Early during his second term, President George W. Bush declared he would spend his accumulated political capital on reforming Social Security. Democrats immediately lambasted the president, falsely claiming that his reform ideas were “radical” and would leave the elderly penniless and laying in the streets. They claimed Bush would gamble the life savings of our parents and grandparents on the stock market, and that his Wall Street buddies would grow rich while swindling granny out of everything she owned.
Of course, the truth was nowhere close. Bush’s “Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century” plan was actually quite timid. It made no changes, zero, in the Social Security program for those 55 and over. Under Bush’s plan, personal retirement accounts would be phased in, with annual contribution limits gradually increased to a staggering…4%…yes 4%…of workers’ payroll taxes allocated to their personal accounts, with annual contributions initially capped at $1,000 per year in 2009, rising over time by $100 annually, plus growth in average wages. In other words, a measly 4% of payroll taxes would have been invested in private accounts, with the other 96% staying in the Social Security Trust Fund.
And yet due to this “radical” plan, this blindingly fast weaning of Americans from the government teat, Democrats successfully terrified Americas seniors and Bush’s political capital was eviscerated. He would end up abandoning the effort and Republicans would crawl back into their shells, unwilling to again touch this third rail of American politics.
There was a great deal of excitement among conservatives and libertarians about the pick of Rep. Paul Ryan, particularly among those who were rightfully leery about Governor Romney’s credibility when it comes to cutting spending and reforming our entitlement programs.
They say no one votes based on the Vice President, and now we are seeing why. The GOP establishment is already urging Paul Ryan to drop his support for his own Pathway to Prosperity budget plan – and it appears Ryan himself is already backing away from certain components.
It feels like Sarah Palin all over again. In 2008, McCain chose the maverick, buck the system Alaska Governor and then promptly tried to shove the square peg in the circle hole. The results were predictably disastrous. What is the point in picking Sarah Palin if you don’t let Sarah be Sarah.
One has to wonder whether the Romney campaign is about to make the same mistake. The reason conservatives and libertarians love Paul Ryan is BECAUSE of his budget plan not IN SPITE of it. Take away Paul Ryan’s ideas and you have a very nice, telegenic, young Congressman from a swing-state, but you don’t have a game-changing VP pick. What is the point in picking Paul Ryan if you don’t let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan?
Mitt Romney should adopt the Ryan Plan, not the other way around. It would certainly be easier for Romney, a man who has been on almost every side of every issue, to move to the Ryan position than it would be for the principled Congressman to abandon his signature proposals.
If Mitt wanted a yes man, there were plenty of them. He didn’t pick a Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty, he picked Paul Ryan. He should let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan.
Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading.
I recently had a discussion with a close friend of mine who is a very “progressive” guy. He’s the type that buys into all the horror stories about Republicans and libertarians. You know, we don’t care about the poor or women’s rights or worker’s rights and we’re cruel, intolerant etc etc. He started off the conversation by claiming “Romney panders to stupid people. Obama does not…Obama doesn’t bend his beliefs to fit an uneducated and sensationalistic base.” If you didn’t fall out of your chair just now at the sheer stupidity and myopia of a statement like that, then I ask you to read on, dear Reader, because what follows may be of interest to you.
It’s still far too early in the game to take polls seriously, though it’s hard to ignore them either. Polls really matter around 60 days away from an election. But given how Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for his running mate was supposed to be a political loser from the word “go,” polls are showing that he has received a bit of a bounce.
While Gallup may not show a bounce for Romney in its national tracking poll, other polls aren’t backing that up. Via Hot Air comes numbers from Ohio and Virginia, two very crucial states in the upcoming presidential election, showing good news for Romney. The numbers, however, also show positives for Obama in Colorado and Florida:
Romney has seen the largest gain in Ohio, a state we have seen bounce between the campaigns over the last few months. Today, the GOP ticket leads by 2 points (46% to 44%), compared to July when President Obama led the state 48% to 45%. Romney also gained ground in Virginia – today, he and Paul Ryan hold a 3-point advantage in the race (48% to 45%), while Romney trailed by 2 points in July.
However, President Obama has seen improvements in Colorado and Florida. In Colorado, the Obama-Biden ticket now leads 49% to 46%, an increase from a 1-point lead in July. In Florida, the Democratic ticket trails by just 1 point (48% to 47%), compared to a 3 point deficit in July…
On Saturday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the enthusiasm has definitely increased among conservative voters for the Romney campaign. The crowds have gotten larger at Romney-Ryan events. However, similar anecdotal evidence seems to show that the left is just as fired up and more motivated to defend Obama. Meanwhile, reading the Tweets and Facebook posts from my libertarian friends show that the Ryan pick has not made them more willing to consider the Romney ticket. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Ryan selection.
The biggest positive about the Ryan selection is that this campaign may actually wind up being a debate on the future of our country. The Obama campaign is already seizing on the Ryan budget plan and is attacking it as destroying Medicare, Social Security, and just about every other government program under the sun. Now is an opportunity for the Romney-Ryan campaign to articulate an argument for limiting the size and scope of government as a means of reviving the economy. The American people would be well served by a debate over the size and scope of government. Also, ultimately, given the other choices that Romney was considering, Ryan was probably the best pick. Romney needed to pick someone who would fire up the ticket.
