Ryan: Reverse dependency
Reviving the economy is the way to help Americans rise out of poverty and reverse growing dependence on government welfare programs under President Obama, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan told a Seacoast audience yesterday.
"We want to have a safety net. We believe in a safety net," Ryan told the crowd of nearly 500 at the McConnell Community Center in Dover. But, he added, "We don't want a safety net that encourages more dependency because there's no economic growth behind it, because what that ends up doing is, it drains people of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives, to tap their potential, to get on their path to prosperity. That is what, unfortunately, we're seeing in the Obama economy."
While touching on the issue yesterday, Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, didn't directly address a recording that surfaced Monday of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney telling donors that 47 percent of Americans will definitely vote for Obama in November because they're "dependent upon government" and "believe that they are victims" entitled to food, housing and health care at public expense.
Romney later called his comments "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," and Democrats continued yesterday to hammer the Republican ticket on the subject.
Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner in a statement said Ryan and Romney would raise taxes "on the hard-working Americans - including veterans, students, seniors, and middle-class families - who Mitt Romney believes view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and unwilling to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives."
In his third visit to New Hampshire since joining the Republican ticket, Ryan was introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta of Manchester and state Sen. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro, both Republicans, and spent nearly 45 minutes speaking and taking questions.
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, was accompanied by a large electronic clock showing the second-by-second growth of the national debt. He said the debt has grown 45 percent since Obama took office in 2009, and unsustainable federal spending has placed the United States on the path toward a European-style debt crisis.
"That's the path we are on. That's the path we have to get off," Ryan said. "What Mitt Romney and I are talking about, what we're proposing, is a very simple idea: We've got to stop spending money we just don't have."
The key, Ryan said, is to cut spending and reinforce the nation's basic economic system.
"The American system of limited government and free enterprise has done more to help the poor, has done more to uplift people out of lives of dependency and on to lives of self-sufficiency, has done more to create opportunity than any other economic system ever designed," Ryan said to applause and cheers. "We don't want to replace that. We want to renew and revitalize that. That is the American idea of economic opportunity."
Ryan got a warm reception from the Dover audience.
"Paul Ryan is the best. . . . I'm inspired by his youth and his exuberance," said Jim Milton, a Merrimack resident and disabled Air Force veteran who attended the rally. "I believe that Romney and Ryan are the answer to the problems right now."
Also getting loud applause was Jack Kimball, the Tea Party leader and former chairman of the state GOP, who stood during yesterday's town hall and told Ryan to turn up the heat on Obama.
"I think it's time to take the gloves off. Take the gloves off," Kimball said to cheers. "The country is thirsting for this, believe me."
After the event, Kimball said he believes the GOP ticket needs to "fight tooth and nail all the way to Nov. 6. I believe firmly that that's what's going to happen."
As for Romney's comments about Obama voters being dependent on the government, Kimball said it's no surprise the former Massachusetts governor is narrowing his pitch to potential voters as the election draws near.
"Look, Mitt Romney's a very smart man, a very shrewd man. . . . He's got to have his campaign focused on the people that are most likely to vote for him," Kimball said.
Ryan's stop in Dover came seven weeks before Election Day amid a tight battle for New Hampshire's four electoral votes. His Democratic counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden, is scheduled to campaign in the state Friday and Saturday.
(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)