For Romney, Ryan’s Pros Are Also His Cons

Romney shook up the 2012 race by picking Paul Ryan as his running mate. But there's a catch.

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

For Romney, here’s where three Ryan “pros” might also be “cons”:

Ryan’s Budget Plan

Pro: In a campaign that’s been focused for weeks on Romney’s undisclosed tax returns and Obama’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe, the Ryan pick portends a “real” debate about the “Roadmap” — Ryan’s plan to cut corporate taxes, top-marginal income tax rates and social spending while introducing the “premium support” private insurance subsidy concept to Medicare. It’s a debate that conservatives appear eager to have.

Con: It’s a debate that liberals want, too. And they’ll rap Romney and Ryan for trying to turn comprehensive Medicare coverage into a “voucher” system that seniors would use to supplement, but not fully pay for, their health costs.

The V.P. Debate

Pro: Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s Romney-backing blogger, writes confidently that the Biden-Ryan debate on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Kentucky will be a “knee-slapper” — meaning she expects the energetic Ryan to handily whip Biden.

Con: But while Ryan knows his way around public policy, don’t sleep on the veep, who sagely applied the “first do no harm” rule of politics in the 2008 cycle by treading lightly in his debate with Sarah Palin. She won the debate; he won the election.

Foreign Policy

Pro: And though Ryan doesn’t have any foreign policy experience, this is an election year in which voters’ minds are on domestic issues.

Con: That said, Ryan and Romney are still going up against Biden, the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, and Obama, the president who took out Osama bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi last summer.

Romney and Ryan will be counting on voters forgetting about foreign affairs, buying into the Ryan budget and letting Republicans off the hook for their role in spending the country into oblivion — and we won’t know if that strategy works until Election Day. But like the double-edged sword Ryan is carrying on the issue of fiscal responsibility, for every “pro” that he brings to the ticket, there’s a corresponding “con.”

David Swerdlick is a contributing editor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.