Will demonizing Paul Ryan be good for Democrats?

| August 15 2012
Hannah Thoreson

Many Democrats have been ecstatic following Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan for VP.  The conventional wisdom from those on the left seems to be that it was a desperate attempt at resetting Romney’s campaign.  But they also believe that it complicates the electoral college picture for Mitt Romney so much so that he will now be unable to win.

Maybe.  Maybe in the short term, there is something to be gained from demonizing Paul Ryan.

But in the long term, it makes it impossible for Democrats to ever, even when it becomes absolutely necessary, to pursue reform policies, writes William Galston at The New Republic:  

The Obama campaign will not take the other side in a high-minded debate. Instead, it will relentlessly attack Romney-Ryan for plotting to “end Medicare as we know it,” and for leaving the poor to go hungry without food stamps and suffer, even die, without health insurance. In the process, the Obama campaign will rule out not only the Romney-Ryan plans, but also less draconian reforms that might be part of a long-term solution.

The core of the Ryan-Wyden plan’s Medicare reforms center around giving seniors “premium support” to purchase comprehensive private health insurance.  It’s not radical, it’s just the next step up from the extremely popular Medicare Advantage program that 1 in 4 seniors already are using.  In fact, a lot of Democrats, including Ron Wyden of Oregon — the Senate sponsor of the 2011 Ryan plan — have pushed to expand premium support policies in the past.  But now, they will be unable to advocate for even this modest reform.

And as yet, there’s no proof that the choice of Paul Ryan will make it impossible for Romney to win in November.  One analysis found that even in a state like Florida, the choice of Paul Ryan would only shift a maximum of one point to the left as a result of seniors’ votes shifting.

There’s a very good chance that Paul Ryan could help the Romney ticket win in the Great Lakes region, northern Virginia, and other crucial regions needed to pull off a victory this fall.  He could prove to be more popular with women, young people, and independents than an alternative like Tim Pawlenty might have been.

Paul Ryan is a serious person with real plans to tackle some of the biggest issues facing America today.  He cannot simply be dismissed as a gimmick or ignored because it would be more convenient to do so.  To do so will make it impossible for Democrats to assist with very much needed fiscal reforms.

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