Matt Mackowiak

The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza rightly called Mitt Romney's bold selection of Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) as his running mate, "the most daring decision of his political career."

Until this weekend, most observers expected Romney to proceed cautiously by selecting a vice-presidential nominee who would neither shake up the race nor introduce new risk into the campaign.

Mitt Romney, we hardly knew ya'.

This is the most consequential presidential election in a generation. It deserves a campaign on big ideas and contrasting visions, not petty personal attacks, small ball and obfuscation.

To date, the Obama-Biden campaign has said embarrassingly little about what a second term would entail. Republicans expect that it would include an effort to legalize millions of undocumented workers, fully implement Obamacare, raise taxes, expand government and push climate change legislation. But President Obama hasn't had the courage to say it. And so if, in a war of attrition, Obama ekes out a narrow victory in November, it will be hollow, as no mandate for these legislative goals will be granted.

Likewise, until now Romney's argument that Obama deserves firing was not enough to provide a legislative mandate, even if he were to win.

But now, with the addition of Ryan to the ticket, Romney has a golden opportunity to define his platform by offering a bold, honest, direct set of solutions to the voters. And he now has exactly the right partner to do it.

Romney and Ryan should frame the 2012 election in terms of growth vs. dependence.

The last three and a half years have witnessed greater American dependence on government than at any time since the Great Depression: expanded welfare access, record delivery of food stamps, seemingly unending federal unemployment insurance, and a massive new entitlement with Obamacare. And private industry now massively relies on government: bank bailouts, auto bailouts, wasted investments in "alternative energy," nationalization of the student loan industry and the government takeover of one-sixth of the economy with healthcare. Where does it end?

Republicans should stress that America was not made great because Americans were dependent on government. The greatness of America has always been human initiative, entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness. The American Dream is not food stamps, welfare and unemployment insurance.

This theme ties in directly with the "You Didn't Build That" controversy, a stunning moment of honesty from President Obama in which he requires that every private-sector achievement is directly attributable to the public sector.

This dependence on government is a cancer, which grows uncontrollably and decreases human initiative. It cannot, by its very nature, lead to economic growth.

With our national debt now reaching 100 percent of our gross domestic product, Republicans are right to speak the truth: We cannot afford the government we have.

President Obama, who promised to halve the deficit in his first term, is the owner of the four largest deficits in American history, each over $1 trillion. And 40 percent of our federal spending is borrowed.

Hard choices must be made to save America.

Raising taxes on the wealthy, a strategic canard created by the Obama campaign to attack Romney's personal wealth and shamelessly employ class warfare to divide Americans is not a serious solution. If you taxed millionaires at 100 percent you would do little to balance the budget and much to destroy job creation and investment.

The only solution that will save America requires four parts: reducing spending to our historical average (to around 18 percent of GDP from 25 percent today), reforming entitlements for future generations (Medicare runs out of money by 2024, Social Security will go bankrupt by 2033 and we now have over $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities), reforming our individual and corporate tax code (broadening the base, lowering all rates, ending nearly all market-distorting tax breaks), and enabling rapid economic growth (at least 3 percent annually).

Without growth, the other three requirements are not enough.

Only by honestly describing the current danger and offering a bold case to the voters, which both Romney and Ryan are well equipped to do, can a Romney administration win the political mandate that this solution will require.

For this reason, Ryan is the right choice for vice-president. Now it's time for Romney and Ryan to win the argument.

Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News,, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.