The ins and outs of Paul Ryan
August 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Much ado has been made about the possibility of Paul Ryan becoming Vice President of the United States. It’s only been a day and a half and already the words “overkill”, “oversaturation” are floating around, as if there was too much Paul Ryan to go around. But choosing Paul Ryan was not easy as, say, picking a Joe Biden. Picking Paul Ryan was making a statement, and not exactly the same statement John McCain made in 2008 when choosing Sarah Palin as running mate. Mitt “Mittens” Romney, in his choice, illustrates not just the Republican new party line, but the whole outline of the campaign itself; it is a portrait of the America he wishes to uphold should he be elected. It is not just Paul Ryan himself; it’s what Paul Ryan represents. And risking to be overkill and oversaturating, I will say this: choosing Paul Ryan as a putative VPOTUS is a very bold choice.
Paul Ryan is most famous for the “Paul Ryan budget”, that he presented as Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee. This 42 year old man was indeed in charge of the United States’ finances, and under Ryan’s auspices, things didn’t look so bright for those of us whose income are not in the 1%. Let’s take a little tour of the Ryan budget. Following the dubbed “Roadmap to America’s future” (sic), it targets what Obama has been most working on – healthcare and its two biggest components, Medicare and Medicaid. Most importantly, Ryan’s budget has been controversial on the topic of tax reform. Let’s see:
* Paul Ryan doesn’t want a universal, government-plan. He wants everyone to be able to shop around for their own insurance coverage, which of course would let low-income families down the side of the road (that same “roadmap” he set out to outline his plan, one can only assume). The only thing in common with Obamacare would be the end of pre-existing conditions, but only for health coverage plans that have pooled together nationally in order not to put a strain on businesses. Because when it comes to health care, that’s the first thing to think about: how will businesses handle it? You and your kid with asthma will tell me later.
* Paul Ryan doesn’t believe in taxes, especially for people who earn a lot. In his roadmap, he went as far as calling the existing tax code “manipulative”, and aimed at a tax reform that would “fit on a postcard”. Yes. A postcard. How big a postcard? It’s not detailed. But what is interesting is how ow the tax rate would be under a Paul Ryan budget – it not only simplifies tax rates by up to 10%, which is lot, but also “eliminat(es) taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.” That’s a lot of taxes there, Paulo. How do you intend on funding government and those pensions all those government members require? Most interestingly, and what the left really fired at Paul Ryan for, is the subject of the income tax: “Replaces the corporate income tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. This new rate is roughly half that of the rest of the industrialized world.” (italics and emphasis mine). Paul Ryan wants the United States to be known for cutting the corporate tax in half. Paul Ryan wants the United States to be known for the place where corporations fly high without any infrigement from the government.
*Paul Ryan doesn’t believe in Medicaid. One of the most famous and certainly most beloved government programs will simply end under Paul Ryan. His proposed Medicare/Medicaid plan barely mentions Medicaid at all, and when it does, it simply says that it will give each state ample room to design Medicaid as they see fit according to the needs of their population. Which basically means this is the end of a universal Medicaid: where you live will decide of the quality and access of the care you receive, and this, depending on the whimsical moods of your governor, and the budget s/he allocates Medicaid per year. This is simply astonishing: Paul Ryan’s roadmap to prosperity simply throws low-income and – let’s face it – middle-income families under the bus as they are not creating jobs or help to restore growth. Those two key words thrown around Fox News like they are featured in the New Testament are the benefit of corporations and corporations only. Only corporations have the right and the privilege to restore America the way Paul Ryan sees it fit, regardless of who becomes impoverished in the process. Paul Ryan: get rich or die tryin’.
But the real enemy of Paul Ryan are women. Man, doesn’t he hate those women. Paul Ryan has pledged that he would be “as pro-life as they come”, which is not a good sign when those words emanate from one of the most conservative names out there in the GOP pool. Mitt Romney has made a conscious choice to pick a running mate that would appeal to the most extreme of his fanbase, while he himself ran in the primaries as the “moderate” one – as moderate as one can be when running against Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann (clue: it’s really easy). In 2010, Paul Ryan even uttered his first threat: “you’re not going to have a truce”, he told the Weekly Standard. Understand: we thought we had it rough under John Boehner’s House? Wait until Paul Ryan becomes Vice-President. This essay is violent in exposing Paul Ryan’s views on women in just under 1,500 words: the word “woman” never appears, and Ryan compares the issue of abortion to that of… being in a car…
“The car which I exercised my freedom of choice to purchase…does not ‘qualify’ for protection of human rights. I can drive it, lend it, kick it, sell it, or junk it, at will. On the other hand, the widow who lives next door does ‘qualify’ as a person, and the government must secure her human rights, which cannot be abandoned to anyone’s arbitrary will.”
