Last Updated:April 19 @ 07:19 am

Barone: Romney-Ryan Ticket Puts Entitlement Crisis at Center of Campaign

By Michael Barone

On the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk harbor, a coatless Mitt Romney named a tieless Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee.

Romney's choice was not much of a surprise after he told NBC's Chuck Todd on Thursday that he wanted someone with a "vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America, that we're going to be voting for what kind of America we're going to have."

This arguably describes some of the others mentioned as possible nominees, but it clearly fits Ryan.

He doesn't fit some of the standard criteria for vice president. He hasn't won a statewide election, held an executive position or become well-known nationally or even in much of Wisconsin.

But more than anyone else, more even (as impolite as it is to say) than the putative presidential nominee, Ryan has set the course for the Republican Party for the past three years, both on policy and in politics. From his post as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has made himself not just a plausible national nominee but a formidable one by advancing and arguing for major changes in entitlement policy.

He has argued consistently that entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- are on an unsustainable trajectory. Left alone, they threaten to crowd out necessary government spending and throttle the private sector.

Few public policy experts, on the center-left as well as the right, disagree. But many politicians, certainly those in the Obama White House, shy away from confronting the entitlement crisis. Better to demagogue your way through one more election cycle and kick the can down the road.

What's astonishing is that Ryan has persuaded his fellow Republicans to follow his lead. Almost all House and Senate Republicans have voted for his budget resolutions. And they have included his proposal to change Medicare, for those currently younger than 55, from the current fee-for-service system to premium support, in which recipients would choose from an array of insurers, with subsidies to low earners.

Republicans rallied to the Ryan plan during the nomination contest. Newt Gingrich was lambasted for calling Ryan's budget right-wing social engineering, while Romney over time moved to embrace the basic elements of Ryan's budget and Medicare reforms.

Ryan campaigned enthusiastically for Romney in the Wisconsin primary, and there was clearly a rapport between these two number crunchers. Romney would defer to Ryan to answer and has made a point of staying in touch with him after clinching the nomination.

As a number cruncher, Romney surely recognizes that Ryan knows federal budget policy about as well as anyone. And the sometimes politically tone-deaf Romney must admire Ryan's ability, honed in hundreds of town meetings in his marginal congressional district, to explain his stances in a way that wins over ordinary voters.

Naturally, Democrats have attacked the Ryan plan as gutting Medicare and have produced an ad showing Ryan shoving a wheelchair-bound granny down a hill. They're licking their chops at the prospect of running a Mediscare campaign against the Romney-Ryan ticket.

But it's not clear that the Mediscare tactic will work when the issue gains great visibility, as it will from Ryan's selection.

For Ryan and Romney can make the point -- lost in the shuffle when this is a low-visibility issue -- that their plan would leave the current Medicare system in place for current recipients and those who are 55 or older. Those who have made plans based on the present program could continue to rely on it.

But they also can make the point that their reforms are necessary in order to make sure Medicare is sustainable in the long run. Polls show that many voters younger than 55 doubt that they ever will get the Medicare and Social Security benefits they've been promised.

One more thing about Ryan, I think, appealed to Romney. He already has shown he cannot be intimidated by the most eminent opponent. Watch the video of Ryan's five-minute evisceration of Obamacare at the president's Blair House meeting. You can tell that Obama didn't like it one bit.

He'd better get used to it. Obama's side is relying on trash-talking ads. Romney's selection of Ryan shows he wants a debate on whether America should follow Obama on the road to a European-style welfare state.

---

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

COPYRIGHT 2012 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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24 Comments

  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    August 13, 2012 @ 7:06 am

    The Pick of my favorite Paul Ryan is a real game changer for me personally, but for Romney and the American People as well. Paul Ryan will not only complement the Romney campaign as a reasonable, logical problem solving man of action, but his good Irish looks, youth and unwavering love of God and country, love of truth, and respect for our Constitution and the people it serves,,,, will give Romney a weapon in his quiver that will pierce the heart of the Liberal campaign of deception and mortally wound a Democrat party campaign of the already Liberal walking wounded in leadership skills.

    Already the Liberal mouthpieces of the Democrat Party are attempting to paint Paul Ryan as a strident, radical conservative party ideologue. He is the complete opposite which Joe Biden will soon come to realize as he and his ideological deficiencies eat crow in embarrassment at Paul Ryan’s hands in debate. Already they attack the man instead of his positions, which only serves to indicate they shake in fear of what his truths about the economy and unrestricted love of country and Constitution will do to damage the Liberal argument and agenda to shed light on the darkness of their deceptions.

