Ryan has embraced the rhetoric of both camps.
“The reason it’s difficult to pin him down is because if he had ‘The Pen as King’ for a day, he’d craft a budget that is partially able to pay for higher defense budgets through entitlement reform. But that is not the Washington any of us live in,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Ideologically, Ryan has spent most of his career preaching the gospel of fiscal discipline rather than neoconservatism. But he’s long sought to accommodate defense hawks with proposals that grow the defense budget by typically $1 billion above what the president’s budget has been over the last several years.
“I would call him a budget hawk with defense hawk tendencies,” said Gordon Adams, a defense spending expert and an FP contributor.