Wonkbook: Everything you need to know about Paul Ryan

August 13, 2012

For all that Paul Ryan is seen in the political media as a gamechanging pick that instantly and sharply defines the choice in this election, the truth is that most Americans don't know much about Ryan.

"Over the last several months, roughly 43% of Americans report that they have never heard of Paul Ryan," write John Sides and Lynn Vavreck. "In mid-July, 52% could not even make a guess as to whether Ryan was a member of the House, the Senate, was Secretary of State, or was a Governor."

Meanwhile, though Ryan is best known for his budget and understood to be Washington's premier deficit hawk, many of his most ardent fans in the Beltway don't know much about his policies.

For instance: Did you know that the Ryan budget includes Obamacare's Medicare cuts? Or that it envisions a long-term spending path for Medicare exactly identical to the path envisioned by the Obama administration? Or that it would effectively zero out Mitt Romney's tax bill? Or that it finds its main savings not in entitlement programs, but in everything the government does that's not an entitlement program?

So today, we've got a primer on Paul Ryan, his policies, and what he may or may not mean to the election. Read on for everything you need to know about the wonk from Wisconsin.

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Top story: A wonk's guide to Paul Ryan

Long-form on Ryan's rise:

The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza recounts Paul Ryan's career: "Ryan’s long-range plan was straightforward: to create a detailed alternative to Obama’s budget and persuade his party to embrace it. He would start in 2009 and 2010 with House Republicans, the most conservative bloc in the Party. Then, in the months before the Presidential primaries, he would focus on the G.O.P. candidates. If the plan worked, by the fall of 2012 Obama’s opponent would be running on Paul Ryan’s ideas, and in 2013 a new Republican President would be signing them into law."

Key takeaway from Lizza' piece: Elevating Ryan to leader of the Republican Party wasn't initially a strategy of the Republican Party. It was a strategy of the Obama administration. In November, we'll know whether that was a genius play or an epic miscalculation.

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes looks at how Ryan became "the intellectual leader of the Republican Party." "In early 2007, Ryan, who kept his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, gave members of that panel a briefing at their regular Wednesday lunch on his plan to draft a Roadmap for America’s Future. He was met with a combination of skepticism and disbelief. 'You could just hear the crickets. People were either running for cover or they didn’t understand it,' says Representative Devin Nunes of California. Nunes was the only one of Ryan’s colleagues to tell him after the meeting that he was on board and wanted to help. Ryan was relieved to have an enthusiastic supporter but wanted Nunes to understand the possible implications of his support. Nunes recalls: 'He probably said two dozen times: Are you sure you want to do this? Do you know what you’re getting into?'"

Paul Ryan's rise as Washington's leading wonk is more about Ryan the politician than Ryan the policymaker, writes New York's Jonathan Chait: "How has Ryan managed to occupy these two roles in our national life—Fiscy award-winning spokesman for those Americans demanding a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit, and slayer of bipartisan deficit agreements—simultaneously? Here is where, in the place of any credible programmatic commitment, he substitutes his remarkable talent for radiating good intentions...Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks."

Wonkblog's three interviews with Ryan:

On reforming health care and Medicare: "I try to replicate in my Medicare and Medicaid proposals is a system that makes the patient the nucleus of the system. That will make a system in which doctors, hospitals and insurers compete against each other for the patient’s benefit."

More on health reform: "If more government control over our health-care resources were the answer, we wouldn't have all these problems in Medicare and Medicaid themselves...[I]f you basically believe that we need the government to assert itself in this sector, then you have to global budget and, ultimately, ration. And that's just not the path we want to get on. We believe in a decentralized system where individuals bring market forces to bear."

