Point of View Columns

Ryan’s Express

Say one thing for Mitt Romney, when he decides to capitulate he doesn’t bother to half-step. Ever since his failed presidential campaign crashed, burned and died in 2008, he has been determined to make sure that he would dance to the tune of the right wing of the right wing of what is now the Teapublican Party. Now, with his selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, he is literally welded to the most radical and punitive budget agenda that this country has ever seen.

As the leader of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney showed himself capable of being firmly focused on a goal – making money. With that mindset he was able to buy and sell companies, build and dismantle them, hire and fire thousands of men and women, all with the goal of making money. His success in pursuing that goal is clear in the hundreds of millions of dollars that he earned in his role as the CEO of Bain.

As a failed presidential candidate in 2008 he perceived his best opportunity for becoming the next candidate of the Republican Party would entail his catering the increasingly powerful right wing of the right wing. Despite the fact that his prior political positions were relatively moderate on issues like gun control, healthcare, immigration and abortion rights, he managed to make a rightward turn that would put all of his opponents on his left.

During this current campaign, while continuing his starboard lean, Mitt Romney had endorsed in principle the budget plan proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan. The words “in principle” gave Romney some wiggle room on the controversial elements of the Ryan plan. Now that Ryan is the presumptive vice presidential nominee and his running mate, Romney is wedded to a fiscal plan that would have to be modified in order to be called draconian.

The Ryan budget plan calls for nothing less than the dismantling of the federal government as it has been known for almost eighty years. The fact is that during these eighty years this country has experienced unprecedented growth and distributive prosperity that is unequaled in the history of this planet. And clearly this is without meaning or import to Ryan and his right wing cohorts.

The Ryan budget also calls for a radical overhaul of the federal tax code which will sharply decrease taxes paid by the wealthiest citizens of this country while actually increasing the tax burden on middle class and lower income Americans. By the time the Ryan budget is fully implemented, the concept of a progressive income tax system will be a faint memory discussed over tattered card tables in crumbling nursing homes.

And the nursing homes, where they exist, will be crumbling, because the Romney-Ryan budget will call for an overhaul of Medicare and Social Security that will result in fewer resources to assist the elderly and the needy. While Romney and Ryan spout platitudes about the American spirit, the clear goal of their budget is to shred the social safety net and turning this country into some kind of neo-Darwinian social experiment that is straight out of an Ayn Rand nightmare.

The Romney-Rand calls for absolutely no reductions in the bloated defense budget. Instead, expenditure reductions are proposed for education, transportation, the arts, the environment and infrastructure. One can easily see that these are all areas where this country needs more, not fewer, expenditures, but the Romney-Ryan vision doesn’t see it that way.

Romney and Ryan speak about not passing along a debt burden to future generations. But they fail to explain how future generations with fewer educational opportunities will succeed in the global marketplace where every developed and developing country is increasing expenditures in all phases of education. They fail to explain how future generations will move from city to city on an antiquated transportation. They also fail to explain how future generations will appreciate a society with a withered artistic and cultural aspect. A despoiled environment and a crumbling infrastructure hardly seem like a part of desirable inheritance.

Romney and Ryan know all about inheritance. Mitt Romney gave $10 million to one of his son’s to start a business. Paul Ryan’s father died when Ryan was sixteen, but he was an heir to a multimillion dollar family business (building roads for local, state and federal projects) that has made it possible for him to make it to the age of 42 while working in a real private sector job for less than two years. A paltry inheritance for most Americans seems to be okay with them.

After all is said and done, there will be a very clear choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Most American, including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, are the clear beneficiaries of a federal government that, while far from perfect, has provided hundreds of millions of Americans with a platform for success. The Romney-Ryan budget seeks to tear down that platform.

The choice is clear.