Paul Ryan focuses race on debt issues

Credit: Courtesy of the United States Congress Credit: Courtesy of the United States Congress
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If you asked me on Aug. 10 who I was going to vote for, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I could vote for Mitt Romney for the sole purpose of defeating Barack Obama — and therefore Obamacare — or I could follow my heart and support my libertarian pipe dream in former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

I’m a Republican-leaning libertarian, but Mitt Romney just doesn’t inspire me; I don’t know who he is or what he’s about. He seems distant, undefined, and wishy-washy.

Fortunately, Romney’s new vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan is just the opposite. The House Budget Committee Chairman represents what Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan calls the “future of the Republican Party.” He’s not part of the old establishment that embodies politics as usual; he’s part of the young, reform-minded group that is seriously concerned about our future.

Ryan has been nothing but consistent on his views. Republicans and Democrats may disagree about his ideas, but by all accounts, he’s a budget expert.

In the same vein, he’s the only politician who has earnestly tried to address the long-run fiscal insolvency of our federal government.

Bringing those credentials to the table is important. The debate that has long been centered around attacks on Romney’s character will be shelved in favor of the real debate that defines this election. We have a choice between two very different futures: Do we become more like Europe or Singapore? More like California or Texas?
Republicans, embodied by Ryan’s budget plan, clearly favor a pro-market society in which anyone can make it if they work hard enough. Democrats favor a pro-business, entitlement society in which those who make it got there not because they’re smart or work hard, but because the government let them succeed. Choosing Ryan and his budget puts this distinct choice at the forefront of the election almost to the exclusion of everything else.

On a somewhat separate note, there seems to be confusion about Ryan’s budget — his house-passed plan to make America sustainable by 2050. In order to achieve that goal, there are tough decisions to be made, and this budget makes them.

Contrary to popular belief, this plan doesn’t end Medicare as we know it; the status quo ends Medicare as we know it. The program runs out of money in 2033 and that’s it.

Ryan’s budget voucherizes Medicare for those younger than 55 so we can let the market do its work and keep costs as low as possible. If you’re older than 55, nothing changes. There’s no pushing granny off a cliff; granny is fine under Ryan’s plan.

When it comes down to it, Democrats weren’t voting for Romney anyway. Similarly, Republicans weren’t about to vote for Obama anytime soon. This tells independent voters that it’s time to get serious. Now’s the time to make these decisions, and here’s where we stand. We’re going to balance budgets and leave this country in a decent place for our kids and their kids; that’s what the American Dream is all about.

I’m a registered independent and if you asked me today who I was going to vote for, I’d still tell you I’m not sure.

But now at least I know exactly where Romney stands, and it’s a pretty attractive position.