Thursday, August 09, 2012

Driving Mitt Romney

An editorial in Thursday's Wall Street Journal exhorts Mitt Romney to pick Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate suggesting that picking Ryan would help Romney make this a "bigger election" instead of a "smaller election" about Romney's wealth, likely tax evasion, and Bain Capital. This race to the White House isn't about trifles like dressage, Cayman Island tax shelters, and having $25 million for one advertising campaign, all chump change to the upper 1%.

Those who don't want to see Ryan on the Romney ticket do so, the Wall Street Journal contends, because "that dude really believes in something, and we certainly can't have that."

But, what does "that dude" really believe in? Much has been said about the influence of uber-capitalist Ayn Rand on Paul Ryan, some of it even by the Wisconsin congressman himself, but not many think of Ryan as what he really is: a consummate marketer. Ironically, one who claims his value system has been shaped most by a dedicated female atheist writer graduated from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia. But, Ryan's 2012 budget has the words "laissez-faire capitalism," and free market feudalism, scribbled all over it. Ryan not only promotes individualism, he wants to institutionalize it.

The job he got after graduating from Liberty tells you something about Paul Ryan. He was a marketing consultant which is exactly what he is in Congress, too. He is not so much an architect as a sculptor. He aims to please, and he knows just who his constituency is.

His first attempt at a budget bill, HR 6110 also known as the "Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2008," looks like what Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin might call socialism when compared to its successors. The bill proposed universal access to health care, as well as strengthening Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and even tried to create jobs. The only problem is that Ryan was unable to get more than a handful of sponsors. The bill didn't make it out of committee.

Ever the consummate marketer, two years later, Rep. Ryan revamped and repackaged his Roadmap to have greater appeal to the conservative wing of his party by expanding tax cuts, getting rid of income tax on capital gains, dividends, and interest, abolishing corporate income tax, and estate tax, and affirming George W. Bush's goal of privatizing Social Security and Medicare. After all, isn't this what privatization is really about? Individualism.

Ryan fared better with his 2011 bill which passed the House, but got stalled in the Senate. That Ryan's Roadmap would pass the House by a wide margin should come as no surprise given that members of his party walked away with the House majority as a result of 2010. As chair of the House Budget Committee, whatever budget gets passed will have Paul Ryan's fingerprints all over it.

Because of his dedicated interest in cutting entitlement programs to the most needy in order to enhance profits of the most wealthy, Ryan's 2012 budget was roundly criticized by a group of Catholic bishops who condemn what Ryan likes to call his "Path to Prosperity," and "Blueprint for American Renewal" as dealing the sharpest blow to the poor.

Ryan's 2012 budget would reduce all discretionary spending by two-thirds according to The Washington Post, Ryan is "saying that in 2050, spending on defense, on food stamps, on infrastructure, on education, on research and development, on the federal workforce, and everything other non-entitlement program combined will be less than four percentage points of GDP.

Consider that defense spending has never fallen below three percentage points of GDP, and Mitt Romney has promised to keep it above four percentage points of GDP. Ryan has not outlined a realistic goal." Precisely, either Ryan is using new math, or he's showing off his marketing skills. Yes, that's right. It's not a budget Mr. Ryan is selling. He's selling himself. In the end, what "that dude" really believes in is himself.

As a college student, NPR reports, Paul Ryan worked as a Wienermobile driver for Oscar Mayer. If he's picked as vice president by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, you can bet that Ryan will be in the driver seat once again, only instead of wieners, he'll be driving Mitt Romney.