On the Republican economic plan: "If you look at the deficit, the problem is spending, not taxes. Revenues will come back up. At the end of the day, I’m not a Keynesian, but even Keynesians would agree that raising taxes in this economy is a bad idea...Where I come from, I think certainty and long-term solutions are better. Temporary stuff doesn’t work...The better way, in my mind, is to grow the economy as quickly as possible and control and slow spending. So keep taxes low, maximize growth and cut spending. I just don’t see government spending as a key to growth...I’ve always believed we need automatic stabilizers. We need a safety net. But I think it’s becoming equally important to show we’re not going to borrow endlessly...And I really do believe FinReg was a mistake. I think it’ll end up restricting credit. That’s bad. We need credit."

Ryan's policies.

What Paul Ryan's budget actually cuts. "Ryan’s budget, recall, would raise $2 trillion less in tax revenue over the next decade than President Obama’s budget. Ryan’s plan would also spend $5.3 trillion less over that time. A big chunk of this is health care: Ryan would cut federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid for a portion of his savings. But he’d also spend $2.2 trillion less on everything else. So what, specifically, is Ryan planning to cut? (Or, alternatively, what is Obama planning to spend more on?)" Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

@DKThomp: Reminder: Ryan cuts taxes by $10 trillion compared to current law over 10 yrs (Obama by about $4.5 trillion)

What Paul Ryan's budget simply assumes. "CBO hasn’t looked at whether Ryan’s budget will achieve the results Ryan says it will. Rather, it looked at what will happen assuming Ryan’s budget achieves the results that Ryan says it will. On the third page, CBO writes, 'Chairman Ryan and his staff specified rules by which revenues and spending would evolve.' They then detail what those rules were." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

@JimPethokoukis: Critics of Ryan budget should realize it uses declinist CBO growth assumptions. Ryan thinks we can do better, which we can

Ryan's budget would almost zero our Mitt Romney's tax liability. "Don't believe it? Romney himself said so, just a few months ago. The Ryan plan..'promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.' Mitt Romney's income -- more than $20 million each of the past two years -- comes almost entirely from capital gains on his investments, or from 'carried interest...if the capital gains was eliminated altogether? Well, let's let Romney explain the result in his own words, as he did at an NBC primary debate in January...'Under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,' Romney said, alluding to the fact that all his income is from investments." Alec MacGillis in The New Republic.

What Paul Ryan has proposed aside from his budget. "If you’ve heard of Paul Ryan, you’ve heard of Paul Ryan’s budget. But Ryan has been in the House of Representatives for 14 years and has proposed many, many other bills. Looking through the Library of Congress’s records, I counted 71 bills or amendments that Ryan has sponsored 71 bills or amendments and 971 bills that he has co-sponsored. That’s a lot of legislation, and some of it is pretty interesting." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Ryan is also a stringent social conservative. "Though best known as an architect of conservative fiscal policy, Representative Paul D. Ryan has also been an ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights, has tried to cut off federal money for family planning, has opposed same-sex marriage and has championed the rights of gun owners...In nearly 14 years as a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan has not only voted for legislation that would cut off federal money for Planned Parenthood and the Title X family planning program, but also backed bills to establish criminal penalties for certain doctors who perform the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. He is a co-sponsor of a bill that would define fetuses as people entitled to full legal protection, a proposal that has become the latest focus in the battles over abortion." Robert Pear in The New York Times.

Paul Ryan isn’t a deficit hawk. He’s a conservative reformer. "If you know about Paul Ryan at all, you probably know him as a deficit hawk. But Ryan has voted to increase deficits and expand government spending too many times for that to be his north star. Rather, the common thread throughout his career is his desire to remake the basic architecture of the the federal government." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

The politics:

In prior House races, the Ryan plan proved a lightning rod, if not an outright liability, for Republicans. "Congressional campaigns often serve as an early-warning mechanism to measure voters’ temperature on emerging issues. With House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate, it’s useful to look at several closely contested House races in which Ryan’s budget – and more broadly, the volatile subject of entitlement reform – became a central campaign issue." Josh Kraushaar in National Journal.

