Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have insisted they’re not running on the House budget plan Ryan’s best known for. Romney has his own economic plans, vague as they may be, and his campaign has tried to emphasize they’re different from Ryan’s.
Ryan’s first solo interview as the Republican VP nominee suggested not everyone is persuaded.
Ryan repeatedly tried to deflect attention from his own highly controversial budget proposal in an interview with Fox News’s Brit Hume Tuesday. Ryan’s plan is both a rallying point for conservatives and a whipping boy for Democratic strategists.
Hume didn’t buy the suggestion that the Romney-Ryan ticket wasn’t running on Ryan’s budget plan, and the interview focused largely on Ryan’s budget package. In one exchange on balancing the budget, Hume objected when Ryan tried to talk about Romney’s plan — which has drawn fire for being vague at best. Hume insisted Ryan talk about his own economic vision, which doesn’t bring the budget into balance for decades.
Ryan couldn’t predict when Romney’s plan would balance the budget.
Hume: The budget plan you’re now supporting would get to balance when?
Ryan: Well, there are different — the budget plan that Mitt Romney is supporting gets us down to 20 percent of GDP government spending by 2016. That means get the size of government back to where it historically has been. What President Obama has done is he brought the size of government to as high as it hasn’t been since World War II. We want to reduce the size of government to have more economic freedom.
Hume: I get that. What about balance?
Ryan: I don’t know exactly what the balance is. I don’t want to get wonky on you but we haven’t run the numbers on that specific plan. The plan we offer in the House balances the budget. I’d put a contrast. President Obama, never once, ever, has offered a plan to ever balance the budget. The United States Senate, they haven’t even balanced, they haven’t passed a budget in three years.
Hume: I understand that. But your own budget, that you —
Ryan: You are talking about the House budget?
Hume: I’m talking about the House budget. Your budget will be a political issue in this campaign.
Ryan: The House budget doesn’t balance until the 2030s under the current measurement of the CBO baseline.
There are two things happening here. First, Ryan is unable to change the conversation away from the House budget, which Democrats, and reportedly some Republicans, are convinced is a guaranteed loser this fall.
Second, for all Ryan’s skill as the GOP’s budget whiz, not even he can say when Romney’s budget will balance, feeding into criticisms that the Romney budget plan is not yet fully formed.
The Romney campaign certainly wants to run on its own plans, not Ryan’s. But that’s increasingly looking like a tough sell.
Here’s video of Ryan on Fox: