Published on August 29th, 2012 | by David Tanner0
Romney/Ryan – A Very Different View of America
Paul Ryan has caught many political commentators completely off-guard in his appointment as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate for the Republicans, not least yours truly – not once did I mention him as a candidate in a previous article detailing (then) possible vice presidential candidates such as Rob Portman, Marco Rubio and Bob McDonnell. Pundits across America have called Ryan a ‘bold’ choice. Essentially this is political double speak meaning ‘risky’.
Paul Ryan is representative of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district and he is the ranking Republican on the House budget committee. In 2010 Ryan proposed his alternative to the 2010 United States federal budget. The highly controversial budget would lower taxes on those with the highest incomes and increase taxes on those with the lowest incomes. It would also transform Medicare, the government-run health insurance for the poor, young and the elderly, into a voucher system which would, in theory, provide $6,000 towards a recipient’s health insurance or to their annual medical bills.
On social issues, Ryan is a pro-life conservative and co-sponsored the Sanctity of Life Act, which would ensure that fertilized eggs “have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood” . Essentially this defines a zygote with the same rights as a living American. This is highly controversial, given the medical predicaments with regard to circumstances where the life of the mother is at risk, let alone the constitutionality of such a law with respect to Roe v. Wade and the Fourteenth Amendment.
On a more superficial front, Paul Ryan, aged 42, is a young, attractive and charismatic candidate. He is well suited to large crowds and presidential campaigning. He is being dubbed as the male equivalent of Sarah Palin – personally, insulting to Ryan, as he is far more intelligent. (Then again, who isn’t?) Ryan majored in economics and political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan has two significant advantages. Firstly, he is a right-wing conservative and highly popular within the party. And secondly, he unifies Republicans ahead of the Convention this week (depending on Hurricane Isaac) and closes the gap between the Tea Party fiscal conservatives and the Republican establishment at the core of the party.
Paul Ryan, as his vice presidential pick, also steers the conversation of the election towards the economy, and specifically, the national debt. US national debt is approaching $16 trillion (that’s 16,000,000,000,000). Mitt Romney is attempting to present a clear difference in the federal government between an Obama administration and a Romney administration. Romney wishes to show that, under Obama, the debt has continued to increase to eye-watering levels and that this needs to stop; that the government needs to be more fiscally conservative and far smaller in size. Interestingly, recent polls show that only 16% of Americans approve of Obama’s economic policies.
The federal budget and size of government however is an issue Democrats are happy to debate. The pick of Paul Ryan has galvanised the left’s core followers and given Obama and his supporters plenty of ammunition. Federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the Environmental Protection Agency are under threat from Republicans, and these are issues that can win over independent voters who use these quite often vital schemes. The elderly, a hugely influential block of voters, especially in the swing state of Florida, are very sensitive to changes in Medicare. A recent political advert from an independent left-wing organisation, interestingly split right down the middle on Youtube’s like/dislike bar, showed an elderly lady literally being hurled off a cliff as a metaphor for Paul Ryan’s proposed health reforms. Putting the extreme rhetoric and highly irresponsible advert aside for a moment, these are issues that Democrats will want to be the focus of the election over the following weeks and months.
One thing that is for certain is Mitt Romney has signalled his intent; not only on the issues by which he will run his campaign for election but also how he wishes to run his administration and the federal government.