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Expats debate: ‘Can the U.S. swallow Paul Ryan’s tough medicine?’

Paul Ryan is campaigning in key swing states. At the end of August, he and Mitt Romney will reunite in Tampa Bay, Florida, for the Republican National Convention – a televised event the GOP expects will give their presidential ticket a boost in the polls.

Below, the Globe's expats in America give their take – 'excellent', 'bold', 'confusing' – on the selection of the Wisconsin politician as Mr.Romney's vice presidential running-mate.

This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series – expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

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Miles Mahaffy, engineer in Milwaukee, Wisc., from Montreal:

I think Ryan was a pretty safe pick for Romney. In all of Ryan's years that I have known him as my congressman, he really hasn't made any major blunders.

I am a fiscal conservative so I used to vote for him – not any more, [he's] gone too far to the right. I will say I cannot agree with his budget proposal because it does not address spending uniformly. Military budget remains untouched in his proposal, for one, and he relies on supply-side economics way too much.

It becomes very obvious that Paul Ryan's budget plan would help the very wealthy in this country and would put the burden on the middle class and the poor.

When it comes to his budget with regards to reducing spending, he leaves out the two areas that could prevent him – and other Republicans – from being re-elected: military and social security. So to me, he is a hypocrite for calling for smaller government and yet not addressing overall spending.

Jeff Gebhart, IT manager in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from Saskatchewan:

Excellent pick. Smart guy, used to being attacked for his ideas... Right now, the United States is poised on the edge of an abyss. There is a stark decision ahead for those of you who are citizens. Path 1: Continue down the road we are on now, to higher debt and deficits, and eventual collapse. Or Path 2: Take the tough medicine now and move on.

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I saw this type of choice once before, in Alberta. It was Ralph Klein that took Alberta down the road of the tough medicine, and the province emerged far stronger for having taken their lumps when they had to. Does the U.S. electorate have the will to take some tough medicine? That's the question that is before all Americans this fall.

Meredith Miller, PR professional living in Pittsburgh, Penn., from Toronto:

Great choice. Bring on Tampa!

Robert Slaven, actuarial living in Camarillo, California, from Yellowknife:

I saw someone put together a graphic on Facebook today that used the Rolls-Royce logo for the Romney-Ryan ticket. I think that's bang on.

Ryan's budget plans were all based on help the rich, screw the poor, keep giving big subsidies to Big Oil and other corporate welfare bums, and keep defence spending high (military contractors here are the WORST of the corporate welfare bums), but cut "entitlement" programs, which taxpayers have paid into for decades, like Medicare and Social Security because "we can't afford them." Gah. I'm appalled.

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Colleen Pendergast, self-employed former teacher in Mass., from Edmonton:

Despite not agreeing with his socially conservative agenda, I don't like Paul Ryan's lack of experience. I don't mind that he is young, but I don't like that he has very little work experience outside of Washington, D.C.

It is kind of the same issue as Barack Obama. Just too inexperienced to handle this level of responsibility and crisis. Perhaps if it was another time, I wouldn't mind taking on an inexperienced newcomer to foster over the years so that they can take the reins one day. But, this is hardly the time for the U.S. to pick someone who has so little experience.

Brian Monkman, technology project manager in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, from Oakville, Ont.:

I personally think it was a nod towards shoring up the base and sending a strong message regarding fiscal discipline. This will, again in my opinion, turn out to be a very shrewd political move or an unmitigated disaster that will critically wound the campaign. I have to say, I do respect Romney for his choice. It was bold.

Collin Friesen, screenwriter in Los Angeles, from Winnipeg:

It's being called a bold choice, but it has a hint of desperation about it as well – nevermind trying to win over independents, we'll just try to motivate our base. Might work.

There certainly is an enthusiasm gap.

But with the Ryan budget threatening to change Medicare to a voucher system, don't expect seniors to be jumping up and down. Yeah, they may take Wisconsin, but I'd say this'll backfire in Florida, aka: God's Waiting Room.

Jonathan Havercroft, political science professor living in Norman, Oklahoma, from Montreal:

I don't really get the pick. It opens Romney up to attacks on Medicare and Social Security. Sure, people will debate the nuances of the Ryan budget proposals, but that involves getting too far into the weeds for most voters. Ryan does keep the base happy, but if Romney has a problem with the base in mid-August then he is fighting a battle on two-fronts, which isn't good for the fall election.

It does make Wisconsin more competitive and will force Obama to put more effort into that state, but why choose to wage your battle there when Portman or Rubio would have had the same effect in states with more electoral college votes (Ohio and Florida)?

Kieran Edling, student in Philadelphia, Penn., from Toronto:

Reading through our VP speculation thread, none of us seemed to think Ryan was a good choice, like Jonathan said it seems like he is fighting a battle on two fronts.

Jenny Zhang, advertising professional in Greenville, North Carolina, from Ottawa and Toronto:

At this point Romney needs both the hard-core Tea-Party types to not sit this one out, and for the moderates to lean more his way. Ryan seems more like a pander to the far right than to the moderates. The Democrats and the Republicans are both happy that Ryan was picked, for vastly different reasons. One of them will turn out to have been wrong. I guess we can only wait and see.

Some quotes have been edited and condensed.

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