Republican Mitt Romney's choice of conservative budget expert Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate brought confessions of his likability and intellect from the New York Times over the weekend, but also labeling slant and concern that Ryan's proposals to reform out-of-control entitlement programs are too radical for voters to stomach. By contrast, Obama's 2008 pick of Sen. Joe Biden resulted in virtually zero descriptions of Biden's liberal outlook.
On Sunday's front page, White House correspondent Jackie Calmes called Ryan "the author of the audacious House Republican budget plan," but gave off an air of concern around the vice presidential nominee's budget proposals, accusing him of "largely undoing the social safety net," though federal spending would actually increase under his plan.
His blueprint would greatly shrink the government, largely undoing the social safety net by shifting more costs onto individuals and essentially converting Medicare into a capped voucher program. It would also alter the progressive income tax system, which, like the safety net, was built through the 20th century under Republican as well as Democratic presidents.
But as Rich Noyes of the MRC wrote on Saturday: "But Ryan’s plan would actually increase federal spending over the next ten years, from about $3.6 trillion this year to just under $4.9 trillion in 2022. The $5 trillion in 'cuts' are merely reductions from the much-higher spending anticipated by President Obama’s budget."
The tide of Tea Party newcomers propelled Mr. Ryan, of Wisconsin, and his fellow “Young Guns,” Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California, into the House leadership. Ideas deemed extreme just a few years ago were front and center. With the allegiance and admiration of many freshman lawmakers, Mr. Ryan essentially became the House majority’s ideological leader.
Calmes identified the left-leaning Tax Policy Center as a bipartisan group and forwarded its criticism of Ryan's proposals as a sop to the wealthy.
Nonpartisan analyses of Mr. Ryan’s proposed income tax cuts reached conclusions much like those of Mr. Romney’s tax proposals in recent weeks. “The tax cuts in Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget plan would result in huge benefits for high-income people and very modest -- or no -- benefits for low-income working households,” Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a policy research organization, wrote in summarizing the findings of the Tax Policy Center.
The center is a joint effort of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution that includes economists and tax experts with experience in both Republican and Democratic administrations. It concluded that a tax-code overhaul meeting Mr. Romney’s goal -- a 20 percent cut in all rates without adding to annual budget deficits -- would leave wealthy taxpayers with a large tax cut but 95 percent of Americans with a net tax increase once tax breaks for items like mortgage interest are curtailed to keep deficits in check.
On Sunday's front page, the headline under Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg's story emphasized Ryan's ideology: "Young Conservative Changes Dynamic."
Mitt Romney introduced Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Saturday at a spirited rally in Norfolk, Va., bringing to his side one of the party’s young conservative leaders in a move that altered the contours of the campaign and sharpened the choice facing the voters in November.
Also on Sunday, Times reporter Robert Pear gave Ryan backhanded praise for being a happy conservative ideologue as opposed to his GOP colleagues, "dour budget cutters with contempt for Democats" in "Running Mate Is an Upbeat Budget Cutter, Eager to Joust With Democrats."
Representative Paul D. Ryan, the 42-year-old Republican named on Saturday as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, is idolized by young conservatives in the House, who see him as a role model and a polished spokesman for their vision of America.
Many Republicans come across as dour budget cutters with contempt for Democrats. Mr. Ryan shares the politics of his conservative colleagues, but appears instead as an optimist who relishes the opportunity to debate policy with Democrats.
Mr. Ryan was first elected to Congress in 1998, at the age of 28, the youngest member of that incoming class. He vaulted to the top ranks of his party and became chairman of the Budget Committee because he knew the ropes, studied the issues and could explain conservative tax-cutting and budget-cutting policies in lucid terms. It has never been enough for him to attack Democrats and their proposals. He has always been eager to propose and defend alternatives, even at significant political risk to himself and his party.
A 5,000-word profile of Ryan dominated Monday's front page, penned by Jennifer Steinhauer, Jim Rutenberg, Mike McIntire and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Conservative Star's Small-Town Roots," also heavy on the "conservative" labels.
It followed him to Congress, where his brand of conservative economics, honed in Washington’s conservative policy and research groups, eventually inspired the Tea Party freshmen in the House for whom Mr. Ryan has served as seer, cheerleader and workout buddy.
And, finally, it captured the imagination of Mitt Romney, who named Mr. Ryan as the Republicans’ presumptive vice-presidential nominee on Saturday.
In Mr. Ryan, he has found not only a sympathetic life story to animate his campaign -- which he seized upon when he spoke on Saturday of how Mr. Ryan’s father’s death “forced him to grow up earlier than any young man should” -- but also a politician who fills in what many see as the gaps in Mr. Romney’s conservative bona fides. Mr. Ryan is a strict supply-side budget expert and social conservative who counts fans across the Republican spectrum. He has been a driving force, if not always a visible one, in the party’s biggest fights with President Obama, including last year’s budget impasse that took the nation to the brink of default
Jeff Zeleny and Michael Barbaro threw in more labels in their front-page story Monday, "Both Sides Focus On The New Face – G.O.P. Sees Big Draw – Rivals See Ideologue."
Democrats moved aggressively on Sunday to wrap Mitt Romney in the politically charged details of budget-cutting proposals championed by his new running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, as Mr. Romney sought to capitalize on conservative enthusiasm for his choice without having to defend every element of Mr. Ryan’s positions. In North Carolina and at an evening rally in Wisconsin, Mr. Romney praised his running mate for conservative vision and courage....But with some conservatives watching to see if Mr. Romney sticks by the ideas that have made Mr. Ryan a hero on the right, Democrats were intent on making Mr. Romney own every element of Mr. Ryan’s record
Jackie Calmes returned Monday comparing Ryan unfavorably to Obama as more of a proud ideologue compared with Obama's "more pragmatic" outlook. "With a History of Sparring, Obama and Ryan Are Ready for a Showdown."
The two men, for all their policy differences, have some similarities. Both are young -- Mr. Obama just turned 51, Mr. Ryan is 42. Both are intelligent and policy oriented. Each is sure of himself and of the rightness of his views, though Mr. Obama is widely seen as more pragmatic while Mr. Ryan is proudly, conservatively ideological.
By contrast, after Obama announced his Biden pick on August 23, 2008, reporter Adam Nagourney's introductory article contained no ideological labels for Biden even though Biden's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 13 out of a perfect conservative100, putting him well left of center (0 being a perfect liberal score). In fact, the closest the Times came to calling Biden a liberal in the month after his pick was when Michael Gordon wrote that on defense issues, "Mr. Biden is widely seen as a liberal-minded internationalist."