Romney's Ryan Choice - Generation Warfare

13/08/2012 10:20 BST | Updated 12/10/2012 10:12 BST

This week Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate.

What this choice tells us about Mitt Romney is very revealing.

Presidential candidates usually select a running mate to:

* fill a gap in their own resume

* appeal to a key group

* improve their chances of winning in a state or region

* help them govern

* add some excitement to the ticket

Up till now Romney has been very vague about what he will do if he is elected president.

When asked about how he intends to get the economy going again, details has been very scarce... up till now!

With the choice of Ryan, it is now clear that Romney's plan is the Ryan Budget Plan.

What is also clear is how Romney will govern if elected - like a CEO of a very large corporation - The United States of America.

In spite of his time as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney is basically a true CEO.

He saw that he had no real plan on how to turn the economy around other than to simply cut taxes.

So, Romney identified the problem and then picked an expert who he agrees with, in principle, to deal with it.

Paul Ryan a Washington politician who is the ultimate Budget Wonk!

For Romney his Ryan choice was a bold move and potentially a dangerous one, especially for someone who is normally adverse to taking risks.

Most around here thought Romney would steer clear of a 'Sarah Palinesque' game changer choice.

However, that is in essence what Romney has done with the Ryan pick.

He could have picked Rob Portman who has even more budget expertise under his belt than Ryan and certainly more leadership experience as both the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, US Trade Representative and now as a Senator from the important battleground state of Ohio.

No one would have questioned, whether Portman would be ready on day one to serve as president should the need arise.

The same is not true of Paul Ryan. Although he is a House Member from Wisconsin and Chairman of the Budget Committee - he has no real foreign policy credentials.

With Romney's choice, the Republican ticket for the first time in a very long time offers no real depth on foreign policy at all.

By picking Ryan, Romney has signaled that he wants to engage in a large scale domestic policy debate.

Perhaps a summer of Bain bashing, personal tax questions and foreign missteps may have made it clear to Romney and his campaign gurus that you can not win by simply running against something - Barack Obama - you must also stand for something.

Up till now it has not been at all clear who Romney really is and what he really stands for. And now it is...crystal clear!

By embracing the now legendary Ryan Budget, Romney is voluntarily walking onto the '3rd rail of US politics' challenging the very existence of the three sacred cows of the American social safety net - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Romney has decided to finish the job Republicans have been trying to do piece meal - to remake or eliminate the social safety net - since these plans were first adopted by FDR & LBJ.

It is true that this will move the debate away from Bain Capital, Romney's taxes and other distractions, but it is not so clear where this debate ends up and if it will benefit the Romney-Ryan Team in the end.

Over the Summer the Electoral College Map has virtually been frozen. The latest polls even show Obama opening up leads in some of the key battleground states.

As Romney and Ryan engage the American people in the debate over reforming three of the most popular entitlements ever created - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - they may discover they have bitten off more than they can chew.

Ryan, who was born in 1970 is even younger than Obama, so Romney's selection of Ryan as his messenger for this plan was no accident.

He is the conservative deficit darling and the voice for the fiscal hawks of his younger generation.

The battle over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is one that goes beyond being a Democratic or Republican - it has the potential to split open a festering wound spreading between the generations that might never heal.

Up till now the social contract between the generations included a promise that the young workers would pay for the health care and retirement security of their predecessors.

This will no longer be true in less than a generation because the numbers simply don't add up.

There are just too many retirees and too few young workers - and Congress has been raiding this over funded piggy bank for years.

This problem has also been exacerbated by the high unemployment rate that

we now find the new normal.

Young people are having a hard time even finding a real job, so they will be reluctant to pay into a system they do not believe will be there when it is their turn.

Parents and grandparents want their children and grandchildren to have a better life and prosper but are conflicted if it means they cannot afford the medicine and doctor visits that keep them alive.

Eliminating these entitlements will not be popular with many segments of American society, so it is not clear how this move will play with the highly sought after Independent vote.

There are clearly two ways to fix the problem - add more revenue or cut the benefits.

Ryan, a true deficit hawk will not agree to any new revenue - No more taxes!

Since the issues with Social Security - and Medicare and Medicaid to a lesser extent - are rooted in the problem that there are not enough workers contributing to support the retiring baby boom generation, this National discussion may also reopen the immigration reform debate once again.

It would seem that one possible fix might include making the millions of so called illegal workers legal and permanent contributors to the system - who would then pay into system and pay taxes.

There is simply no telling where a debate like this might go!

This generational debate also has the potential to reshape the Electoral College Map.

In the states with the largest senior populations - Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa - this debate could be a real game changer.

Seniors pay careful attention to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - they are highly organized and turn out to vote.

Up till now the Electoral College Map has been relatively unchanged with Obama at 237 and Romney at 191.

There are about 9 toss up states with 110 Electoral Votes up for grabs.

If Florida and Iowa now move to the Obama column - and you give all the other toss up states to Romney - Obama wins 272 to Romney's 266.

If the Romney-Ryan Team are sucessful in focusing the debate on strong fiscal ideas and results that could benefit the now disenchanted Obama voter and Independent - this shift has the potential to change this election from a razor thin race into one that gives the victor a real mandate.

Before this choice, Romney was defined by the Democrats and had a narrow path to victory which now may be even narrow.

However, Romney's Ryan choice could very well be a successful attempt at redefining himself and the road to The White House may have just widened!