George Will has penned an important column about Nicholas Eberstadt’s booklet, “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.”
As Will writes, “This booklet could be Mitt Romney’s closing argument.”
There is little doubt entitlement reform is vital for America’s future — or that our budget mess deserves bipartisan blame.
“The growth of entitlement spending over the past half-century has been distinctly greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones,” writes Eberstadt.
Fair enough. But here’s where I think Will makes some naive assumptions:
“Why, then, should we expect Romney to reverse Republican complicity? Because by embracing Paul Ryan, Romney embraced Ryan’s emphasis on the entitlement state’s moral as well as financial costs.”
Will is right to call our attention to this fundamental problem, and there is little doubt that Romney would be more likely than Barack Obama to bring about reform. But does Will really believe the selection of a running mate — even an extraordinary one — is that predictive?
Yes, it’s entirely possible that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan did signal that he would take entitlement reform seriously. Perhaps he would even task his young vice president with heading up the project? Maybe Romney does view this crisis as his calling — and the primary responsibility of his administration.
Or maybe he picked Ryan for more superficial, electoral reasons.
Obviously, I hope the former is the case. But it strikes me as naive wishful thinking to assume that Romney’s selection of a running mate is proof positive that he will find a way to do what none of his predecessors could.
Maybe a President Romney would tackle entitlement reform — because it’s the right thing to do — or simply because anything else is now untenable — because failure to do so is now an existential threat …
Regardless, having won the presidency, Mitt Romney would likely do what Mitt Romney thinks is best — for the country — and for his re-election chances.
Since when do vice presidents drive policy?