In the two weeks since Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, the entire Republican party has been rejuvenated. Governor Romney himself has been reenergized. After losing ground in the polls this summer, he’s once again drawn even with the president. Wisconsin is now in play. Even senior voters in Florida have signaled heavy approval of Romney-Ryan.
I know vice presidents are not supposed to be so influential. Political scientists say the top of the ticket is what matters. But Paul Ryan is disproving that.
And yet I hear and read some grousing from conservative supply-side colleagues that Ryan is no longer the Jack Kemp, supply-side-growth guy he once was. Instead, they say he has become a root-canal Republican who obsesses about entitlement debt bombs and deficit reduction. They say he’s wedded to the Congressional Budget Office in a kind of budget-austerity, Stockholm syndrome.
The whisperers say this happened to Dave Stockman years ago at OMB. Now they say it’s happening to Paul Ryan at the head of the House Budget Committee.
These charges are completely false.
On the eve of the convention, I had a lengthy interview with Congressman Ryan. Over and over he talked about the need for economic growth through supply-side tax reform, spending restraint, deregulation, and entitlement fixes.
Previewing his convention speech, Ryan said, “We have to show the country that we have a pro-growth plan to get people back to work, to get this economy growing again.” He said, “We want to get back to the American idea [of an] opportunity society with a safety net; [a] society of growth, opportunity, of upward mobility.”
This is Reagan. This is Kemp. This is growth, not root canal.
The congressman said Team Romney, with a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut, is aiming at an average growth rate of 4 percent over the next four years. “If we can do that,” he said, “which we think we can with the right economic-pro-growth policies, we can get 12 million people back to work.”
Ryan opposes crony capitalism and corporate welfare. He wants Washington out of the game of picking winners and losers. He argues that if Obama raises the top tax rate on small businesses to over 40 percent, it would kill growth and jobs. He argues in supply-side fashion that lowering tax rates and plugging loopholes will produce more income, not less.
At one point in the interview, Ryan summarized the Romney-Ryan position: “Pro-growth policies, energy policy, regulatory reform, tax reform, and spending cuts.” As I have said before, I believe the Mitt Romney platform is the most conservative Republican policy since the Reagan era. Paul Ryan bolsters it.