With Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, it is a good time to review just how extreme Representative Ryan and his fellow Republicans have become in recent years, and how a Romney/Ryan administration would govern if elected. In a previous post, we looked at the Republican agenda, explaining:
Since the 1980s, the Republicans have basically used their “Starve the Beast” strategy. This strategy is basically to cut taxes (i.e., revenues) so that we can’t afford government programs. The ultra-rich are given special tax cuts, breaks, credits, loopholes, etc. Military spending is increased to suck up most of the federal budget. With less tax revenues they drive up the deficit, blame the Democrats, and scare the public about the mounting deficit. Once voters throw them out of office, Republicans happily leave behind a huge mess for the Democrats to clean up. Democrats now have to make the tough choices about spending and reviving the economy. While out of power, Republicans sit on the sideline and criticize anything the Democrats do to fix the mess, and even try to block anything that might help people, such as extending unemployment benefits. Republicans do everything they can to cut social programs that actually help people and create a middle class, and to cut taxes that would actually help us pay down our debt. They turn the public against Democrats with their rhetoric about “tax-and-spend-liberals,” and throw in a few words about abortion and gay marriage to please the religious right (but do nothing on these issues while in office). And then they bet on public amnesia to try to regain power in subsequent elections. This strategy has worked for them over the past several decades, but it has harmed our country.
In Paul Ryan’s opening speech as Romney’s running mate, he acknowledged that Obama inherited a mess, but did not mention what policies let to the mess in the first place. After acknowledging Obama inherited a mess, he went went onto say, “in his first 2 years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda. But that didn’t make things better…This is a record of failure.” This is an interesting charge because Senate Republicans had a record-breaking number of filibusters (by a long shot) to block anything Obama and the Democrats tried to pass, including legislation to hasten economic recovery; and when the Bush Administration had control of both houses of congress they actually did pass many of their agenda items—and we know the economic outcome of those policies (if they had passed all of their policies, such as privatizing Social Security, it would be been even more devastating to the economy).
The Romney/Ryan ticket represents a return to the disastrous past; not only a return to the failed policies of the Bush years, but also a return to the militarism and inequality that characterize the Reagan years. Like most Republicans, Ryan reveres Ronald Reagan as a quasi-deity, the ultimate leader of the free world. As we can see in this chart, the policies of the Reagan era were very good to those in the top 1%, but harmed everyone else.
A Romney/Ryan administration would be far more extreme in its approach to propping up the rich at the expense of the middle-class and low income families.
Romney’s choice to add Paul Ryan to the ticket sends a clear signal to all of us that he supports congressman Ryan’s extreme approach to fiscal policy, as outlined in his budget plan: “A Roadmap for American’s Future.” The Roadmap continues the conservative fear-mongering about deficit spending, which we have also addressed in a previous column, and offer the same old solutions that conservatives have espoused for decades: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for big business, and slashing the safety net—while pandering to the religious right by talking about traditional morals.
Ryan’s Roadmap is highly problematic. Dean Baker found 20 inaccuracies and 4 references to raiding Medicare in the Road Map. See this Critique of Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap by economist Dean Baker; and this report. See also Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s critique of the Roadmap. He points out that Ryan’s plan would reduce federal government revenues by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would add significantly to the current deficit (something Republicans seem to worry about on the surface). Krugman goes on to state that, “the Road Map wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich…even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.” This is exactly the opposite of the Obama plan to cut taxes for everyone except the ultra-rich, whose tax rate would return to what it was during the prosperous Clinton years, and would allow us to close the deficit.
Representative Ryan’s proposal, if implemented, would be a disaster for the economy and for working families, and would essentially redistribute wealth upward. Again, Ryan is really proposing the same destructive policies that have been pushed by Republicans for the past thirty years, usually with painful result for low-income and middle-class families. The bottom line is that Paul Ryan is the most extreme vice presidential candidate in a century (the guy requires his staff to read Ayn Rand!), as illustrated in the chart below.
In 2012, voters will have a choice about whether they want to live in a society of massive inequality and increased vulnerability for the majority of hard working Americans, or whether they will support the more-centrist approach that Obama and the Democrats are pushing, which, if Republican obstruction can be overcome in congress, can return us to prosperity.
See this fact check on the Romney/Ryan’s VP-announcement speeches.
See also this report.