Paul Ryan: A Smart Pick, Or Just A Risky One?
Most of the early reaction on the right consider's the selection of Paul Ryan a smart move on Mitt Romney's part, but you could also say it's just risky.
Now that it’s confirmed that Paul Ryan will indeed be Mitt Romney’s Vice-Presidential nominee, a move that, like James Joyner, I find surprising, the reactions are starting to come out from both sides of the aisle, and their about what you’d expect.
On the right, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. As I noted the other day, Ryan has been something of an intellectual hero on the right for awhile now thanks to the Ryan Plan, officially known as the Path to Prosperity. Indeed, there were many on the right last year who were calling on Ryan to run for President himself, a move that he ultimately decided not to make to the disappointment of many conservatives who spent much of 2011 looking for a “not Romney.” For the past several weeks, the chatter about Ryan as Romney’s VP nominee became louder and louder, with The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal leading conservative publications in calling for Romney to put Ryan on the ticket.
Now, the reaction from the right to this announcement in the early hours is pretty ecstatic. Take, for example, this from Town Hall’s Guy Benson:
Any way you slice it, this is a game-changer. As I wrote earlier this week, Paul Ryan is one of the sunniest, most likeable conservatives on the scene today. He’s also the party’s top wonk and is completely fluent in fiscal issues. I predict that Democrats will publicly gloat over this pick (“he’ll be so easy to demonize!”), even as they privately worry. Paul Ryan is earnest, smart, articulate, attractive, calm, good-humored, and exceptionally gifted in explaining his case in persuasive and unthreatening terms. He’s from the Midwest, has blue collar appeal (unlike Romney, he did not grow up wealthy), and has a beautiful young family. The Left will launch vicious and totally dishonest attacks, as they have throughout the last two years of budget debates. But never before has Paul Ryan enjoyed a larger platform from which to make his case to the American public: The country is going broke, a fiscal calamity awaits, but we can avoid it if we take responsible, urgent action. This campaign is about to get a major (and needed) injection of seriousness.
Finally, this is a bold pick by Mitt Romney. It underscores his appreciation of the national moment and the seriousness of our economic and fiscal state. It should also eliminate any doubts about Romney’s commitment to Obamacare repeal and entitlement reform, Paul Ryan’s top issues.
I suppose the first question I have there is whether this is going to work with the American public. Poll after poll has been telling us for the better part of the year that the number one issue in November is going to be the economy and jobs. The latest round of economic statistics suggests that the importance of these issues in the minds of voters are going to be even more important in the minds of voters. If the Romney/Ryan ticket begins to shift the focus of its message from the economy to the fiscal situation in Washington, though, are voters going to see the connection between those long-term issues and the short-term issue of the state of the economy and where the jobs are going to come from?
Also, on the right, Jonah Goldberg sees this as energizing the GOP base:
The GOP base, particularly the tea parties, will now be even more enthusiastic because this gives them a much more solid reason to want Romney to win as opposed to just wanting Obama to lose.
It shows that for all of the talk of Romney’s timidity and cautiousness he can make a bold decision when he needs to.
This helps Romney communicate that this is a new Republican Party, insofar as Ryan is not only young and energetic, but he is eager to criticize the old status quo of both parties.
Ryan will be a fantastic surrogate on the stump. If (and I said if) the upper Midwest is really in play there are few better to fight for it.
Ryan reinforces the message, grounded in objective fact, that the Republicans have a plan for the future while the Democrats are simply about kicking the can.
This may well be true, and there is some value in a Vice-Presidential candidate that energizes the base, but what about the independent voters that Romney also needs to attract? How are they going to react to this pick? And when the Democratic Party begins to unleash its inevitable attacks against the Ryan Plan, which we’ve already seen, how will they react? We got some clue of that last year when poll after poll showed that the public is not in favor of entitlement cuts in general, for example. With respect to the Ryan plan in particular, from the beginning it has faced hostility rfrom voters back home,. Ever since then, the polling has not been good news for Ryan’s plan at all, with a majority saying they oppose the plan, and that they believed it would make them worse off. Does this selection make it likely that the GOP will alienate the very independent voters they need to win the election?
