Commentary Magazine


Topic: youth vote

Young Dem Voters Won’t Stay Bought

Since President Obama’s relatively narrow yet still clear re-election victory, both liberals and conservatives have engaged in a virtual non-stop orgy of analysis geared toward explaining the result. Some of this discussion has been useful as Republicans have been forced to come to grips with the fact that they have been pushing away Hispanics and relying on assumptions about the way social issues played with most voters that may no longer be true. But, as happens after almost every election, there is also an equal amount of nonsense being put forward about how 2012 marks a turning pointing in our political history that may lead to realignment. As recently as 2005, Republicans were playing this game and now it is the turn of liberals to jump to unsustainable conclusions.

The latest example of this sort of writing comes in today’s New York Times as Sheryl Gay Stolberg details her journey to Montana to claim President Obama’s success with young voters may lead to an irreversible shift in the country’s political alignment. Her thesis is that the Democrats’ advantage with this demographic isn’t merely limited to the way their acceptance of gay marriage and abortion have affected those under 30. Instead, she goes farther than that and claims that young voters are now as addicted to entitlement spending as some of their elders. This belief in the goodness of government largesse and the alleged corresponding decline in cynicism about big government will create a new political reality that will be baked into the system even as these voters get older.

There is no denying the appeal of free stuff from the government for citizens of any age or background. In 21st century America, everyone has their snout in the proverbial trough of federal spending and that impacts attempts to cut spending or to rally support for fiscal sanity. But the problem with the belief that the young Montanans who like the idea of preserving Medicare and Social Security as they are today will form a Democratic firewall to preserve an Obama majority indefinitely is that the assumption upon which this idea rests is built on sand. Sooner or later most young members of the workforce are going to catch on to the fact that they are the losers in the liberal entitlement Ponzi scheme, not the winners.

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Since President Obama’s relatively narrow yet still clear re-election victory, both liberals and conservatives have engaged in a virtual non-stop orgy of analysis geared toward explaining the result. Some of this discussion has been useful as Republicans have been forced to come to grips with the fact that they have been pushing away Hispanics and relying on assumptions about the way social issues played with most voters that may no longer be true. But, as happens after almost every election, there is also an equal amount of nonsense being put forward about how 2012 marks a turning pointing in our political history that may lead to realignment. As recently as 2005, Republicans were playing this game and now it is the turn of liberals to jump to unsustainable conclusions.

The latest example of this sort of writing comes in today’s New York Times as Sheryl Gay Stolberg details her journey to Montana to claim President Obama’s success with young voters may lead to an irreversible shift in the country’s political alignment. Her thesis is that the Democrats’ advantage with this demographic isn’t merely limited to the way their acceptance of gay marriage and abortion have affected those under 30. Instead, she goes farther than that and claims that young voters are now as addicted to entitlement spending as some of their elders. This belief in the goodness of government largesse and the alleged corresponding decline in cynicism about big government will create a new political reality that will be baked into the system even as these voters get older.

There is no denying the appeal of free stuff from the government for citizens of any age or background. In 21st century America, everyone has their snout in the proverbial trough of federal spending and that impacts attempts to cut spending or to rally support for fiscal sanity. But the problem with the belief that the young Montanans who like the idea of preserving Medicare and Social Security as they are today will form a Democratic firewall to preserve an Obama majority indefinitely is that the assumption upon which this idea rests is built on sand. Sooner or later most young members of the workforce are going to catch on to the fact that they are the losers in the liberal entitlement Ponzi scheme, not the winners.

Stolberg has a point when she makes the case that social issues like gay marriage may be a losing battle for conservatives who underestimate the way popular culture has altered the views of many Americans in the last generation. However, the affection for government she discovers among some Montanans who would presumably be just the sort of Western individualists that would disdain Washington makes a less persuasive argument for future Democratic dominance.

It may be that many of those interviewed by Stolberg like the idea of free health care, more government subsidies for education and government “investment” in job creation that will provide some of them with paychecks for a while. But while many seniors may regard the national debt that has been piling up in order to pay for all these goodies is the next generation’s problem, these under-30 voters are going to live long enough to see the day of reckoning for the government’s spending problem. If they do get productive jobs in the private sector, they’re not going to like the way their tax rates are going to skyrocket in order to pay for the free stuff they like so much today. They are also going to realize that the administration’s pledge to keep entitlements in tact is not likely to survive President Obama’s time in office, if that long.

