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VP selection gives voters reason to focus on real issues

Mitt Romney’s early announcement of a running mate in this fall’s election means the race for the White House has escalated far sooner than most observers would have thought.

While Romney waits and waits for the GOP convention to get under way in two weeks, he succeeded in taking attention away from just about every other issue on Saturday morning when he introduced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his choice for vice president.

Best known for the so-called “Ryan Budget” that targets the essence of Medicare, at least we have a congressman who has had the courage to offer a solution to the problem, instead of wringing his hands and walking away.

Politics aside, I admire his courage to tackle a national issue from a state that is often left in the shadow of its Great Lakes neighbors where manufacturing is king.

Ryan has not been afraid to show youthful leadership at a time when respect for Congress is painfully low. He has recognized the need for a better system that affects the quality of life of everyone in the country. There is too little of that on Capitol Hill, thanks partially to the partisanship that plagues both major parties.

Even Romney has refrained from a wholesale endorsement of Ryan’s proposals. Bringing him into the race shows that the Republicans are cultivating new ideas. Ryan would have Romney’s ear should the pair take the White House away from President Barack Obama on Nov. 6.

Romney and Ryan are already a high profile pair, and voters will expect action on the domestic front. It is sure to be an issue right up until the last vote is cast.

A big part of Ryan’s method for slowing the rapid growth of health care costs is by shifting incentives, according to ABC News.

“Under Ryan’s plan, it’s in the best interest of Medicare beneficiaries and health insurers to pay less for health care, avoiding superfluous services and procedures. Under the current system, that incentive doesn’t exist, as the government foots some of the bills.

“The Congressional Budget Office projected in 2011 that individuals would have to pay more under his plan, with their share of (albeit lower) costs skyrocketing to 61 percent by 2022.”

Ryan’s original plan has been modified by another element not always seen on Capitol Hill: compromise.

“The new plan is almost unrecognizable from Ryan’s previous iterations,” ABC added. “While Ryan’s updated Medicare plan is drastically different from his previous one in many significant regards, it is clear nonetheless that

Democrats want voters to judge him on the version on which he first staked his career – the one in which Ryan proposes ending Medicare as we know it with the goal of saving America’s entitlements from bankruptcy.”

Suddenly, a domestic issue is in the spotlight. The debate on a timetable for troop withdrawals, for example, has gone cold.

We should be finished talking about anyone’s birth certificate too.

The result is that the national Republican party has a VP candidate with a strong, yet controversial, stance on Social Security and Medicare. Now it’s up to the Democratic ticket to respond. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been put on the defensive until Sept. 3 when the Democratic National Convention gets under way in Charlotte. Do they have a fresh solution to the problem? Don’t just criticize the Ryan philosophy; tell us how you can do better.

That’s the beauty of a democratic society. It can be a philosophical debate, one that avoids personal attacks and the type of slander that makes voters turn away in frustration. No one but Ryan could have brought this domestic issue to the fore, and that’s one of the reasons Romney made the call he did. The GOP has seized the moment.

It’s difficult to relate to gigantic budgets but encouraging that a young congressman has immersed himself in them.

Ryan’s selection adds a new facet to the campaign that will hopefully elevate it to a discussion on real issues. We deserve that.


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