Mitt Romney did more than choose a running mate last Saturday. He chose an idea. Paul Ryan set this idea out in his Ryan budget plan. Because he did this, the campaign of 2012 will be between two basic ideas, not merely two men. One idea will destroy America; the other will save it.
John McCain had no ideas in 2008. Barack Obama had an idea. He did not show the people what it was. But he did show that he had an idea. That is why he won and McCain lost.
Mitt Romney, before he picked Paul Ryan to run with him, did not seem to have any ideas. So Harry Reid could accuse Romney of not filing income tax returns. (Or maybe he was saying, “The tax laws ought to make sure that Mitt Romney will always pay something.” Reid never made clear what he meant.) Reid got away with it. If Mitt Romney has an idea, he won’t lead with it.
Barack Obama has an idea. It includes envy of the rich and dependency of as many people as the government can carry. We know Obama’s idea. Many of our fellow travelers actually like it, as bizarre as that sounds. But the only way to fight an idea, even a bizarre one, is with another idea. So where were Mitt Romney’s ideas?
On Saturday, Mitt Romney told us. He picked Paul Ryan. And Paul Ryan set his ideas out last spring, in the Ryan budget plan.
The Ryan budget plan: ideas
Core functions of the State
The Ryan budget plan first discusses the core functions of the State. Ryan talks about what the federal government ought to do:
- Provide for the common defense. The Constitution says that.
- Protect free enterprise. That means punishing fraud and not doing special favors for people. Free enterprise can then reward success.
- Help those who, through no fault of their own, need help and have nowhere else to turn. But the Ryan budget plan also does not threaten those things to which a man might turn: family, neighbors, church (or synagogue, etc.), charity.
- Make people secure when they retire or need a doctor.
- Raise money efficiently and justly, through the taxing power.
- Account for how it spends its money.
The first two come from Ayn Rand’s theory of government. (Police, the third Randian element, is a State and local function, not federal, except in Washington, DC or “government reservations.”) The Ryan budget plan includes the next two to concede a political reality: people are used to a “social safety net” and “health and retirement security.” They aren’t confident that they can do those things for themselves. And they don’t trust family, neighbors, church, and private charity to do those things for them. Politics can’t solve that problem.
Today’s system vs. the Ryan budget plan
Paul Ryan says it simply. Today’s system does not work. The Progressive/liberal idea of Barack Obama threatens all six of the core functions in the Ryan budget plan. It neglects the military. Enterprise is anything but free. Obama and his friends say they want a strong safety net and secure health care and retirement for everyone. But they are deliberately overloading these things. They also attack family, neighbors, churches, and charities, so that people will have nowhere else to turn but to government. (Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven showed men like Obama how to do this.) The tax code plays almost as many favorites as the Energy Department program that gave us Solyndra. And Congress has passed no budget since Obama took office.
The Ryan budget plan will solve all six problems. It won’t solve them all permanently. That will come later. But Paul Ryan has an idea, and a plan. Barack Obama has a bad idea, and won’t show us his plan. This campaign is a clash of ideas. It is also, to borrow another phrase from the Ryan budget plan, a conflict of visions.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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