No one should assume that the ticking debt time bomb ensures Republican victories any more than the appeal of government benefits guarantees votes in perpetuity for the Democrats. The GOP has a lot of work to do to reinvigorate their brand but the notion that a pro-growth platform that tells the truth about entitlements to the people is a loser is a Democratic fairy tale. Democrats may buy some young voters with promises about entitlements that can’t be kept. But the idea that they will stay bought despite the looming debt crisis is not one that Obama’s successors should stake their careers on. 

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Romney Making Inroads with Youth Vote?

That’s according to the latest Zogby poll, which found Romney topping 40 percent with young voters for the first time since the race began. Meanwhile, Obama’s youth support still lags far behind 2008-levels. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reports:

For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America’s youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters. …

In his latest poll, Obama receives just 49 percent of the youth vote when pitted against Romney, who received 41 percent. In another question, the independent candidacy of Gary Johnson is included, and here Obama wins 50 percent, Romney 38 percent and Johnson 5 percent.

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That’s according to the latest Zogby poll, which found Romney topping 40 percent with young voters for the first time since the race began. Meanwhile, Obama’s youth support still lags far behind 2008-levels. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reports:

For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America’s youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters. …

In his latest poll, Obama receives just 49 percent of the youth vote when pitted against Romney, who received 41 percent. In another question, the independent candidacy of Gary Johnson is included, and here Obama wins 50 percent, Romney 38 percent and Johnson 5 percent.

Zogby wonders whether Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan could be boosting him with young voters. At the very least, it probably helps that Ryan breaks the mold of the media’s Republican stereotype. He’s young, has new ideas, and has (so far) avoided the third-rail social issues. Most young people also aren’t likely to be swayed by the Democratic Party’s Mediscare tactics. If anything, they’re probably more open than most groups to new ideas for Medicare and Social Security reform.

There’s also the jobs factor. Recent college graduates have been hit hard by the economic downturn, and they count jobs and the economy as two of their top election priorities. Their frustration with the slow recovery could be a major reason for the shift away from Obama.

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America’s Youth Aren’t Fine, Mr. President

During the last several months, the political classes have come to the realization that the level of student debt in the United States is reaching crisis level. Many have suggested that the burst of the student loan bubble will be more far-reaching and more damaging than the housing bubble that precipitated the Great Recession. This week, the Huffington Post linked to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that showcased just how deep the student loan problem reaches:

  • Of the 241 million people in the United States who have a credit report with Equifax, approximately 15.4% — or 37 million — hold outstanding student loan debt.
  • The average outstanding student loan balance per borrower is $23,300. About one-quarter of borrowers owe more than $28,000; about 10% of borrowers owe more than $54,000. The proportion of borrowers who owe more than $100,000 is 3.1%, and 0.45% of borrowers, or 167,000 people, owe more than $200,000.
  • Borrowers between the ages of thirty and thirty-nine have the highest average outstanding student loan balances, at $28,500, followed by borrowers between the ages of forty and forty-nine, whose average outstanding balance is $26,000.
  • About 27% of the borrowers have past due balances, while the adjusted proportion of outstanding student loan balances that are delinquent equals 21%.

Many have put the blame on ballooning costs of public and private universities across the country. Christian Science Monitor reported this week that “between 1999 and 2009, tuition at public four-year colleges rose 73 percent on average, and tuition at private nonprofit colleges jumped 34 percent. In the same period, median family income fell by about 7 percent.”

For graduating high school seniors, the allure of a college degree isn’t what it once was. Obtaining a degree, after falling tens of thousands of dollars in debt, no longer guarantees job placement upon graduation. Is there an alternative?

