Last Updated:November 24 @ 07:08 pm

Barone: Romney and Ryan Turn the Tables on Obama

By Michael Barone

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan was supposed to be a problem for the Republicans. So said a chorus of chortling Democrats. So said a gaggle of anonymous seasoned Republican operatives. All of which was echoed gleefully by mainstream media.

The problem, these purveyors of the conventional wisdom all said, was Medicare -- to be more specific, the future changes in Medicare set out in the budget resolutions Ryan fashioned as House Budget Committee chairman and persuaded almost all House and Senate Republicans to vote for.

But while Democrats licked their chops at the prospect of scaring old ladies that they'd be sent downhill in wheelchairs, the Medicare issue seems to be working in the other direction.

Romney and Ryan have gone on the offense, noting that while their plan calls for no changes for current Medicare recipients and those over 55, Obamacare, saved from demolition by Chief Justice John Roberts, cuts $716 billion from the politically popular Medicare to pay for Obama's politically unpopular health care law.

The Romney campaign is putting TV advertising money behind this message, and it will have plenty more to spend -- quite possibly more than the Obama forces -- once the Romney-Ryan ticket is officially nominated in Tampa, Fla., in 10 days. Team Obama is visibly squirming.

It turns out that Ryan and Romney, who in late 2011 and early 2012 moved quietly but deliberately toward embracing the Ryan agenda, may have outthought their adversaries.

Those last-minute Mediscare-type mailings to seniors, which enabled Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles to narrowly defeat Jeb Bush in the 1994 Florida governor race, don't work so well anymore when the issue is brought out fully in the light of day.

But Medicare/Mediscare is not the only thing on which the Democrats have underestimated Ryan and the putative presidential nominee who selected him from the high-quality field of potential VP nominees from which he made his pick.

Ryan brings two other things to the Republican ticket that could prove important in the two-month sprint from the Tampa and Charlotte, N.C, conventions to Election Day.

One is foreign policy chops. Romney has less in the way of exposure to serious involvement in foreign and defense policy than any major party nominee since Bill Clinton in 1992 and Romney's fellow Bay Stater Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Ryan, as a member of the House, theoretically brings a little more. But actually a good bit more, to judge from a little noticed speech he delivered three blocks from the White House to the Alexander Hamilton Society in June 2011.

In that speech, as Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens noted last week, Ryan showed that "he knows how to think."

"Our fiscal policy and our foreign policy are on a collision course," said Ryan, whose number-crunching knack clearly appealed to fellow numbers-cruncher Romney.

Defense spending accounted for 39 percent of the federal budget in 1970, said Ryan (who was born that year), but accounts for only 16 percent today. Under current budget pressures, it is at risk of going far lower.

Ryan referenced Princeton scholar Aaron Friedberg's book "The Weary Titan," on how Britain ceded world leadership a century ago in the face of economic pressures. He pointed out that while Britain could assume that the United States, with similar values and goals, might take up the burden, we have no similar fallback today.

Ryan acknowledged that our long-term dedication to freedom and democracy must sometimes yield to short-term interests. But that dedication, not occasional accommodations, must be our lodestar.

As Stephens argues, this puts Ryan much more than Barack Obama in line with the examples set by Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and -- dangerous to say it -- George W. Bush.

Romney takes the same approach on this, and on the other valuable quality Ryan brings to the Republican ticket.

And that is his solid mooring in the lessons of America's Founding Fathers. "America is an idea," Ryan said, that "our rights come to us from God and nature," rights that "belong to every person everywhere."

This election can be seen as a contest between the Founders' ideas and those of the Progressives, who saw the Founders as outmoded in an industrial era.

Ryan strengthens Romney in his invocation of the Founders. Obama is stuck with the tinny and outdated debunking of the Progressives. Which rings truer today?


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



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  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    August 20, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    The differences between Romney and Obama in ideology are clear, Do we close the hole in our budgets and pay off our just Debts by honest GROWTH ( Romney) or rack up more dishonest debt to be paid for in dishonest tax THEFT (Obama). Growth or theft, the choice can be no clearer as the R & R team will soon articulate to give America a vey new opportunity of choice.