Jazz Shaw voices some of those very concerns:
[A]s much as we need to have this conversation about fiscal responsibility and the future of entitlement programs, I confess that I’m still nervous about whether or not the rest of the country is ready to lace up their boots and seriously discuss tough medicine for an ailing system. Perhaps it’s just because I’m out in New York and we are still smarting from the 2011 debacle where we lost what was considered the safest GOP seat in the New York delegation to a county clerk who ran a blistering campaign, 24/7 with absolutely no other message than the fact that her Republican opponent would not completely disavow the Ryan Plan.
These concerns are well warranted. One can already see how the Obama camp is going to handle the Ryan pick, and we’ve already seen some cases where running against the Ryan Plan has been successful for them. On the other hand, they tried that strategy in 2010 and it didn’t work at all. Of course, one of the main reasons for that is that the Republicans who were running largely didn’t let themselves get drawn into long debates about entitlement reform and instead focused on the economy and the health care reform act. If the Romney/Ryan campaign can do that, then perhaps they can blunt the inevitable attack that is coming. However, there are concerns out there because, for all the energy that the Ryan pick brings to the Republican base, it opens up the door to Democrats who will accuse Republicans of wanting to end the most popular entitlement program the Federal Government runs. That’s largely untrue, of course, and the attacks themselves ignore the fiscal problems that Medicare faces in the not too distant future, even with the Affordable Care Act in place, but these are attacks that can work in states like Florida where there are a lot of Medicare recipients.
As if to prove Jazz’s concerns correct, Steve Benen outlines what it likely to be the response from the left:
[B]oth the left and right have the Republican running mate they hoped for — Romney has picked the architect of a radical, Medicare-crushing budget plan, debated by the least popular Congress since the dawn of modern polling. Indeed, it’s fair to say the radical Ryan budget helped make this Congress so widely disliked, which makes his VP nomination that much more remarkable.
For months, Democrats have been trying to inject the “Romney-Ryan plan” into the political bloodstream, and now, the Republicans’ presidential candidate has made Dems’ job easier. The Obama campaign hoped to make Ryan Romney’s effective running mate, never expecting the GOP candidate to make this literal.
The result is a dynamic that was hard to predict. Romney isn’t even trying to reach out to moderate voters; he’s taking the most far-right candidacy in modern American history and turning it to 11.
You can expect to hear more of this from the left going forward, because, as I noted above, they have evidence that it works.
In his Playbook this morning, Ben Smith notes that the choice of Ryan essentially –means that Romney has changed the focus of his campaign:
Mitt Romney is discarding one of the most basic assumptions that has driven his campaign until now: Make the race is about President Obama, and he will lose. Don’t worry about being accused of being vapid and elliptical, went the Romney theory of the case: The more specific you are, the more chance voters will be distracted from a simple referendum on the Obama economy. Run out the clock, look credible and plausible, don’t lunge for shiny objects that take you off your economic message, and you’ll win.
The selection of Ryan — to be announced at 9:05 a.m. aboard the USS Wisconsin (!) as Romney begins a swing-state bus tour in Norfolk, Va. — disrupts a race that had been trending subtly but unmistakably Obama’s way. Romney now has a chance to make the race about something big, rather than the petty squabbles that h)ave dominated the general election so far.
Some Beltway Republicans are already fretting that this could be an intellectual version of Sarah Palin: It’s August, you’re behind, conservatives don’t like your candidacy, so you throw a long ball.
Given the state of the polls, and the direction the race has been moving, it’s perhaps understandable that the Romney campaign would attempt to go for a bold pick like Ryan. However, while he’s certainly no Sarah Palin, there are risks that picking him bring to the forefront. Romney is taking a gamble here, hoping that he will be able to recast the race over the next two weeks and come out of the convention fighting. It could very well succeed, and perhaps the American people are in the mood for a serious campaign about big ideas. It could also fail, however, if the voters don’t see this choice as addressing the issues that of concern to them.
This will remove the “Obama has no real business experience” meme from the table.
* Romney won’t stand on Bain or release tax returns.
* Ryan has never really ever had a job except being a government policy wonk.
