The 2012 Vote
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|Darrell M. West||August 13th 2012|
The Brookings Institution
There will be no Sarah Palin style debate about the qualifications of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan for vice president. The guy is smart and knowledgeable about public policy issues and is exceptionally thoughtful about federal budget issues. He is the author of a very detailed plan for deficit reduction and entitlement reform. He answers the call of critics who say Mitt Romney has no fiscal plan.
The downside of that substantive depth is the choice will enable Democrats to run against Republicans as cold-hearted conservatives who want to downsize government and end Medicare as we know it. Up to this point, there hasn’t been a serious national discussion about what actually is involved in deficit reduction and which programs need to be changed and in what manner. The specificity of Ryan’s budget plan guarantees we now will have that debate this Fall.
Republicans will love that the Romney-Ryan ticket has a detailed plan for cutting federal spending and dealing with long-term debt issues. Ryan’s selection will energize the conservative base and add to the substantive heft of the GOP campaign. Democrats will love this choice for the same reason. Romney and Ryan will have a bulls-eye on their back for cutting specific programs, such as Medicare, that are popular with voters and near and dear to the hearts of senior citizens.
Politically, Romney’s choice puts Florida into more serious play for Democrats due to all the senior citizens in that state and Wisconsin for Republicans. Democrats will run Medicare ads in states with a high proportion of senior citizens and the GOP will claim they now have the bold ticket with a bold program that has been lacking to date.
Darrell M. West is vice president and director of Governance Studies and founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, from where this article is adapted.