It has been a long, speculative road; who would Romney pick to run beside him? Perhaps conservative Tim Pawlenty, would he court the Latino vote by adding fresh faced, rising star Marco Rubio? Or would he seek to bolster his own popularity, energize people in a lack luster campaign by going with the ever outspoken, ever bombastic Chris Christi? Those were just a few on any number of shortlist sense Romney became the presumptive nominee and it was the shock heard round the political world over this past weekend, Romney’s choice of vice president announced; after months of secrecy, guessing revisions and re-revisions to the possible short list, the waiting was over, Paul Ryan is to be the other half of the Romney ticket. While republicans mostly cheer on Romney’s choice, getting praise from people like house speaker John Boehner and the democrats are described as positively giddy over the choice, public reaction has been tepid at best. Generating an energized crowd in some places, sparking protests in others, he still has a large part of the voting populous that doesn’t know him, is awaiting judgment until they do their research, causing many questions surrounding if this so called bold choice was a good one. Whatever the answer may be, what is clear is that Paul Ryan’s record, his ideas don’t sit well with the majority of Americans and his record seems to already be coloring the campaign, for the negative. We will all have to wait until November to find out, but it looks very possible the bold pick may end the republican bid for the Whitehouse.
Intellectual elites and people possessing life smarts degrees alike may wonder how a guy whose job it is to call once a day and see if the president is alive, whose primary function is rubber chicken dinners and publicity junkets even once elected, unless something does indeed happen to the president, can make or break a campaign. Well Palin did it for the McCain ticket in ’08, but besides that, besides the what if factor of if he were somehow needed to take office, if he somehow found himself in the round room capable of enacting the policies he’s long spoken of, created and supported, there is the reality of those policies, the impact they would have on this nation, the fear of what he could turn America into. Minus the fear of him potentially becoming commander and chief amidst tragedy, there is a lingering feeling that like Palin before him, like all tea party republicans, he plans to stir things up presumably for the worse, he plans on rewriting the parameters of the vice presidency at least in terms of what he is willing to do, how willing he is to be involved in policy making, important discussions, putting forth suggestions in a Romney Whitehouse. At the very least this is a vice president who will have the president’s ear hints the negative reaction; they know what he will be putting in that ear. And while everyone in the GOP loves to say president Obama can’t run on his record, what he’s done calling it a list of failed leadership and broken promises, the Romney/Ryan record is unforgettable for an entirely different reason, controversial ideas, unpopular policies seeking to change the face of America to something unrecognizable. Both played right into the hands of smart political operatives looking for any chance to make this about voter choice rather than a referendum on the Obama years.
Few are apt to forget the republican budget, dubbed the Ryan plan, particularly in areas with high senior populations, Florida, Ohio Pennsylvania, proposing sweeping cuts to government spending, most notably virtually upending Medicare and turning it into some kind of voucher program, but his other budget slashing carries consequences too; it’s more than just random, meaningless numbers spewed out by politicians to make the opposing side look bad. If it were ever passed there would be far less money allocated to things we all take for granted, programs, services that not only allow us to function but allow us to have a future; take for example infrastructure, think tanks have put the high end of the price tag to repair our failing roads, bridges and overpasses at roughly 260 billion over the next 10 years. Obama’s budget allotted about half that at somewhere around 104 billion; the Ryan plan, least of all at 78 billion translating into who knows how many more collapsing bridges may take the life of a loved one, how many aging highways and byways may lead to accidents, especially considering the extreme heat, drought have already caused buckling roads and other damage. Projected transportation cuts mean possibly 3,000 additional flight cancellations, nearly 70,000 more delays, ballpark 150,000 persons added to the quagmire stranded at gates every year and 3 million more people made late, and that’s just the potential cuts for one department. General cuts garner real life consequences in the form of fewer air traffic controllers in a time where there have been so many near misses almost collisions we need more not less; fewer food inspectors is a recipe for disaster considering the sheer number of deadly bacteria outbreaks, the deplorable state of entities like big egg farms. People in the path of so much of the extreme weather seen of late would be very unhappy to support a weather forecast half as accurate as the one currently received because of Ryan’s cuts to environmental spending. Even worse the 33% less vs. Obama’s budget spent on education, training, employment and social services, encompassing everything from food stamps housing assistance to the earned income tax credit. How are people supposed to obtain work, keep work, move up or just survive when our government is trying to cut their knees out from under them? And yes these numbers are speculative; no they are not a guarantee of what will happen. But in that speculation someone has dared to put numbers into real terms, present the impact to real lives. Now here some will say Romney is the one running for president not Ryan therefore his budget plans are now irrelevant should republicans gain the oval office; ah but here’s where you have to go back to the primary season and remember his support of the Ryan plan and reality he stated he would sign it should it come across his desk, drastic cuts to things people need now if we are going to have a future in 20-30-50 years.
