Opening Act: It Would Take Me Too Long

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – I’m in this state for a few days before I head on to the first presidential debate in Denver. Lots of driving, lots of interviews, possibly a little bit less blogging. Be warned; be prepared.

And read the transcript of Paul Ryan on Fox News Sunday, where, in the space of 30 seconds, he refers to a “consensus” that he has backed away from, and says he can’t explain how his tax plan is revenue neutral because “it would take me too long.”

RYAN: And every time we’ve done this, whether it was Ronald Reagan working with Top O’Neill, the idea is from Bowles-Simpson commission on how to do this. There’s been a traditional Democrat and Republican consensus lowering tax rates by broadening tax rates works, and you can.

WALLACE: But I have to –

RYAN: Let me just – let me just –

WALLACE: You haven’t given me the message.

RYAN: Well, I don’t have the – it would take me too long to go through all of that, but let me say it this way. You can lower tax rates by 20 percent across the board by closing loopholes and still have preferences for the middle class for things like charitable deductions, for home purchases, for health care.

Lori Montgomery writes that Paul Ryan prefers to build “an emerging consensus on tax reform and Medicare reform” to compromise. Well, yeah. But the drama I’m interested in occurs if the election ends up the way the polls suggest it’ll end up – President Obama, re-elected with Ryan’s home state in his pocket, and Ryan in the position to either run for president himself or work on tax reform.

Eli Lake gets the talking points behind the administration’s early “terrorism? What terrorism?” analysis of the Benghazi attack.

Shikha Dalmia sees unions turning the campaign for collective bargaining into a ballot initiative. Remember how well that worked in Ohio, compared to how poorly the message worked in Wisconsin, when “save collective bargaining” was part of the campaign against Scott Walker generally.