Ryan's budget is based on the idea that people are capable of making decisions for themselves. And that the cumulative result of all those decisions, made by millions of people, will result in greater productivity, creativity and protection than can ever be achieved by a few experts through centralized command and control.
This is not an approach recommended by campaign consultants. Their conventional wisdom says that you never, ever recommend any changes in programs like Medicare.
Such advice has been heeded by the former community organizer now in the White House. "Hope and change" was a nice theme for an out-party candidate in 2008. But status quo and fear-mongering seems to be the approach for the in-party candidate who yesterday announced the beginning of his 2012 campaign.
In the short term, Ryan's budget resolution will likely be adopted in the Republican-controlled House and not even considered in the Democratic-majority Senate. Most of it will probably not become law this year.
But it's also likely to shape the economic platform for the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. None of the current potential candidates has come up with anything so comprehensive. Some have already stepped up and praised Ryan's plan.
But the political risk may be greater for the other side. "To be in a secure place for re-election," writes Mark Penn, a key strategist for Bill Clinton in 1996, "President Obama has some tasks ahead of him that will give him the edge when (the Republican) field is narrowed."
The first task, Penn writes, is to "take over leadership of the budget fight to turn it into a win for him and fiscal sanity."
It seems that Penn agrees with Ryan that American voters realize we are headed to fiscal Armageddon and that major changes must be made while we have time. What will they think of a president who disagrees?
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