Paul Ryan’s gotten a lot of press about his ideas regarding federal spending over the course of his tenure in Congress. As the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, he’s had a chance to publicize some of those ideas, though given the state of paralysis in DC, there seems to be very little chance for him to implement his plans.
Needless to say, some of his proposals are highly controversial, and the net result would be that his policies would shift more responsibility, particularly in the areas of entitlement spending, squarely onto the shoulders of those who would least be able to afford it. Even Republicans have called some of his ideas ‘right wing social engineering.’ When Republicans use such language, it’s not hard to imagine what Democrats would say about him were he to assume a position of more prominence, shall we say, were he to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who, at least in my mind, has probably been Romney’s first choice, has seemed to take himself out of the running, saying that he would instead prefer to stay in the Senate. The list of suitable candidates is short, as most of the leading candidates have either demonstrated themselves to be either too new to the national political scene, or too liberal to shore up Romney’s support on the right. And this week, those supporting a Ryan pick intensified, including the vaunted broadsheet of the right, the Wall Street Journal.
Were Ryan to be selected, which is looking more likely now than before, this would give the Obama campaign the opportunity to continue its narrative that, unless you’re a wealthy businessman (or woman), the GOP doesn’t really care about you. This may not necessarily be the truth, but the fact of the matter is that a Ryan pick would make things more difficult for Republicans to shift the narrative to anything but. Also, consider who votes in the greatest numbers: seniors. If Ryan were to be included on the ticket, his plans about slashing entitlement programs would scare the living bejesus out of those people who vote the most, and form one of the strongest areas of support for the GOP in this election.
I don’t profess to be able to tell the future, but what I can tell is that the Republican party may, yet again, be backing itself into another corner, where the more extreme elements of the party insist on a platform that may have worked, and worked well in 2010, but in the context of a presidential race, could well blow the wheels off of the campaign by the time the conventions have taken place. Of course, that would be just fine by me.