In case you’re not particularly politically astute, it may have passed you by that Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for President, has chosen his vice-president, who goes by the name Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin. This was seen as a bold move by some people, I don’t understand how picking a white, male Christian counts as bold but there we go, but seeing as we now know the full Romney ticket let’s check out what this guy is for, someone who could be a heartbeat away from the leader of the biggest economy on earth.
Now Paul Ryan is rather popular on the right, he is a darling of the tea party and is seen as one of the new wave of young republicans, in fact he is the founder of the “young guns”, a group of Republicans that includes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican whip Kevin McCarthy. If there is one thing he is known for, or at least, the one thing he would like you to focus on, is that he is the Republican budget guy. He wrote the Republicans budget proposal in 2012 called “The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise” and 2013’s proposal called “The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal”. These budgets prove very popular with Republicans with the house passing it earlier this year 228-191 and it is endorsed by Romney himself.
The problem is is that this budget has a lot of problems and a lot of things that could hurt their election chances. Let’s start off with the tax cuts. He proposes two tax rates, 10 and 25 percent, instead of the six there is now. He will keep the current Bush tax cuts as they are while piling on trillions more in cuts over the next decade. Who will get these cuts? Why the rich of course! Households that earn more than $1 million a year will save $265,000 in taxes, while the bottom 20% will see their taxes increase by $159 and potentially a lot more. The reason for the increase is because Ryan would get rid of tax breaks for low income families with children, because why would they need the money?
It’s also worth noting that it’s ironic that Romney wants to move away from the issue of his tax returns yet he chooses a guy for VP that, according to his plan, would only make Romney pay 0.82% in taxes. The vast majority of the savings would be from Ryan eliminating the capital gains tax which is where Romney makes most of his money. Hmm, I can’t see this story going anywhere.
How will he pay for all these tax cuts? Well it certainly won’t be from defense spending, which he would increase by $300 billion over the next decade. No, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it will be the poor that will take the brunt of the cuts, with Ryan wanting to cut Medicaid by a third, cutting food stamps, federal employee pensions and job training programs. Now this doesn’t match up to what the increases in the military budget and the tax cuts, but Ryan isn’t very specific about what exactly he would cut and by how much. But sufficed to say, anything that isn’t defense or social security will see big, sweeping cuts in order to pay for the things I have mentioned.
Onto Medicare. Ryan wants to essentially end Medicare as people know it and move it to a voucher system, where the government would give each senior a fixed amount of money which they can use to either participate in Medicare or join a private insurer, which is bad for a number of reasons. Firstly, it takes away the guarantee that seniors have now in getting the care they need and because the amount given to seniors will be capped, as costs go up they will have to pay extra to cover what they need, if they can afford it at all.
So his budget in a nutshell is awesome if you’re super rich, not so great for everyone else.
Now I know some of you are probably saying “well this isn’t Romney’s budget”. That’s true, but there are a lot of similarities. He would lower taxes for the rich, increase the military’s budget which means big, deep cuts in entitlements. He is very vague on what exactly he will do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his plan turns out to be vastly similar to what Paul Ryan has in his budget. Knowing these facts, I can’t see how any poor person, any woman would vote for the Romney Ryan ticket. You’d think actually explaining to the American people what policies you’re going to enact, running your own budget numbers and what you would do specifically if you won the white house would be beneficial to your campaign, but I guess Romney has decided it would be to his detriment, which kinda shows how popular he thinks his policies and his budget are going to be.
He also voted for Medicare Part D, the Bush tax cuts the first time around, TARP, which was President Bush’s $700 billion plan to buy up assets from financial institutions in 2008, and for the auto bailout, so if you hear anyone talking about Ryan being a fiscal hawk, just throw those facts at them. If you’re voting for things that cost trillions with no plan on how to pay it back then you cannot call yourself a fiscal or budget hawk.