This is a pairing that will try to offset the “Romney wasn’t conservative enough” arguement.
You know the one.
The one that will haunt Romney the rest of his life.
After he loses.
Wonkette tees it up:
How ’bout that.
Bishop Willard, knowing he is going down in flames, is trying not to get pilloried by the usual kind-hearted sensitive conservative orators.
Well, I guess If you can’t win, ya may as well make the far far far right happier by getting the biggest douche up there on stage with you.
Good luck with that.
Wonkette does a nice summary:
Cut-and-paste worked all too well.
So how often does the Republican base need to be energized? How insecure are they that Romney’s spokesperson can’t even refer to his biggest achievement as governor without demands that she be fired? This is a big sign that nothing Romney does will ever get them to trust him and that they want one of their to be one heartbeat (*cough, cough* are you on this yet, Ann?) away from the top job.
David Frum nailed it today:
I think it’s a move intended to rev up the base but it also unintentionally sends the signal that an incoming Romney Administration would have virtually no interest in foreign policy. Foreign policy has a way of raising its ugly head.
The only segment pleased by the Ryan budget are Nordquist followers, who want their taxes cut, the country be damned.
This budget increases the debt.
It is not fiscally conservative, it cuts tax yet again but doesn’t even pretend to cut spending to match. The spending cuts, as much as they’ll be hated aren’t enough.
This plan gives lie to all those “debt to gdp” complaints. They don’t care, as long as their taxes are cut.
Well, it’s mathematically dissonant, that’s for certain. Last I checked FL > PA > OH > MI > VA > WI.
On several levels it’s naive. Ryan’s never even attempted a run at a major political office much less prevailed in one. The so-called conservative “base” does not decide national elections. Not even close.
The Democrats in any event were planning a Mediscare strategy, and this pick merely tees it up for them on a silver platter. So not only is there a real potential for deer in the headlights ineptitude by Ryan there’s a real and separate risk that Ryan on the ticket actually will subtract net votes from Romney’s total, especially in Florida and Ohio, both of which have much older-than-average demographics.
The winner of the GOP veepstakes is President Obama.
Jonah Goldberg says,
In the real world, the fact that it’s a very bad plan may count against it. It’s awfully easy to attack a deficit reduction plan that actually increases the deficit. But Ryan can always argue that arithmetic has a well known liberal bias.
This probably signals that Romney recognizes the undecided are pretty well decided at this point, and it’s time to go for turnout. Or it may just indicate, as someone early this AM noted on MSNBC, that Mitt’s not driving the car.
Largely untrue? The Ryan plan completely annihilates Medicare and replaces it with a private voucher system. In what way is it largely untrue to state that the Ryan plan will end Medicare? That’s exactly what it does. Medicare is a single-payer healthcare system. Completely replacing it with a voucher system IS ending Medicare, in any reasonable sense of the phrase. Because the vouchers do not guarantee any specific level of care at all.
Now Romney will be tied to the Ryan plan, a plan which low information voters in focus groups did not believe anyone would be so out-of-touch to propose. A plan which is remarkably unsubtle in its transfers from retirees and the middle class to the 1%.
By the time the convention rolls around, it will be clear what I’ve said before. We saw the high-water mark of the Romney campaign in June. The more people know about Romney, the more people reject him.
” there’s a real and separate risk that Ryan on the ticket actually will subtract net votes from Romney’s total, especially in Florida and Ohio, both of which have much older-than-average demographics.”
Pennsylvania, too. And when all is said and done, I think Arizona will be in play due to Ryan.
BTW, on the original question “Paul Ryan: A Smart Pick, Or Just A Risky One?”
I think neither. A safe pick, not risky, but neither smart. I agree with those above who see it ultimately costing votes.
Cue the DNC and Dem Super PAC ads with verbatim language from the Ryan budget plans.
Running against the Ryan plan will be more effective now that the Dems get to run against Ryan.
Does Romney/Ryan remind anyone else of a weaselly new company president and his super young VP of Marketing/Sales?
I just have this picture in mind of the new company president brought in because he is supposedly a good businessman and has this unique ability to cut cost (layoffs). Along with him usually comes an absurdly young VP who while sounding intelligent (buzzwords/acronyms) really knows nothing and whose claim to fame is his good hair/golfing skills.
