When the President of the United States starts attacking a Republican presidential candidate by name, you know the general election is on. It’s safe to say the Republican presidential nomination is all but over and Gov. Mitt Romney will likely emerge as the nominee. All that talk of a brokered convention should be put to rest. On Tuesday, April 3, in a speech at the Associated Press Luncheon, President Obama delivered a very scathing attack against Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget and tried to tie Gov. Romney to the plan. “It is a Trojan horse…an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country…thinly-veiled Social Darwinism…antithetical to our entire history,” President Obama said. But what’s the president’s alternative? All we hear about is taxing the rich (“Buffet Rule”), wanting them to pay their “fair share” in the name of “shared sacrifice.” This is simply a talking point designed to energize the Democratic base, and not a serious plan for the future. It is framed as though the 1% is partly responsible for the country’s problems. Like they made their money on the backs of everyone else, and if we only made them pay their “fair share,” things will get better. It’s an intellectually dishonest proposition. Every time there is a fiscal crisis in America, the knee-jerk Democratic response shouldn’t be tax hikes on the wealthy. By the same token, Republicans shouldn’t think tax cuts alone should be the be-all and end-all. In order to deal with the country's biggest challenges, both Parties will have to give up some of their sacred cows. Republicans have to be more open to defense cuts, and Democrats have to acknowledge that entitlement programs need reform.
That brings me to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. His budget plan is a political document. It represents the conservative vision for how to deal with America’s fiscal crisis. But, it is also a substantive plan. It cuts domestic spending, reforms Medicare and simplifies the tax code. Rep. Ryan deserves a lot of credit for his courage in seeking to tackle the national debt and reforming entitlements. His plan may or may not be a good plan, it may or may not be perfect, but it’s still a plan. It advances the debate on what should be done about the debt. Democrats should come up with their own comprehensive plan and hopefully both Parties will meet in the middle. Paul Ryan's plan has become the de facto Republican plan.
Republicans have coalesced around it. This is a problem for Gov. Romney because no one seems to be talking about his plan. Republicans and even the media talk more about Rep. Ryan’s budget than they do Gov. Romney’s economic plan. Yet Gov. Romney is the one running to be the leader of his party. His economic plan is being overshadowed by that of Rep. Paul Ryan. For that reason, Rep. Paul Ryan isn’t the best VP choice for Mitt Romney. It’ll force Gov. Romney to not only embrace the Ryan budget wholeheartedly but champion it as what he may adopt on day one of his presidency. That’ll make Mitt Romney look like a follower and not a leader. It’ll make it seem like Rep. Ryan is the one in charge and calling the shots. Gov. Romney should find a way to talk about his economic plan and vision in a way that is equally as appealing to rank and file Republicans as the Ryan budget. When he does, more Republicans will follow him.