POLITICAL observations & opinions

* if the American people truly understand the choice, Obama will be a landslide winner

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 12, 2012

Ryan Lizza writes in The New Yorker (8/6/12) …

LMW: Lizza has produced a long fascinating article about Paul Ryan, written before Ryan was selected as Romney’s VP running mate. Here are selected quotes, but I recommend you read the entire article.

  • Ryan won his seat in 1998, at the age of twenty-eight. Like many young conservatives, he is embarrassed by the Bush years.
  • Ryan’s long-range plan was straightforward: to create a detailed alternative to Obama’s budget and persuade his party to embrace it.
  • Sitting in his office more than three years ago, Ryan could not have foreseen how successful his crusade to reinvent the Republican Party would be. Nearly every important conservative opinion-maker and think tank has rallied around his policies.
  • Nearly every Republican in the House and the Senate has voted in favor of some version of his budget plan.

Mitt Romney: “I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate

were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budget and adopt it

and pass it along to the President.”

  • To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan.
  • In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) was required reading for his office staff and interns.
    • “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group.
    • “The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
    • To me he was careful to point out that he rejects Rand’s atheism.
  • Ryan recommended ending Medicare, the government health-insurance program for retirees, and replacing it with a system of direct payments to seniors, who could then buy private insurance. (The change would not affect current beneficiaries or the next decade of new ones.)
  • He proposed ending Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor, and replacing it with a lump sum for states to use as they saw fit.
  • Ryan’s Roadmap also promised to cut other government spending, though it didn’t specify how.
  • Likewise, it promised to lower income-tax rates and simplify the tax code, but it didn’t detail which popular deductions—mortgage interest? retirement contributions?—it would eliminate.
  • Conservative intellectuals at National Review and the Heritage Foundation loved the Roadmap, and Ryan became an icon within the insular world of right-wing pundits.
  • Three days later, the White House started a livelier debate with Ryan. In a press briefing, Peter Orszag, the budget director at the time, dismantled Ryan’s plan, point by point.

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders

started to feel pressure to take a position on the Ryan budget.

In July, Boehner distanced himself from the plan.

  • After the listening sessions, Ryan had removed some of the most controversial ideas … but Ryan added a new plank: to repeal Obama’s health-care law and to effectively cut Medicaid by a third.
  • Conservative opinion-writers again celebrated his bravery. But there was one note of caution.

The ornery Charles Krauthammer doubted that Ryan’s ideas

could survive a Democratic onslaught in the 2012 campaign.

  • Krauthammer wrote: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has just released a recklessly bold, 73-page, 10-year budget plan,” he wrote. “At 37 footnotes, it might be the most annotated suicide note in history.”
  • In mid-April of 2011, in a speech at George Washington University, Obama once again decided to make an example of Ryan. Ryan sat in the front row as the President shredded his plan.

Obama said, “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims

to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars

on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

And I don’t think there’s anything courageous

about asking for sacrifice from those

who can least afford it.”

  • Two days after the speech, despite some desperate appeals by Republican pollsters, Ryan’s plan passed the House of Representatives, 235 to 193. Only four Republicans voted against it.
  • In the summer of 2011, when a group of Democratic and Republican senators, known as the Gang of Six, produced their own agreement, Ryan’s detailed criticism helped sink it.
  • And, also that summer, during high-level talks between the White House and Republican leaders, Cantor and Ryan reportedly pressured Boehner to reject a potential deal with President Obama.
  • Through 2007, Ryan regularly requested government money for special projects back home. Earmarksgrew out of control during the Bush years, but most of what Ryan asked for, and got, was defensible: four hundred thousand dollars for a water-treatment plant; three hundred thousand for a technical college where G.M. workers could be retrained; seven hundred and thirty-five thousand for Janesville’s bus system; and $3.3 million for highway projects throughout Wisconsin.
    • In 2008, however, Ryan vowed not to request earmarks anymore; he later helped push through an outright ban.
    • As Janesville (Ryan’s home district) increasingly becomes a base for the business of distribution logistics, its single most pressing economic concern is good roads. Next year, I-90 around Janesville will begin expansion from four lanes to eight. The project, the top issue for the local business community since the G.M. plant closed, will be financed as part of a billion-dollar federal and state highway project. “Paul has been as helpful as he can be to encourage that development,” Beckord said. “But, as you know, he also has a philosophical disconnect with the idea of earmarks.”
    • We passed a warehouse-like building under construction where several men in hard hats were at work. Beckord explained that it would soon house the Janesville Innovation Center, providing entrepreneurs with commercial space in which to launch their ideas. The money came from a $1.2-million government grant through the Economic Development Administration, one of Obama’s major stimulus programs.
  • The current Presidential campaign centers on the debate about the government’s role in the economy. Ryan, by forcing Republicans to embrace his budget plan, has helped shape this debate.
  • Obama, on July 13th, told a crowd in Virginia, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He added, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
  • To Ryan, Obama’s words were anathema.

When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs

were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. 

But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan,

in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget

that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.

  • Ryan is frequently talked about as a future leader of the House Republicans and even as a long shot to be Romney’s running mate.
  • Ryan seemed unconcerned that pushing his policy agenda on Romney might damage the candidate. “I think life is short,” Ryan said at the end of our final conversation. “You’d better take advantage of it while you have it.”

read the entire article at … http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all


One Response to “* if the American people truly understand the choice, Obama will be a landslide winner”

  1. Chris said

    Two little war hawks. These two are so easy to vilify that nobody will notice what we are doing. America is a declining society. We have many to blame but it is only us who are responsible for allowing it. If a republican was in the white house dems would be screaming bloody murder for what is happening. But hey we are in power so it’s ok.

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