This is Dilbert come to life.
One person’s “bold” is another person’s “rolling over for the base.”
IMHO the Ryan pick had everything to do with avoiding a Tampa challenge snd very little to do with the general.
What Ezra Klein said:
I think it was between Pat Toomey (jobs and growth) and Paul Ryan (cut medicare, cut taxes, increase deficits), and Romney went with the guy whom the base loves.
I’d rather campaign against the guy who wants to privatize Medicare and shift hundreds of billions of dollars (per year) in future medicare expenses on to the retired Americans. Ryan wants to cut the top tax rate from 34% to 25% all while increasing defense spending, and there would be no deficit reduction either. In other words –
it’s the Bush Plan we livedwith from 2001-2008, but with privatization of a social medical insurancew plan.
BTW Doug, Andrew Leonard writes something just for you:
Well, idiot downvoter, the Ryan pick is not about the current economy or jobs. At least not for the economically literate.
To make the Ryan/Romney plan about jobs you have to apply the same old hocus-pocus. “Cut jobs on the rich, and this time they”ll hire you. Honest.”
“Cut [taxes] on the rich, and this time they”ll hire you. Honest.”
I’ll go get some more coffee now. Got to do my part.
I’m excited about this pick!
The choices cannot get any starker and a real debate about Medicare will be had. Even more importantly, from my perspective, the top of the ticket both P and VP might have a serious effect on candidates down the ballot. This means that if Obama gets reelected, he might actually have a governing coalition with the Dems retaking the House and holding the Senate.
I think with the Ryan pick the Conservative Project is now officialy over.
First and foremost Foreign Policy has been cast aside in this ticket. Romeny proved his lack of FP bona fides a couople weeks ago. Ryan is not even a pretender.
Fiscally these two are radicals…not Conservatives. Supply-side economics is a failed theory…it never worked…the mess we are in is the end result of it’s failure. A true Conservative would be targeting it…as Bartlett does…not doubling down as these two are. And a strong regulatory system is essential to Capitalism…there has never-ever been a free-market…but Ryan has voted to dismantle it all…no doubt Romney agrees. Ryan never failed to vote for loading up on debt during the good times…running up massive structural deficits…now when times are tough he wants to slash spending when it would do the most good. A true Conservative works within the system…looking to make incremental change. Ryan and his ilk voted to burn down the house when they manufactured the Debt Ceiling crisis last summer.
These are not Conservatives. They are, I suppose, Republicanists.
These guys aren’t radicals. They’re just bloated, vain and not too bright American fundamentalists who have found a system that requires nothing of character except obedience. They’re not really different than televangelists with tears streaming down their cheeks going on about Jesus.
I really do think, in some ways, that Ryan is the perfect ‘sleeper’ candidate. Yes, he has been ostracized and demonized for his economic plan. But, that is par for the course in how dems treat their opponents. Ryan, though, has been elected to the House 7 times, adding up to 14 years of Congressional experience. Furthermore his CD is considered a swing district, whereas Obama won it with 70% in ’08 and Ryan comfortably got in with well over 50%, indicating a strong bi-partisan appeal. He is also intelligent, articulate and seemingly unflappable.
The WH is already out there discrediting him and slamming the airways with hyperbole and distortions. But, that is to be expected. I think, at the end of the day, Team Obama/Biden has a real fight on their hands with Team Romney/Ryan, as now the issues are going to be aired no matter how intensely the current WH tries to drape the problems with trivial pursuit distractions.
It’s actually kind of comforting to see you all with the predictable scoffs and muscular chatter of how it’s all over for the GOP. As I see it, this will be a contest of ‘truth to power,’ and betting the farm of Obama’s power to win this thing might prove to be a lame choice.
Doug’s position has been that if Republicans take an armadillo lying flat in the road, and call it “Medicare” then “Medicare” is not dead.
… you mean, the truth that the Ryan Plan will cut the toptax rate from 234% to 25%, increase defense spending, and privatize Medicare, thereby shifting hundreds of billions of dollars in future medical expenses on to retired Americans, and how we’re supposed to wait until 2023 ti find out if this “plan” we can actually reduce the deficit?
