It’s only been a few hours since Mitt Romney announced House Budget Chair Paul Ryan as his running mate, but the Republican presidential candidate is already distancing himself from Ryan’s signature policy achievement.In what appears to be an early attempt to deflect criticism about Ryan’s controversial budget plans, Romney’s aides circulated an internal memo to reporters this morning that lays out talking points for how the campaign plans to address the Ryan budget.
The whole memo is worth a read, but here is the part that addresses the budget (emphasis added):
1) Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?
- Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.
- Romney’s administration will go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: Can we afford it? And, if not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it?
- Mitt Romney will start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford.
- Mitt Romney also laid out commonsense reforms that will make good on our promises to today’s seniors and save Social Security and Medicare for future generations.
2) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas – like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, labour, etc. – do you think those differences are going to hurt or help?
- Of course they aren’t going to have the same view on every issue. But they both share the view that this election is a choice about two fundamentally different paths for this country. President Obama has taken America down a path of debt and decline. Romney and Ryan believe in a path for America that leads to more jobs, less debt and smaller government. So, while you might find an issue or two where they might not agree, they are in complete agreement on the direction that they want to lead America
On the surface, this just looks like a feeble effort to mitigate the political risk of being associated with Ryan’s budget, which proposes drastic cuts in federal spending and a dramatic overhaul of popular entitlement programs, including Medicare.
But these proposals are the reason why conservatives and Democrats are both psyched about the Ryan V.P. pick. So Romney’s attempt to simultaneously embrace Ryan’s fiscal policy record and disavow his signature fiscal policy just sounds like more of his campaign’s hallmark doublespeak.
In reality, however, this is really the only position that Romney could or should be expected to take on Ryan’s budget proposals. As we have pointed out before, no one has ever thought the Ryan Budget was going to become a law. It has always been a political document, laying out a new ideological framework for the Republican Party, which, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, found that it had lost its way on fiscal policy.
It would be unreasonable to ask Romney to rigidly adhere to someone else’s budget manifesto, and it makes sense that he would want to form his own plan, consistent with his own ideas about the economy and fiscal policy.
The problem is that we have no clue what those ideas are. So in the absence of details about Romney’s own budget plan, it seems fair to tie him to the only proposal available — that of his V.P.
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