When a particular course of events follow through to their logical conclusion, it seems odd that people are surprised, or excited at the end result. When Willard Romney announced he had chosen Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate and candidate for vice president, it should not have surprised any American who has followed Republican politics over the past two years. Romney’s choice was a desperate attempt to woo the far right and demonstrate his conservative bona fides, but it was not the least bit surprising for several reasons. Romney had a bad week and needed a major distraction to shift attention away from his record as a vulture capitalist, failure to release his tax returns, and tenure as Massachusetts’ governor, and for a day or so there will be a wealth of analysis of Ryan’s record in Congress. However, what people need to understand is that Romney is the presumptive nominee and Ryan is nothing more than a complement to support his agenda of tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the rest of the population. What Romney did by picking Ryan though, is alienate another demographic that makes his bid for the presidency more difficult.
Romney has spent the past six months estranging immigrants, women, the working-class, and poor Americans from the Republican Party, and choosing Paul Ryan added senior citizens to the list. When Ryan first introduced the Heritage Foundation’s budget, Path to Prosperity, his plan to privatize Medicare infuriated elderly Americans who paid into the system their entire working lives and expected the Medicare coverage they paid for only to learn Ryan proposed giving them a voucher to buy health insurance coverage on the open market. Romney supports privatization as a matter of course, so choosing the face of privatization made perfect sense from a philosophical point of view. In fact, Romney and Ryan are the perfect pairing for the GOP ticket even though pundits were calling his choice political suicide. So why choose Ryan? It is highly likely that Romney was following the Heritage Foundation’s directions to prepare America for a Ryan presidential bid in 2016.
Romney wasted little time distancing himself from Ryan’s budget even though he endorsed it earlier this year claiming it was “an excellent piece of work, and very much needed” with Romney-like calls for deep cuts in education , scientific research, clean energy, public sector workers, and tax increases for the middle class to pay for tax cuts for the rich. In truth, Romney’s proposals are more extreme than Ryan’s regardless that Willard has been short on details that would doom his candidacy before he even officially won the nomination. What Romney did accomplish for the time being is take the spotlight off himself by putting Ryan on display as a distraction from his own despicable record; unfortunately for Willard, his respite will be short-lived.
Romney underestimates his opponents and detractors who will have a field day tying him to Ryan’s austerity measures that will decimate the poor and middle class while exploding the deficit with unfunded tax cuts for the rich, but if he thinks anyone is forgetting his job-killing tenure at Bain Capital, disastrous record as Massachusetts governor, missing tax returns, or federal entitlements that saved the 2002 Olympics, he is making a serious mistake. Since him and Ryan are the proverbial “two peas in a pod,” there will be little time spent on Ryan because whatever criticism works for Ryan also applies to Romney. The benefit for Ryan, and the Heritage Foundation, is they get to be in the national spotlight for a little under three months to desensitize voters to a 2016 presidential run, because in choosing him, Romney did, in fact, cede the election to President Obama.
Picking Ryan did not help Romney’s problem with women voters because Ryan’s budget slashes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the social programs women depend on in disproportionate numbers to men. Ryan also helped cement Romney’s position as anti-immigrant because Ryan has voted against the Dream Act and takes a hard line on immigration, and his assault on the poor that he refers to as “takers” ruins any chance of support from minorities and working poor Americans hardest hit by the Republican economy. That leaves senior citizens who may have supported Romney for his “whiteness,” but by bringing Ryan on the ticket, elderly Americans will have a hard time supporting two men who intend on handing out vouchers for healthcare insurance that leaves seniors with substandard coverage and expensive co-pays that Medicare covers as part of a comprehensive health plan. So who is left to support a Romney-Ryan ticket? The wealthy who stand to gain ever-increasing tax cuts, some teabaggers, and racists who would not support the President because of his racial makeup.
Willard might get a few days rest from critics who demand he release his tax returns, but since Ryan already has a reputation as an Ayn Rand devotee whose entire ideology is rooted in protecting the so-called “makers” he calls job creators, the focus will quickly revert back to Romney’s offshore accounts and attempts to avoid paying taxes on his millions. Romney will not get a break, however, from opponents of corporate entitlements because Ryan’s budget gives tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy that Willard champions. Romney has made a grave error in picking Ryan because there is absolutely no difference between the two men and subsequently, nothing to balance out Romney’s missteps in alienating immigrants, women, working Americans, and now seniors. But he did give Ryan nearly three months in the national spotlight to prepare voters for the 2016 Paul Ryan presidential run.
Republicans must know their presidential aspirations are fading with each passing day, and although the public will get a daily dose of Paul Ryan, it will be bitter medicine as voters learn that there is little difference between the two men and that their entire economic agenda is not creating jobs, growing the economy, or rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, but about giving more entitlements to the rich, big oil, and corporations while they raise taxes on the poor and middle class. It is the Heritage Foundation, Koch Brothers agenda that Republicans will spend the next four years cramming down the public’s throat to prepare for 2016, and if history is any indication, they will have success convincing ignorant Americans that the same failed policies that brought about the Bush-Republican recession, will save America from eight years of the Obama Administration.
There have been indications for six months that Romney is out of touch with the American people, and he verified that by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. He may have energized the base, but he alienated the last demographic that may have supported his candidacy and whether he knows it or not, he also gave Paul Ryan three months of exposure that will please the Heritage Foundation. He also gave Democrats more ammunition than they could have dreamed of to add to their calls for him to release his tax returns, explain his record of outsourcing American jobs, and tell Americans why he hides his money in offshore accounts. Romney had a bad week that just got much worse and he is too arrogant to understand that picking Ryan was as ill-advised as alienating women, Hispanics, working Americans, and now senior citizens, but at least the Heritage Foundation still loves him.