That kind of ‘truth to power’?
Can you point to an independent analysis of the Ryan budget that you like?
Because that’s kind of the core test. If you can only go back to partisan sources, people who will either cook the books, or not care, then you aren’t really rising above.
Maybe I’m a skeptic at this point, but I don’t think you really care. You want a partisan battle that can be fought from your side. And you seem willing to reject anything critical of the plan as from the other side.
Oh Jan…If Jesus and Zeus were the Republican nominees, you’d be telling us about their humble origins and how the Obama machine was already beginning to tear them apart.
When was the last time a Presidential ticket lost both of their home states?
I’m at work today…but if anyone has time to look up what Jan had to say about the Palin pick I’d love to read it. I imagine it was the samecounter-factual delusions.
@jan: ” As I see it, this will be a contest of ‘truth to power,’”
Yes, because nothing says “truth to power” like ending Medicare to shovel enormous tax breaks to billionaires.
“Lips to power’s ass” is a more accurate description.
@al-Ameda: “the truth that the Ryan Plan will cut the toptax rate from 234%”
I may be a flaming lefite, but even I think that 234% is a little high as a top marginal tax rate. I’d be happy with something like 90% for every dollar over ten million. I suppose I could go as high as 95%. But once you’ve passed 175%, you’ve really gone over the top…
Romney on Obama:
Ryan has never had a real job in the Private Sector.
yeah … 34% …. damn
Mom always said that I was never going to be a good typist.
Well, at least Ryan has a budget to pick apart. The do-nothing Democratic Senate just sits on it’s hands, while the one Obama has proposed doesn’t garner a single vote from either party.
An “Adult Conversation” on the budget and the future of America. That will be the theme and it can work. The Dems have no budget to offer in response. They’ve passed not budget in reality.
Add in the “commission” used as an excuse not to even offer a realistic budget for nearly 3 years but then completely ignored by Obama and you’ve got a conversation.
Plus, Ryan was a recipient of Social Security Survivor benefits after his father died. Now, of course, Ryan wants to begin breaking down Social Security by calling for private accounts.
Please link to the Budget Obama proposed.
If you want an adult conversation you should try to skip the Republican Talking Points…like this budget nonsense.
There’s a thread on the ‘Pauline Kael effect’ over at the Glittering Eye. It reminds one that whenever you stay in your own political neighborhood, all you get back are validating impressions syncing with your own. That’s what oftentimes happens here on the OTC blog. You all confirm each other’s posts, with outliers being myself and a handful of others. However, for the sake of a learning curve enhancement I’ll share a couple of comments from another site:
Then you have this one from a guy who is super in tune with economic data, polling (even though he says he leaves it to others) and is very cautious in his analysis as well :
Whether you are aware of it, or don’t want to admit it. Ryan is not going to be the damning choice that you are thinking he is. Romney will get a boost upward from this VP decision, which will be felt more once they hit the swing states and introduce their policies in their way, rather than having social progressives do all the power-plays and selective editing.
At least one thing its clear: there is a stark choice here. There is no weasel room at all: its between center-left and wingnut. Center-right and Blue Dog Democrat is not on the menu. I’d say its the clearest choice since 1964.
Please link to the Budget Obama proposed.
I’m off to a bookstore, and am not getting wrapped up in your endless ‘linking game.’
At least one thing its clear: there is a stark choice here.
Yes. And, that is the wisdom of this choice, in that there is a clear-cut choice.
In other words, “I am going to continue to make up facts”…
Would you rather discuss wife killing through the passage of time or Ann Romney’s therapeutic use of horses? Perhaps something some guy on the phone said to Harry Reid?
Please pick your “middle school” conversation topic.
You are a proven liar. A link would prove your point. Except that it is a lie. So you run away like a coward instead of standing behind your word.
I’m curious: after four years what is Obama’s plan to reform entitlements and to address a deficit that has skyrocketed on his watch?
Yeah…that’s what I expected.
So much for your Adult Conversation.
