Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney/Ryan 2012

In picking Paul Ryan, (something I predicted 2 weeks ago:, Mitt Romney has acceded to the wishes of the loudest voices in the conservative movement and embraced the tenets of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's version of budgetary austerity that burdens the poor and middle class while giving tax cuts and benefits to the wealthy.  In substance, it is not that different than the vague outlines Romney has provided for his own tax policy, but what Ryan's selection does is solidify that framework and affords the Obama team myriad opportunities to point out specifically how the GOP team would govern. 

While much of the initial attention will focus on Ryan's proposal to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher system, I will be more interested to see the longer term work done on Ryan's record in Congress.  As a Congressman, Ryan has cast thousands of votes over the years, some of which may end up being highlighted to illustrate his hypocrisy, differences with Romney on the thinnest of details or that he is outside the mainstream of political orthodoxy. Even this morning, the media has mentioned Ryan's votes for TARP (a heresy with the Tea Party), the Bush tax cuts (currently one of the largest drivers of our deficit and debt) and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Finally, the Ryan pick would suggest that the Romney team did not think it had captured the imagination of conservatives eager to vote against Obama. Note, *against* Obama. Romney has not given voters, much less Republicans, a reason to vote *for* him, so instead of laying out a broad vision of his own, he is adopting the one provided by a darling of the right and will now call it his own. It's worth noting that the GOP's last standard bearer also felt compelled to pick a "game changer" in an attempt to reset the race and we all know how that turned out.  While the sugar high of picking Ryan may give Romney a couple of days of good coverage, ultimately, the media will circle back to the same questions Romney has assiduously avoided - his tax returns, his career at Bain Capital and his one term as Governor of Massachusetts.  The only difference is that now, in addition to avoiding those questions, Romney will have to answer for the radical budget proposals and votes (for TARP, auto bailout, Medicare D, unfunded wars, tax cuts, etc…) that his supposedly fiscally conservative running mate has cast.

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