When Congressman Paul Ryan’s name surfaced as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney surfaced I thought to myself “that would end Mitt Romney’s chances at becoming president.” As many of you may know, I am a harsh critic of Ryan’s record.
Lest you think I am alone in this conclusion, when he was introduced as the GOP Vice Presidential nominee, Facebook immediately lit up with commentary blasting the choice (for a great many excellent reasons). One such person was Roger Stone, a political consultant who has worked with every Republican presidential candidate from Nixon to McCain (he has given up on the GOP as hopeless)—and in every Republican administration during that period:
Paul Ryan. Smart guy. Too easily caricatured. Not electable. GOP death wish.
The main reason Ryan is such a poor choice is he was a reliable “yea” vote for George W. Bush, voting for every policy disaster from the administration. We’re just 4 years out from “anybody but Bush,” and Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and even many Republicans view the Bush years with disdain. Now Romney critics—many of whom already suspected he would be Bush III—have strong evidence that the Romney/Ryan ticket is an extension of the Bush years so loathed by many.
Thus, I wasn’t surprised when I stopped by MSNBC in search of Olympics coverage, and instead found a pundit (I do not know his name) who said the following after reviewing Ryan’s voting record:
[Ryan’s] the one who burned down the house . . . and now is complaining there’s no house.
And though I suspect the pundit is a liberal Democrat, he’s absolutely right.
With Paul Ryan, the ticket will be (accurately) labeled “Bush III,” and Bush III will not win the White House, period. Maybe twenty years from now, but not while Bush’s brand name is in serious disrepute.
So what was Paul Ryan’s voting record? Let’s review.
* Turned a balanced budget into massive deficits
* Supported a new underfunded entitlement—Medicare Part D
* Supported a massive anti-growth regulatory scheme—Sarbanes Oxley
* Supported an unpopular Iraq War
* Supported bank bailouts—TARP
* Supported auto bailouts
* Supported the individual liberty-trashing Patriot Act
* Supported further intrusion to states’ exclusive jurisdiction over education—No Child Left Behind
* Supported economic “stimulus” plans
And has Congressman Ryan gotten any better? Well, he voted for the recently-passed Highway Bill that massively increases highway spending, is “funded” with the same accounting gimmicks as ObamaCare, and inexplicably includes an unfunded extension of student loan subsidies. He continues to vote for reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and voted for the even more intrusive NDAA. And, he is head of the House Budget Committee (the House controls the nation’s purse strings)—and we will have a near-record deficit this year.
And the much-discussed Ryan Budget Plan? It reduces the 10-year deficit from $9 trillion to $7 trillion, and uses accounting gimmicks and overly optimistic assumptions to arrive at that much reduction. At no time does it reduce spending—it only slows the rate of spending growth, and not by much.
At some point Ryan should have had some real accomplishments before he could have credibility as a legislator, much less a VP candidate. The best that can be said about Paul Ryan is he has gotten marginally better than during the Bush years, and that’s not saying much. But in the end it’s his record of reliably voting with Bush that dooms the Romney/Ryan ticket (and probably is why the establishment chose him).
Paul Ryan may turn out to be the most important Vice Presidential candidate in history, because he finally gives the Democratic media substance to chew on. The lead man, Mitt Romney, is an open slate. As Republican commentator Peggy Noonan noted last Saturday, voting for Romney is voting for “nothing” because he hasn’t given a vision for America, or a plan as to how he will implement that vision.
Similarly, Romney’s Governorship has gone almost completely unvetted. The Democratic media hasn’t touched it because Romney was arguably the most liberal Governor in the nation at the time, and frankly, he didn’t do anything a liberal would criticize. The Republican media can’t go near it because there’s nothing in his record that a conservative should support. The election so far hasn’t had any political record being discussed on the Republican side.
I expect Paul Ryan’s voting record to become the focal point of the Obama campaign and the Democratic media—and it should be since actions speak louder than words. No more need to discuss Bain Capital, which wasn’t going anywhere for Obama anyway. Romney will be tied to Ryan’s Bush-era voting record because he’s the man who selected him (not really—he had to take what the establishment gave him, but that’s how it will be portrayed). And just like that, the election becomes Obama v. George W. Bush v. Gary Johnson.
The Republicans will not win the White House in that three-way race.
The only way Romney survives his VP selection is if the Democrats focus on Ryan’s “reform” proposals instead of his real track record, since most Americans understand America needs reform. But the whole notion of “Ryan the Reformer” begs the question: Why is he so keen on “reforming” fiscal policies he supported in the first place? Thus, even that discussion should loop back to his record.
The bottom line is when most Americans see his track record, they will not vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket when they see what Ryan has done to this country. They will see the formula of Mitt Romney + Paul Ryan = Bush III. And that puts Barack Obama back in the White House unless Gary Johnson can pull off a miracle come-from-behind victory.
I suspect Republicans will see the error of choosing Paul Ryan in the polling numbers by the end of the month. By then it will be too late to change course.
A question for Republicans: Did you vote for Paul Ryan to be Vice Presidential candidate? No? Did the GOP call and ask you your opinion? No? What kind of system do you call that, anyway?
As for me, I proudly cast my vote for my party’s Vice Presidential nominee, Judge Jim Gray.
This article is also published at The Country Thinker.