June 17, 2012

POLICY AMBITION:

Ryan's budget chase could shape his political path (BRIAN BAKST, 6/16/12, Associated Press)

There are plenty of reasons for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to choose Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate.
The whip-smart Wisconsin congressman is from a battleground state. He's the GOP's leading voice on the nation's budget and is the rare member of the Republican establishment who's loved by the tea party.

"If that bridge ever came, I would consider crossing it," Ryan told The Associated Press in an interview this month. He added: "I really don't have tremendous political ambition. I have policy ambition." [...]

Heavy with both factories and farms, Ryan's district in southern Wisconsin is typically carried by Democratic presidential candidates. His opponents note that part of his success lies in the overtures he makes across the aisle, from party-bucking votes against weakening prevailing wage laws to simpler gestures, like his recent attendance at a wake for the father of a local Democratic stalwart.

Prone to speaking in bar graphs as he warns of "a gathering storm" of debt that will challenge America's way of life, Ryan has also mastered the ability to hang a smile on ideas that generations of politicians have found treacherous.

He casts his push to scale back food stamps and other welfare assistance as empowerment for the downtrodden now lulled into complacency. Opening Medicare to more private competition, he argues, is about preventing an all-out program collapse that would devastate future retirees.

"He's a master politician," said former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Jim Wineke. "I don't have a mean thought in my body about Paul. I just fundamentally disagree with his policies. He puts on a good face for some pretty awful policies."

The global economic crisis and the rise of the tea party, with its focused attention on government spending and debt, have made Ryan's budget plans something of a GOP litmus test. In March, Romney was quick to praise Ryan's latest proposal to slice trillions from the federal budget. Ryan reciprocated soon after with an endorsement of Romney's White House bid.

Picking Ryan as his running mate would be read as a full embrace of his budget ideas. 

A President Romney would be better served having Mr. Ryan in the House to guide the budget plan through.
Posted by at June 17, 2012 8:13 AM
  

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