Why Romney Should Not Pick Ryan as VP

Paul Ryan

There is a lot of speculation about who will be Romney’s running mate in November, now that we’re getting closer and closer to the national party conventions. Jason Pye has already gone over some of the Top Five picks, and one name that continually comes up is Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

I wish it wouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. Paul Ryan is pretty awesome. He was the first Republican to put forward a genuine, truly solid budget cutting plan, rather than just spouting platitudes and nonsense. (I’m sure we can all gripe about Ryan’s plan, and how it doesn’t go far enough, but you have to admit, for a body and a political party that frequently talks the talk but never walks the walks, the Ryan plan is an amazing start.) But that is precisely why I don’t want Ryan to be Romney’s VP.

Here’s the thing. As the Chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan has a fair amount of power. True, that’s been impeded considerably in the past two years because of a Democratic Senate and Barack Obama. But he would be of far more use in Congress, working together with people like Justin Amash and my own hometown hero Richard Hanna (I’ll be sure to write more of why this guy is so patently awesome later) in concert with senators such as Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, and hopefully Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake to genuinely cut spending and limit government. Remember, even though we’ve done our darndest the past decade to make the federal government revolve entirely around the White House and the Oval Office, it is in Congress that laws are written, tax policy is created, and where much of the “meat” of government is meant to originate. The president, by contrast, is meant to be the chief diplomat, commander-in-chief, and day-to-day administrator. (That’s why Congress gets breaks and presidents don’t.)

What exactly would Paul Ryan do as Romney’s VP? He might attend a few diplomatic events that Romney couldn’t fit in his schedule, shake some hands, smile with babies; he might chair a task force that won’t get a lot of attention (unless it’s a dramatic budget cutting/reform panel, that makes some really big suggestions, but even then probably not much); and probably assist with Romney’s presidential campaigning, both in this year as a candidate and again in 2016 as an incumbent.

The thing is, the Vice President of the United States just doesn’t do much. There will be that one instance, that one in a 100 chance, that a major vote will be tied in the Senate and Ryan will be the tiebreaker. Yes, that’s an important job. But it comes up so infrequently (Biden hasn’t had any so far, Dick Cheney had eight, Al Gore four, and Dan Quayle none—though Bush 41 did have seven) that as long as you don’t have a complete dunce in the office, it will be fine. These days, the VP has essentially the same power and influence as the President of the Continental Congress, which is to say, none at all.

I think New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said it best:

Whether or not Gov. Chris Christie receives the nod as presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate, it’s not something he believes will impact the outcome of theelection.

“In the end nobody votes for vice president, they vote for the president. No one’s saying, ‘I’m not sure about this Obama guy but, boy, I love Biden,’” Christie joked, according tovideo of the news conference. “No matter who Governor Romney picks, if the people of the United States are not convinced that he is the right man to be president of the United States right now, no matter who he picks for vice president, they’re not voting for him and by the same token that went for President Obama four years ago.”

If that’s the joke, here’s the punch line, “But in the end, he will make a choice. … He or she will have one debate against Vice President Biden and that’s all you’ll hear [of the running mate],” Christie said. “… and the people will vote for either President Obama or Mitt Romney and I don’t think Joe Biden played any role four years ago, and I don’t think he’ll play any significant role now and I don’t think that whoever is selected as vice president will play any significant political electoral role.”

It really doesn’t matter who the VP candidate will be (unless its, say, Ron Paul), but it does truly matter who it isn’t. Paul Ryan is far too valuable for the cause of limited government and individual liberties where he is today. Putting him in the White House would deny that value and be a steps backward that we really cannot afford.

Plus, he’d be forever associated with Mitt Romney. Is that something he wants?


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