Paul Ryan: Fiscal Hawk?

Mitt Romney, from the beginning of his campaign, has struggled to convince voters that he is truly conservative, especially in a fiscal sense.  Republican primary voters chose him as the most likely candidate to defeat Barack Obama, but the “moderate” label stuck to him.

This morning, Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Ryan is known most famously for his “Path to Prosperity”, a proposed budget popular with fiscal conservatives.  So does the Romney/Ryan ticket now have fiscal credibility?

Not so fast.  It’s true that Ryan has more of a “fiscal hawk” reputation than the other short-list VP choices, but this says more about the rest of the short list than it does about Paul Ryan.

I like Paul Ryan.  I do not question his motives or intentions.  But his much-touted Path to Prosperity doesn’t balance the federal budget until 2035.  That’s a long Path, and the American people will grow weary long before reaching the Prosperity.  There are 6 presidential elections and 12 congressional elections between now and 2035; what is the likelihood that the Path to Prosperity, if enacted, would survive without repeal until 2035?  In practice, Paul Ryan’s proposal would not balance the federal budget, even if that was his intention.

Governor Luis Fortuño is about to achieve his goal of balancing the budget of Puerto Rico in 5 years.  Ron Paul would submit a balanced federal budget in 3 years.   Gary Johnson, running for president on the Libertarian ticket, would submit a balanced budget in his 1st year.  Mitt Romney, even with Paul Ryan at his side, will not submit a balanced budget.  Not now, not in 2035, not ever.

The selection of Paul Ryan for VP gives me some hope that the GOP wants to see themselves as the party of small government, and one day this may evolve into actually being a party of small government.  But for now they are still the party of marginally-smaller government, and the inclusion of Paul Ryan reinforces this perception rather than changing it.