The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Is the U.S. Really Ready for Romney-Ryan Reforms?


From today’s Morning Jolt, already in subscribers’ e-mailboxes . . .

Is the Country Ready for Genuine Romney-Ryan Reforms?

Periodically I’ll still feel a sense of disbelief that Paul Ryan is the Republican vice-presidential nominee.It’s not that it’s a bad choice by any stretch of the imagination — the last few weeks have shown us that.  But it sure as heck is a high-risk pick. The selection automatically made the Romney campaign’s mission in its first term to be entitlement reform and serious budget cuts. That’s always been easier in theory and rhetoric than in practice. There’s a reason politicians were terrified of entitlement reform for decades; cycle after cycle, Medi-scare tactics worked. They worked, and they worked, and they worked, no matter how badly the budgetary projections for that program and Medicare and Social Security worsened.

Tuesday night, Chris Christie said of the Democrats, “They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren.” Well, they have a pretty good body of evidence for that belief.

Maybe it changes this cycle. I hope it does, and there’s quite a bit of evidence, so far, that the era of effective “Medi-scare” attacks is coming to an end. Politico, late last night:

Democrats thought Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal would shift the focus away from Mitt Romney, terrify the elderly and take places like Florida and other key states off the table.

That’s not happening. Not yet, anyway.

Polls and interviews show that for now, Romney’s selection of Ryan hasn’t fundamentally shifted the dynamics of a deadlocked race.

The polls leave no question that huge numbers of people oppose the core of Ryan’s plan. But they show something else too: Democrats haven’t yet been able to turn that opposition into a way to take down the Romney-Ryan ticket.

They’ve still got time, with millions of dollars in TV ads, three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate to chip away at Ryan. And the economy is still the most important issue for voters — so important that some voters who don’t like the Ryan Medicare plan may vote for Romney anyway because they like him better on the economy, pollsters say.

But Republicans have used years of attacks on the president’s health care law as a model for a fresh assault on Obama’s own Medicare record, charging that he cut the cherished entitlement program to pay for “Obamacare.”

And so far, that seems to have at least neutralized Democrats’ attacks on Ryan.

“Medicare just may not be the killer issue that a lot of people thought,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “That doesn’t mean it won’t be, but so far it is not.”

But we’re not out of the woods yet, and let’s remember what one of the central points of the Ryan plan is: WE DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING FOR SENIORS. One of the reasons the Ryan plan isn’t as toxic among seniors as other past entitlement-reform proposals is because it doesn’t actually change anything for the voting demographic that’s most reluctant to change anything.

Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers touted Ryan as “a man with the courage of his convictions, a man not afraid to tackle the toughest problems.” He’s not the one I’m worried about!

Because Romney’s pick of Ryan really brought this election down to the core question: Are we willing to live with less government or not? Are we willing to turn away the free stuff offered by Leviathan or not? Are we willing to do things for ourselves, or do we like that siren’s call of government being Santa Claus, offering us everything we want, and promising somebody else will pay for it?

We’ve all heard of how some Republicans don’t live up to the ideals of limited government — farm-state conservatives who deem their ethanol subsidies and farm price supports as vital, the companies that love their special provisions in the tax code, regulations, and what we call “corporate welfare”; the Republican congressmen who still cling (bitterly?) to their earmarks and pork. If it doesn’t end — our wasteful crap and their wasteful crap — the future of the country is shot.

Considering how the crowd ROARED when Ryan said, “we welcome this debate. We will WIN this debate,” the Republicans, at least the ones in Tampa, are ready to put this choice before the country.

Tags: Medicare , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan , Social Security


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