Five Budget Questions Mitt Romney Needs To Answer Now That Paul Ryan Is On The Ticket

Our guest blogger is Michael Linden, Director for Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Now that Mitt Romney has selected Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to be his running mate, Ryan’s budget plan moves to the center of the presidential campaign. Ryan’s budget is a near-pure distillation of right-wing economic ideology. It would slash basic economic investments, end the Medicare guarantee, decimate the social safety-net, and dramatically cut taxes for the richest households.

If you find it hard to believe that the Republican Party’s budget chief would put forth such a callous plan, you are not alone. When the plan is described to ordinary voters, they literally do not believe that a lawmaker would propose such a plan.

But now that the budget chief is also running to be the Vice President, it’s time for Romney to answer some basic, but critical, questions about how his vision and his running mate’s vision fit together. Here are five:

1. You want to amend the Constitution to require balanced federal budgets, but haven’t explained how to achieve that goal. Ryan’s budget plan, meanwhile, doesn’t balance for at least 30 years. What parts of Ryan’s budget would you change to make it comply with your call for a balanced budget amendment, or is that about how long you think it’ll take to balance the budget?

2. You’ve criticized President Obama for including cuts to Medicare as part of the Affordable Care Act, but Ryan’s budget plan contains the very same cuts. Does that mean Ryan also “robs” from Medicare? (Today, Romney indicated that the answer may be “yes.”)

3. Ryan’s original budget plan included a proposal for privatizing Social Security. Is that something you support?

4. In the past, you’ve criticized Obama for not embracing the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission’s recommendations. But Ryan actually served on that commission and he voted against the plan. Was Ryan wrong to vote against Bowles-Simpson?

5. You’ve proposed an overall spending cap. But even if you adopted all of the enormous spending cuts in Ryan’s budget, you still wouldn’t comply with the cap because you’ve also called for $1.8 trillion in additional defense spending above Ryan’s levels. What else would you cut in order to hit your proposed target?