Ten take-aways on the Ryan pick. "Romney’s original intention was to make the 2012 election a referendum on President Obama’s management of the economy. Ryan makes it a choice between two competing plans for deficit reduction. This election increasingly resembles the Obama campaign’s strategy rather than the Romney campaign’s strategy." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Romney picked Ryan to turn around a sinking campaign. "When is it rational to take a big risk? When the status quo isn’t proceeding in a way that you feel is favorable. When you have less to lose. When you need — pardon the cliché, but it’s appropriate here — a "game change." When a prudent candidate like Mitt Romney picks someone like Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, it suggests that he felt he held a losing position against President Obama." Nate Silver in The New York Times.

Romney overruled many of his aides in picking Ryan. "Romney's aides have stressed publicly in the 24 hours since Romney electrified conservatives with his choice that the pick was the governor's alone. They have been less forthcoming on the flip side: That much of his staff opposed the choice for the same reason that many pundits considered it unlikely — that Ryan's appealingly wonky public image and a personality Romney finds copasetic will matter far less than two different budget plans whose details the campaign now effectively owns. 'Everybody was against [Ryan] to start with only Romney for,' said one top Republican, who is skeptical of the choice and griped that Romney's top advisors have 'been giving Mitt everything he wanted in this campaign.'" Ben Smith in Buzzfeed.

@BobCusack: Takeaway from 60 Minutes interview: Romney and Ryan have a clear rapport with one another. Romney less antsy than during other interviews.

Ryan, however, may make a Romney win more of a reach. "Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate could deepen the intrinsic tension between the Republican policy agenda and the voters it relies on to win elections. Ryan’s ambitious budget blueprint, as passed twice by House Republicans over the past two years, crystallizes the GOP’s highest policy priority: shrinking the size of the federal government, largely by dramatically restructuring entitlement programs led by Medicare and Medicaid. But the GOP today is increasingly dependent on the votes of older and blue-collar whites who -- while eager to scale back government programs that transfer income to the poor -- are much more resistant to retrenching entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that largely benefit the middle-class." Ronald Brownstein in National Journal.

@davidmwessel: Paul Ryan is going to campaign in Florida next weekend. Lotta seniors down there.

The pundits:

WILL: Romney's pick of Ryan obligates him to be a truly 'resolute' conservative. "When Mitt Romney decided to run with Paul Ryan, many conservatives may have thought, "Thank God, Romney is not going to run as Romney."...For Romney, conservatism is a second language, but he speaks it with increasing frequency and fluency...Romney’s selection of a running mate was, in method and outcome, presidential." George F. Will in The Washington Post.

DIONNE: Paul Ryan is a Beltway ideologue. "If Paul Ryan were a liberal, conservatives would describe him as a creature of Washington who has spent virtually all of his professional life as a congressional aide, a staffer at an ideological think tank and, finally, as a member of Congress. In the right’s shorthand: He never met a payroll. If they were in a sunny mood, these conservatives would readily concede that Ryan is a nice guy who’s fun to talk to. But they’d also insist that he is an impractical ideologue. He holds an almost entirely theoretical view of the world defined by big ideas that never touch the ground and devotes little energy to considering how his proposed budgets might affect the lives of people he’s never met...Liberals and conservatives have switched sides on the matter of which camp constitutes the party of theory and which is the party of practice. Americans usually reject the party of theory, which is what conservatism has now become." EJ Dionne in The Washington Post.

PONNURU: 2012 is now a 'choice' election about the future of the American welfare state. "[T]his campaign will now be about something big: the future of the welfare state...[We now have] a real and important debate: Is our welfare state basically healthy, just in need of a few tweaks to restore its fiscal health? Democrats believe, or claim to believe, that if we just raised taxes on the rich and let experts redirect Medicare spending, we could keep the open- ended entitlement programs on which we have come to rely. Republicans, on the other hand, tend to think that our entitlement programs are structurally flawed in a way that neither tax increases nor better management can solve. Republicans do not want to abolish these entitlements. Their view is that they should be limited, and made to work with rather than against markets." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg.