    Don’t let Paul’s youth and good looks deceive you for a second. Behind those smiling baby blue eyes is the mind and heart of a Conservative intellectual giant of the warrior class, warrior for truth which always leads to success. Like Ronald Reagan, Success in unity will be the gift and the legacy left behind by the Romney & Ryan team of the R & R, which unlike Obama’s team of failure and disunity will never mean “Rest and relaxation”. While Obama and his impotent self-flagellating Liberals are still trying to get it up, The R & R action team will have already got up, got at it and gotten it resolved. Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan speaks volumes about the man Mitt, his leadership skills and his courage to enlist like minded men who fear not to engage in the battle of life, and who will NEVER sit on the sidelines like our current leaders in fear and hiding to forfeit the battle by default to others. How unusual, a campaign spent educating the people in personal empowerment instead of indoctrinating them in government empowerment. Well done Mitt.

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    • beeceeComment by beecee
      August 13, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

      We should encourage the media to ‘Palinize’ this VP candidate ASAP. Look how well it worked for them in 2010. Most voters with an IQ of 90 or better are now well aware of these imposter journalists and their weak attempts. Thanks in no small part to Governor Palin.

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    • dlhooverComment by dlhoover
      August 13, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

      What a great post! Thanks for voicing my opinion! Paul was my favorite too, and it is rather comical how scared and desperate the Democrats and media seem now that he has been chosen.

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  2. pypypypyComment by pypypypy
    August 13, 2012 @ 9:50 am

    Despite the fact that he knows the Dems will be sharping their tongues ready to pounce and attack! Gov Romney chose Cong Ryan.
    This pick shows how much Gov Romney loves this country and is serious about taking head on the fiscal crisis and fundamental transformation that will happen if BO secures another term,
    All of us who has some common sense know full well that BO and his co-horts would demonise Cong Ryan with their “throwing Granny” over the cliff AD. Still Gov Romney chooses Cong Ryan. It clearly shows that Gov Romney is serious in doing the daunting task of steering this country away from the whirlpool BO is purposefully steering her towards.

    To those of you who says BO doesnt have a plan, you are wrong!. He does have a plan, his plan is: doling out more food stamps, contraception and making gay marriage their platform. That is his plan for us and this glorious country who is truly the last bastian of greatness.

    What do have to show for after almost 4 yrs of Obama? Poverty rate has skyrocketted and food stamps recipients continue to rise and unemployment has remains stale despite billions in stimulus and trillions $$$ in debt. CA is already Greece and many more cities are declaring bankruptcy. BO presidency has gone past immoral! As a President you would think he would keep his eye on the ball to make sure this country does not continue to decline. The only ball he has his eye on is his golf *****! in the golf course. It has all been a big vacation for him whilst we all suffer and innocent children who do not even know the value of the US$ is already in debt to their little eye *****.

    You bet I want radical policies and radical austerity. Prancing around the issues from BO has not work and will not work! A weak economy is a weak country. Hope and Change do not keep us safe outside threats nor put food on the table!

    The truth about the state of this country hurts but I gladly take Gov Romney and Cong Ryan Leadership, Courage and Honesty over Obama’s No Leadership, Lies and More Lies

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    • bulldogComment by bulldog
      August 13, 2012 @ 11:35 am

      Hope and Change – We hope there will be change soon, while they Hope most of us don’t notice the Change that is taking place.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

      “He who lives on hope will die of fasting” – Benjamin Franklin

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

      If the Democrats keep showing that mindless commercial of a Paul Ryan look alike throwing grandma in a wheelchair off the cliff, then the Republicans should put out an ad which shows Obama and the share of a $65,000 Debt burden given each of our children at birth throwing our babies in cribs under a bus. Wake up Romney campaign! It is time to get tough with the truth. Obama’s theft of a Billion from Medicaid for his mindless debt laden Obamacare is what will throw granny off the cliff, and it is the generational debt of an additional $5 trillion dollars in debt Obama gave us that has already thrown our kids under the bus and Like Snidely Whiplash, tied them to the tracks of an oncoming fiscal train. Such are the fiscal and economic weapons Paul Ryan will articulate to the middle of the road middle class American electorate who when shown the light of truth will know what to do to Obama and the Liberal ideology of failure in November.

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  3. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    August 13, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    I just tic’d my choice in a poll at World Net Daily which asked if the choice of Ryan affects ‘my’ opinion about voting for Romney.

    I marked ‘Was going to vote for Romney anyway’ because that’s the truth. Even if he had chosen Rubio, which I have serious problems with, I would still vote for the Obama Opponent.

    You might find the overall results interesting, so you can view it here …
    http://www.wnd.com/?p=245363

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    • bulldogComment by bulldog
      August 13, 2012 @ 11:42 am

      Looking at the overall results of all categories saying the person will vote for Romney it is quite impressive, over 80 percent at this time.

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    • irreverentoneComment by irreverentone
      August 13, 2012 @ 11:42 am

      Just finished reading a post of yours from another thread. I see that you are still wondering about the tax returns of former Governor Romney but don’t seem upset at all about the secrecy of the Presidential transcripts. I find it difficult to believe you are a Conservative at all.

