Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan

The respective tickets for the 2012 presidential election are now set: Obama-Biden will attempt to defend their title against Romney-Ryan.  No word as yet as to the availability of Butter Bean for the undercard.

Nominating a vice president makes sense, insofar as one must provide a reasonable form of succession in the event of the president's demise.  Yet it strikes me that most of the talk about the vice president is overwrought.  Sometimes, the vice president wields considerable influence: many of W's policies emanated from the office of Cheney.  Other times, vice presidents seem to do very little.  Can anyone discern what Biden has done for the last three years, save for serve up gaffes to the media?  The role played by the vice president, then, would seem to suggest more about the strength of the president, or the lack thereof.

Nonetheless, I should probably offer my thoughts on Paul Ryan.  Conservatives seem rather happy with the pick.  For some reason, Ryan is a darling of the Tea Party, so this pick proves, not that Romney is a cynical and unprincipled political opportunist, but that he is really a conservative.  There are an assortment of flaws with this narrative, the most important of which is that Paul Ryan isn't a fiscal conservative by any stretch of the imagination.  Here's a look at some of his votes.

Paul Ryan on Bailouts and Government Stimuli
-Voted YES on TARP (2008)
-Voted YES on Economic Stimulus HR 5140 (2008)
-Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler. (Dec 2008)
-Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)
Paul Ryan on Entitlement Programs
-Voted YES on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. (Nov 2003)
-Voted YES on providing $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers. (Jun 2006)
-Voted YES on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks. (Oct 2008)
-Voted YES on Head Start Act (2007)
Paul Ryan on Education

-Voted YES on No Child Left Behind Act (2001)
Paul Ryan on Civil Liberties
-Voted YES on federalizing rules for driver licenses to hinder terrorists. (Feb 2005)
-Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
-Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)

What a sterling record.  And that's before we get to foreign policy views, where he's essentially a loyal neo-conservative. 

The hilarious part about the degraded state of political discourse is not that otherwise intelligent people will be duped into believing that Paul Ryan is a fiscal hawk, despite all evidence to the contrary.  It's that the case will be made by the political opposition.  Romney and Ryan are middle of the road types, who, if they can be prevented from bombing Iran, will do nothing to alter the size and scope of government.  But if that's the case, why would anyone vote for Obama?  So a new narrative must be constructed, one in which the Republicans are actually going to cut government programs.  Would that it were so.

The Ryan pick changes nothing.  If you like running huge deficits and bailing out banks, vote for either party.  It doesn't matter which.

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