His social conservatism is extreme, but then we are talking about the Republican Party in 2012 so this is kinda the norm for them. He was one of my co-sponsors of HR 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act which says that a fertilized egg should be given all the legal and constitutional protections you or I would have. This act would not only ban all abortion in all cases, even if the mother’s life was in danger, it would also ban certain types of birth control like the morning after pill and ban IVF too, as that uses fertilized eggs, not all of which end up being used. One of the most disgusting parts though is that the way it’s written, theoretically if a woman gets raped and decides to get an abortion the rapist could sue her to keep the baby. He could mount a defense in court that the woman he raped is attempting to terminate a human life and they could force her to keep the pregnancy. So Paul Ryan, giving rapists more power over what the woman they raped does with her body than the woman herself since 2011!
He was also the co-sponsor of HR 3805, an act that would force a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound before she is allowed to give consent to the abortion, even if she doesn’t want one and even if her doctor thinks it’s unnecessary. These laws have been popping up all over the US, like Virginia where in their bill a trans-vaginal ultrasound was an option, which was amended from the bill after this story got national headlines and made Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who signed this bill into law, too toxic a name to be considered for the VP pick. There was also controversy in Pennsylvania where an even more extreme version was put into law by Governor Tom Corbett. That one not only requires an ultrasound to be performed, but the doctor has to offer the patient copies of the ultrasound and describe the number of heartbeats per minute. Asked whether the thinks the bill goes too far in making the woman look at the ultrasound image the governor said “you just have to close your eyes.”
He also voted in 1999 to ban same-sex couples from adopting in the District of Columbia, he voted against repealing DADT and twice voted in favour of the Federal Marriage Amendment which would’ve limited marriage in America to a man and a woman. Pretty standard stuff really.
To me, what this pick signifies is that Romney knows he is going to have trouble at the election so he picked someone to run with him that is very popular with his base and brings a bit of youthful energy to his campaign. I think he hoped this pick would put the issue of his tax returns in the past but that’s not happening, and I don’t know what he is going to run on now that he has made such a mess of running on the Olympics and his time at Bain. He could run on his record as Governor of Massachusetts but then he would have to try and explain his healthcare plan again, plus his dismal job creation rate when he left office (47th) and his raising of fees.
It seems like Romney picked Ryan to make sure the people that are already on his side are energized enough to vote for him in November, because given Ryan’s record he doesn’t seem like the guy you would choose in order to win over independents. No, he’s the guy you choose to make the people who already like you to vote for you and just hope that’s enough. It seems like he’s given up in trying to pull back the gap between himself and Obama in regards to women and Latino voters, and I dare say with the issue of Ryan’s Medicare plan on centre stage Obama will pull back quite a few of the older vote as well, which he lost to McCain in the 2008 election.
Overall I don’t think this gives much positivity to Romney’s campaign, and in fact shows he is getting desperate for ways to shore up his base and get them to the polls, something that has been dogging him since the primaries.
The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal: http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/pathtoprosperity2013.pdf
Cue The Ads: GOP Votes To Privatize Medicare In Election Year: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/03/cue-the-ads-gop-votes-to-scrap-medicare-in-election-year.php
A closer look at Paul Ryan’s federal budget plan: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-ryan-budget-20120814,0,217409.story?page=1
Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan’s Plan: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/mitt-romney-would-pay-082-percent-in-taxes-under-paul-ryans-plan/261027/
The Poor Get Poorer: How Ryan’s Budgets Would Affect Ours: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/the-poor-get-poorer-how-ryans-budgets-would-affect-ours/261043/
Video on Romney’s flip-flopping on Ryan’s budget: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#48668950
Paul Ryan’s budget: Should the poor pay for deficit reduction? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/paul-ryans-budget-should-the-poor-pay-for-deficit-reduction/2011/08/25/gIQAxawWPS_blog.html
Is Paul Ryan Really a Fiscal Hawk? http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/
Governor Bob McDonnell Signs Forced Ultrasound Bill, Raising Costs and Time Involved in Abortion Care: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/03/07/governor-bob-mcdonnell-signs-forced-ultrasound-bill
Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Governor, On Ultrasound Mandate: Just ‘Close Your Eyes’: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/tom-corbett-ultrasound-bill-pennsylvania_n_1348801.html
Paul Ryan as VP Matches Mitt Romney on Homophobia: http://www.advocate.com/politics/election/2012/08/11/here-lgbt-rights-record-paul-ryan-who-reports-say-romney-pick-veep