Jewish World Review April 10 , 2012/ 18 Nissan, 5772
At least Ryan has a deficit-cutting plan
By Dan K. Thomasson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Now that the true battle for the presidency seems joined between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the focus has shifted on whom Romney might choose to join him on the Republican ticket.
The newest favorite seems to be Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget committee and architect of the controversial GOP answer to the continuing long-range national debt crisis.
It seems to me not a bad choice given the fact that Ryan fits the conservative model needed for that wing of the party while at the same time bringing an economic expertise that Romney needs in a campaign where the pocketbook will be the crucial issue.
Ryan also has the advantage of being young, handsome and not burdened with the stigma of overzealousness on social issues exhibited by Rick Santorum, for instance a posture that has turned off independents and moderates and women of both parties.
Last week, in an address to the American Society of News Editors, Obama roundly criticized Ryan's latest plan to slash the federal deficit by trillions of dollars through radical changes in entitlements and contingency spending cuts.
He linked Ryan and Romney, who called the highly controversial Ryan proposal "marvelous," and doused both in flammable rhetoric, clearly designed to take advantage of fears over Social Security and Medicare. Obama either regards Ryan as a liability for his opponent or is taking an early shot at a potential vice presidential candidate.
This reminded me of an incident last year when the chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, Steve Israel, used some of the same language to criticize an earlier Ryan budget without offering a substitute. In a Christian Science Monitor breakfast session with reporters and columnists, I said that while Ryan's proposal might not be to his liking, it was at least a plan, a starting point. "Do you have one to counter or is it your intention just to scare the hell out of the old folks on Medicare?"
His response was less than cordial and utterly uninformative. "Who are you?" he barked.
It was a question I had not heard in nearly 40 years of attending these affairs. When he was told, he fumbled his way through a non-answer that left only one thing clear. Neither he nor his party at the time had an alternative. Their only interest, to be trite, was to use Ryan's efforts as a political football.
That seems to me to be the weakness in the Democratic campaign strategy, a lack of a viable alternative plan for getting the deficit spending under control.
Ryan's radical positions, if you consider them that, should be met with a better argument than that they callously disregard the poor, the old and on and on without offering a solid different approach. This has been a Democratic Party campaign staple for generations. With a solid sub in hand, Democrats would be more credible in their claims of Republican intransigence when it comes to compromise.
The president is vulnerable on the economy. And while the abysmal statistics on jobs and other aspects had their roots in the prior administration, most of them worsened on his watch and are, therefore, his responsibility.
Meanwhile, Romney, clearly the nominee barring an utterly unforeseen circumstance, could use Ryan's budgetary expertise to good advantage. The downside, of course, is that the Midwesterner's proposals are too disruptive for a good many Americans. He could be just too much a liability. At least that's what some campaign analysts are bound to argue.
Nevertheless, he is a sincere, down-to-earth politician who offers innovation and connections to the middle class, something that Romney lacks.
It always has appeared to me that the former Massachusetts governor is a bit of a carbon copy of former President George H.W. Bush, whose failure to understand the common person was so extensive it cost him re-election. The elder Bush recently endorsed Romney. It was no surprise. He could always identify best with the culture of privilege.
There are a number of potential running mates out there who might serve Romney a woman, perhaps in what is still considered an uphill effort. However, Ryan seems at the top of the list at the moment.
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