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During the last several months, the political classes have come to the realization that the level of student debt in the United States is reaching crisis level. Many have suggested that the burst of the student loan bubble will be more far-reaching and more damaging than the housing bubble that precipitated the Great Recession. This week, the Huffington Post linked to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that showcased just how deep the student loan problem reaches:

  • Of the 241 million people in the United States who have a credit report with Equifax, approximately 15.4% — or 37 million — hold outstanding student loan debt.
  • The average outstanding student loan balance per borrower is $23,300. About one-quarter of borrowers owe more than $28,000; about 10% of borrowers owe more than $54,000. The proportion of borrowers who owe more than $100,000 is 3.1%, and 0.45% of borrowers, or 167,000 people, owe more than $200,000.
  • Borrowers between the ages of thirty and thirty-nine have the highest average outstanding student loan balances, at $28,500, followed by borrowers between the ages of forty and forty-nine, whose average outstanding balance is $26,000.
  • About 27% of the borrowers have past due balances, while the adjusted proportion of outstanding student loan balances that are delinquent equals 21%.

Many have put the blame on ballooning costs of public and private universities across the country. Christian Science Monitor reported this week that “between 1999 and 2009, tuition at public four-year colleges rose 73 percent on average, and tuition at private nonprofit colleges jumped 34 percent. In the same period, median family income fell by about 7 percent.”

For graduating high school seniors, the allure of a college degree isn’t what it once was. Obtaining a degree, after falling tens of thousands of dollars in debt, no longer guarantees job placement upon graduation. Is there an alternative?

Yesterday, National Journal highlighted a recent study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University on the employment situation for high school graduates without any college background or plans. Some of their chilling findings:

Only three in 10 of these recent grads are employed full time, according to the study, which tracked the employment outcomes of 544 young people who graduated from high schools across the country between 2006 and 2011.

Only 16 percent of those who graduated during the recession (2009-2011) are employed full time, although nearly half are looking for work. A third are unemployed and 15 percent are working part time. One in six have left the labor market altogether.

Thirty-seven percent of students who graduated pre-recession (2006-2008) are employed full time, according to the report.

Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said they were paid hourly. The average hourly wage was $7.50, only  a quarter more than the federal minimum wage. Three quarters of the jobs reported were temporary.

Today, less than 24 hours after National Journal’s piece on youth unemployment was published, President Obama said during a press conference that “the private sector is doing fine.” This statement may come as a shock to Americans when unemployment was assessed at 8.2% by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the stock market is down 7% since April, and there is still no good news on the horizon for jobs either.

During the last election, Obama garnered 61 percent of the youth vote, compared to McCain’s 31 percent – the results were almost identical for the college educated and not. America’s young people, whom the Obama campaign is trying to whip into a frenzy in order to produce the support he saw in 2008, won’t buy the hype this time around. Every morning they wake up unemployed and in debt, every conversation they have with a classmate and peer affirms that they aren’t “fine.” The Obama White House can turn Republicans into student debt boogeymen, send emails from Sarah Jessica Parker inviting recipients over for dinner, and issue statements about gay marriage every day from now until November. The only issue that matters to America’s youth this election isn’t looking any better for the Obama campaign – it’s the economy stupid.

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Gallup: Obama Ahead With Young Voters, But Many Aren’t Registered

The concern for President Obama has never been that he’ll lose the young vote, just that he may not win by as large of a margin as he did in 2008, and that turnout among young voters may be lower this time around. Today’s Gallup found that Obama leads Romney by 35 percent with 18 to 29-year-olds, but most of them either aren’t registered or aren’t committed to voting next November:

It’s clear at this point that Obama maintains the decisive edge when young voters are asked whom they support for president, as he did in 2008. Voters aged 18 to 29 in Gallup’s most recent five-day average, April 20-24, support Obama over Romney by 35 percentage points, 64 percent to 29 percent, and — compared with older age groups — have been disproportionately supportive of Obama since Gallup’s tracking began on April 11, albeit by differing margins. Obama’s lead is five and four percentage points, respectively, among those 30 to 49 and 50 to 64, while Romney leads by 12 points among those 65 and older. Overall, for the April 20-24 five-day period, Obama leads by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent.