    No growth Tax and theft is all we have seen by this Obama/Pelosi/Reid rule of the privileged socialist class of tax and spend re-distributors of your hard earned American wealth and personal property. Yes America, Mitt Romney has indeed taken a few political casualties in his search and selection of a Vice Presidential candidate, but thankfully, Like Tom Hanks in his search for his Private Ryan, Mitt had the courage to move forward even into the jaws of the enemy, and at last has found our own Conservative American Private Ryan who he reminds ALL OF US also that we can earn this, “WE DID EARN THIS”,,,,,,not the socialist government of consumption. Just like the private Ryan in the movie who was lost, but found again, who like all true proactive Americans who refuse to run from our responsibilities to struggle against the enemies of American ideology, you my fellow Americans “DID EARN THIS”. Now prove it again, and go out and vote for Mitt Romney who will morally and justifiably allow you to keep that which you have honestly and bravely gone out and conquered and gone out and earned, in the accomplishing internal growth of your challenging spirit which is always followed by and rewarded by the external growth of your wealth and personal property, which team Obama dishonestly seeks to rob you of ALL.

    Unlike Obama, Mitt Romney DOES GET IT,,,,you did earn this, now go vote out Obama so you can keep it. Earn this Election! If Obama is allowed to steal from any class, even the rich, he can and will of necessity, sooner rather than later, steal from the middle class and the poor, both their wealth and their integrity. He will steal from YOU, and has already stolen from your children/grandchildren in generational debt. Now get out and vote and give him exactly what he has earned and take back what he and his party have stolen, which is our goal-oriented American dreams of individual liberty and achievement, that our secular Freudian President has miss-interpreted and morphed to become the Kenyan socialist nightmares of his own crash and burn disoriented “Dreams From My Father. Only when Obama is finally sent packing back to the community organizing streets of Chicago, with the poverty of his empty ideological tin cup of begging, only then will he realize, HE DID EARN THIS!

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  2. herb2tComment by herb2t
    August 20, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    How about making things just a little bit clearer – show the video clips of obama talking about his growing up in Kenya and other muslim trash. Then get a real American to say: “I’m voting for the American, not the muslim.”

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  3. freedomfighterComment by freedomfighter
    August 20, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    Ryan added much to the Romney base, and it can be a game winning team. Unlike Nobama and Borbidden, they work as a clear team, with a clear plan for America. They are both number crunchers, while the other team only know numbers as how much allowance they will be allowed as time goes on. The very fact that we have to borrow from China annually just to pay the interest payments on our debts says volumes about how terribly this Administration is, in their knowledge of economy, and how to make it work for us, instead of against us.
    As long as we have to borrow money just to make our payments, we are always going to be upside down in our Economy.

    The Romney Ryan ticket just makes sense, and is a plan towards bringing our budget back into manageability. Their plans can, and will work if given the chance, even though it will be a bit painful for us all for a time. Without the plan, we are just simply doomed to remain a Country in hock to China et al we need to borrow from
    The day will have to come when China will see us for what we are, a bad investment risk. It will, at some point become clear to them that when we have to borrow money from them to make our payments to them, that our borrowing must be contained.

    Pray tell, what will our Grand Country do, not if but when China calls the debt immediately Payable in Full?. There is no way we could even begin to make a dent in what we owe them, and it gets worse each and every year. This cycle cannot end until we change it, and hopefully this will happen in November, with a new well ballanced Administration.
    If they decide to pull the plug, and call the debt, We will have no choice other than to refuse, and go to war with them, or start setting up parcels, very large parcels, of our Countries Real Estate to settle the debt. These are not marbles we owe to them, but fantastically large sums of Money. Doesn’t it seem odd that China has money to lend, while the once greatest Country in the world, does not. We could not lend a dime to another Country, which we actually have to spare. This is something incredibly urgent, that the R and R team need to show to America, to let them understand just how badly our Country is being currently run, and the dead end it is driving us to. A very large portion of our Country’s people do not care about our debt or the economy, as long as there is a paycheck and benefits for their survival. China is about to say CHECK MATE, and we will have lost a very, America changing, expensive game to them.

    If we loose this election to Nobama, we will Likely loose our Country as well. Vote Romney/Ryan, and please watch closely your electronic ballots, to make sure Nothing, nor Anyone, is pre marked. It can and does happen, and if we allow it to happen, without fixing it, then the election could already be lost to Nobama. If he is going to win, at least make sure he does it fairly, at least in those things we can make a difference in.


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