He could start with kicking all retired prosecutors off the government tit (no medicare, SS, and convert their government pensions to a 401k).
Well, I am going with “Obama is not an American”
Of course if you can show where Romney has rejected Trump and his birtherism, we will have to talk about something else. Something grownup.
Google “Grand Bargain”…
The PPACA has already started reducing the cost of Medicare…by reforming Health Care…which is the root of the problem.
Spending under Obama has increased less quickly than any other President since Eisenhower.
In addition Obama offered Republicans the largest deficit reduction plan in history…at 4:1 spending cuts:revenue increases…and Republicans (Ryan and Cantor chief amongst them) walked away.
Note to Jan…that’s the proper way to make an argument….state your point and back it up with links that can be verified…no one care sbout your imaginary friends.
Jan is sounding more and more cranky every day. Is the campaign slow to process cheques?
The Ryan pick really is inexplicable to me, just from the simple point in reinforces the main truth about this election, that Mitt Romney is here to help the 1%.
@JKB: If by “Adult Conversation” you mean one that features the brutal rape of the innocent, then yeah, we may just get that.
@al-Ameda: “Mom always said that I was never going to be a good typist. ”
And my mom said that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones… but this rock was too amusing to pass by.
Google “obama budget zero votes” and you’ll get plenty of links.
As always, those were budget stunts put on for show by the GOP. They wanted to fool people, and it appears they succeeded.
What really worries me is that you aren’t sounding like James, so much as he is starting to sound like you.
I could plan to stop exercising and eating nothing but pizza. It wouldn’t be an improvement on my health, but it would be a plan darn it, and we could talk about it.
(We have the Republicans on record as saying that they’d block every Democratic proposal. We have them doing that, requiring a 2/3 majority, an impossibility, for any action. What kind of idiot does that, and at the same time complains of no action?)
You know, Jan and James, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes me oh so glad I’m an independent.
I can choose the best of the plans available, even the least bad, without getting bound up in team sports.
I don’t have to support a bad candidate with a bad plan in the despirate hope that somehow, secretly, he’ll really do what I want in the end.
I don’t have to vote the eigen-candidate/unicorn ticket.
For the record, what did I say that was “Glass House” worthy?
@al-Ameda: No, that was me, typo-king, making fun of yours.
@al-Ameda: He was talking about his own glass house and the stone he will inevitably leave for you to toss at it.
Thanks for laugh, you guys … hahahahaha
I think a lot of people don’t realize that Ryan’s plan keeps adding debt for another 50 years:
As a commenter elsewhere said a while back:
Only 4 Rs in the House voted against the Ryan budget. They are Walter Jones, David McKinley, Ron Paul and Denny Rehberg. The other 236 Rs in the House should explain why 50 years of adding debt is OK but only when it’s part of an R budget.
The Ryan pick gives Obama an opportunity to tie Mitt to those Rs in the House and have them all go down on the same ship.
This claim is false for multiple reasons. One reason that hasn’t been mentioned is here. And this plan eliminates the deficit a lot sooner than Ryan does.
Wow, I just noticed this, from the Romney campaign (thanks to Jeremy R for posting the link in another thread):
What spectacular chutzpah. Under the Ryan plan, the debt becomes more and more “massive” every single year for another fifty years, which means that every single year we will “have a record national debt,” and every single year the “drag on job creation” is going to get worse and worse. So I guess their message must be this: if you need a job, just wait until 2060.
It’s a truthiness thing, and a partisan thing.
People who self-identify Republican will believe that they, and therefore their candidates, are more conservative on the budget. That is a cart before horse thing, but it sure works for the candidates.
I betcha half the OTB staff will vote Republican, not because Republicans have a better plan, but because the staff think they do in their own hearts, and that somehow their feelings extend (in secret) to Romney and Ryan.
My reax here.
@Eric Florack: easy answer :
Paul Ryan won’t get the Palin treatment because unlike Sarah Palin, he’s not a moron.
something tells me I’ll be reminding you of this statement, Rick.
RE: Bits “reax”
Enjoy it. Romney’s concession speech will be the highlight for us. In the meantime, enjoy the Romney/Ryan “Farewell to Medicare” tour.