I see Romney's appointed swivel-eyed lolbertarian Paul Ryan as his running mate. I was expecting him to go with someone relatively inoffensive like Tim Pawlenty, or, at a push, Rand Paul. Ryan should shore up the Tea Party vote (not that they were going to go anywhere else anyway) but it's hard to see how his plans to take the axe to Medicare and social security are going to play with floating voters. It's also a big risk for Ryan, as being tied to a failed presidential campaign could effectively torpedo his career.This
profile from a few months back should give you some idea just how frightening Ryan's politics really are. When even Newt Gingrich thinks you're a far-right loon, something is clearly amiss.
The single moment that firmly established Ryan’s control over the GOP came in February 2010. Obama, reeling from Scott Brown’s victory in a special election that threatened to halt health-care reform, convened a free-floating health-care discussion at the Blair House with leaders from both parties. Republicans feared it was a trap to make them look closed-minded but didn’t dare boycott the proceedings. They tapped Ryan as their debate leader, and, politely but aggressively, he launched a detailed attack on Obama’s bill, describing it as a kind of accounting fraud. Conservatives were ecstatic at the spectacle.
With his newfound status as Wonk King of the Republicans, Ryan set about persuading his party members to adopt his sweeping manifesto, “The Path to Prosperity.” The House Republican caucus voted almost unanimously for the plan despite knowing full well Obama would veto it. It was an impressive and, given the unpopularity of many of its provisions, almost sadomasochistic display of party unity and ideological fervor. The calculation was that if Republicans could withstand blowback from voters and hold the House in 2012, and win the presidency and Senate too, there could be no question but that they would quickly implement Ryan’s plan. This is how a congressman not even in his party’s leadership had determined the domestic agenda of the next Republican president long before voters had decided who that person would be.
The basic elements of Ryan’s plan are this: The tax code would be collapsed into two rates, with the top rate dropping to 25 percent, but eliminating unspecified tax deductions would keep tax revenues at the current level, as set by the Bush tax cuts. Medicare would remain untouched for those 55 years old and older, but those under would be given vouchers at a capped rate. Given that the Medicare savings would not begin to take effect for more than a decade, that taxes would stay level (at best), and that military spending would increase, Ryan would achieve his short-term deficit reduction by focusing overwhelmingly on programs targeted to the poor (which account for about a fifth of the federal budget, but absorb 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts over the next decade). The budget repeals Obamacare, thereby uninsuring some 30 million Americans about to become insured. It would then take insurance away from another 14 to 27 million people, by cutting Medicaid and children’s health-insurance funding.
This is not a moderate plan. As Robert Greenstein, a liberal budget analyst, summed up the proposal, “It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.” And yet, Ryan has managed to sell it as something admirable, and something else entirely: a deficit-reduction plan. This is very clever. The centrist political Establishment, heavily represented among business leaders and the political media, considers it almost self-evident that the budget deficit (and not, say, mass unemployment or climate change) represents the singular policy threat of our time, and that bipartisan cooperation offers the sole avenue to address it. By casting his program as a solution to the debt crisis, by frequently conceding that Republicans as well as Democrats had failed in the past, and by inveighing against “demagoguery,” Ryan has presented himself as the acceptable Republican suitor the moderates had been longing for.