So often these days, we hear complaints about the divisive nature of partisan politics and a longing for a time when candidates were more genial and our politics more civil. Alas, in doing so we seek for the equivalent of the elusive white unicorn, something spoken of in hopeful measures but rarely seen in our nation’s history. Even our Founding Fathers, for whom I have the deepest respect and utmost admiration, were not always paragons of virtue in these matters. For example, the election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two men who had enjoyed fifteen years of friendship “without the smallest interruption,” was, shall we say, a most discourteous one. In the New England states, the Federalists warned that Jefferson was an atheist, and people would have to hide their Bibles should he be elected. By contrast, Alexander Hamilton wrote that Adams was a man of “distempered jealousy…extreme egotism” with an “ungovernable temper” which produced a natural tendency towards “detriment to any cause of which he is the chief…”
Still, an attack ad released last week by Obama surrogates at the super-PAC Priorities Action USA, which essentially implies that Romney is responsible for the death of a man’s wife, show just how deep in the mire Obama (who somehow obtained sealed divorce records of at least two prior opponents, which he used to destroy them) is willing to go to win re-election.
The ad features the bitter and forlorn visage of one Joe Soptic, a steel worker at GST Steel, one of the many companies invested in by Bain Capital. Soptic’s wife died of cancer, and he blames Mitt Romney for her death. With a tone meant to evoke in the viewer sadness for his loss and anger at Romney’s heartless complicity in her death, Soptic laments:
This weekend Mitt Romney announced that his running mate would be Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan gained a lot of notoriety recently with his better-than-Obama’s budget proposal, which aimed to balance the budget in the next 3 or 4 decades.
It’s a sad day for conservatives when the hero to save them from their budget woes needs 30+ years to balance the budget.
Still, Ryan is the latest non-libertarian making waves about balancing the federal budget, so I would like to believe that Romney’s pick of Ryan is more about sending a message that he is (or that he wants to be) serious about fiscal issues rather than a pick to appease the Tea Party folks who don’t really care for Romney.
I am, however, a bit confused over the Tea Party excitement of Ryan. Sure, Romney could have made a worse choice, but Tea Party leaders are acting like the problems with Romney have vanished now that Ryan is on the ticket.
Let’s remember this is the same Paul Ryan who not only supported TARP but went to the floor of the House to beg his colleagues to do the same. This is the same Paul Ryan who supported the auto bailouts. How do those positions qualify anyone as a fiscal conservative?
As a libertarian, I approve of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice. Naturally, I expect this statement to inflame a certain subset of the movement - but to those of you who are invested in mainstreaming libertarian thought, particularly within the Republican Party, I hope you’ll consider why the Ryan pick is actually a victory for us - on an intellectual level.
The reality is that we’re contending with a tale of two Paul Ryans. The Paul Ryan that I like, and encourage other libertarians to embrace, is Vice Presidential candidate Ryan - the man with a natural gift for communicating; who articulates the dire need for entitlement reform and balanced budgets effectively (which I recognize and appreciate, even if I disagree with some aspects of his plans). Before we can enact the bolder reforms of, say for example, Senator Rand Paul, the public needs to be introduced to the notion that entitlement programs are no longer the third rail of politics. Vice Presidential candidate Ryan is different from his evil twin Congressman Ryan, whose voting record libertarians should rightfully reject. But we need to understand the difference between the two Paul Ryans, and how one can be our enemy while the other is our friend.
With the USS Wisconsin serving as the backdrop, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney formally introduced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate this morning in Norfolk, Virginia, a very crucial battleground state.
Ryan will no doubt be a controversial pick. His budget proposals have been endlessly demagogued by President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. However, those same budgets have helped put the House GOP’s focus back on fiscal issues more than wedge social issues.
Over the last four years, President Obama has been unable to piece together a budget that could attract enough support to pass Congress. In fact, when Obama’s budget was brought up for a vote in the House, it was shot down unanimously. The Senate followed in May, rejecting Obama’s budget without a single vote in support.
While Obama’s campaign will no doubt be gunning for Romney’s running mate over his budget proposals — the “Roadmap for America’s Future” and the “Path to Prosperity,” don’t expect Ryan to back down. Ryan has taken on Obama before over fiscal policy, making the President’s rhetoric look cheap in the process.
Speculation over Mitt Romney’s possible running mate has been rampant over the last few days. While other names are being floated, including David Petraeus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most observers seem to agree that it’s likely down to three candidates — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Out of the three, Rep. Ryan is garnering the most attention. Many conservatives seem to want him included on the ticket, and they’re laying out a strong case. David Harsanyi, for example, explains that Rep. Ryan “would add a measure of number-crunching earnestness to a campaign (and then, more importantly, should it happen, to an administration) that lives on broad strokes.” However, some want him to remain in remain in the House, where, as chairman of the Budget Committee, he has laid the blueprint to fiscal reform. My colleagues Jeremy Kolassa and George Scoville have already touched on the need for Rep. Ryan to remain in the House for exactly this reason. Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis noted that, as Vice President, Ryan would be largely marginalized.