Ramesh Ponnuru @ Bloomberg:
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, had not finished his acceptance speech when PresidentBarack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, released a statement blasting him for favoring “new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors.” Ryan’s “radical” budget plan, Messina added, “would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health-care costs to seniors.”
Romney could have run away from this fight. Plenty of Republicans have been telling him not to distract voters from their unhappiness about the economy by presenting far-reaching plans of his own — and especially not to elevate the issue of Medicare, on which Democrats traditionally have an advantage.
With Ryan’s selection, Romney has rejected this advice. As Messina’s statement shows, this campaign will now be about something big: the future of the welfare state.
The Democratic attack on Ryan and his budget plan is, at best, ignorant. “Budget-busting” tax cuts? The Ryan budget plan envisions taxes running at a higher level of GDP than the average of the last few decades. It brings the budget to long- term balance — something that Obama has never proposed. (As his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner admitted to Ryan in February: “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”)
Ryan’s Medicare plan doesn’t put greater burdens on seniors or shift health-care costs to them, either. The Democrats’ criticism was arguably true of Ryan’s 2011 plan. The 2012 version of the plan — the one Romney endorsed — includes changes to meet that criticism. That’s how it won the support of Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.
Under the original Ryan plan, retirees would have chosen a private health plan and the government would have contributed money toward the cost. The amount of money would have depended on the beneficiary’s age and health status. Over time the average amount of money would have risen with inflation.