Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, announced this morning via his campaign smartphone application that he has selected Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) as his vice presidential running mate.
Ryan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, and has served as the chair of the House Budget Committee since the Republican Party gained the house majority in the 2010 elections. In that role, he has been responsible for crafting Republican budget proposals to counter those proposed by President Barack Obama (D). Although neither party has brought forth any reasonable proposal to rein in deficit spending or move decisively toward a balanced budget, the Ryan budget plans are notable for being the only ones in recent history that even attempt to address the projected bankruptcy of Medicaid and Medicare.
This selection is likely intended to do two things for the Romney campaign:
First, Wisconsin is a ‘swing state’ that went for Obama in 2008, but could potentially move to the Republican column. Although the state tends to be center-left on social issues, it also tends to value fiscal responsibility and recently rejected a well-funded Democratic effort to recall Governor Scott Walker (R) over his deficit-busting policies. The state has voted Democratic over the last decade in-part because Democratic candidates that followed President Bill Clinton (D) have promised fiscal responsibility, while President George W. Bush (R) seemed to prefer an irrational policy of record-setting deficit spending. But the people of Wisconsin have proven that they are happy to vote for a fiscal-responsibility Republican like Walker or Ryan. Now that Obama has moved the Democrats firmly back into the fiscal irresponsibility column, setting his own record deficits far worse than anything Bush ever did, the Romney/Ryan ticket could lead to a Wisconsin reversal.
Second, fiscal-responsibility Republicans have not been particularly ‘fired up’ about the Romney campaign. Romney—who served as governor of a particularly left-wing state—has a record that seems more in-line with big-government Republican presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or George W. Bush. Ryan provides an important counterweight with a record of supporting limited government and rational budgets. This may increase involvement among fiscal-responsibility Republicans. He also provides an important counterweight to the argument that Republicans are not proposing any real solutions; Ryan is one of the only congressmen (from either party) who has bothered to craft a real, written budget of any kind in the last four years—let alone a budget that actually attempts to solve our spending problem.