In choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has gone bold – and risky.
Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin is more than just the young, articulate chairman of the House Budget Committee. He is the author of a controversial budget proposal that would reduce taxes, cut government spending, and limit the growth of entitlements. Most controversially, he would turn Medicare, the government’s health-insurance program for seniors, into a voucher-like system, and Medicaid, health care for the poor, into block grants to the states.
Conservatives applaud the seven-term congressman as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party, a thinker with a vision for America’s unsustainable fiscal future. Liberals see Ryan as an ideologue who would destroy the nation’s social safety net, ready to throw Grandma off a cliff.
“While Ryan may be young, he is experienced and as House Budget chair he has a fiscal focus for the future,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “His knowledge of complex economic matters and his ability to articulate them in a cogent way should help Romney make the case that the ticket is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order and making America more competitive in the global economy.”
Mr. O’Connell adds that as independents learn more about Ryan, they will see his choice as a window into how Romney would analyze issues and tackle problems. But he acknowledges Romney’s risk, that Team Obama now has an opportunity to make the campaign a fight over entitlements.