Saturday, August 11, 2012

Choice of Paul Ryan

I have 3 points in response to Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his VP on the ticket:

1. First the core part and real good news about American Politics - we have a rare agreement between Democrats and Conservative (but not necessarily GOP politicians who contest elections) that we are for ones going to have an election about issues. I agree here with Ezra's initial response. Democracy is supposed to be for such titanic clash of where do we want to go collectively and Romney has delivered that. This is good. His backers like Wall Street Journal or Kristol wanted this election about 'big issues' (read that as mandate for more tax cuts for rich and dramatic and ruthless entitlement cuts which otherwise help poor to get along) and Ryan choice will make that happen. 

2. It is true that the ideology which Ryan brings to American policy debate is what Democrats have been salivating for long as most of those idealogy driven policies are hugely unpopular once people start to understand the details and of course in no measure those policies are any good for America in the longer term. In other words, the politics is all set - it is all function of how well Obama and Democrats communicate these 'gory' details to most Americans. In this context, 'this is all part of the plan'; that will be the reaction of Democrats. But somewhere in this glee I see potential for over-confidence on the side of Democrats and full possibility of tripping the wire in the sheer joy of being able to set the 'playbook'. Election is still many weeks away and lot of water will go under the bridge. Democrats have a task cut out in front of them and it is to explain all the wonky details of Ryan Policy Plans to common Americans.

3. Like most centrist inclined political commentators, I have been joining the chorus with folks who have been heavily criticizing Obama for not 'releasing his concrete policy framework' to curtail run-away entitlement costs to Federal Government. Obama Administration intended to structure their signature HealthCare bill as one giant step towards controlling health care costs which are fuel for runaway entitlement burden of Federal Government. It may be so, but neither Public buys ObamaCare as the answer to control health care cost nor those aspects of that law are fully established. On the other hand Public perceives ObamaCare as the expansion of entitlements with concomitent controversial issues like Mandate. Long story short, Obama's policy plans as publicly presented today are woefully inadequate to address challenges what this country faces. 

On this background, choice of Paul Ryan brings some aspects to light - was it the design of Obama Campaign not to spell out these 'entitlement details' knowing that if Ryan comes along it would present an excellent opportunity to pitch the battle as - Romney as 'cutter' while Obama as the protector of what poor and most Americans are entitled? If that is the case, though criticism of centrist political commentators is valid; Obama Campaign might have made a right call in not preemptively spelling out the cuts. I do not know if Obama Campaign has been so smart or it has been simply 'chickening out'. Otherwise, these advantageous developments - Obama's reticence in not articulating detailed entitlement cut framework - are turning out to be 'pure luck' for Obama. 

But the issue is not that simple. With Ryan on ticket and entitlement cuts fully on the agenda; for long Obama will not be able to avoid his policy answers. Otherwise Obama will be like what 'tax return' position is for Romney. The way Obama Campaign should approach this issue is - they waited until the other side made the first move in spelling out cuts. Now that is done as they desired, they have afforded themselves the luxury to react in politically more winning fashion. However, this luxury does not extend in skipping articulation of such policy details at all. Doing that will basically upend the whole advantage of having designed the political battlefield so favorably to Obama Campaign.

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