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Opinion

Opinion

Choice of Ryan was presidential

August 14, 2012

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— When, in his speech accepting the 1964 Republican presidential nomination, Barry Goldwater said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue,” a media wit at the convention supposedly exclaimed, “Good God, Goldwater is going to run as Goldwater.” When Mitt Romney decided to run with Paul Ryan, many conservatives may have thought, “Thank God, Romney is not going to run as Romney.”

Not, that is, as the Romney who 12 months ago, warily eyeing Iowa, refused to say a discouraging word about the ethanol debacle. Rather, he is going to run as the Romney who, less than two weeks before announcing Ryan, told the states — Iowa prominent among them — that he opposes extending the wind energy production tax credit, which expires soon.

This may seem a minor matter, as well as an obvious and easy decision for a conservative. The wind tax credit is, after all, industrial policy, the government picking winners and losers in defiance of market signals — industrial policy always is a refusal to heed the market’s rejection of that which the government singles out for favoritism. But ethanol subsidies also are industrial policy. And just a few days after Romney got the wind subsidy right, more than half of the 11 Republican senators on the Finance Committee got it wrong, voting to extend it. So even before choosing Ryan, Romney was siding with what might, with a nod to Howard Dean, be called the Republican wing of the Republican Party. For Romney, conservatism is a second language, but he speaks it with increasing frequency and fluency.

Romney embraced Ryan after the sociopathic — indifferent to the truth — ad for Barack Obama that is meretricious about every important particular of the death from cancer of the wife of steelworker Joe Soptic. Obama’s desperate flailing about to justify four more years has sunk into such unhinged smarminess that Romney may have concluded: There is nothing Obama won’t say about me, because he has nothing to say for himself, so I will chose a running mate whose seriousness about large problems and ideas underscores what the president has become — silly and small.    

Obama is, by now, nothing if not predictable, so prepare for pieties deploring Ryan’s brand of “extremism” that has supplanted responsible conservatism. Goldwater, quoted above, infuriated the sort of people who, regardless of what flavor of conservatism is in fashion, invariably purse their lips and sorrowfully say: “We think conservatism is a valuable thread in our national fabric, etc., but not this kind of conservatism.” Goldwater’s despisers did not recognize his echo of words by Martin Luther King Jr. 15 months earlier.

In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King wrote, “You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. ... But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love. ... Was not Amos an extremist for justice. ... Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel. ... Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Remember this episode when you hear, ad nauseam, that Ryan is directly, and Romney now is derivatively, an extremist for believing (a) that “ending Medicare as we know it” will be done by arithmetic if it is not done by creative reforms of the sort Ryan proposes, and (b) that the entitlement state’s crisis cannot be cured, as Obama suggests, by adding 4.6 points to the tax rate paid by less than 3 percent of Americans.

When Ryan said in Norfolk, “We won’t replace our Founding principles, we will reapply them,” he effectively challenged Obama to say what Obama believes, which is: Madison was an extremist in enunciating the principles of limited government — the enumeration and separation of powers. And Jefferson was an extremist in asserting that government exists not to grant rights but to “secure” natural rights that pre-exist government.

Romney’s selection of a running mate was, in method and outcome, presidential. It underscores how little in the last four years merits that adjective.  

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.    

Comments

biggunz 1 year, 8 months ago

Hey Merrill, wipe your mouth and take a break. How about you and the rest start explaining what your president is planning to do about the deficit. He's taking the country further into debt with no end in sight. What is he planning to do about unemployment? Gas prices going higher than ever. Why doyou all keep talking about Republicans and Romney's taxes but refuse to talk about the record of your president or more importantly how he plans to fix this country? What is the plan? He doesn't know. You don't know. So you focus on Republicans, spread lies, divert attention from Obama's record the past 3 1/2 years. It's a joke. Most Americans will see through Obama's slick talking this time around. How can you trust the guy? You share his ideals so you all just blindly accept everything he does and blame Republicans. And you people complaining about Fox News?! Give me a break. Most major media outlets are so protective of Obama and his failure, they don't even talk about it! How is that any better than Fox News? Blind sheep.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 8 months ago

"You want to talk about Romney's taxes? What the h*ll for? Because you can't talk about what great things your pres has done in the last 3 1/2 years. You're all blindly singing the same song. Obama's re-election is anything but a "cinch". Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Obama is in trouble."

Problem is that we're getting fooled over and over and over again. You too, from the sound of it.

Because when we get tired of Republicans being in power, we put in Democrats. Then, when we're tired of Democrats being in power, we put in Republicans.

