This week, conservatives launched a concerted effort to get Mitt Romney to choose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee. I do not believe this will happen.
Their argument basically boils down to the need for Romney to emphasize “big issues” in his campaign. First among these is slashing entitlement programs, especially Medicare. Ryan is the perfect choice to have the election pivot on this issue because he is the author of a plan that has twice passed the House of Representatives that would essentially abolish Medicare.
While a program called “Medicare” would remain in existence under Ryan’s proposal, it would bear no resemblance to the program that now exists under that name. Instead of having their health care paid for by the government directly, as is the case now, the elderly would receive a voucher worth less than the per capita cost of Medicare presently that they could use to buy private health insurance.
Ryan just assumes that private health insurers would create policies that would provide equal benefits to what Medicare now provides, and does nothing whatsoever to ensure that such an option will exist when the existing Medicare program ceases to exist. Ironically, Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Ryan wants to repeal, actually creates a mechanism that would facilitate Ryan’s Medicare proposal.
It is safe to assume that Romney’s political advisers want nothing whatsoever to do with a vice president who will inevitably make the abolition of Medicare the centerpiece of his campaign. The Obama campaign will guarantee that this is the case.
An August 1 poll the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner clearly lays out how Democrats would attack Ryan’s plan and tie it like an anvil around Romney’s neck. The pollsters first ask voters whether they support the Ryan plan by describing it in the most favorable possible terms. People support it by a 52 percent to 37 percent margin. But when the plan is framed with precise details on how it would affect people, three-fifths to two-thirds of them have serious doubts or very serious doubts about the Ryan plan. In short, all Democrats have to do is present the facts about Ryan’s plan to make it a severe political liability for Romney.
There are other reasons as well why Romney is very unlikely to make Ryan his running mate.
For one thing, there are still a lot of conservatives with very serious qualms about Romney. Let us not forget that the only reason he got the Republican nomination is that he was the last candidate standing. At different times, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain, and former Senator Rick Santorum all led the Republican race in national polls.