Most seniors don’t understand Ryan’s plans for Medicare and most don’t care; they want to know it’s stable, secure and that paying into it will mean they will be covered, at least by the parameters of the program, when they need it. Fact checking Paul Ryan’s future for Medicare true seniors 55 and older stay in the current system unaffected, as do the disabled currently enrolled, yet that is little comfort to someone 51-55 when the plan takes effect suddenly given the $15,000 from the government and told at 65 to go find your own health insurance. Speaking of said 15,000 dollars annually, the plan sounds simple enough; you have government approved plans to choose from, one being traditional government run Medicare, if it costs less you get a check for the difference, if it costs more, you pay the difference. Unfortunately that’s where the simplicity ends and the devil begins to be in the details. Details like expecting 65 year old individuals with less life ahead of them than already behind them to understand the intricacies of said plans; details like what happens when an older persons medical needs change and they need higher cost insurance, yet cannot pay the difference? What happens when most of the programs covering all the things covered by Medicare now are above the given $15,000; short answer, doctors are put in the same arduous position of getting creative to help vulnerable people get medications, see specialists, get what they need, states are even further hard pressed to provide programs helping those who can’t get it anywhere else and it puts us in a place little different than where we are now. That throwing granny off a cliff ad suddenly isn’t so inaccurate after all; we already have seniors eating dog/cat food, choosing between medication and food, freezing to death in their homes, dying of heat stroke because they cannot afford their utility bill for the season. Further we’ve seen the pitfalls associated with this kind of healthcare set up; it was the HMO mess of the 1990’s. Insurance companies still get away with horrendous practices of denying lifesaving, quality of life preserving procedures, still, prior to the enforcement of the nicknamed Obama care provision saying no one can refuse people with preexisting conditions, did just that, still skyrocket premiums at a moment’s notice, things the Ryan plan does nothing to address. We’ve seen also the failure of voucher programs; example, look at our schools. Both voucher and charter scenarios have failed to provide quality educations to but a few kids; why would we want that to happen to those most in need, the elderly and disabled? His pan is absolutely no comfort to the ever growing number of sandwich generation members who are not only trying to raise their children, care for their families but trying to provide care to aging parents too; thousands who depend on help from Medicare to afford the senior in questions medication, who utilize adult daycare services for a senior living with them so they can work, who depend in visiting nurses and home heath aid workers covered by Medicare to be there when they can’t, who help the elderly person stay in their home maintain their independence. Another huge flaw in the Ryan plan, its true sustainability hinges on medical costs going down once the plan is in place. True this is a possibility, perhaps even a probable one, but there are no guarantees and should he be wrong, we go right back to the insolvency problem we currently have or something worse.
Neither candidate is going to win the all-important Latino vote considering Paul Ryan voted against the Dream Act allowing young illegal immigrants permanent residency providing they graduate high school, went on to higher education or military service coupled with a presidential hopeful who during a primary debate said of illegal immigrants they should be sent back to their home country, forced to get in line like everyone else. Yes President Obama may have increased border security, may have deported more illegals than any other sitting presidency, but Latinos also know it is staunch, “anti-amnesty” conservatives who either actively or passively support controversial laws like those found in Arizona and Alabama essentially allowing police to do racial profiling, forcing people to carry papers proving their immigration status and, in one state, using schools to find illegal immigrant students and thus their parents. It is republican conservatives who either created the legislation, had influence in its making, or say nothing about it if they disagree. Instead the Obama Whitehouse tried to create comprehensive immigration reform to be blocked by republicans; the Dream Act was supported upon its original introduction then shied away from solely because the president wanted it and tea party republicans would do anything to thwart him, even vetoing something they think is a good idea. And when he used the power of executive order to implement the program giving young people brought here under age 16, who have lived, gone to school in America the majority of their lives, a chance to work here legally, when droves of people lined up to sign up, critics call it an end run around congress implying it was an end run around their authority. It was an end run alright around patrician bickering and people destined to see him fail; by the way adding a projected 1 million bright, eager, soon educated young people to the workforce, 1 million young people better able to give back, who have dreams of doing things like opening community centers, becoming urban planners, doctors.
