Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, seemed to bask in the “boldness” of his VP choice of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)–the chief fiscal ideologue of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill – for all of 48 hours before the former Massachusetts Governor returned to being the quintessential quivering politician he has always been.
On Monday in Miami, Fla. when reporters asked Romney about the differences between his budget and the controversial budget of his youthful running mate, Romney seemed to distance himself from the Ryan plan without offering specifics.
He said he was sure there were some differences between Ryan’s budget and his own. “We’re on the same page…We want to get America back on track to a balanced budget,” Romney said.
The reality is that Romney has offered virtually no specifics on his budget plans and essentially said he will offer none until after (he hopes) he is elected president in November.
However, Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has included many specifics in his fiscal vision for America. But, the problem with the Romney-Ryan team is neither side seems to know what the other is doing.
Ryan fumbled horribly during a friendly-fire interview with Brit Hume of Fox News when asked about specific elements of Romney’s plan and then clumsily demurred when asked about his own budget claiming, `We’re following the Romney plan.’ Of course nobody – including Ryan – knows what the Romney plan is.
But, it’s clear what Ryan’s hope for America is. He wants to radically slash Medicare which provides healthcare for millions of older Americans and he wants to pretty much demolish Medicaid which provides healthcare for many of the poorest Americans. And he wants to offer massive tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Ryan’s plan is, “a hard-edged, uncompromising, ideological, right-wing document.”
Further, Ryan has been lauded as some sort of a courageous, conservative saint for being a budget deficit hawk, yet incredibly his plan won’t balance the budget until 2040.
It’s almost asif Romney thought it would be cool to pick a young, photogenic conservative hero to be his running mate but he didn’t think about the consequences of chaining himself to a fiscal vision (Ryan’s) emphatically at odds with the sensibilities of the vast majority of Americans.
But, there’s another massive gorilla in Romney’s room in addition to the voluminous and volatile budgetary machinations of the Wisconsin wunderkind.
Ryan’s fiscal, political and perhaps even spiritual (!) roots lead directly to a female Russian-born philosopher who has been dead since 1982.
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said in a 2005 speech to the Rand-inspired Atlas Society.
“I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are,” Ryan added during the speech. “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”
Besides Ayn Rand’s radical Darwinian world view, Rand’s approach to the world presents another huge problem for her devotee; Ryan is a devout Catholic and Rand is an atheist.
Ryan now says he rejects Rand’s philosophy, but it’s really not that easy. How do you go from, “…I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” to “I reject her philosophy,” without wreaking of hypocrisy and naked political expediency?
How does Ryan’s well-documented devotion to and admiration of Rand–despite his metaphorical moonwalk play within the zealous and influential religious right of the Republican Party?
In 2008, at the end of the historic Democratic Convention in Denver a colleague and I waited in the airport before our flight out of Colorado. As we waited our eyes were glued to a television set as the announcement was made that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be Sen. John McCain’s running mate. We both witnessed the electricity the Palin rollout generated and reached the same conclusion; her selection as McCain’s VP would be good for about a two-week bump in the polls for their campaign before the virtually unknown Palin would be revealed for who she really was.
“They just did us a favor,” my colleague said and of course history shows she was right.
Paul Ryan might not be Sarah Palin, but I believe the burden of his draconian budget plans could have a similar impact as Palin’s epic incompetence. And ultimately, I believe Romney’s selection of Ryan has done President Obama and the Democrats a huge favor.