
In fact, Ryan would better be described as a "small-government conservative," says the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office. He's "committed to a smaller government that has less of a role in people's lives," she notes. But another ex-CBO director counters that Ryan is indeed a deficit hawk, arguing that his policies take a measured approach to restoring a budget balance. Responsibly addressing Medicare and Social Security, for instance, takes time. "To get quick budget reductions you'd have to do draconian things to those programs that I think would not be politically salable and actually aren't good policy," the former director says. (Read more Paul Ryan stories.)