Maybe no side has a comprehensive plan to jumpstart the economy; maybe every political person on either side of the aisle is murky on ways to get this country moving forward again, maybe all of our current president’s policies are too vague before they are put into action, however; what is not murky or hard to understand is a sitting president who comprehends now, in the middle of a slow economic recovery, is not the time to cut food stamps, housing assistance, social services and making things harder on the middle class by even entertaining eliminating the earned income tax credit. Now is not the time to cut jobs across all areas simply because someone thinks government is too big, forcing countless persons into the unemployment line to appear on the right side of an issue, particularly those experience has proven we need more of not less, such as food inspectors, air traffic controllers. You don’t have to be an economic expert to draw the conclusion between cutting education, job training and young people unprepared for work, older people without the skills to get another job should they lose the one they have. In contrast Obama tried to use various programs to keep teachers, firefighters, public service workers employed, put colleges on notice to keep their tuition rates reasonable compared with inflation and tried to bring relief to students with massive student loan debt. Putting an estimated half the think tank price of infrastructure costs into the coming year’s budget simply means it takes 20 years not 10 to complete projects allowing people to continue to travel by road, ensure our food and other goods can get across the country into stores for us to buy. Paul Ryan sees the Obama heath plan as gimmicks and smoke and mirrors, yet there are none, only people with preexisting conditions that can get coverage, thousands of whom are children, children who can stay on their parents insurance to age 26 allowing them to finish college, build a life and be healthy at the same time. There are no smoke and mirrors about women being provided complete healthcare including birth control through their employers insurance offerings giving relief to thousands who have a medical condition or must pay for more expensive types; vs. Mr. Ryan who days after the House became a republican majority, voted in favor of a personhood bill stating conception begins at fertilization, a legal definition that impacts everything from IUD’s (intrauterine devices) to fertility treatments not just birth control and the “evil” abortion. No, the gimmicks came from republicans using religious freedom to disguise their unwillingness to support what’s right in terms of giving women all healthcare options, not just the ones they agree with; the gimmicks came from using religious beliefs as a reason to deny women’s medical services like amniocentesis first calling it free under Obama care, implying at taxpayer expense, then calling it a danger to the fetus. Suddenly forgotten was the fact nearly all mainstream medical procedures are covered under insurance to varying degrees, meaning there is no government money being spent to “make it free” only private insurance premiums, deductibles, copays paid for by the insured themselves. Said procedure is used as preventive care to diagnose serious potential birth defects, genetic disorders; however the former thinking is held by tea party ultra conservatives and Paul Ryan comes from that same bin.
Nor is President Obama’s record during his first term a failure either of leadership or job performance; it is not a trail of broken promises, a record he cannot run on. His presidency has been marked by cleaning up someone else’s mess and handling the crises presented We are out of Iraq, moving out of Afghanistan by 2014 and Osama Bin Laden is dead. Domestically he kept the great recession from becoming another great depression; he pushed for banking reforms aimed at putting common sense back into the financial industry, protecting the public from this ever happening again, stymied of course by republicans in congress, both presidential and vice presidential nominees now running on the concept of unshackle Wall Street so that big business and banks can create jobs. This is a president at the same time who put into law the practice of fully disclosing risks of various types of mortgages so consumers understand what they are purchasing simultaneously demanding mortgage documents be written in plain English, not legal or industry jargon. He restored some basic rules to credit card companies stating they could no longer randomly raise interest rates providing people made their payments and required notification before changing their credit limits assuming customers met the same condition, things we used to call good business practices. President Obama has tried to tackle the hardest issues of our time enacting healthcare reform addressing the whole of the problem, not just cost, not just government programs such as Medicare/Medicaid, attempting to put the fairness in the system that should have always been there, forming the building blocks to a better, sustainable healthcare system in the future. He has tackled immigration by taking the first step to sound immigration reform by devising a plan to begin handling the vast number of illegal immigrants already here living, working, thriving and contributing to their communities, recognizing the solution is not over simplified by throw everyone out. Not to mention very early on he spoke honestly about the fact it would probably take more than one term to fix what’s ailing America, more than one presidency to return us to what we once were before these calamities took hold. Unfinished is a more accurate term than failure. Simply put the country is better off with these policies than it will be in 4 years, should republicans take the Whitehouse.
No it is the Romney Ryan team who cannot run on their record who have no intention of curbing still dangerous big banks, who oppose the beginnings of tax code reform in removing the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year, who virtually laugh at the Buffet rule aimed at forcing millionaires and billionaires to pay the same tax rate as the average working employee. Speaking of taxes, it doesn’t matter if Governor Romney paid 13% in taxes yearly over the last decade; it matters that that’s the tax rate he paid vs. average Americans paying 33%, when his own running mate paid more than he did. It doesn’t matter to most people when he stopped working for Bane capital and if he was or was not party to some of their biggest take overs costing jobs; it’s that he worked in such a place at all along with his out of touch statements about owing Nascar or his wife’s possession of multiple Cadillacs. How about the Ryan plan to eliminate capital gains taxes effectively lowering Mr. Romney’s tax rate to 1%. Governor Romney has also been vocal in opposing both the auto bailout and stimulus funds, an auto bailout coincidentally that saved the American car industry. Returning to the VP choice, keep in mind Paul Ryan is the same breed of tea party republican willing to play chicken with the debt ceiling to change the way Washington operates, the same divisive bunch who walked out of the larger budget deal that would have lasted a decade, who shamelessly paraded his own mother around a campaign rally trying to sell his Medicare plan. This is what the GOP want to do to America; that being so obviously the case, the GOP bid is done for 2012, because the American people are not swayed to their brand of extremes.