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Romney: Running with Ryan

“In the end, Mitt Romney did what many experienced politicos believed he would not do. He went bold,” the Boston Globe’s Johnson writes, adding that Romney “tempted comparisons to the ill-fated 2008 selection of Sarah Palin by nominating a candidate largely untested on the national stage.”

More: “But most importantly, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee signaled to the Democrats that if they want a base war for control of the Oval Office, one that will pit President Obama and liberal Democrats against Mitt Romney and social and fiscal conservatives, they are going to get it during the next three months.”

Tom DeFrank on the pick of Ryan: “Another game-changer, without the catastrophic Sarah Palin overtones.” He also calls Ryan the “Republican Party’s fiscal theologian… Ryan is a sane, sensible, steady pick. But still a serious gamble.”

More: “While Ryan is a serious, intelligent guy, nothing in his background really suggests he's ready to be President tomorrow. His selection creates a ticket of two plain-vanilla guys with zero foreign policy experience. (Romney aides say that's irrelevant - the election will be won or lost on the economy.)

And his draconian budget plan provides a convenient foil for Obama strategists eager to wage ‘MediScare’ warfare this fall.” He also notes that Romney “has failed to present a clear vision of his own beyond shopworn platitudes.” So he adopted Ryan.

“President Obama’s reelection campaign on Sunday accused Mitt Romney of tax-related hypocrisies in his vice presidential search and his eventual selection of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan,” the Boston Globe writes. Because Ryan would eliminate capital gains in his plan, Romney would pay nearly zero in taxes because that’s where almost all of Romney’s income came from.

Romney is against zeroing out cap gains. He said so in a debate earlier this year and pointed out that he would essentially pay nothing if that were the case.

Tim Pawlenty was on ABC’s This Week where he said he provided “several years” of tax returns to Romney. “I gave him a bunch of tax returns, I don’t remember the exact number of years.”

But remember, there’s more to being a heartbeat away from the presidency than fiscal issues – what about social issues and foreign policy? The New York Times today looks at Ryan’s very conservative social policy: “Though best known as an architect of conservative fiscal policy, Representative Paul D. Ryan has also been an ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights, has tried to cut off federal money for family planning, has opposed same-sex marriage and has championed the rights of gun owners.”

More: “In nearly 14 years as a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan has not only voted for legislation that would cut off federal money for Planned Parenthood and the Title X family planning program, but also backed bills to establish criminal penalties for certain doctors who perform the procedure known as partial-birth abortion.” But: “in a break with many members of his party, Mr. Ryan voted in 2007 for a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Speaking of heart beats… the New York Times also writes: For two years, Tea Party lawmakers in the House have been the stubborn barbarians at the gate, strong-arming their often reluctant Republican colleagues by refusing to compromise on spending, taxes, debt or social policy. But Representative Paul D. Ryan’s ascendancy to the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket is a signal event for a movement that counts him as one of their own. If Mitt Romney wins in November, a Tea Party favorite will be a heartbeat from the Oval Office.”

Reuters: “[A]lthough U.S. voters overwhelmingly cite economic issues as their main concern, they also want reassurance that their leaders can execute the role of commander-in-chief. Introducing Ryan on Saturday, Romney said his new running mate was ready. But Democrats are already aiming at what they say is a dearth of national security experience on the Republican ticket.” And: “Even as he has championed huge cuts in government spending, Ryan has been protective of the Pentagon's budget, those in the defense community say.”

Ryan voted yes on the Iraq war, no on removing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq

The Romney campaign is looking to fill in his foreign policy for him, assigning Dan Senor to him, Maggie Haberman reports.

The Seattle Times: “Like many in politics, when his party’s in power, his budget philosophy differs dramatically from when the other folks are in the White House. For example, he voted yes on President Bush’s expansion of Medicare’s drug benefit. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that the White House had revised its estimated costs of the program: ‘[T]he new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003…. As recently as September, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years.’ As Bruce Bartlett noted in 2009, “the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.” Now Ryan said he’d take a different tack.

And: “Back in 2005, Bush was arguing for private accounts. Ryan introduced a bill that would have “create[d] new private accounts funded entirely by borrowing, with no benefit cuts!” but at the time the Bush administration had concerns about it and deemed it ‘irresponsible.’” Get this: Ryan voted against Democrats’ push to make “new spending or new tax cuts … offset by revenue increases or spending decreases.” He also “voted ‘yes’ for TARP, Economic Stimulus HR 5140, the $15 billion bailout for GM and Chrysler.”

Tax shenanigans… The Boston Globe: “It is one of the most striking elements of Mitt Romney’s financial fortune. He has used the seemingly bland investment vehicle known as an individual retirement account — established by Congress to help average Americans save a modest amount for retirement — to shield at least $20 million and as much as $100 million from initial taxes.”

More: “Romney has not provided details about how his IRA grew so large. But Romney associates with direct knowledge about the matter said Bain Capital partners used their IRAs as a pool of investment money, enabling them to make personal investments in Bain deals, many of which earned spectacular returns. Much as a lower-dollar investor might pick mutual funds for an IRA, the Bain partners could make side investments in the firm’s deals and then watch as their retirement funds grew. … critics are questioning whether Romney went too far in deferring or avoiding taxes by his use of an IRA, noting that Congress has put limits on contributions to prevent too much income from being shielded from taxation.”