Let the Campaign for Ideas Begin

Robert Hoffman photo

With the “Romney Bunch” Veepstakes now officially over, and Governor Romney’s political dance card full with the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan, the 2012 presidential campaign can now proceed in full swing. But first, some observations on the selection of Paul Ryan, and what it represents for the U.S. high tech industry and the U.S. economy generally.

As my colleague, Nilmini Rubin, previously reported, Paul Ryan is a seven term member of Congress, representing Wisconsin’s First District, which includes the town of Janesville, where he was born, raised, and still calls home today.  Prior to serving in Congress, he was a legislative aide to two U.S. Senators, and also worked at Empower America, a think tank co-founded by former Congressman, Cabinet Secretary and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have known Paul Ryan for more than twenty years – we both served as legislative directors in the U.S. Senate at the same time.  I also knew and, like Paul, greatly admired Jack Kemp.  It’s fair to say that no one individual has influenced Congressman Ryan’s approach to policy advocacy and policymaking more than Jack Kemp.  Kemp was an “idea man” and relished extensive debates on competing policy visions and ideas centered on the overall direction of the U.S. economy. 

No question, Paul Ryan has inherited Kemp’s exuberance for policy ideas.  As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan offered the most comprehensive blueprint on the future fiscal and economic direction of the country.  Components of that plan – The Path to Prosperity – include a framework for tax reform that we in the tech industry believe would fuel investment and job growth here in the U.S., while making U.S.-based global companies more successful against foreign competitors in global markets.

The selection of Paul Ryan also ensures that, should he and the Governor win in November, the vice presidency will remain an essential part of the Executive Branch policy team.  For the last four decades, we have seen an evolution of sorts in the role of the vice president.  Those who have held the office of vice president during this time, including Vice President Joe Biden, have played significant roles in policymaking and governing, ranging from the reinvention of government to the advancement of U.S. national security.  The modern vice president has become more than a person who fills a political niche or void in an election year, but who has a key seat at the executive branch table after the election has been won.  With his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan, Governor Romney has demonstrated he intends to continue that tradition.

With Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket, an extensive discussion and debate on the future direction of the U.S. economy, and on ideas to grow new businesses and new jobs, is not only a given, but a discussion we in the tech community welcome. We also are hopeful that it can be a discussion centered on thoughtful ideas, rather than harsh labels and taglines that fit well within a Twitter message, but don’t really advance the debate.  Of course, this is politics, and that invites more than a fair amount of mudslinging.  But policymaking is serious business, and these are truly serious times, which require serious discussions on jobs, investment, innovation, and economic growth. 

Perhaps one of the distinguishing features of the tech industry is our thirst for ideas and solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges.  With the GOP dance card now full, let’s dive into the ideas that will move our country forward, and when the campaigns are over, and a president and vice president are elected, let’s turn those ideas into solutions.

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