Enter Paul Ryan
David and Charles will be pleased. In selecting Paul Ryan over Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman, Mitt Romney has by his action done away with the narrative which suggests that he might be a competent yet benign fiscal conservative, ready to lead the nation out of recession, and entered into matrimony with a politician who would given half the chance destroy the social contract which has bound together the disparate states of the Union since the New Deal.
Were Paul Ryan made hegemon of the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the republic would be transformed into a conservative dystopia. Social Security would be privatised, an insecure and costly procedure involving the creation of millions of individual retirement accounts. Medicare would be thrown to the market, too, mutated into a voucher programme where elderly Americans with pre-existing conditions would be forced to purchase private insurance. Medicaid would be turned into a block grant programme, shifting the responsibility for providing health insurance for the poor to the states, dramatically impairing the viability and functionality of this critical service.
All in all, cuts in entitlement and discretionary spending would reduce federal spending as a share of GDP from 24pc now to 16pc by 2050, a level not seen since the Truman administration, and a diminution of the government’s outstanding obligations to 10pc of GDP, the lowest level since the First World War. All this, while the wealthiest Americans receive a substantial tax cut, with the top rate reduced to 25 cents on the dollar – in order to fund this folly, the qualification for paying the lower rate of 10pc would be broadened in order to drag millions of less economically-successful Americans into paying federal income tax. It all amounts to an omnishambles of bogus, voodoo economic policies which would leave richer Americans richer and poorer Americans even more hungry and destitute.
A memo obtained by ABC News from inside the Romney/Ryan campaign stresses that although “Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget”, in the Oval Office Romney “will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance”. The Republican campaign has the right to attempt to spin this any which way, of course, but it is self-evident that Romney cannot select Ryan, the affable and fluent spokesman and politician, without adopting the bogus Objectivist economic and social philosophy, too.
Naturally, this provides the Obama campaign with somewhat of an opening. His legislative accomplishments are slim and Ryan is still surprisingly unknown to the public at-large, giving both camps the opportunity to define him. The critical thing for Democrats is that when his ideas have been poll-tested in federal House and Senate races, they have more often than not been defeated. Republicans, for example, lost a House race in upstate New York they had won in 2010 with 73.6pc of the vote when Kathy Hochul (D) ran against Jane Corwin (R) on Ryan’s plan for Medicare in an open contest.
What the Obama cannot simply do is run a negative, Medi-scare campaign where Obama’s surrogates are sent to retirement communities in Florida and frighten susceptible seniors into punching the Democratic ticket. Nor should the White House encourage Bill Burton’s shady Super PAC Priorities USA Action to produce a succession of slanderous and mendacious advertisements, sliming the Ryan Plan – not after the most recent spot where Burton in essence accused Mitt Romney of murder an old lady in Missouri, at any rate.
Rather, President Obama is duty bound to produce a new forward-looking economic agenda. This plan must stress the need for responsible debt reduction along a path which threatens neither the fragile economic recovery nor the life of millions of Americans presently dependent upon food stamps, Medicaid, or other federal programmes for sustenance and subsistence. Obama must also present to the American people a way of keeping Medicare and Social Security solvent without having to privatise and thus undermine these indispensable government services, perhaps incorporating the need to raise taxes upon the wealthiest Americans (and, eventually, all the nation too) into the case.
Paul Ryan’s drafting could, therefore, be a boon for a campaign that has thus far been totally absence of content and policy, even if his election would mean catastrophe for the American people.