Ryan's plan to privatize this last line of defense for American elderly was so radical that even George W. Bush rejected it. Romney has been passively in favor of privatization, but with Ryan on the ticket, we can expect to see a renewed push to dismantle Social Security.
Ryan, the fresh-faced congressman from Wisconsin, would certainly be voted prom king at Tea Party High. But the tea party fever of 2010 has given way to widespread concerns about both unemployment and political corruption, which frustrated voters view as an insurmountable impediment to putting middle-class families' concerns above those of corporate lobbyists'. On those two counts, as Ryan becomes known outside of the Beltway elite, Romney may end up second-guessing his choice as much as John McCain did when Sarah Palin couldn't name a newspaper.
The intraparty debate over who Romney should select as his running mate is not just the stuff of Capitol Hill Club parlor games. It’s a stand-in for a broader argument among Republicans about what sort of campaign Romney ought to be running. As the clock ticks toward Election Day — now less than 100 days away — a growing chorus of Republicans is urging the former Massachusetts governor to take some risks, to do something more than run a one-note campaign based on voters’ disappointment in Obama. To tap Ryan, this thinking goes, would be to ensure a choice election and offer Romney the prospect of a mandate for a conservative reform agenda.
As Mitt Romney’s vice presidential selection nears and buzz about Rep. Paul Ryan’s prospects builds, a split is emerging among Republicans about whether the choice of the House Budget chairman and architect of the party’s controversial tax and spending plan would be a daring plus for the ticket or a miscalculation that would turn a close election into a referendum on Medicare.
Conservative angst over Romney skyrocketed Wednesday when his campaign press secretary highlighted the health care law Romney championed in Massachusetts, which served as a model for Obama's national reforms that are detested by the political right.
For Romney, the decision to pick Mr. Ryan has quickly helped to validate him in the eyes of skeptical Tea Party members in the House. Many in the movement had worried that a President Romney would hardly be an ally for their legislative goals.
But not all the opposition resides in the White House. There are doubters in the GOP as well, most memorably addressed — though since retracted — by Newt Gingrich, who called Ryan's controversial plan "right-wing social engineering" in 2011. And while only ten Republicans voted against Ryan's plan when it came before the House, some GOP candidates in senior-heavy states, like Florida and Pennsylvania, could become extra vulnerable if the Democrats define Ryan's plan as a disaster for the elderly, which they are sure to do.
It is Ryan’s transformative plan that now will become the center of contention in the campaign. Up to this point, Romney has been infuriatingly vague about his approach to governing and suspiciously elastic about his core beliefs. Now, joined at the hip with a man who has a specific proposal, Romney’s candidacy may rise or fall on how voters respond to the scheme put forward by the No. 2 guy on the ticket.
Romney was the candidate doing his best to wade through a primary race without being hijacked by the far right. Within the Romney camp, as is the case in campaigns in which political consultants are numerous, there was great reservation about putting on the table a definitive entitlement plan or a comprehensive tax plan.
On Sunday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus cast Romney's campaign as the one being honest with Americans about the nation's fiscal future and said Obama's team is more interested in attacking Romney.