I have no doubt Rep.Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will soon endorse Mitt Romney. It’s no secret they have cooperated and consulted on entitlement reform. Their tax plans are similar. They both extol the virtue of an opportunity society. They have spoken with admiration for one another. (Just this week, Romney on Jay Leno described Ryan as “creative.”) But there is now a more compelling reason for Ryan to speak up.
Thursday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released a statement, which read in part:“The RNC’s Presidential Trust, chaired by Congressman Paul Ryan, is now fully funded, putting Republicans one step closer to winning the White House in November. I want to thank Congressman Ryan, who has been instrumental in this effort, for his outstanding work.” A Ryan spokesman declined to comment when I asked if an endorsement was in the offing.
It was Ryan's role as head of the Trust which, he repeatedly has said, prevented him from weighing in on the presidential race. With that duty completed, he now has every reason to endorse the presumptive frontrunner, with whom his hopes to enact his Path to Prosperity rest.
The irony is that a Ryan-type plan or a Rivlin-Domenici plan or a Simpson-Bowles plan becomes much more attainable in a ObamaCare-less political universe. The Bowles-Simpson commission’s refusal to touch ObamaCare was the reason Ryan declined to support it. If that issue comes off the table entitlement reform, debt reduction and tax reform (e.g. equalization of the tax treatment for individually-purchased and employer-provided insurance) become more doable. It’s not simply that ObamaCare is constitutionally suspect; it is that its cost, taxes and phony accounting have made serious fiscal improvement nearly impossible.
Whether as an endorser or VP or both, Ryan has every reason to assist Romney in his quest for the White House an jump start the process of fiscal reform. And given a choice between a president unwilling and unable to address our debt crisis and a “problem-solver,” moderate Republican who has balanced budgets with no tax hikes, independent voters concerned about our debt may indeed agree with Ryan. His and Romney’s proposals and the prospect of their workmanlike competence in budget reform offer the only immediate chance to dig ourselves out of our fiscal hole. The alternative is four more years of delay, obfuscation and finger-pointing as our credit rating, standard of living and chance for job growth melt away.