WILKINSON: Actually, the Ryan pick does not create a clash of visions. "I keep reading smart people who say that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate will produce the titanic clash of visions that we’ve supposedly all been waiting for...Yet there is reason to be skeptical that Romney has just embraced a Manichean struggle...His selection of Ryan doesn’t clarify that intentional muddle. A Romney plan that deliberately doesn’t add up is now complemented by a Ryan plan that deliberately doesn’t add up." Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg.

Top op-eds

REHN: The plan for Eurozone reform. "Over the last two years, Europe has made remarkable progress in addressing these imbalances...The European Stability Mechanism, the euro zone's permanent firewall, will become operational shortly...While fully respecting the ECB's independence, I welcome its readiness to consider further nonstandard measures to repair monetary-policy transmission. At the same time, Europe is committed to building a genuine economic union to complement and strengthen our existing monetary union. A specific and time-bound road-map for achieving this will be in place by the end of the year...While building "Economic and Monetary Union 2.0," leaders have also agreed to explore the conditions under which it would be rational for European countries to issue debt jointly. The guiding principle has to be that a further mutualization of economic risk will require a parallel deepening of integration in budgetary decision-making...The sovereign-debt crisis has both underlined the need and created the conditions for Europe to rebuild and reinforce its economic and monetary union. Thus the euro zone will continue to defy its detractors." Olli Rehn in The Wall Street Journal.

@Reddy: Qs for Angela Merkel, with rich answers: What are you afraid of? “To be caught unprotected in a thunderstorm,” she says http://econ.st/TwBhiF

STIGLITZ AND ZANDI: It's time for mass mortgage refinancing. "Housing remains the biggest impediment to economic recovery, yet Washington seems paralyzed...With principal writedown no longer an option, the government needs to find a new way to facilitate mass mortgage refinancings. With rates at record lows, refinancing would allow homeowners to significantly reduce their monthly payments, freeing up money to spend on other things. A mass refinancing program would work like a potent tax cut. Refinancing would also significantly reduce the chance of default for underwater homeowners...Well over half of all American homeowners with mortgages are paying rates that would appear to make them excellent candidates to refinance...Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, has proposed a remedy. Under his plan, called Rebuilding American Homeownership, underwater homeowners who are current on their payments and meet other requirements would have the option to refinance to either lower their monthly payments or pay down their loans and rebuild equity. A government-financed trust would be used to buy the mortgages of homeowners who had refinanced at an interest rate that was about 2 percentage points more than the record-low Treasury rates at which the government borrows." Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Zandi in The New York Times.

KELLER: What a Romney administration would look like. "[T]hese days you don’t just elect a ticket of two; you elect a whole package. Presidents come with a cast of advisers, think tanks, lobbyists, legislators, donors and watchdogs. Some in the entourage end up in key jobs; others operate as a kind of shadow cabinet, vetting choices and enforcing doctrine. This is especially true of Republicans, who have spent decades building a disciplined conservative infrastructure that recruits talent, culls dissenters and lays down the law. Compared with Democrats, who are scattered left and center, a Republican administration is more than ever a conservative turnkey project...What follows is a sampler of what you get with a President Romney, some of them his choices, some thrust upon him." Bill Keller in The New York Times.

SCHWALM, WILLIAMS, AND SCHAEFER: Climate changes will increase the frequency and severity of drought in the U.S. "Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal." Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a "threat," sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires. Future precipitation trends, based on climate model projections for the coming fifth assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate that droughts of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the century unless human-induced carbon emissions are significantly reduced. Indeed, assuming business as usual, each of the next 80 years in the American West is expected to see less rainfall than the average of the five years of the drought that hit the region from 2000 to 2004." Christopher R. Schwalm, Christopher A. Williams, and Kevin Schaefer in The New York Times.

