Mitt Romney's choice of Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate tells you all you need to know about Romney and about the state of the 2012 presidential campaign. Romney's choice confirms what many polls have been saying, namely, there is virtually no one left to convert from the undecided ranks and this campaign will rise or fall on turnout.
Romney claims he wants this campaign decided on the question of the economy and jobs, but the choice of Ryan shows the true agenda he is pursuing. Ryan is an ideologue popular with the most regressive wings of the Republican Party. Romney is not trusted by these folks and there was a danger some might stay home rather than vote for him. In order to fire up that base, and bring them out in November, Romney abandoned his focus on the economy and has now placed a bet that a war on the New Deal and Great Society will turn out enough regressives to propel him into the White House.
Nothing in Ryan's career, or his legislative accomplishments (of which there are few) shows a concern for creating jobs. Much like Romney himself, Ryan is in favor of an unrestricted free market with few, if any, restrictions. Just as Romney made his fortune borrowing money, buying companies, loading them with debt and then selling them or bankrupting them to the tune of millions of dollars in management fees, (fees taxed at 15% for the 1% who benefit most from them), Ryan has made his bones railing against the excesses of government and regulations used to monitor the market's activities just as his patron saint, Ayn Rand, encouraged him to do.
Ryan, like Romney, wants to cut taxes for the wealthy. A new study by the Tax Policy Center, confirms R2's cuts could not be offset by "closing loopholes" in the tax code. The only way to make up for the over $300 billion lost to the treasury each year would be to raise taxes on the middle class and shred programs for the working poor. On top of tax cuts for the 1%, both Ryan and Romney want to increase military spending and offer no way to pay for it. We have seen this before. George H.W. Bush accused Ronald Reagan of engaging in "voodoo economics" when he said he could cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget. Reagan went on to sign 8% tax increases including the largest peacetime tax hike in history. Al Gore accused Bush 43 of "fuzzy math" when he said he could cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget. We know how well all that worked for the economy and jobs. Bush 43 did not create a "net" new job in almost six years of his presidency and we know what condition the economy was in when Obama became president. Now Ryan and Romney want to do it all over again promising different results. What is Einstein's definition of insanity?
Ryan represent far more than Reagan/Bush/Bush redux. Ryan is the avatar of the regressive war against the New Deal/Great Society programs of the 20th century. He is the child prodigy of those who have been fighting to undo all the progress made fighting poverty, expanding the middle class and building a safety net for the most vulnerable of our citizens.
Ryan's proposed budget, which Romney now endorses implicitly, would end Medicare and Social Security as entitlement programs and he would turn Medicaid (health care for the poor) into a state block grant, which would guarantee its death by a thousand cuts. By ending Medicare and Social Security as entitlements, it opens them up to the whim of Congress to fund them or not and we have seen how regressives in Congress feel about funding programs for the 99% of Americans. Ironically, Ryan doesn't deny any of these contentions.
Ryan would change Medicare into a voucher program. The government would give you a check to pay for private health insurance. If the check isn't enough, you have to make up the difference out of your pocket (early analysis says it would require between $3,000- 6,000 a year of extra spending by each recipient). Of more concern is Congress could cut the voucher or refuse to increase it to adjust for inflation, something the Tea Party and Ryan's other supporters brag about wanting to do and the result would be millions of American who couldn't afford or get medical coverage. (If Romney and Ryan were able to repeal Obama care, seniors with pre-existing conditions...most...wouldn't be able to participate in the private markets or would have to pay much higher premiums than a voucher would cover).
Ryan would privatize Social Security. Each American would get a 401k program in which to invest. All your eggs in a Wall Street basket. It would be a huge windfall for Wall Street banks. Most 401K plans have lost up to 50% of their value in the last 5-10 years. What happens of this occurs in the future? You are S.O.L.
With Medicaid, Ryan would turn it into a block grant program managed by the states. If Obama gets re-elected, 17 million poor Americans, who currently don't have medical coverage, would be eligible for Medicaid. If Ryan and Romney get their way, those 17 million lose out and states would be free to cut back even further. Right now California and states across the country are cutting Medicaid. Republican governors are refusing to take federal money to expand coverage for the poor. Imagine what they would do if given a part of the money in the form of a block grant intended for the poor but available for other purposes as well?
Romney chose Ryan because it will increase Republican turnout and because he isn't trusted by the extreme wing of his party. He didn't pick him because of a plan to increase jobs or broaden the economy...he didn't pick him because it will help him return the economy to health...he didn't pick him to appeal to women, independents, undecided or young voters. Adding Ryan doesn't do anything to create one new job. Romney has capitulated to the most radical wing of his party in order to bribe them into voting for him. (surprise, surprise). This is now a war to see whether this is a nation committed to all its people...poor, elderly, working poor, middle class...or one increasingly dedicated to the top 1%.
It is not hyperbole to observe a Romney/Ryan ticket could put the final nail in a coffin built for the remains of an America at its best when it decided to spread its wealth to all its people...to raise all boats...to recognize a society's morality is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. The question yet to be answered is whether Obama's base, given the choice of a future dominated by Romney and Ryan, will now storm the voting booths to fight back and reclaim the future vision of this country.