When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, he inevitably brought along Ryan's budget plan, too. It's a plan that restructures Medicare and Social Security, while at the same time lowering taxes across the board. In short, it dramatically downsizes the role of government in America.
But does austerity ever work as a campaign slogan? Walter Mondale tried to get serious about the federal deficit in 1984. "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes," he said at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, "and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."
Mondale lost in one of the biggest landslides in history. Presidential historian Doug Wead says plenty of presidents have appealed to the cheaper angels of our nature… but have rarely done so in campaigns.