As many of you may know by now, Mitt Romney has chosen Representative Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Ryan is a conservative whose controversial budget proposal (particularly that on Medicare) has won him praise from many on the right (except for Newt Gingrich), and criticism from many on the left.
I think that Barack Obama will pan Ryan’s stance on Medicare and ride that (as well as Bain Capital) to re-election. And yet, because Ryan is an ideologue, is intelligent, and is bold on policy, this election may turn out to be a good debate on the role of government. Ryan does not strike me as overly charismatic, but he is a policy wonk, and Romney’s selection of him could lead this election to be more about policy, even though I’m sure that it will still contain its share of personal attacks.
I recommend that you watch this video here, in which Ryan explains his proposal for Medicare (which has undergone revisions, so I am not sure if the one in this video is the latest version of Ryan’s plan or not, but it still contains the element that most frightens people, namely, the idea to give people vouchers to buy private insurance). Like Barack Obama, Ryan is good at breaking down complex ideas so that even I can understand them. It will be interesting to see how Obama critiques Ryan’s proposal, and how Ryan responds.
I hope that—-in the course of the discussions, the attacks, and the counter-attacks—-Barack Obama explains what he has done and plans to do about entitlement reform. Of course, his campaign will most likely scare people with the claim that Ryan’s plan will end Medicare as we know it. And yet, Obama himself recognizes the weakness of the fee-for-service reimbursement model, which Ryan criticizes in the video. Obama is not for Medicare spending getting out of control, for he has restrained its growth and has sought to tackle Medicare fraud. I hope, however, that Obama responds to the charge by Ryan and other conservatives that Obamacare results in higher costs and denied care in that Medicare’s restraint of its reimbursement leads doctors either to stop seeing Medicare patients, or to pass on the cost of treating Medicare patients to others.
Let the debates begin!