We haven't learned yet. Instead, it seems, we ratchet up partisan crap talk to hide the fact to ourselves that there aren't any great differences between the two parties. Just minor particulars on where all that money gets funneled into.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Sam Brownback is a product of the biggest spenders in the nations history as a facist. Wealthy corp America and the 1% are the priorities.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

The NOT GOP has NOT been a fiscal conservative/socially responsible operation beginning in 1980.

Conservative yes but NOT fiscal conservative.

Repub ENTITLEMENT = In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

Repub ENTITLEMENT - Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Repub ENTITLEMENT - Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Repub ENTITLEMENT - Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

ENTITLEMENT - Starting in 2003, George W. Bush destroyed the world economy by encouraging U.S. banks to make loans to those who could not afford them, through schemes such as the "American Dream Down payment Initiative".

Also through the destruction of oversight, such as lawsuits to prevent state securities laws from being enforced on Bush's watch.

Once Bush's policies led to their inevitable result of economic collapse, the United States found itself in a situation where it had to take on debt in order to restore the economy.

http://www.reaganbushdebt.org/CalculationDetails.aspx

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Mixolydian 1 year, 8 months ago

Ryan's plan would slash funding for contraceptives and family planning for the elderly too.

You won't hear that piece of info on Faux Noise.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Ryan’s budget, recall, would raise $2 trillion less in tax revenue over the next decade than President Obama’s budget. Ryan’s plan would also spend $5.3 trillion less over that time. A big chunk of this is health care: Ryan would cut federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid for a portion of his savings. But he’d also spend $2.2 trillion less on everything else. So what, specifically, is Ryan planning to cut? (Or, alternatively, what is Obama planning to spend more on?)

The clearest way to figure this out is to look at the “Chairman’s mark.” This is the version of Ryan’s budget that’s in legislative language and gives specific forecasts for spending by government function. You can see them in table form at the end of his bill (pdf) and then compare them with the White House’s Table 32-1 here. Exciting, yes.

Over the next decade, Ryan plans to spend about 16 percent less than the White House on “income security” programs for the poor — that’s everything from food stamps to housing assistance to the earned-income tax credit. (Ryan’s budget would authorize $4.8 trillion between 2013 and 2022; the White House’s would spend $5.7 trillion.) Compared with Obama, Ryan would spend 25 percent less on transportation. He’d spend 6 percent less on “General science, space, and basic technology.” And, compared with the White House’s proposal, he’d shell out 33 percent less for “Education, training, employment, and social services.”

Washington Post

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

$5 trillion hole in a Ryan Budget

In Washington, it’s called the “magic asterisk,” the fudge factor that policymakers use to make recalcitrant numbers come out as desired.

Such devices often surface during budget discussions, when a convenient bit of legerdemain, usually accompanied by a promise to fill in the details later, often can get a lawmaker past a politically difficult choice.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s budget plan includes a massive example. In his case, the asterisk covers the heart of his budget.

The chart further below illustrates the problem. The top line shows spending – outlays in budget jargon – for the next 10 years under Ryan’s plan. The bottom line shows the amount of revenue that the government would bring in after Ryan’s proposed tax cuts, as calculated by the analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The large gap between the two represents a budget deficit that would be considerably larger than the one President Obama provided for in his budget.

The line in the middle is where the asterisk comes in.

That center line shows the revenues Ryan would like to have. In this scenario, the new tax cuts get fully offset by new revenue. The problem is that Ryan hasn’t said how he would do that, other than that he wants to eliminate unspecified tax breaks.

How much new revenue would be needed? Over the next 10 years, the total comes to around $5 trillion.

Enough tax breaks exist to make that possible in theory – tax preferences total some $1.3 trillion a year, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis. But most of the big ones – the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction for charitable contributions, the exclusion from income of the value of employer-provided health insurance, to cite several – are big precisely because lots of people use them. Taking them away – or even scaling them back – would be very difficult politically.

Ryan has suggested he would target upper-income tax breaks. One of the biggest tax preferences used by upper-income taxpayers, however, is one that Ryan and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney have specifically said they do not want to change – the lower rate for taxes on capital gains. Until recently, Ryan was proposing to go in the other direction and eliminate capital gains taxes entirely.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-the-5-trillion-hole-in-paul-ryans-budget-20120814,0,2621160.story?track=rss

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biggunz 1 year, 8 months ago

Yourworstnightmare.....Your nonstop spewing lies and half truths is exactly what the entire democratic party and liberal media has been doing. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself with Ryan's Medicare proposal, it does not replace Medicare with vouchers as you state, they are only part of a voluntary option! Obama himself has said it is a legit proposal.

More of the same diversions to keep the focus off of a failed 3 1/2 years of Obummer. What a bunch of sheep.