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  4. pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
    August 13, 2012 @ 10:15 am

    I hope they have a VP debate. Ryan will wipe the floor with good ole Joe Biden. Heck, he could probably wipe the floor with Obama in a debate as well.

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  5. Pingback: Ryan pick draws the battle-lines | Western Free Press

  6. middlegroundComment by middleground
    August 13, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    Add two and two together and at the convention Obama will throw Biden under the bus and choose Hillary to mobilize the Feminist Army. All Biden can deliver is the PEU votes, but Hillary has a fanatic following of Flukeoids.

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    • pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

      I have heard this rumor, but I will only believe it when I see it. Hillary has the ability to overshadow Obama in the election. Someone as arrogant as him cannot tolerate that. He might replace Biden, but I just don’t think his ego can let him pick Hillary.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

      Hillary Clinton has never been elected to any office,,and I repeat NEVER won a popular vote. She like most ideologically empty headed, Liberated from reality, females, she has made her way up the political ladder by first clinging on to a man’s jock strap for a ride to the top with her husband, then using threats of political divorce with Obama at a critical election moment, to blackmail and get her campaign debt paid for with other people’s money and acquire the unearned title of Secretary of State, which Obama hoped would both shut her dangerous pie hole and keep her out of the country as long as possible. Even Obama is not dumb enough to get into bed with this Political Medusa lest his campaign promise of success be turned to stone.

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    • genesalComment by genesal
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

      You have to admit though, that Bill would make a stunning 2nd lady!

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  7. NY GrahamComment by NY Graham
    August 13, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    Ryan is one of the few in Washington who understand just how dire the fiscal situation is. He knows that our current path is unsustainable, and he has proposals on how to fix things. He may not be the best choice politically (Rubio may have been better) but he is the best man to help Romney save this country. I think he’s an excellent choice.

    Social Security now pays out more than it takes in. Obama’s plan is to keep cutting the Payroll tax. The trust fund is empty as Congress raided it long ago, so now the Government has to borrow money just to pay seniors their checks.

    Medicare will soon follow.

    We have had year after year of trillion dollar deficits, so now the national debt is staggering.

    The US has a choice: bankruptcy and default or reform.

    On the one hand you have the Democrats who scream like children, demagogue anyone who proposes a change in the status quo, and bury their heads in the sand instead of adressing problems. On the other hand, you have two Republicans who act on reason not emotion, approach problems like adults, and have a clear path forward.

    The choice could not be more clear, or more important. The survival of the nation depends on it.

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  8. BobinmsComment by Bobinms
    August 13, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    ” Romney’s selection of Ryan shows he wants a debate on whether America should follow Obama on the road to a European-style welfare state.”

    My concern is not the European-style welfare state. My concern is the Russian, Argentine, etc. style economic crash where the dollar will have almost zero value, there will be riots in the streets, and martial law invoked. And don’t say it cannot happen because it has happened before. And the rioters won’t be the real losers, those with now worthless dollars, it will be those with lost entitlements.

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    • genesalComment by genesal
      August 13, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

      I prefer to think he picked the best man for the job.

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  9. greenteethComment by greenteeth
    August 13, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    Neither party will be able to fix the ss, medicare, problem until they admit the problem is illegal aliens are the ones draining the system. There are enough illegals in this country where they should be paying into there own system for for financal help. can’t make it here on there system, go home.

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  10. malcolmxComment by malcolmx
    August 13, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    entitlements are a huge part of the deficit so why should they NOT BE CENTER STAGE;; SPENDING CUTS WILL REQUIRE CUTS EVERY WHERE,

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  11. malcolmxComment by malcolmx
    August 13, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    INSTEAD Of LEANING “forward”; COMMUNIST METAPHOR [OBAMA];WE CONSERVATIVES NEED TO INSIST ON THE BUDGET LEVEL OF 2000 AD

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  12. nickster99Comment by nickster99
    August 13, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    What I cannot wait for are the veep debates! Ryan is going to mop the floor with that a_ _ _ _ _ e Biden! Those will be entertaining evenings for sure!

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  13. greenteethComment by greenteeth
    August 13, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

    Leaving health care up to insurance companys would be a disaster, look at auto ins, as soon as they think they are in charge, hang on to youre wallet.

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  14. noveldogComment by noveldog
    August 14, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    If Ryan will modify his SS plan a little it might be a good thing? They need to mandate that everyone(including congressmen) join SS and contribute to it. They should all have the same Medicare Insurance and the same type supplemental. All the free loaders should be dropped. Let them buy their own! Put the money in a guaranteed trust where it can compound until needed. There would always be plenty of money. You just can’t allow the Congressional Thieves to handle it!

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