So Mitt Romney intends to govern, not just to win an election. Why else would he pick Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate? Sure, Ryan is an accomplished campaigner who has held a Democrat-leaning district for fourteen years. But Romney has also selected the one American more likely than any other to reform the nation’s increasingly insolvent welfare system. And it is this characteristic that surely most appealed to the GOP presidential nominee. Think CEO and COO.
Since entering Congress in 1999 Ryan has immersed himself in the U.S. economy. He wants growth and prosperity with an effective safety net for those most in need. He prepared a welfare reform plan that would save Medicare from its unsustainable trajectory. And, unlike Senate Leader Harry Reid and President Obama, the House Budget Committee Chairman has produced and passed a budget that would include these reforms, tackle the deficit, control spending and encourage growth.
Ryan knows the federal budget inside out. He has debated the need for meaningful reform and the welfare policies of his opponents so many times that he is regarded by both sides as the Congressional expert on the issue. No bluster is detectable. He can quote the figures, explain the shortcomings of the current system and detail what is needed without resorting to political talking points. This makes him hard for the Democrat-supporting media to unravel.
Ryan also has the political grounding to get things done. His approach is to build alliances, most recently with Oregonian Democrat Senator Ron Wyden. If anyone can craft a reform that can get through the House and Senate, it is Ryan.
So if Romney wins in November, we can be sure that he will place his Chief Operating Officer in charge of passing vital welfare reform legislation. And unlike the Gitmo showmanship that characterized President Obama’s first hours in office, the selection of Ryan at this stage indicates that Romney really means business.
Compare all this to Obama’s selection of Joe Biden in 2008. Obama needed cover on foreign policy, where he had no experience, and he needed someone who had been in Democratic politics for a long time to reassure the party faithful after he usurped Hillary.
Biden’s selection was a political calculation, not that there is any disgrace in that. Kennedy chose Johnson, who he was known to dislike intensely, so that he could win Texas. But it is nonetheless refreshing that Romney looked beyond the election and made a choice that prepares for governance. He could have gone with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio or Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to tie up a battleground state. But he didn’t.
While Democrats feel they can portray Ryan as a heartless extremist pushing grandma over the cliff (as they have already done in one moronic video), the truth is that Ryan is a thoughtful political reformer more in the mold of a Roosevelt or Reagan. He is in Washington to get things done and, win or lose in November, he will have the staying power to continue to push his agenda on lawmakers.
For this, Republicans have reason to coo.