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biggunz 1 year, 8 months ago

You want to talk about Romney's taxes? What the h*ll for? Because you can't talk about what great things your pres has done in the last 3 1/2 years. You're all blindly singing the same song. Obama's re-election is anything but a "cinch". Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Obama is in trouble.

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OonlyBonly 1 year, 8 months ago

"smarminess" I haven't heard the word used for ages but it sure fits BO's pathetic slide into "dirty" politics. But, of course, that's what he is famous for........

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney's tax returns are an important indicator of his openness and transparency with the American people. And an indication of his having paid taxes at all.

The lie that Romney was responsible for a woman's death was spread by an anti-Romney PAC, not the Obama campaign. This was a truly vapid an unimportant lie.

Unfortunately, Citizens United ensured that PACS can have unlimited money. Don't like it. Stop voting GOP.

In any event. Romney should release his taxes for sake of transparency full disclosure. We know he is rich. What in those returns is he trying to keep from the American people?

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

I would say that a frank discussion about anything is against the Republican strategy.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

The last thing that the Rs want to do is discuss Ryan's budget plan, or any budget plan for that matter. Romney has already distanced himself from Ryan's plan, which would eliminate Medicare and replace it with a voucher that seniors could use toward a private insurance plan.

A frank discussion of Ryan's ideas would be good for this country. It is the last thing the Rs want. Alert me when either Romney or Ryan make any specific recommendations or concrete statements about economic policy and the budget. What would they cut and how much?

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

I think the choice was an act of desparation. To try to spin it into something noble is ludicrous.

I think the idea that Paul Ryan is an intellectual or economics guru is worth about two Bulls.

You cannot get that much BS out of just one Bull.

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Shane Garrett 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, in America 1% of the population are millionaires. In congress 50% are millionaires. I saw it posted on face book so it must be true. Just saying not much for the 99% will ever change.

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Lateralis 1 year, 8 months ago

The choice for Ryan only solidifies the perception that the GOP nominees are greedy snakes in the grass.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/13/paul-ryan-sold-shares-banking-crisis

Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis. Insider trading much? Ryan's commitment to the big banks al la TARP is evident.

The GOP is shooting itself in the foot. Is the best they have to offer? Obama wins in a landslide.

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Lateralis 1 year, 8 months ago

"And Jefferson was an extremist in asserting that government exists not to grant rights but to “secure” natural rights that pre-exist government. "

Hmmmm....interesting. Romney on many accounts has supported initiatives that do exactly the opposite.

NDAA anyone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1yY3N...

Sometimes you have to honor the rights of the truly undesirable. Romney has no clue. He's a flip flopper in the worst way and the conservatives are going to support the Liberal wing of the Republican party....oh wait, the conservatives are just going to support the Liberal.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

Why won't Romney release his tax records? What is he hiding?

This questions was put to the Rs on 60 minutes, and Ryan stumbled around and said he would release as many years as Romney, 2 years. Very uncomfortable moment. Romney is already making Ryan look bad.

Romney should release his tax records so that there are no questions. Everyone knows he is rich. What is he hiding?

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

Even Romney is distancing himself from Ryan's budget, which would privatize medicare and give seniors a voucher that they could use toward private insurance.

Romney and Ryan are trying to avoid any specifics in their budget ideas. What will they cut? 90% of all discretionary spending while leaving defense untouched?

Let's have this conversation. Discussing Ryan's budget ideas openly and honestly would be good for the country, but it is the last thing the Rs want.

They plan to attack attack attack lie lie lie and try to win the election through negative campaigning alone.

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FlintlockRifle 1 year, 8 months ago

Good read and comments there people--------

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observant 1 year, 8 months ago

Definitely a "presidential" choice, almost like current president made it. Obama couldn't have made a better choice himself for Romney. Made Obama's election a cinch.

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commonsenseanyone 1 year, 8 months ago

Geez Bozo who took a dump in your wheaties this morning.

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SnakeFist 1 year, 8 months ago

Just as Cheney was clearly in charge during the Bush presidency, Ryan would clearly be in charge during Romney's. Fortunately, Romney would first have to be elected, and I don't see how Ryan helps that effort at all.

Marco Rubio would have brought some of the Hispanic vote the regressives lost with their war on hard-working immigrants, Michele Bachmann would have brought some of the women's vote the regressives lost with their war on women and contraception, Herman Cain would have brought some of the black vote the regressives lost with their war on the poor, even Ron or Rand Paul would have brought some of the libertarian vote. Instead, Romney chose a guy who will only bring the far right Tea Party vote which was already in the bag. Not that I'm complaining.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

It's possible to cite many other government interventions along similar lines that never seemed to bother Representative Ryan. In other words, Representative Ryan doesn't have any principled objections to government interferences in the market, even when this interference leads to enormous inefficiency, as is the case with too-big-to-fail banks or patent protection for prescription drugs.

