Paul Ryan: Good for the Democrats?
The selection of Paul Ryan has changed the dynamics of the 2012 election in ways that, for the moment, seem to advantage President Obama and the Democrats. It has focused attention on a few key issues that should be Democrats’ strength while diverting the spotlight from the slow economic recovery that is Obama’s Achilles heel: Do most Americans really want to voucherize Medicare and privatize Social Security? Do we want drastic cuts in what’s left of other social supports in order to give even larger tax cuts to millionaires? Most polls suggest not, and bumper stickers have already been appearing: Save Medicare, vote Democratic.
The selection of Ryan (as the cliché goes, you may disagree with him, but the man has his principles) has already forced Mitt Romney into a more visible embrace of positions that he would prefer to fudge. Alternatively, when Romney is pressed on whether he truly supports this or that extreme Ryan position, he equivocates, reminding voters of his trademark flip-flops. Seeing Ryan on the Republican ticket has also compelled Obama and the Democrats to mount a more consistent defense of core programs such as Medicare and Social Security — which, only yesterday, they were prepared to toss on the pyre of deficit reduction.
Meanwhile, closer inspection of Ryan’s own deficit reduction plans has smoked out the fact that his numbers are entirely phony. This past week, former Reagan budget director David Stockman, of all people, was moved to publish an op-ed taking indignant offense at Ryan’s bogus arithmetic. Stockman should know: It was his phony numbers that projected revenue gains from supply-side tax cuts that would more than compensate for the larger deficits. He later admitted that the whole ploy was a Trojan horse to shrink government. These Republican budget finaglers are good for true confessions only after the fact. One awaits Ryan’s memoirs. But I digress.
It’s also the case that while the selection of Ryan was intended to rev up the conservative base (he’s the thinking person’s Sarah Palin, the reasoning goes), in the end he may not be quite the right sort of
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