This is boding extremely well for the pro-choice movement, as one can obviously see with the very appropriate choice of metaphor. Of course, the seemingly endless debate on whether the pro-life movement will one day accept to let go of abortion restrictions in cases of rape or incest, or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother – as it was the case in very catholic Ireland until recently – does not even phase Paul Ryan one bit. “Any exceptions to a ‘partial-birth’ abortion ban would make that ban meaningless”, he said. Got it. This very interesting video from Democracy Now! explains the subject very well: on the infamous Personhood Amendment, that was supposed to define the beginning of life as soon as the fertilization of an egg – which of course would make abortion and even contraception illegal – Paul Ryan threw his whole weight behind the piece of legislation: “Ryan was a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which even the conservative state of Mississippi rejected last November, and is in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood.” I don’t know about you, but I started running away at “sanctity”.
Naturally, this screencapture here begs the question of where Paul Ryan stands when it comes to the gay community. Let’s just say that his standing is just as good as it is with the rest of the female population: Paul Ryan supported equality that one time, just that one time, when the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was being put to a vote; in a big partisan effort of which only the GOP is capable, Paul Ryan and his other Senate members tried to kill the bill, but ended up voting for it. In the end, equality won, and we should not question the reasons why Paul Ryan suddenly flip-flopped at the idea of not discriminating against sexual orientation, or whether LGBTQ members should be kept away from the job market. We should be grateful and accept ENDA as it has been handed out to us, Paul Ryan vote and the like. But this was only this one magical, fairy-like time, that we should cherish in our hearts for the rest of the presidential campaign, because outbursts of leftism such as this are not likely to repeat themselves. The Huffington Post writes,
Back in 1999, his first year in the House, Ryan voted to ban gays and lesbians in the District of Columbia from adopting children, and opposed establishing a domestic partnership registry in the District as well. All of that has added up to a big fat zero, consistently, from the Human Rights Campaign on its congressional scorecard, except for the session in which Ryan voted for ENDA, when he scored a 10 out of 100.
Strangely to virtually no one, Paul Ryan defines marriage as being “between a man and a woman”, supported marriage as being “between a man and a woman” in his home state of Wisconsin, recalls Obama thinking that marriage was “between a man and a woman” in 2008, and refuses to address the issue any longer, because he made his point very clear and unless you want to go ask him the question yourself, I think we are not going to see his Human Rights Campaign score rank any higher between now and November. Unshockingly, Ryan voted against the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), voted – wait for it – against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard law. If Mitt Romney himself acknowledges that gay parents should be able to adopt children, albeit slightly reluctantly, there is no record as to what Paul Ryan thinks of the idea, but we can imagine from then on that if he doesn’t believe children should be protected from hate crimes, they should not be raised by gay parents either, but I may be going on a limb here.
So where does that leave us? What does the rest of the GOP platform thinks of Paul Ryan? Former Mitt Romney opponent, libertarian hero Ron Paul, is unequivocal in his unappreciation of the man: Dr. Paul calls Ryan “warmongering”, “timid” on the topic of budget balance and clearly does not want Medicare to go anywhere. In an interview on Fox News, reported here by the Huffington Post, Dr Paul is quoted as saying,
“In my program… I address that first [cutting overseas military spending] I want to get home so that you don’t have to attack child health care or Medicare, even though those programs are bankrupt and you have to deal with them. But even in my first year of cutting a trillion dollars, I don’t touch that stuff [child health care or Medicare].”
In what is clearly out of touch with the current GOP platform, Dr. Paul was adamant that a balanced budget would have to go down the road of de-militarism, which is not only stopping to police the rest of the world, but also stopping the weapons race that only benefits the military-industrial complex that Dr. Paul has always, always been fighting, believing the troops should be sent home, including those deployed in Afghanistan, and that the oversized military budget is one of the reasons why the deficit is in such a state of disarray. One more thing: Paul Ryan’s plan would balance the budget over the next generation, that is thirty years. The libertarian, outsider, lone ranger, however you want to call him, had a three-year plan. Why the ten-year discrepancy? “I’m not going after the benefits the Medicare, I’m not doing that initially… I would cut the money that they are screaming about, this overseas militarism.” And there you have the reason for Ron Paul’s screaming defeat in the polls during the GOP primary race.
I will not dwell on what this means to the Obama/Biden 2012 ticket, because it has been done ad nauseam, but I do wonder about the implications for Mitt Romney and the future of the Grand Old Party, should it carry on that neo-conservatism road and this absolute – and completely false – adoration of the Reagan years, that did nothing but inflate the national debt past the point of no return. What will it take for a Republican ticket that will challenge the Democrats into finally choosing the path of liberalism for once and for all, instead of toting the banner of a long dead and gone bipartisanship? What will it take for the Republicans to follow the Democrats into finally chasing after Wall Street bankers that have never, never been brought to justice despite the horrors that we have seen since October 2008? Who is going to bring reason to the Republicans?
Well. Not Paul Ryan.