Mitt Romney, the on purpose yet somehow accidental, presumptive GOP candidate for president announced Saturday that Rep. Paul Ryan will be his running mate. He announced this news during a time/date slot normally reserved for stories politicians want to bury in the haze of lazy Fridays, sleep-in Saturdays, an audience focused on how to get their drink on this weekend, not the news and the Olympics.
Maybe Romney didn’t want people to know he picked Ryan. That’s understandable considering that as an even younger, blander, duller version of himself, Ryan will probably not do much for the ticket.
Not that vice presidential picks normally do.
You’re supposed to take to picking a veep like a doctor taking the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” I think the second line is, “Don’t pick Sarah Palin.” After that, it’s pretty hard to screw this up.
There are a lot of things to be concerned about regarding Ryan, but mostly (as the Democrats will probably remind you) what you need to know is he once tried to reform Medicare radically in a way that was meant to kill so-called “Obamacare,” aka the Affordable Health Care Act.
The Democrats sold it as Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it,” which was pretty effective in killing the conversation. After all, any threat to Medicare – real or imagined – will lead to old people trying to shout you down at town hall meetings.
Ryan is also the “architect” of the House GOP’s budget plans on how to fix everything by lowering already low taxes on people who barely pay them to begin with and hope against hope that just maybe they’ll trickle down some of that money onto us poor folks. His other big idea was to raise taxes on people who make so little that every year the IRS goes, “You know what? You can have this back.” Because these people still pay payroll taxes and sales taxes and all sorts of taxes. They just don’t make enough money to get penalized on their income tax, so the government gives them some of their money back, but not the money that goes to things like Social Security or Medicare.
But Ryan thinks those poor people aren’t paying their fair share and the government should get to keep whatever money they can shake out of pockets already lined with more lint than change. In a recession.
He also was for gutting pretty much every social program meant to help get people who are out of work back on their feet and is one of those folks who thinks if you just believe in the Free Market hard enough one day Free Market Jesus will come down, wave his Jesus wand, and make you one of the one percent because you’re just that nice and special. Or because you’re so hard working and everyone knows that the scions of our oligarchs living off their trust funds somehow earned their place in Free Market Jesus’ sun by virtue of surviving their respective births.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Ryan’s budget plan would cut about $5.3 trillion, most of that coming from programs that help the poor. For instance, it “would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor.” Other slashes include $1.9 trillion from food stamps, federal employee pensions, support for farmers, and welfare.
Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.
After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”
How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.
Also, the plan would grow the deficit.
TPC projected the tax cuts in Ryan’s budget would add $4.6 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, even after extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts, which would add another $5.4 trillion to the deficit.
Ryan argues that eliminating or scaling back deductions, credits, and exclusions ought to be part of the GOP fiscal plan. But he won’t say how.
Who knew budget cutting would be so expensive!
To Romney’s credit, he’s actually run away from some of Ryan’s budget ideas:
“I have my budget plan,” he said. “And that’s the budget plan we’re going to run on.”
Romney walked a careful line as he campaigned with Ryan by his side in North Carolina, singling out his running mate’s work “to make sure we can save Medicare.” But the presidential candidate never said whether he embraced Ryan’s austere plan himself, and he addressed the matter more directly in a “60 Minutes” interview, with Ryan still with him, that aired Sunday night on CBS.
But I don’t know how Romney will run away from the optics of picking a veep who is bland, doesn’t appeal across the board to moderates, and will be a welcome excuse for Team Obama to bring up how much Americans hated Paul Ryan’s “Screw the Poor” plan.
But I’m sure, knowing Mittens, he’ll find a way to make someone as boring, predictable, and innocuous as Ryan much worse than he actually is. The man couldn’t even go to America’s Dad, England, without pissing people off. He has a gift.