PEARLSTEIN: Maryland's casino plan has significant flaws. "I suspect Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke for most Marylanders last week when he explained why he was backing legislation to expand casino gambling in the state — for more than a decade, a divisive political issue that just wouldn’t go away...[O]ver the years I’ve developed a healthy skepticism when the gaming industry or politicians argue that gambling would be a big new source of revenue for the state, or that it would spur economic development or — in the case of Maryland — that it would save the horse-racing industry. The reality rarely lives up to the promise...For starters, the revenue and economic projections done by the same handful of “independent” consultants routinely used by the industry invariably ignore the possibility that new competition will come on line, dividing a limited market even further and ensuring that nobody makes money." Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post.

Top long reads

Jessica Pressler gets precisely 122 minutes to speak with JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon:"Whoa, whoa, whoa," the JPMorgan Chase CEO interrupts, leaning into the microphone and peering out at the several hundred summer interns, sweating in their first business clothes, that have gathered in the auditorium of the former Bear Stearns building for a friendly Q&A session with the boss. “Before you go to the next level of generalizing, saying, ‘all bankers,’ ‘all banks.’ I don’t like that.” The room murmurs its assent as Dimon, pacing onstage in his summer uniform of a suit and no tie, warms to his topic. “I don’t buy this thing that our industry is responsible for all the ills of the world."...With his boyishly wavy hair and down-home platitudes, Dimon can come across like an overgrown frat boy...But when it comes to this topic, he’s sober as a judge. You wouldn’t say his swagger has been trampled, more effortfully tempered.

John H. Richardson files a special report on the Keystone pipeline:"When you arrive at night in Fort McMurray, the little Canadian town that might just destroy the world, the tiny airport looks smaller because of the snow and all the Explorers and Rangers and four-wheel drives in the parking lot...And nearby lie the beginnings of a nineteen-hundred-mile international pipeline — the Keystone XL, it's called — that will carry a million barrels of the stuff every day, down through the breadbasket of America to the Gulf Coast of Texas, where it will be refined and shipped to the emerging economic powers of the world. Already this little burg is the greatest source of imported oil into the United States, and now it also finds itself central to the fight over global warming and the future habitability of planet Earth, which has been sending scientists all over the world into a state of increasing alarm."

Alan Greenspan sits down with Devin Leonard and Peter Coy:"The only thing that was economic, I might say, about my music career, aside from the fact that I did everybody’s tax returns in the band, was the decision I made to leave the music business on economic grounds...On questions that were too market-sensitive to answer, “no comment” was indeed an answer. And so you construct what we used to call Fed-speak. I would hypothetically think of a little plate in front of my eyes, which was the Washington Post, the following morning’s headline, and I would catch myself in the middle of a sentence. Then, instead of just stopping, I would continue on resolving the sentence in some obscure way which made it incomprehensible. But nobody was quite sure I wasn’t saying something profound when I wasn’t. And that became the so-called Fed-speak which I became an expert on over the years."

The music Paul Ryan recommends interlude: Filter, "Hey Man, Nice Shot," 1995.

@ReformedBroker: Paul Ryan told CNN he has "a lot of grunge" on his iPod. Can I vote twice?

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come:Federal workers are worrying about their jobs; a threat to affordable family health insurance; in-person voting fraud is even more rare than you thought; low crop yields test support for ethanol subsidies; and in China, a hotel built in six days.

Economy

Global investors still see the U.S., despite its fiscal problems, as a safehaven from economic troubles abroad. " Investors still appear convinced that the U.S. is the safest of borrowers, despite rising angst about government debt around the world.Why is Treasury debt still seen as one of the world's safest assets? The U.S. "effectively got a pass," said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets. "If you needed to fly into the safety of a country, the U.S. was the best of the worst." How long this will last depends how long it takes the global backdrop to improve...Markets continue—for now—to worry far more about global economic weakness than rising U.S. obligations, pushing yields lower on Treasury debt. The nation can borrow for a decade for around 1.6%, a near-record low, as investors gladly hand over their money expecting almost no return, after factoring in inflation." Sudeep Reddy in The Wall Street Journal.

