Beyond the Ryan Budget

While it’s obvious the ties that bind Mitt Romney and the GOP to Paul Ryan’s budget plan have now been galvanized into hard metal, Ryan has some other baggage that will soon get attention. One item I’ve already alluded to today: Ryan’s claims that his economic and social philosophy reflect Catholic teachings seem to have rubbed the bishops (and even more adamantly, Catholic liberals) the wrong way, and could become a problem for the ticket at a time when the so-called “war on religion” had created a fine opportunity for Republicans to consolidate support among “traditionalist” white Catholics. Constrast that with the last time a Catholic was on a national ticket: in 2004, when poor John Kerry had to fear being denied communion in churches along the campaign trail.

The second problem posed by Ryan’s presence on the ticket was nicely summarized by Ezra Klein today:

It’s not just that Romney now has to defend Ryan’s budget. To some degree, that was always going to be true. What he will now have to defend is everything else Ryan has proposed. Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it’s Romney’s bill to defend. In Florida.

Interestingly, Ezra offers ten ways in which the Ryan choice will probably affect the campaign. Only one of them (Ryan’s abilities as a debater) is a clear positive for Romney. I’d add another one: Romney’s probably gotten the right wing of his party off his back for the duration; the primaries have finally ended for him. I would not under-estimate the value of that phenomenon. The question is whether that will come close to offsetting the weight of Ryan’s baggage.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.