Over the next several weeks you will hear a buzz in the political stratosphere over Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan’s impact on the presidential race will be the main topic of conversation from now until the Democratic convention takes center stage in September.
This is typical in American politics. The candidate announces his choice and media frenzy ensues; scrutinizing everything from how the running mate was chosen to what he or she likes to have for breakfast. Think Sarah Palin in 2008. Naturally, some sort of controversy will emerge over the pick; for what would our politics be without controversy. Usually the controversy is little more than some irrelevant nonsense fabricated by the opposition. For in our political system running mates are usually chosen because they embody the most critical of campaign characteristics…they do no harm to the candidate.
But the Paul Ryan pick is different for two very important reasons.
For the first time in decades voters have a clear choice over the direction in which they want their elected leaders to take the country. When Romney picked Ryan he didn’t move to the mushy middle to appease independent voters. In fact he doubled down on differentiating his world view from that of the President. Come November voters will have the distinct choice of whether they want lower taxes and less in the way of government services or if they believe that government is a necessary component in our democracy and those who have benefited the most should be asked to give back a little more. The Romney/Ryan ticket supports the former viewpoint; Obama/Biden the latter. The distinction is quite clear.
The other reason the Ryan pick is important is because he brings to the table a serious debate about the future of middle class entitlements; a debate that has been sorely lacking for decades. Ryan does not believe that you can return the economy to fiscal stability without addressing the skyrocketing cost of entitlements. He has courageously expressed his highly controversial ideas for entitlement reform; controversial because they would completely alter the delivery of entitlement benefits that are so popular among Americans.
On the topic of entitlements, Paul Ryan is right. You cannot have a serious conversation about economic stability without including substantive entitlement reform. You can disagree with Ryan’s views on how to fix the entitlement problem…and we certainly do…but there is no doubt that middle class entitlements are the single most economic impediment to our financial security.
Every economic think tank that has examined entitlements says the same thing…within the next twenty years entitlement programs will absorb 100% of our budget. 100% of our tax revenues will go toward paying Medicare and Medicaid benefits…leaving $0.00 dollars for defense, education, infrastructure, innovation, Pell grants, food stamps etc., etc. etc. And that doesn’t count the interest that we need to pay on the $17 trillion we owe on the debt…
… Nor address the fact that Social Security will be essentially bankrupt in 2033.
We are very enthused about the Ryan pick. Not because we agree with his ideology, but because we feel he will bring to the forefront a serious and long overdue debate about entitlement reform.
And to all those partisan radicals on both the right and the left who see every debate in political terms… try to understand this simple concept. Entitlement reform is not about politics…it’s about math.