With the sequester looming, federal workers are worrying about their jobs. "Lawyer Lynnette Rodgers faced a choice last year as she weighed job offers, one from the Social Security Administration and a second from the Cuyahoga County government in Ohio, where she lived...But Rodgers took the federal job, she said, because she thought she could make a difference in the lives of more people. Now, with the threat of sequestration hanging over the federal government, she is worried about whether she made the right choice." Steve Vogel and Timothy R. Smith in The Washington Post.

Work remains scarce for head honchos. "High-level executives looking to nab a new C-suite job in the Washington area may be hard-pressed to find a place to send their résumé. Hiring specialists and others say that local companies are frequently filling top positions from within their own ranks instead of casting a wider net, a trend that began during the recession and has continued under the uncertainty of a sluggish recovery. And after promoting from the inside, businesses are more likely to have job openings on the lower rungs of their corporate ladder, which can create a domino effect of opportunity for the many entry-level workers who have flocked to the region in recent years...This method of filling vacancies...helps explain a recent influx of entry-level workers to the area." Sarah Halzack in The Washington Post.

Infographic overload interlude: The New York Times' 22 Olympic infographics are all available here.

Health Care

Legal ambiguities in health law may make family coverage expensive. "The new health care law is known as the Affordable Care Act. But Democrats in Congress and advocates for low-income people say coverage may be unaffordable for millions of Americans because of a cramped reading of the law by the administration and by the Internal Revenue Service in particular. Under rules proposed by the service, some working-class families would be unable to afford family coverage offered by their employers, and yet they would not qualify for subsidies provided by the law." Robert Pear in The New York Times.

Researchers link strict anti-snack laws for public schools to gains in child health. "Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found. The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, found a strong association between healthier weight and tough state laws regulating food in vending machines, snack bars and other venues that were not part of the regular school meal programs...The study tracked weight changes for 6,300 students in 40 states between 2004 and 2007, following them from fifth to eighth grade. They used the results to compare weight change over time in states with no laws regulating such food against those in states with strong laws and those with weak laws... Students who lived in states with strong laws throughout the entire three-year period gained an average of 0.44 fewer body mass index units, or roughly 2.25 fewer pounds for a 5-foot-tall child, than adolescents in states with no policies." Sabrina Tavernese in The New York Times.

Domestic Policy

A new study shows that in-person voting fraud is extremely rare. "A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters...The analysis found that there is more alleged fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than in any of the other categories." Natasha Khan and Corbin Carson in The Washington Post.

NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg will press the Obama and Romney campaigns today to revise their immigration policies. "Mr. Bloomberg advocates giving green cards to foreign-born graduates of master’s or doctoral programs in science, technology, engineering or math at American universities, and allowing foreign-born entrepreneurs who are backed by American venture capital to develop their inventions or build their companies here. He has described the country’s practice of sending such talent and ideas somewhere else as a form of 'national suicide.' Mr. Bloomberg also supports making it easier for the agricultural and hospitality industries to hire temporary foreign workers for jobs that they cannot fill otherwise." Kate Taylor in The New York Times.

Super fast construction interlude: Building a full-size hotel in six days in China, as seen via time lapse photography.

Energy

Low crop yields will refuel the debate over federal ethanol subsidies. "Biofuels opponents amplified calls Friday to the Obama administration to end a national corn ethanol requirement following the release of disappointing crop yield estimates...The drought has given environmentalists and ranchers an opportunity to criticize the renewable fuel standard (RFS) beyond their standard talking points. That rule requires refiners to blend 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol into traditional fuel this year. Those groups posit that the RFS has exacerbated price shocks as corn supplies shrink during the drought...Democratic Govs. Jack Markell of Delaware and Martin O’Malley of Maryland on Thursday filed petitions with EPA to waive the RFS." Zack Colman in The Hill.

Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Evan Soltas and Michelle Williams.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
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Brad Plumer · August 12, 2012