South Florida Dems praise GOP rivals

The big news over the weekend resulted in a true Kumbaya moment — a blooming of love and admiration crossing party lines. Saturday’s announcement that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney chose U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate resulted in local Democrats bestowing heaps of praise upon their Republican rivals. Well, kind of.

In my Sunday column, I reported that Patrick Murphy compared Allen West, his GOP opponent for Florida’s 18th Congressional District seat, to Ryan. Murphy even headlined his email, “West = Ryan.”

I soon learned West wasn’t the only one to receive the Ryan treatment. Former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner was another target, this time by Democratic opponent Lois Frankel. Assuming Frankel bests Kristen Jacobs, her Democratic rival in Tuesday’s primary, Hasner will face Frankel in the general election for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District seat.

Although falling just short of stating outright that “Hasner = Ryan,” the attempt to compare the two is unmistakable. Then, using a New York Times quote, Frankel’s email excoriates both Ryan and his budget plan, which attempts to return some sense of sanity to runaway federal spending.

One would expect nothing less from The New York Times. What was once “all the news that’s fit to print” has since slowly morphed into one huge op-ed devoted to the re-election of President Obama. The “left coast” is much the same. But what about flyover country? What do the people who silently grow our food, refine our oil, manufacture our products and send their sons and daughters off to war think? How does Middle America view Ryan and his attempts at balancing our over-bloated budget?

Steve Kraske began a lengthy, well-balanced Kansas City Star article this way: “In choosing Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman and the architect of the House Republicans’ much-discussed budget blueprint, Romney virtually guaranteed a long-delayed nationwide discussion of what needs to be done to deal with America’s soaring budget deficit.”

Praise for Ryan was more pronounced in President Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. A Tribune editorial published Sunday opined, “With his passion to revive this nation’s treasury and economy, Ryan injects stark substance to an uninspiring, cheap-shot contest we’ve called a race to the bottom.” It concluded, “In Ryan, Romney has a running mate who, with his gravitas and his 14 years in Congress, could step in as president.” High praise indeed from the city that introduced the president to community organizing. Perhaps Chicago is finally tiring of “the Chicago way.”

Adam Hasner couldn’t agree more. When reached for comment he said, “Paul Ryan and I understand this is about simple math. With 10,000 people becoming eligible every day and rising healthcare costs, Medicare is going bankrupt in the next decade. The status quo will end Medicare as we know it and these scare tactics won’t protect the security for today’s seniors or tomorrow’s generations.”

I can’t say that the Ryan budget is perfection, but it’s at least an honest start — a proposal placed on the table. The Democrats can either continue to ignore both it and the skyrocketing debt now hovering at $16 trillion, or they can offer a plan of their own. Whatever their decision, Ryan has shown dogged determination in formulating his plan, unwavering courage in presenting it, and unbelievable patience in explaining it. Any comparison between Ryan and either Hasner or West should be considered a badge of honor, and high praise indeed.

As proof, I present Erskine Bowles, best known for his appointment in 2010 as the Democratic co-chair of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson. Denocrat Bowles is a Paul Ryan fan. In the following video, we learn that he’s also a fan of the Ryan budget plan.

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