Was Paul Ryan The Biggest Mistake Mitt Romney Ever Made? Looks That Way
|Such a bad idea|
Mitt Romney isn't a DWT reader. If he had been, even for just the last 3 or 4 years, he would have known that his political life could have been saved if he had mustered the courage and fortitude to stand up to Wall Street's drummed up right-wing enthusiasm for Paul Ryan and resisted their insistence that he chuck his gut feelings (Rob Portman) and pick Ryan. Ryan-- even more than Romney's 47% blunder-- was the beginning for the end for Campaign Mitt.
Ryan, thanks to the DCCC's consistent role in helping Wall Street protect his fledgling career, has never had a serious challenge to reelection until this year. So bankster golden boy doesn't know what he's doing on the campaign trail. And it goes way beyond his pretzel twisted flip flops, like this week's revelation that he was for Social Security before he set out to destroy it. Ryan is so popular with the right-wing bubble (their little tiny pup tent of a base) because he is the posterboy for destroying Social Security (and Medicare) and has made wrecking the two programs (+ Medicare) the heart and soul of his entire political career. His Democratic opponent-- for his House seat-- Rob Zerban, said yesterday that “This past month has exposed voters to a whole different side of Paul Ryan. We found out that after Ryan bashed the President’s stimulus act, he showed up for Recovery Act ribbon-cuttings; and after railing against Obamacare, Ryan requested money from it. Today’s revelations-- that Paul Ryan was for Social Security before he was against it, confirm what people have suspected about Paul Ryan all along: he will do or say anything for the sake of his own ambition. That’s why voters are learning not to take Ryan’s words at face value, and exposing his lies for what they are.”
Ryan’s position on Social Security has changed dramatically since he entered Congress in 1998, taking him from pledges to protect the program’s “Lock Box” and to forswear cuts even for younger workers to a plan to invest retirement funds in the stock market-- and back.
He has also pledged repeatedly not to support raising the retirement age, a key element of the Romney-Ryan campaign’s current outline.
As his party’s Vice Presidential nominee, Ryan is now taking great pains to avoid discussing the details of Social Security reform. The Romney-Ryan campaign plan to preserve the program runs a spare 207 words. (President Obama’s is just 37 words long.) And in his most recent budget, he side-stepped some of his most dramatic and politically problematic proposals to overhaul a program that has provided many older Americans money to live on since the New Deal.
But review by Buzzfeed of Ryan’s official mailings to his constituents during his career-- which are publicly available in the House-- makes clear that Social Security reform has been one of Ryan’s top priorities since he was first elected to Congress in 1998-- so much so that he made the topic his first pieces of major legislation. And those documents and statements by Ryan and his team since joining Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket show that his views have zigged and zagged significantly over time, and that Ryan has contradicted several earlier promises to constituents.
...Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate marked the most recent shift in his position. Pivoting away from his own 400-plus page reform plan, Ryan has embraced Romney’s vague outline that would gradually raise the retirement age while curtailing the growth of benefits for higher income workers-- both of which contradict his previous pledges to constituents.
At the same time, it appears that Romney and Ryan have abandoned the idea of personal savings accounts. Although it is unclear why they have, the idea never caught on in the general public thanks to an aggressive messaging campaign by Democrats demonizing it privatization.
Ryan and Romney's shady, unclear positions on Social Security and Medicare are helping turn the election into a rout in favor of Obama and Democrats in general. Yesterday the Washington Post reported that "voters in three critical swing states [Florida, Ohio and Virginia] broadly oppose the far-reaching changes to Medicare associated with the Republican presidential ticket and, by big margins, prefer President Obama to handle the issue."
The future of Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled, has become a flash point in the campaign since Romney’s selection last month of Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, as his running mate. The choice of Ryan-- who wrote a proposal that would move Medicare toward vouchers as part of an overall attempt to curb the deficit-- is considered a bold and politically risky move, given Medicare’s popularity.
Jonathan Sattler went so far as to list 5 reasons why Ryan was a worse VP pick than even Sarah Palin!
• His record of supporting every aspect of the Bush economic disaster, even backing his call to privatize Social Security, and has never accomplished anything in Congress
• His Austerity budget which penalizes working families to give tax breaks to the wealthy. As Sattle put it, it "represents exactly the kind of extremism that turns off swing voters. And now voters in every Congressional district in America will have a chance to say what they think about the Ryan plan. The ideal running mate doesn’t give voters something to vote against."
• Targeting senior citizens-- a gigantic and dependable voter bloc-- is the worst thing a Republican could ever do. If they fail to win over seniors, they have nothing.
• Ryan is now forced to twist himself into the uncomfortable position of running against his own budget, the only thing most voters know about him
• Sattler's fifth point almost sounds like Obama tricked Romney into picking Ryan. "At least," he concludes, "McCain picked Palin for his own reasons."
Right-wing propaganda expert Byron York rues that Ryan can't even deliver his own states and wonders aloud, in a GOP throw away, whether Portman could have at least brought in Ohio for Romney. "Amid all the talk among conservatives that Romney is not making good use of Ryan-- that Romney's campaign team is muzzling Ryan, keeping him from stressing the budget and entitlement reforms that are his life's work-- listening to Portman on the stump is a reminder that Romney could have chosen a different path. Especially since Portman, whose presence conveys experience and dependability, is a known commodity in a state that is at or near the top of Romney's must-win list. Ryan, whose youth often overshadows other impressions he makes on voters, understandably doesn't have the same status in Ohio as its home-state senator."
A general consensus is beginning to form that as bad as the 47% blunder was for Romney, the Ryan selection was worse. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber writes that as bad as the 47% disaster was for Romney, there's "another dynamic that’s been overlooked here: The escalating disaster that is Paul Ryan. At the time of his selection, a number of pundits argued Ryan’s strategic benefits, suggesting he would boost Romney by energizing conservatives, or by allowing Romney to run as the candidate of big ideas, or that he would at least be the party’s best defender of the Medicare plan Romney was going to have to defend whether he wanted to or not. This seemed like a stretch at the time-- after all, Ryan’s Medicare plan proved to be a massive liability the one time voters weighed in on it. But who could say for sure?
Well, fast forward a month-and-a-half and the numbers look pretty persuasive. This week the New York Times released a set of polls, conducted by Quinnipiac, assessing the state of the race in Ohio and Florida. The top-line numbers were jaw-dropping enough: Obama’s lead in Ohio grew from six to ten over the last month, and from three to nine in Florida. (It’s better to focus on the change here than the magnitude, which is highly sensitive to polling methodology.) But once you look at the internal numbers, they’re even less kind to Romney. More to the point, they suggest Ryan has done enormous damage to the ticket.
I hate to say "I told you so," but we started explain the pathology that is Paul Ryan back in 2005. Of course, Romney could have just read a few Paul Krugman columns last year and he would have had fair warning as well, like the one about not knowing anything or the earlier one about being a FlimFlam Man, actually both penned in 2010. Maybe Romney was too busy figuring out ways to avoid paying personal income taxes to bother paying attention at the time. But he's paying for it now. Long before that, Blue America started a special page on ActBlue: Stop Paul Ryan. Please stop by-- and tell your friends to as well. We're just over halfway to our goal for 2012.