URBAN JOURNAL: Romney and Ryan


Shortly after Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his running mate on Saturday, The Atlantic’s James Fallows suggested

Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president: Paul Ryan PHOTO COURTESY GAGE SKIDMORE

that the choice was good not only for Romney but also for the country. Given his outspoken conservatism, Fallows said, Ryan’s presence on the ticket means that voters will be able to focus on the crucial issues facing the nation.

Lord knows that would be a blessing. We really do need to have a national discussion about the role of government, the future of Medicare and Social Security, defense spending, the tax structure, that kind of thing.

If Ryan is to be more than a pretty face on campaign posters, political discussions could move to substance. And the debates could be enlightening – maybe even significant.

The reason for the excitement surrounding the Ryan pick, of course – among conservatives and liberals – is that unlike Romney, Ryan has spelled out his positions clearly. And so far, at least, he hasn’t dodged and weaved about them. He has a strong anti-abortion record, voted to cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood, supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, opposed repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and opposes stronger gun-control measures.

He’s most well known, of course, for his fiscal conservatism and his budget plan, which would lower taxes on the wealthy and on corporations (and run up the deficit), turn Medicare into a partial voucher program, and slash federal spending (except for defense).

Those stands will drive conservative Republicans to the polls – and Democratic leaders seem to think it’ll fire up their base and help Obama lure back disaffected liberals.

And maybe James Fallows is right. Maybe at last we’ll have a national discussion about the role of government – what it can and should do, what it can’t and shouldn’t, how to best stimulate the economy, whether tax cuts for the wealthy help or hurt, whether cutting government spending in a recession is a good idea….

But the Ryan selection may be as big a risk for the Obama campaign – and for all of us – as it is for Romney. Big Money is playing a larger role in this campaign than it ever has, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Money’s ads – laden with slogans and distortions – determine the outcome of this election.

Ryan is only the vice-presidential candidate. And as campaign officials have said, this is the Romney-Ryan ticket, not the Ryan-Romney ticket. But we have to assume that Romney’s choice actually means something.

So far, Romney has proved to be a bundle of unknowns. Given his position shifting, his statements seem more like political calculations than professions of belief.

Romney desperately needed conservatives’ votes to win the Republican nomination. He’ll desperately need them to have any chance at being elected. Until Saturday, though, you could hope that as president, he might return to his moderate roots.

Now, though, he has done more than mouth hard-right beliefs. Now he has attached himself firmly to a leading young conservative.

And unless he is more cynical than I had thought – and unless he is strong enough to resist the howls of conservatives if he stiffs his vice president once he’s in office – we are getting a look at the real Romney, the Romney who will craft budgets and shape programs and hold the veto pen if he is elected.

And if this isn’t the real Romney? Then his vice-presidential choice says a lot about the conservative lock on the Republican Party.

“The Right has a firm grip on the Romney campaign, which will grow tighter if he’s elected president,” Jamelle Bouie warned on the American Prospect website on Saturday.

“The stakes have just been raised,” Bouie wrote. “If Obama loses, we can look forward to President Mitt Romney, Vice President Paul Ryan, and the most right-wing presidential administration in modern American history.”

Media reports over the weekend said that Obama campaign officials were all smiles about Romney’s selection of Ryan. I’m not sure they have anything to celebrate.




  1. Troll Whisperer · · Reply

    A Romney presidency wouldn’t be any less radical right wing were it not to have included Ryan. Romney had made that quite clear. The solution is to win, and take back Congress.

  2. The “most right-wing presidential administration in modern American history”? After four disastrous years of the most extreme far-left regime in history, that sounds like progress!

    1. Troll Whisperer · · Reply

      We just had the most radical administration in our history – the Bush Catastrophe. Obama as some extreme left-winger? Right – like he borrowed his health bill plan from that Marxist think tank, the Heritage Foundation. And he even mimicked Romney there. It’s to the right of Nixon’s health plan – but I guess Nixon was a radical left-winger, too. And don’t get me started on that Commie dupe, Eisenhower. I mean, just look at his marginal tax rates. Or how about that radical left-winger, Ronald Reagan. Obama borrowed his nuclear weapons sensibilities from Ronnie.

