Several months ago, the House Republican budget plan, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) generated a national firestorm for good reason. Among its many controversial provisions was a radical plan to force seniors out of Medicare and into a private voucher system. When nearly every Republican in the House and Senate endorsed the proposal, it instantly became the basis for much of the Democratic strategy in 2012.
At least at the congressional level, that is. Among GOP presidential candidates, Ryan’s radical approach to Medicare had a certain radioactive quality that gave would-be presidents pause — they couldn’t denounce the plan without infuriating conservatives, but they couldn’t endorse it without creating a major general-election vulnerability for themselves.
Mitt Romney, known for being on every side of every issue, spent quite a bit of time dodging questions about the Ryan plan in the spring, because, well, he’s not exactly a courageous guy.
And that leads us to today, when the Romney campaign, feeling a little desperate, decided to go on the attack against Newt Gingrich. The former governor’s team organized a big conference call with reporters this morning, allowing former Gov. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) to unload on the former Speaker, questioning his character, record, and ideology.
Of particular interest, though, was Romney’s surrogates attacking Gingrich for having criticized the Paul Ryan budget plan.
Repeatedly, they claimed that Romney supported the Ryan plan. “Gov. Romney recognized right away the features of that plan,” said Sununu.
What’s more, Jed Lewison noticed a related development this morning.
More importantly, in order to make this attack, Mitt Romney has now given himself ownership of the Ryan plan. On his website, he’s proudly touting a quote from June in which he said he would sign the Medicare-repeal plan into law.
Let me say that again: Mitt Romney is now one hundred percent committed to Paul Ryan’s proposal to end Medicare and replace it with vouchers.
This is no small revelation. In April and May, Democrats desperately tried to get Romney to endorse the Ryan budget plan, but the former governor kept dodging and eventually the questions stopped. But now it’s back, and the ambiguities are gone — Romney’s campaign is now on record supporting a radical budget plan that, among other things, replaces Medicare with a private voucher scheme, slashes taxes on the wealthy, and adds $6 trillion to the debt.
This is the line Democrats have waited eight months for Romney to take.