Representative Ryan only seems to object to government programs and policies that benefit lower- and middle-income people. In this sense he seems to have perfectly captured the philosophy of the modern Republican Party: "a dollar in the pocket of a middle class person is a dollar that could belong to a rich person."

We will face quite a choice this November.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/14-0

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

continued

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/14-0

By contrast, Representative Ryan has an extreme right-wing agenda that predates both the Great Society and the New Deal. He has put forward plans that would cut and privatize both Social Security and Medicare. He has also called for essentially zeroing out most categories of federal spending.

While Ryan supports current levels of military spending, the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of his budget shows that there will be essentially nothing left for anything else by 2040. The CBO analysis of the Ryan budget (prepared under his direction) shows that spending on all items other than health care and Social Security would fall to 4.75 percent of GDP by 2040 and to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.

The military budget currently is more than 4.0 percent of GDP. In the post-World War II era it has never been less than 3.0 percent. This means that Ryan's budget would leave nothing for running the State Department, the Park Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Justice Department, the National Institutes of Health and the other areas that comprise the federal government as it now exists.

However to imply that Ryan is some sort of stringent free market fundamentalist would be far too generous. Representative Ryan has never expressed any discomfort with the numerous forms of government intervention that redistribute income upward to those at the very top.

For example, Representative Ryan has never spoken up against the implicit insurance that the government provides to too-big-to-fail banks, a subsidy which has been estimated to exceed $60 billion a year. Representative Ryan has also never spoken up against government-provided patent monopolies for prescription drugs. Patent monopolies raise the price of drugs by close to $270 billion a year above the free market price. While there are more efficient mechanisms for financing drug research, Representative Ryan is apparently not bothered by a government-created monopoly that results in a massive upward redistribution of income.

He has also never spoken up against the professional and licensing restrictions that protect doctors in the United States from international competition. As a result of these protectionist barriers we pay our doctors more than twice as much as what doctors earn in Western Europe. If free trade lowered doctors pay to Western European levels it would be equivalent to a tax cut of $1,200 a year for an average family of four.

continued

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Will Media Find Their Way to Discover Just How Radical Paul Ryan Is?

by Dean Baker

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/14-0

In principle the country faces a choice this fall between a moderate conservative, President Obama, and the extreme conservative Romney-Ryan ticket that wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare and eliminate most of the services that the public expects from the federal government. The reason why this choice only exists in principle is that the media have worked hard to conceal Representative Ryan's extreme positions from the public. Now that Governor Romney has implicitly embraced these positions by selecting Representative Ryan as his vice-presidential nominee, it remains to be seen whether the media will do its job.Mitt Romney introduces Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate on August 11, 2012. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

First, in spite of all the name-calling about President Obama being a Kenyan socialist, he has pushed an agenda that most Republicans would have been comfortable with 20 years ago. His health care plan was put first forward by the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1992, before Governor Romney put it in place in Massachusetts.

His Wall Street reform leaves the too-big-to-fail banks bigger than ever, and operating pretty much as they always did. That's pretty mild given their role in inflating a housing bubble, the collapse of which brought the economy to its knees.

And, running large deficits in a downturn was a practice that Obama could tie to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and both Bushes. It would be difficult to find a policy pushed by our Kenyan socialist president that would make a Nixon Republican unhappy.

continued

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SageonPage 1 year, 8 months ago

I love this quote of George!! SO true. Romney embraced Ryan after the sociopathic — indifferent to the truth — ad for Barack Obama that is meretricious about every important particular of the death from cancer of the wife of steelworker Joe Soptic. Obama’s desperate flailing about to justify four more years has sunk into such unhinged smarminess that Romney may have concluded: There is nothing Obama won’t say about me, because he has nothing to say for himself, so I will chose a running mate whose seriousness about large problems and ideas underscores what the president has become — silly and small.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

BTW, sometimes markets get it wrong. And with decades of subsidies of one sort or another for fossil fuels behind them (and even more in externalized costs,) we don't have time for markets to make the necessary corrections to deal with the crisis of global warming and climate change.

So let's get honest about why the wind energy tax credits are under attack-- the oil, coal and natural gas industries are spending $million to get the new GOP (Grand Old Plutocracy) to maintain the suicidal status quo.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

So George wants to invoke MLK in defense of Romney's and Ryan's embrace of extremism in support of plutocracy. Priceless.

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