Saturday, August 11, 2012

Campaign window dressing

I sort of like Paul least much of his fiscal outlook on governance. He's young and energetic...and predictably spouts the requisite lines of limited government.

Of course he voted for the Patriot Act, TARP and the auto bailouts....and against medical he's not likely to sway my vote towards the GOP.

All in all, he was probably the best of the probable picks, but he's going to outshine his empty suit of a running mate. That will not likely bode well for Romney. VP picks are like sweeps week for the end leg of the campaign. Lots of attention, speculation and excitement amongst the media and pundit-sphere.

But in reality, a VP pick doesn't add a whole lot of weight to the ticket on Election Day. One point I found interesting was that not long ago Romney emphatically included an alleged exchange between himself and a business owner, where the citizen stated: "I'd like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I'd like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States." 

But Romney proceeds to choose as a running mate and potential successor and POTUS, a candidate who's business experience comes nowhere near that standard.
What’s more, Romney makes much on of not being a career politician or ever serving in Washington (ignoring, of course, that he could have been in the Senate for nearly two decades had he defeated Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994).
Yet Ryan, 42, has spent the bulk of his career in the capital. The House Budget Committee chairman has been in Congress since he was 28 and before that did stints as a congressional staffer and at the late Jack Kemp’s think tank, Empower America.And the very small but influential constituency that’s now promoting Ryan hails from the same orbit of GOP thinkers and politicians as Ryan.
Ryan’s time working in the business world is limited to the brief period he spent at his family’s construction business in Janesville, Wis. That was only a matter of months, though. According to published reports, he returned to Wisconsin after the 1992 loss of his then-boss, Sen. Bob Kasten, but was back in Washington the next year working for Empower America. He returned to the family firm once more as a management consultant in 1997 but spent just a few months there before launching his winning congressional bid the next year.
He included that exchange [as he includes in some degree in every campaign stop] to imply that his business experience is what sets him apart from Obama, and thus makes him a more viable candidate to grow the economy.

If the tired lines about the 'inside the beltway' and 'Washington insider' is to be taken seriously, he might have then chosen someone who was able to be held to that standard. There should be no surprise of course, when a politician specifies one standard for their opponent and another for themselves. It's all part of the game.

From Skeptical Eye, a snippet of Paul Ryan's voting history:

Paul Ryan on Bailouts and Government Stimuli
-Voted YES on TARP (2008)
-Voted YES on Economic Stimulus HR 5140 (2008)
-Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler. (Dec 2008)
-Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)

Paul Ryan on Entitlement Programs
-Voted YES on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. (Nov 2003)
-Voted YES on providing $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers. (Jun 2006)
-Voted YES on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks. (Oct 2008)
-Voted YES on Head Start Act (2007)

Paul Ryan on Education
Rep. Ryan went along with the Bush Administration in supporting more federal involvement in education. This is contrary to the traditional Republican position, which included support for abolition of the Department of Education and decreasing federal involvement in education.
-Voted YES on No Child Left Behind Act (2001)

Paul Ryan on Civil Liberties
-Voted YES on federalizing rules for driver licenses to hinder terrorists. (Feb 2005)
-Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
-Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)

Paul Ryan on War and Intervention Abroad
-Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq. (Oct 2002)
-Voted YES on emergency $78B for war in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Apr 2003)
-Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)
-Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days. (May 2007).


  1. So he's not a libertarian. No news there.

    I think this is an important pick.

    He's a budget lightning rod. The makes this election a de facto referendum on fiscal sanity and government program reform, with much of the debate centering around the disaster known as Obamacare.

    Romney is much closer to the Simpson-Bowles plan (which imho is too timid) which is well-regarded by the broad middle.

    I think this is a win. And if they get in on all those promises of restoring fiscal sanity and then backslide, they're done. Tea Party voters will run them out with torches and pitchforks.

    This is not perfect, but it's the best shot we have.

  2. Is it enough though? We need a shock to the system, not more of the status quo, where every election is 'the most important election ever'. This back and forth on the political teeter-totter between Democrats and the GOP hasn't led us anywhere but downhill.

    I fear simply acquiescing to more of the same. I've watched Republican candidates pitch the fiscal responsibility and limited government line too many times, to then see them govern like Democrats. I think the Tea Party voters will continue to let dust gather on their torches and pitchforks, because the line for the next campaign season will be the same as it is for this and the previous....

  3. "I fear simply acquiescing to more of the same"

    So do I, and I'm just as jaded as you are, but we want action. And Paul Ryan is about as big a shock as can be without becoming politically unviable.

    Incrementalism, my friend. Ronald Reagan grew government, but he planted a seed (or maybe watered the seed planted by Goldwater?), we are a much different country today, an libertarianism is gaining a hearing in the public square among ordinary people. Even 20 years ago, it was seen as a club for dope smoking swingers, now it's ideals are going mainstream.

    But we've got to learn one thing from the Progressives: They don't eat things in one big bite, the gain ground through decades of little nibbles and snarks.

  4. It's certainly difficult to disagree with much of your position.....but haven't we been trying the incrementalist approach the entire time? And doesn't that approach rely on a certain period of time in office and in Congress?

    Much falls on things working out just right for this approach to have traction.


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