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The concern for President Obama has never been that he’ll lose the young vote, just that he may not win by as large of a margin as he did in 2008, and that turnout among young voters may be lower this time around. Today’s Gallup found that Obama leads Romney by 35 percent with 18 to 29-year-olds, but most of them either aren’t registered or aren’t committed to voting next November:

It’s clear at this point that Obama maintains the decisive edge when young voters are asked whom they support for president, as he did in 2008. Voters aged 18 to 29 in Gallup’s most recent five-day average, April 20-24, support Obama over Romney by 35 percentage points, 64 percent to 29 percent, and — compared with older age groups — have been disproportionately supportive of Obama since Gallup’s tracking began on April 11, albeit by differing margins. Obama’s lead is five and four percentage points, respectively, among those 30 to 49 and 50 to 64, while Romney leads by 12 points among those 65 and older. Overall, for the April 20-24 five-day period, Obama leads by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent.

These numbers are similar to the 2008 exit polling, which showed young voters choosing Obama over John McCain, 66 percent to 32 percent. But are there any indications that turnout will be lower this year? Maybe. Back in October 2008, 78 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds told Gallup that they were registered to vote. In contrast, just 60 percent of this group is currently registered to vote, according to Gallup’s latest.

Obviously it’s still early, and the get-out-the-vote efforts haven’t really kicked off yet. But time may be on Romney’s side in some ways, as well. Young voters are less engaged politically, and it’s promising for the GOP that Romney’s support with young voters at the very start of the general election is similar to McCain’s support the month before Election Day. Romney has plenty of time to make his case to young voters and potentially siphon off support from Obama.

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Student Loan Talk Won’t Save Obama in NC

President Obama is campaigning in favor of extending a student loan interest bill in North Carolina today in an effort to woo young voters, a critical demographic for him in the state. But as Politico reports, his professed enthusiasm for this student loan bill is a relatively new development, since he missed two votes on the same bill while campaigning back in 2007:

In 2007, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama missed two votes on the student loan interest bill that he now wants Congress to extend.

Obama twice skipped the Senate vote on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act when the bill came to the Senate floor first in July and again in September of 2007, according to public records.

The bill, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and signed into law by President George W. Bush, first cleared the Senate in July on a 78 to 18 vote, with Obama as one of only four senators to abstain. Obama did not cast a vote again in September, after the House and Senate had ironed out different versions of the bill. He was on the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate versions of the bill.

To be fair, Obama’s votes weren’t needed to pass the legislation at the time (in July of ’07, the bill passed the Senate by a 78 to 18 margin, according to Politico). The proposed extension currently has bipartisan support, and Mitt Romney has already come out in favor of it. So while Obama’s support for it is most likely genuine, this isn’t exactly a position that distinguishes him from the GOP.

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President Obama is campaigning in favor of extending a student loan interest bill in North Carolina today in an effort to woo young voters, a critical demographic for him in the state. But as Politico reports, his professed enthusiasm for this student loan bill is a relatively new development, since he missed two votes on the same bill while campaigning back in 2007:

In 2007, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama missed two votes on the student loan interest bill that he now wants Congress to extend.

Obama twice skipped the Senate vote on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act when the bill came to the Senate floor first in July and again in September of 2007, according to public records.

The bill, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and signed into law by President George W. Bush, first cleared the Senate in July on a 78 to 18 vote, with Obama as one of only four senators to abstain. Obama did not cast a vote again in September, after the House and Senate had ironed out different versions of the bill. He was on the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate versions of the bill.

To be fair, Obama’s votes weren’t needed to pass the legislation at the time (in July of ’07, the bill passed the Senate by a 78 to 18 margin, according to Politico). The proposed extension currently has bipartisan support, and Mitt Romney has already come out in favor of it. So while Obama’s support for it is most likely genuine, this isn’t exactly a position that distinguishes him from the GOP.

It also isn’t a position that’s going to suddenly drive skeptical young voters to support him. Student loans are a major concern for young people, but their top policy priority is still job creation. In a Georgetown University poll released last week, 74 percent of 18 to 24-year-old cited jobs and unemployment as the most critical issue facing the country. The federal deficit and education were tied in a distant second place.

So while Obama’s focus on student loans won’t hurt, and might even help him with some young voters, the real issue he’s going to need to address to them is jobs. And fuzzy rhetoric is not going to be enough. His support is tanking with young voters because of his record on unemployment – half of recent college graduates are currently jobless or underemployed according to the latest study.

