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It's the Romney-Ryan Plan; Why Not Romney-Ryan Ticket?

12:25 AM, Aug 9, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES and WILLIAM KRISTOL
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These claims are just wrong. Romney has praised Ryan’s budget without qualification. Furthermore, Romney's Medicare reform proposal is almost identical to the Ryan-Wyden plan, the latest version of Medicare reform from Ryan. Don’t take our word for it. Here is one rather authoritative analysis of Romney’s proposal, written in response to the question: “How is this different from the Ryan plan?” The answer: “Shortly after Mitt presented the proposal described here, Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Wyden introduced a bipartisan proposal that almost precisely mirror’s Mitt’s ideas.” That comes from the Romney for President website. Romney’s “senior adviser” might give it a look.

What of the first objection – that a Romney-Ryan ticket would place the Ryan budget at the center of the 2012 elections at precisely the time voters will be paying closest attention? Our answer: It' s too late to stop that from happening. And: So what?

The Ryan budget will be at the center of the 2012 election no matter whom Romney picks. Democratic strategist Joe Trippi told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that his party plans to spend much of October talking about the Ryan budget. Paul Begala, who is advising Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC, told the Huffington Post the same thing. This should surprise no one. Democrats have for months been calling Romney's plan the “Romney-Ryan” budget in their talking points. And Democratic candidates across the country have been demagoguing the Ryan budget for two years.

The demagoguery is predictable and lamentable. But it is in fact the case that the Ryan budget is, in a sense, the official Republican governing roadmap. After all, virtually all of the Republicans running for the party’s nomination endorsed it in some manner, and 97 percent of congressional Republicans have voted for one version of the Ryan budget or another. Republicans own the Ryan budget. And so does Mitt Romney.

The question, it seems to us, is not whether Republicans and their presidential nominee own the Ryan budget, but how they choose to talk about it. Republicans shouldn’t worry about having entitlement reform as part of the campaign debate; they should want it there. The 2012 campaign should be about leadership, and about the failure of Barack Obama to provide it on the big issues, including – especially – on entitlement reform, debt, and deficits. It’s no longer the case that talking about entitlements is fatal. Marco Rubio ran on entitlement reform and won decisively … in senior-rich Florida. The more Rubio talked about entitlement reform, in fact, the better he did, according the campaign’s internal tracking polls. Congressional Republicans voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Ryan budget twice and yet they are effectively tied with congressional Democrats on the generic ballot question.

A late-July Democracy Corps poll of likely voters in Republican-held battleground districts tested support for the Ryan plan. Voters were read a description of the plan – “what Republicans in Congress are saying about their budget” – and then asked whether they favored or opposed this budget plan.

“Our plan saves the country from a future of spending and debt by cutting an additional $5.3 trillion over the next ten years, bringing federal spending down the historic level of 20 percent as a share of the economy, and bringing deficits down by 2015. Our plan fixes the broken tax code by making it simple, fair and competitive, and eliminates special interest loopholes while lowering everyone’s rates to promote growth. Our plan repeals the Obama administration’s health care reform law and the Wall Street reform law, which cause uncertainty for job-creating businesses. Our plans strengthens Medicaid over the next decade by providing states greater flexibility to determine what is best for the people who live in their communities. Our plan will save Medicare for future generation by making smart reforms, giving future seniors the choice to purchase private plans or traditional Medicare.”

The results? Voters supported the plan 52-37.

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