Over the last few months I have ticked off a number of people by writing that Mitt Romney may not earn my vote in November. With Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) now on the ticket as the nominee for Vice President, I am now far more open to supporting Romney than I was one week ago. Picking Ryan shows a significant amount of political courage and risk-taking, since Democrats and liberals will obviously declare both men want to throw Grandma off of a cliff. With Ryan on the ticket, though, the GOP has a candidate who can articulately point out that if we don’t change Medicare, Grandma is going off the cliff anyway.
However, I have significant concerns about the effusive praise conservatives have had for Ryan since he was picked as the nominee. In his acceptance speech, Ryan talked about both parties being part of the problem at times. Here’s the thing – Paul Ryan should highlight himself when saying that. Since entering Congress in the late 1990s, he voted for NCLB, the Medicare drug bill, funding for two badly-run wars, the Bush auto bailout, and TARP. Granted, he offered an alternative plan to TARP, and opposed the initial plan, but in the end he voted for it. He also voted for the Budget Control Act in 2011.
Paul Ryan as VP under Romney means entitlement reform – should they win in November – will be pushed off for another ten years. It means defense spending will continue to go up. It means the GOP is supporting a VP nominee who went from working for politicians to being a politician – a true establishment pick, which is not necessarily bad, but I am surprised so many anti-establishment Republicans are ignoring this fact about Ryan. It does mean the campaign is indeed picking the most articulate defender of entitlement reform in the nation, even if his budget plan is extremely centrist and takes decades to eliminate the deficit.
He’s a solid choice if you want someone good on entitlement reform…as long as you push it back ten years to get political support, which means we’ll be in the middle of the Baby Boomer years before we START reforming Medicare and Social Security. That’s entirely inadequate, and those conservatives who say his is the best plan for reforming Medicare haven’t seen the Coburn “Back in Black” plan or the Rand Paul entitlement and budget plans.
Ryan is a very articulate opponent of deficit-spending, which is awesome for conservatives. But no amount of smooth, intelligent discourse can hide the fact that his plans are modest, center-right proposals at best, at least when it comes to balancing the budget anytime soon, and his record on tough votes seems to have been forgotten by many conservatives.
Again, however, all of that said, I think Romney did pick a really solid person to balance the ticket, especially when it comes to showing at least some seriousness on the budget and entitlement reform. Strategically, it will draw conservatives into the fold, and will provide a great counterbalance the bumbling, foot-in-mouth syndrome of VP Biden and the awful, no-solutions President currently holding office.
Of course, I still reserve the right to not vote for the GOP nominees if they fail to put forth proposals and a campaign that gives me reason to trust they will make significant steps on spending cuts and reforms. Additionally, I will be watching to see if I can trust Romney to put forth conservative, pro-life judges once in office. As a Catholic and social conservative in general, I find abortion to be tied with the debt for the most important issue facing the country. While Romney and Ryan probably won’t do as much as I’d like on that issue, either, even their modest efforts on stem-cell research, the HHS Mandate, hopefully defunding Planned Parenthood, etc. will be of great benefit to the unborn babies Obama’s policies will kill.