In an election cycle that has focused on such pressing issues as the Romney family's horse and dog, let's hope that the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate starts a new discussion on the future of America.
Ryan's selection marks Romney's first major executive decision. For that, Romney is to be applauded. It shows he appreciates the seriousness of our economic problems -- persistently slow economic growth, trillion-dollar deficits and high unemployment.
It's not just that Ryan has a mastery of budget numbers, from his tenure as staffer to Jack Kemp and Sam Brownback, or that he so effectively debated President Obama at a bipartisan meeting on health care proposals in February 2010. It's also that by choosing Ryan, Romney will appeal to middle-class voters who are crucial for success in vital battleground states such as Ohio and Virginia. Ryan in many ways complements Romney and completes the Republican ticket.
Romney's father was a multimillionaire CEO, governor and presidential candidate. Ryan's father died when he was a teenager. Romney ran a private equity firm. As a teen, Ryan drove a Wienermobile, a vehicle shaped like a hot dog, to make money after his father's untimely death.
Ryan depletes the liberal argument that the GOP is the enemy of the middle class and that upward mobility is a fantasy. He rose from modest roots in Janesville, Wis., and lives a stone's throw from the house where he grew up. He sleeps in his congressional office during the week and flies home on weekends. This is what America has always been about.
Ryan's meteoric rise has not been the result of a political machine, but of his ideas. In 2008, Ryan unveiled the Roadmap for America's Future, an in-depth, detailed proposal on how exactly to clean up our fiscal mess.
In 2011, when the Republicans won a historic majority in the House of Representatives, Ryan became House Budget Committee chairman. The Roadmap, which originally had only eight co-sponsors in Congress, grew into the Path for Prosperity, and was adopted by the House of Representatives as its budget plan in March.
Not surprisingly, Democrats have greeted Ryan's boldness with derision and mischaracterization, suggesting he would have the elderly and the ill die in order to cut costs. One television advertisement featured a Ryan look-alike pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff.
But under the Ryan budget, government spending would continue to rise, from $3.5 trillion in 2013 to $4.9 trillion in 2022. The difference is that the rate of increase would slow from current projections and from President Obama's budget.
The Ryan budget does not even cut entitlements in real terms. Medicare spending would grow from $503 billion in 2013 to $855 billion in 2022. Spending on Medicaid and other health programs would grow from $307 billion in 2013 to $402 billion in 2022. Spending on Social Security would rise from $813 billion in 2013 to $1.3 trillion ten years later.
Ryan also proposed to simplify and lower tax rates for individuals and corporations, attracting companies back to America and increasing incentives to work and invest. His plan has two individual income tax rates, 10 percent and 25 percent. The corporate rate would go from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Ryan's approach -- including across-the-board tax rate reductions -- would reinvigorate the economy, foster job creation, restore optimism and put America back on the right track.
From now on, the campaign will not only be a referendum on Obama, but a stark choice between two radically different types of governing: one that emphasizes collectivism through high taxes and dependency on government, and another that stresses economic growth through free markets and self-sufficiency.