The Ryan Problem
One week ago, certain Republican nominee Mitt Romney chose House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running-mate. Ryan is a seven term congressman with a national reputation as a fiscal conservative. The budget Ryan constructed, and which was passed by House Republicans, is seen as the focal point for Republican ideology. Some have gone so far as to call Ryan the ideological leader of the Republican Party.
The choice of Ryan as a running-mate is sure to energize the conservative base, which Romney has had issues with throughout the campaign. However, there are drawbacks to choosing Ryan. Most have to do with losing independent voters and other key voting demographics by choosing Ryan. Ryan’s budget proposes to fundamentally alter popular entitlement programs, most notably Medicare. Elderly voters are wary of any politician who might endanger their health benefits. But there is a larger problem that has begun to emerge in the first week with Ryan on the campaign trail. The secondary on the ballot runs the risk of outshining the primary.
For months Romney has been criticized for not having concrete plans, and for not divulging enough details about how he would deal with the economy. The most prominent example is his pledge to cut taxes, and to make up the lost revenue by closing tax loopholes. Unfortunately, he has yet to divulge which loopholes he would close in order to maintain revenue. Romney has also vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but has not stated what he would replace it with, or whether he will replace it at all. Such vague positions are problematic so close to the election, but are made more so by the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket.
The Ryan budget is a very detailed piece of legislation that has clear projections showing what can be expected if it is implemented. The projections rest on a set of assumptions that may not pan out, but at the very least there is a clear framework in place for how the plan would try to reduce deficits and spur economic growth. Unfortunately, Romney doesn’t have nearly as detailed a plan, and thus not nearly as much analysis, as the Ryan plan.
The problem is that there are things in the Ryan proposal that are very unpopular. And so Romney and Ryan have had to spend the last week trying to separate from the Ryan budget by stating that Romney has his own plan, even if no one is really sure exactly what the plan is. Romney supports the Ryan plan as being bold and visionary, at one point even calling it “brilliant.” However, he has been stepping back from the budget plan when challenged on things like Medicare. He will not say what exactly his own plan contains, and he will not fully endorse the plan that he says is brilliant.
All of this shifting back and forth is very confusing to those who are watching what is happening. The addition of Ryan was supposed to bring clarity to the policy debate regarding the economy. But at this point it looks like there may be too many cooks in the kitchen in the Romney campaign, and Romney, the presidential nominee, isn’t the one people are looking to. The Romney campaign needs to work hard to focus their message on economic policy before the Romney/Ryan ticket turns into the Ryan/Romney ticket, or just the Ryan ticket. The only way this is possible is if Romney takes a firm and detailed stance on the issues. He may catch a lot of heat for those positions, but that is better than the alternative of catching heat for positions that he doesn’t endorse. Romney needs to step up and show that he is the leader of the Republican ticket if he is to have any hope of convincing the American people that he deserves to be the leader of the entire nation.
Like what you see? Help us bring you even more articles like this one! Click the link to find out how you can help support East Idaho Flame: http://eastidahoflame.com/support-eif/