by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
August 24, 2012
THE GOP KEEPS DOUBLING DOWN ON THE CRAZY
DUMMERSTON, Vt., Aug. 20, 2012 -- Mitt Romney had options for his running mate.
He could've picked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to make an appeal to Hispanic voters and defuse the immigration issue.
He could've picked New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte if he wanted to make a mavericky pick à là Sarah Palin.
He could've picked a governor like Wisconsin's Scott Walker or New Jersey's Chris Christie if he wanted a slash-and-burn campaigner.
For that matter, he could've picked Florida Congressman Allen West, and gotten a slash-and-burn campaigner who's a Tea Party darling and a black man.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had her fans among the neo-cons.
Or he could've picked someone ultra boring, such as Tim Pawlenty.
Instead, he went with a running mate whose biggest claim to fame is coming up with a budget plan that would privatize Medicare, slash social welfare spending, and raise taxes on 95 percent of Americans, while giving the wealthy even more tax breaks.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the man whom political blogger Charles Pierce likes to refer to as the "zombie-eyed granny-starver:" Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
On the surface, he doesn't sound like a congressman whose voting record compares favorably with Michelle Bachmann. His political style is vanilla. His ideology is not. And unlike Mitt Romney, he has not waffled, obfuscated, or outright lied about his ideology. It's out there for all to see.
As House Budget Committee Chairman, Ryan was the architect of the Republican version of the 2013 federal budget, a blueprint that economist Paul Krugman called "the most fraudulent budget in American history," and President Obama called "an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country" and "thinly veiled social Darwinism."
How fraudulent and radical?
It called for transforming Medicare into a voucher-based program, whose payments to seniors, over time, would not have kept up with rising health care costs.
It called for a cut of $3.3 trillion from low-income programs over the next decade. The biggest cuts would be in Medicaid - forcing many states to drop coverage for tens of millions of low-income people.
It would have also reduced food stamps for poor families by 17 percent ($135 billion) over the decade, and reduced funding for housing assistance, job training, and Pell grants for college tuition.
In all, 62 percent of the budget cuts proposed by Ryan would have come from low-income programs.
Ryan claimed his plan will reduce the federal deficit, but the deficit reduction supposedly will come from closing tax loopholes. He has yet to say which specific loopholes would be closed. He has, however, ruled out closing the biggest loophole of them all: taxing capital gains at a lower rate than earned income.
And yes, Ryan supports doing two things that will make the federal deficit grow even larger - repealing the Affordable Care Act and extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Even though supply-side economics - the idea that you can cut taxes, increase defense spending and balance the budget at the same time - failed under President Ronald Reagan and failed under President George W. Bush, Romney and Ryan are hoping that Americans forget that Mr. Reagan tripled the national debt and Mr. Bush nearly doubled it by the time he left office.
If the Republicans want to run on a platform that advocates cutting from the poor to give to the rich and thinks it will win, they will be mighty surprised when Romney and Ryan get the electoral butt-kicking they will richly deserve on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Ryan is the embodiment of the shamelessness of the Republican Party. His backers portray him as a deficit hawk and an advocate of small government. His voting record suggests otherwise.
Ryan fully supported the two biggest drivers of Bush's doubling of the federal deficit - the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush tax cuts - and he also voted for Medicare Part D and the Wall Street bailout. He fought hard for stimulus money to keep an auto plant open in his district.
As for being a small government advocate, Ryan supported making the PATRIOT Act permanent, supported the Military Commissions Act (which gives the government the right to detain any terrorism suspect indefinitely, without charges) and supported expanding the federal government's power to spy on American citizens without court warrants.
This is a disciple of Ayn Rand acolyte who has spent nearly his entire adult life on the public payroll. This a "self-reliant working class hero" who grew up in a wealthy family, and went to college on Social Security benefits he received when his father died. This is a man who professes to be a devout Catholic, but advocates policies that turn the Beatitudes - and the U.S. Conference of Bishops - on their head.
Like the man at the top of the ticket, Paul Ryan is a fraud.
But don't take my word for it. Consider what David Stockman wrote for The New York Times last week: "Mr. Ryan9's plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn't pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation's fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity - just empty sermons."
I suspect that if either Romney or Ryan were asked whether they would support a ban on bringing assault weapons into movie theaters, they would waffle - and then say no.
The man who was the architect of President Reagan's fraudulent budgets knows what a fairy-tale budget looks like when he sees it. And when Mr. Reagan's chief of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), David Stockman, calls you out as a fraud, you've probably earned it.
So, make yourself a big bowl of popcorn and sit back and enjoy watching the final transformation of the Republican Party from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Crazy.
AR Chief of Correspondents Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.