Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee announced that he has selected Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice presidential running mate. Conservatives are hoping against hope that this selection will relaunch Romney’s campaign by providing the necessary policy focus that has been lacking up to this point. Conservative columnist Paul Gigot recently wrote, “The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election…Against the advice of every Beltway bedwetter, he has put entitlement reform at the center of the public agenda…” Gigot calls Ryan “a man of big ideas”. Ryan’s hope could be America’s nightmare.
Romney’s choice of Ryan was not as much of a bold move forward as it was a bad selection from a pool of bad options. Conservatives looked at Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, Chris Christie, Condie Rice and others as potential running mates for Romney. Before Louisiana Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal started palling around with Romney he endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry, “Rick Perry is the candidate who can lead our party to victory in 2012…” And Jindal is hailed as one of the “brightest minds in the Republican Party.” Really? Can anyone honestly believe that ultra-conservative WASP’s in the Republican Party would vote for a VP nominee named Piyush? To them that is almost as bad as a president who’s middle name is Hussein.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would have had trouble overcoming his primary challenges to Romney’s health care initiatives. According to Pawlenty, “President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare…” By his own admission, New Jersey Governor Christie understood that he was not ready. “It doesn’t feel right to me. If I do this, I just feel like I’d be second-guessing myself the entire time I was out there, and I can’t do it that way.” Former Secretary of State Rice’s perspective’s on Affirmative Action and abortion make her too liberal and like Jindal, I have a difficult time seeing ultra-conservative WASP’s backing an African American woman on the Republican ticket.
Usually, during the primary process a candidate will tack towards the extreme end of the political spectrum to capture their party’s nomination and jib back towards the center to capture the more moderate faction of the electorate in the general election. In this instance, Mitt Romney tacked to the furthest extremes of ultra-conservative ideology by changing his positions on issues such as immigration, health care reform, and contraception. With the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate Romney has compounded his tack towards the right in an effort to convince ultra-conservatives that he’s really in their camp.
Conservatives will have the electorate believe that Ryan’s budget, his so-called “Path to Prosperity” is new and innovative. It is actually the latest version of Reagan administration budget director David Stockman’s “starve the beast” fiscal philosophy. “Starving the beast” is a fiscal-political strategy of American conservatives to cut taxes in order to deprive the government of revenue in a deliberate effort to create a fiscal budget crisis. Creating the crisis then allows conservatives to make the case for cutting the social programs “the beast” they have opposed since their inception. They force the federal government to reduce spending by cutting programs (rather than raise tax levels).
Ryan’s proposed cuts to social programs such as Medicare, medicate, food stamps, and housing assistance while maintaining the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy is a 2012 version of a failed 1980’s idea. The “trickle down” economics of the Reagan era as applied during the Bush 43’ era has contributed to sinking fiscal boat America finds itself in today. During the 1980 presidential campaign, George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics.”
Part of the solution is to simply go back to the tax rates of the Clinton era. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) idea of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts and the 2% payroll tax holiday to expire is a very simple way to revenues back on track. According to Scott, “The President’s FY 2013 budget proposes ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy; among other savings…My proposal is to let all the Bush-era tax cuts and the 2% payroll tax cut expire as currently scheduled. This would yield approximately $5 trillion – $4 trillion more than the sequester. In the first year, the additional revenue could be immediately put towards direct job creation, such as investments in transportation and infrastructure, to accelerate economic growth. It would also be more than enough to cancel the economically damaging sequester. These proposals put real numbers on line items, and do not hide behind poll tested talking points and generalities, such as ‘reduce the size of government,’ which do not propose any concrete solutions.”
Conservatives hope that Romney’s adding Ryan to the Republican ticket will provide the policy focus that the campaign has sorely lacked. If Ryaan is the “man of big ideas” they are the wrong ideas. It’s bad policy with the wrong focus. Ryan’s hope would prove to be America’s nightmare.
Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.twitter.com/drwleon
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