The lack of enthusiasm isn’t just noticeable in Obama’s sinking approval ratings. Many young Democratic voters have also fallen off the voting rolls, according to Politico:

But for once, demographics aren’t on Obama’s side. The number of young Democrats registered to vote in the state has shrunk by nearly three times Obama’s victory margin; 40,000 of them have fallen off state voter rolls in the state since 2008, a Tufts University study in December found.

Obama isn’t going to get these voters back simply by backing the extension of a student loan bill that already has bipartisan support. He’s going to need to figure out how to generate enthusiasm similar to 2008, and at this point in his presidency that seems like an impossible target.

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Youth Prefer Jobs to Hope and Change

The president is having a hard time rounding up the support of young people to generate enthusiasm and votes for his reelection campaign, no doubt because this time around, he’s forced to run on his record, verses vague promises of “hope” and “change.” In 2008, young voters constituted a full fifth of his support, but this time around less than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 plan to vote in November and only 40 percent are even registered to do so currently. Young Americans certainly have more time on their hands this time around, with 1 in 2 new graduates unemployed or underemployed in jobs that don’t utilize their education background. Too bad for Obama that it doesn’t seem they will be using that time to campaign for another four years of his economy.

How has the president tried to get on the good side of young voters? This week Obama and Biden have made tours of colleges in swing states touting a plan to prevent a doubling of interest rates for students who take out federally funded Stafford loans (despite not even bothering to be present for the 2007 vote). The plan wouldn’t help Americans already paying off student loans, nor would it help those who took loans from private institutions. How many students will this plan actually help? Very few. Like many other lofty presidential plans, however, the most important part is merely the optics – actual results are just a bonus. I’ve written previously on the $1 trillion student loan bubble, and unfortunately, the program being touted by the White House will probably do more harm than good.

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The president is having a hard time rounding up the support of young people to generate enthusiasm and votes for his reelection campaign, no doubt because this time around, he’s forced to run on his record, verses vague promises of “hope” and “change.” In 2008, young voters constituted a full fifth of his support, but this time around less than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 plan to vote in November and only 40 percent are even registered to do so currently. Young Americans certainly have more time on their hands this time around, with 1 in 2 new graduates unemployed or underemployed in jobs that don’t utilize their education background. Too bad for Obama that it doesn’t seem they will be using that time to campaign for another four years of his economy.

How has the president tried to get on the good side of young voters? This week Obama and Biden have made tours of colleges in swing states touting a plan to prevent a doubling of interest rates for students who take out federally funded Stafford loans (despite not even bothering to be present for the 2007 vote). The plan wouldn’t help Americans already paying off student loans, nor would it help those who took loans from private institutions. How many students will this plan actually help? Very few. Like many other lofty presidential plans, however, the most important part is merely the optics – actual results are just a bonus. I’ve written previously on the $1 trillion student loan bubble, and unfortunately, the program being touted by the White House will probably do more harm than good.

The president has, on numerous occasions, promoted the importance of making college more affordable so that more Americans can have access to higher education. In 2010, he held a “Summit on Community Colleges” where Vice President Biden’s personal connection was highlighted:

As a lifelong educator and community college instructor for the past 17 years, Dr. [Jill] Biden knows that community colleges are uniquely positioned to graduate more Americans with the skills that businesses and the economy will need to compete in the 21st century.

While President Obama continues to pour taxpayer money into government grants and loans, further escalating the student loan crisis, these 1 in 2 unemployed or underemployed Americans with college degrees have got to be wondering why they’ve bothered. Yahoo News reports,

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants.

This graduating class of Americans has a sense of entitlement unlike any previous generation. They fill their teen years with extracurricular activities instead of after-school jobs, they expect to go to the college of their choice and demand government grants and loans to pay their way, and upon graduation are shocked to learn that their Creative Writing degree with a minor in Gender Studies doesn’t automatically qualify them for a well-paid job writing creatively about gender.

It’s time for the president to state some uncomfortable truths: America cannot, and should not, be spending its resources on giving money to universities that raise tuition at three times the rate of inflation, encouraging even more student debt. Why do we teach our children that college is not only a necessity, but also an entitlement? Why is a generation of liberal arts majors languishing in unemployment, leeching off their parents while blue-collar jobs go unfilled?

