In the end it wasn’t close. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) got all but ten Republican votes to pass a $3.5 trillion budget plan in the House, including provisions for tax reform, a Medicare premium support plan and significant debt reduction. No Democrats voted for the bill. Ryan had this to say on the House floor:
Ryan’s speech in reference to the Supreme Court argument on Obamacare demonstrates how the conservatives’ defense of limited government would be bolstered if the court in fact strikes down Obamacare. In essence, Ryan is saying Republicans respect and understand limited government, while Democrats want an unlimited state. He is right that this was the nub of the Supreme Court argument, and it is also the philosophy that is the basis for his budget (less spending, more resources in the private sector, etc.)
As we have noted before, Ryan and Romney are on the same page. Romney, not surprisingly, put out a statement praising the budget and essentially paraphrasing Ryan’s speech: “We are making progress. The House of Representatives has unanimously rejected President Obama’s vision of an America with higher taxes, unlimited spending and expansive government. Owing in no small part to the leadership of Paul Ryan, it has put conservative fiscal principles into action and passed a bold budget that directly addresses the drivers of our nation’s spending crisis. The House budget and my own plan share the same path forward: pro-growth tax cuts, getting federal spending under control and strengthening entitlement programs for future generations. I look forward to working with Congress to achieve fiscal discipline and passing a budget that moves us toward a simpler, smarter and smaller federal government.”
If nothing else, the Republicans will run on a unified agenda. And should Romney decide he wants to amplify his message (as Al Gore amplified Bill Clinton’s persona as a pragmatic Democrat of the New South), a Romney-Ryan ticket would accomplish that. The GOP could certainly do worse than having a ticket of two candidates devoid of anger and hyper-partisanship and committed to constructive reform. Not unlike Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ryan provides some connective tissue and rhetoric to lift policy out of technocratic, inside-the-Beltway talk. Romney could use some of that too.
In any case, since Ryan and Romney are joined at the hip on policy they might as well make a ticket of it. And the Democrats? If they go into 2012 with no budget and no health care, then what is the argument to let them keep the reins of power? They have not seriously attempted to wrestle with our most fundamental domestic challenge. Whatever Ryan’s and Romney’s faults, they have at least put forth a detailed vision of how they would get us from here to there (solvency). Where is Obama’s vision? (And the Senate Democrats?) It is fair to say Obama has not solved our fiscal woes, and he has not even made a good faith attempt to do so. If he was ever serious about taking on his own party, he kicked the ball away when he rejected the “grand bargain.” It’s a puny, cowardly domestic record he will be running on.