Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, August 11.
It’s fitting that Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate comes after days of debate over the radicalism and vacuousness of Romney’s tax plan. His proposal won’t say how its deep tax cuts for the rich would be paid for — but if you grant the plan the most generous possible assumptions, the Tax Policy Center found, those tax cuts would have to be paid for by increasing the tax burden on the middle class.
In picking Ryan, Romney is confirming his commitment to full-flown economic radicalism — something that he had kept well disguised until the Tax Policy Center study unmasked it. The central idea driving the GOP ticket is not just that tax hikes on the rich must be avoided at all costs. It’s that dramatically reducing the tax burden on the wealthy — coupled with deep cuts to social programs and a quasi-voucherizing of Medicare — is the route back to prosperity.
Call it the “Ryan/Romney vision.” Not the “Romney/Ryan vision.” The “Ryan/Romney vision.” The Ryan pick was urged upon Romney by conservatives who wanted him to “go bold,” i.e., to confirm beyond doubt that he will govern from the Ryan blueprint. “We want the Ryan budget,” Grover Norquist said recently, adding that the paramount requirement in the next president is that he have “enough working digits to handle a pen” to sign it. The Ryan pick is a triumph for this wing of the party.
The Ryan pick is also a break with Romney’s previous theory of the race. He had previously intended to make the campaign about nothing more than a referendum on the economy and Obama’s stewardship of it. Now it will be a choice between two starkly different ideological visions, one that drags the race onto the turf of tax fairness and entitlements — which is much more in line with the debate Dems wanted.