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Has Romney Found A Message?

The risk in pegging an election campaign to a specific issue is that the issue will be eclipsed by another or will fade in importance on its own. The campaigns of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have responded in different ways to slightly better jobs numbers. The Washington Post yesterday asked if foreign policy could end up playing a more significant role in the election than previously expected, though the Post notes that exit polling has not backed this up.

Economic fluctuation and the constant interpretation and reinterpretation of data make economic forecasting a less stable foundation of an election campaign than, say, asking simply if the public thinks they are better off now than they were four years ago. Gas prices have dented President Obama’s poll numbers recently, but that, too, may change. Romney, the more likely nominee, will have a less compelling argument against ObamaCare, for obvious reasons, though he can still run on his promise to repeal it. But beyond that, the question remains what kind of general election message will Romney present? He seems to have located one yesterday, and will be helped by Paul Ryan’s budget speech today.

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The risk in pegging an election campaign to a specific issue is that the issue will be eclipsed by another or will fade in importance on its own. The campaigns of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have responded in different ways to slightly better jobs numbers. The Washington Post yesterday asked if foreign policy could end up playing a more significant role in the election than previously expected, though the Post notes that exit polling has not backed this up.

Economic fluctuation and the constant interpretation and reinterpretation of data make economic forecasting a less stable foundation of an election campaign than, say, asking simply if the public thinks they are better off now than they were four years ago. Gas prices have dented President Obama’s poll numbers recently, but that, too, may change. Romney, the more likely nominee, will have a less compelling argument against ObamaCare, for obvious reasons, though he can still run on his promise to repeal it. But beyond that, the question remains what kind of general election message will Romney present? He seems to have located one yesterday, and will be helped by Paul Ryan’s budget speech today.

Felicia Sonmez reports:

“I joke, and I don’t mean to be flip with this — because I actually see truth in it — I don’t see how a young American can vote for a Democrat,” Romney said when asked what economic message he would have for young people.

“I apologize for being so offensive in saying that, but I catch your attention. But I mean, in the humor, there’s some truth there. And I say that for this reason: that party is focused on providing more and more benefits to my generation, and amounting trillion-dollar annual deficits my generation will never pay for.”

He argued that while Democrats support “the greatest inter-generational transfer of wealth in the history of humankind,” the Republican Party is “consumed with the idea of getting federal spending down and creating economic growth and opportunity so we can balance our budget and stop putting these debts on you.”

“These debts are not frightening to people my age, because we’ll be gone,” he said.

This is an issue that will not go away, because rather than pass their own budget (which they haven’t done in more than 1,000 days) Democrats prefer to attack Ryan for trying to solve problems instead of Washington’s usual tradition of kicking every can in sight farther down the road. The Democrats, led by Harry Reid, have even targeted members of their own party who tried to work with Ryan to formulate a solution to the country’s debt and entitlement crises.

On that score, Ryan today introduced his newest budget plan. As Jim Pethokoukis notes:

Longer term, the differences between the Ryan Path and the Obama budget are even starker. By 2030, debt-to-GDP would be 53% under Ryan, 128% under Obama. By 2040, debt-to-GDP would be 38% under Ryan, 194% under Obama. By 2050, debt-to-GDP would be 10% under Ryan, over 200% under Obama – assuming that under the Obama scenario, the economy hasn’t collapsed.

That last line is key to Ryan and Romney’s overall message—that you can only calculate long-term projections of Obama’s spending plans by assuming the economy hasn’t collapsed from them yet.

In 2008, the general election time frame saw one foreign policy crisis and one economic crisis. John McCain looked better on the foreign policy issue because Obama ended up changing his original response to eventually align with the response McCain gave immediately. Obama looked better on the financial crisis because of McCain’s haphazard and frantic response. The candidate who won the economic issue won the election (as usual). Foreign policy will not be high enough on the American voters’ list of priorities to focus on that, but Romney’s pitch to the disaffected youth vote and his party’s attempts to establish itself as a forward-looking group of reformers may offer a serious message that doesn’t depend on monthly jobs numbers or the price of gas.

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