Mitt Romney is about to name Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee, at least according to various highly plausible leaks. If the rumors are true, I am happy with the pick on policy grounds. Ryan is very knowledgeable about economic policy and spending, and he has a genuine commitment to cutting federal spending, which I think is possibly the most important priority for the next few years. Indeed, I think he’s vastly superior to Romney himself on these issues, though that is in part because I am extremely skeptical about Romney. Overall, I would much prefer a ticket with Ryan in the top slot to one with him as the veep. Ryan isn’t nearly as libertarian on spending as I am, of course (nor would anyone like that have a chance of getting nominated). And his record during the Bush era was far from perfect. But the “Ryan road map” would be a major improvement over the status quo.
I am still not entirely sure whether a Romney victory accompanied by GOP control of Congress (as it likely would be) would be preferable on libertarian grounds to a continuation of divided government with Obama in the White House. But a Ryan nomination would increase the attractiveness of the former scenario.
Whether Ryan is a good pick on political grounds is much less clear. Precisely because of his position on spending, Ryan is potentially vulnerable to demagoguery on entitlements, and the Democrats will surely try to exploit this weakness. One could also argue that Romney would have done better to choose a Hispanic such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who could have helped him carry a major swing state and increase the GOP’s appeal to the nation’s fastest-growing minority group. But I will leave these political strategy issues to those with superior expertise on the subject.