Sherman Says: Vice president selection gives voters a reason to focus on the real issues
Romney introduced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his choice for vice president last Saturday morning. He is best known for the “Ryan Budget” that targets the essence of Medicare. He had the courage to offer a solution to the problem, instead of wringing his hands and walking away.
I admire his courage to tackle a national issue from a state that is often left in the shadow of its Great Lakes neighbors, where manufacturing is king.
Ryan has shown leadership at a time when public respect for Congress is painfully low. He has recognized the need for a better system that affects Americans’ quality of life. There is too little of that on Capitol Hill, thanks to the partisanship that plagues both major parties.
Even Romney has refrained from an endorsement of Ryan’s proposals. Bringing Ryan into the race shows that the Republicans are cultivating new ideas. Ryan would have Romney’s ear, should the pair take the White House on Nov. 6. Romney and Ryan are already a high-profile pair and voters will expect action on the domestic front.
A large part of Ryan’s method for slowing the rapid growth of health care costs includes shifting incentives, according to ABC News. “Under Ryan’s plan, it’s in the best interest of Medicare beneficiaries and health insurers to pay less for health care, avoiding superfluous services and procedures,” the news source said. “Under the current system, that incentive doesn’t exist, as the government foots some of the bills.
“The Congressional Budget Office projected, in 2011, that individuals would have to pay more under his plan, with their share of (albeit lower) costs skyrocketing to 61 percent by 2022.”
Ryan’s original plan has also been modified by another element that is not always seen on Capitol Hill: compromise. “The new plan is almost unrecognizable from Ryan’s previous iterations,” ABC News said. “While Ryan’s updated Medicare plan is drastically different from his previous one in many significant regards, it is clear, nonetheless, that Democrats want voters to judge him on the version on which he first staked his career – the one in which Ryan proposes ending Medicare, as we know it, with the goal of saving America’s entitlements from bankruptcy.”
Suddenly, a domestic issue is in the spotlight. The debate on a timetable for troop withdrawals, for example, has gone cold. We should be finished talking about the validity of anyone’s birth certificate, too. The result is that the national Republican party has a vice presidential candidate with a strong, controversial stance on Social Security and Medicare.
Now it is up to the Democratic ticket to respond. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been put on the defensive until Sept. 3, when the Democratic National Convention gets underway in Charlotte. Do they have a fresh solution to the problem? Don’t just criticize the Ryan philosophy; tell us how you can do better.
It can be a philosophical debate, one that avoids personal attacks and the type of slander that makes voters turn away in frustration. No one but Ryan could have brought this domestic issue to the forefront and that is one of the reasons Romney made the call that he did. The GOP has seized the moment.
It is difficult to relate to gigantic budgets, but it is also encouraging that a young congressman has immersed himself in them. Ryan’s selection adds a new facet to the campaign that will hopefully elevate it to a discussion on real issues. The American people deserve that.
David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.