  3. How about discussions about what government is not capable of providing? Obama made more promises in 2008 than any presidential nominee EVER (over 500). Look at his biggest promises-
    to cut the deficit in half- he has nearly tripled it, to be a unifier- things are undeniably more divisive- health care reform- premiums are already up between 8 and 9%, more than a million have lost their insurance provider, doctors hate it, most of America doesn’t want it not to mention it was rammed through in the middle after no one read it- and the economy!!! All we have heard is excuses. If all of this with the economy was the result of things “being so much worse than we thought” how the heck are we supposed to rely on health care reform not being “worse than they thought”?! This is a bloated, unreliable mess of a government, with arrogance to boot. Democrats are giving away other people’s money and then acting as if they are generous and caring because of it! It’s not generosity when it’s not your money!! It’s selfish and dangerous because it’s bankrupting everyone!! Wake up!!

  4. Anonymous · · Reply

    Good analysis Mary Anna. I have mixed feelings about how this will go. If I thought the American voter was smarter and more informed on average I’d be happy that this would put an end to Romney…but I’m scared. Hoping this energizes the left to see what a puppet Romney is and how important this election is.

    1. Have you allowed yourself to read or watch anything critical of Obama? He has promised more than is possible- you could take EVERY penny from the rich in this country and not come anywhere close to paying for his programs. The middle class is going to pay for all of his reckless spending- although it may be after he’s gone so that supporters like you can go on thinking he’s a demigod. Please stop saying that people who oppose Obama are stupid or not informed- argue his policies if what he is doing is so great. His policies stink. B.O. stinks. He has nothing good to run on so he is turning this into a nasty campaign- the EXACT type of divisive rhetoric, LIES, stereotyping, class warfare, pitting you against your neighbor- that he has continually condemned and acted as if he was above.

  5. ranman77 · · Reply


    Really…and you’ve counted every promise, made by every person, that’s ever been a presedential candidate? Really? Who was in second place…who was in fourth…fifth? I suspect that like most Republicans, you say something, and in your mind, it therefore becomes the truth.
    President Obama’s promise to cut the defecit in half included raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans (something you and like minded Republicans have fought tooth and nail), and full implementation of his stimulus package (which in large part was gutted by Republicans to insure it’s failure). Every economic expert agreed that the stimulus put forth after the Republicans gutted it, was not large enough. Every non partisan economic expert since has agreed that without getting rid of the Bush tax cuts, and reforming entitlements, you can’t reduce the deficit. But who needs facts when you have good old fashioned rhetoric? As for president Obama not being a “unifier”. You can’t unify people that have no interest in coming together. When you have a Republican member of congress yell out that the president, and Commander in Chief is a liar as he’s addressing the nation, when you have Mitch McConall openly state that his main goal is to see that president Obama is a “one term president” only 2 yrs. into his presidency…well, it makes any Republican call for unification ring hollow.
    Here’s what I know about health care reform…33 million more people will now be insured, seniors now pay less for prescriptions, children can now stay on their parents health plans longer, no child, or adult can be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Exactly which one of these benefits are you against? As for all doctors hating it, and most Americans not wanting it…again, just because you say, it doesn’t make it true. Hospitals love it. I’ve seen plenty of interviews with doctors that like it, and while it may be true most Americans don’t like the mandatory requirement, when you break down the individual benefits, most Americans support all of them. Here’s the other thing I know…it was upheld by the Supreme Court. As for the economy, I’ve got a question…where are all those jobs that were supposed to be created by the Bush tax cuts that have been in place for 12 yrs? Oh wait…I know…they’re in China, and India, and Brazil, and Mexico. Too bad all the people they’ve put back to work live in other countries. Unless those Democrats that are giving away “other people’s money” have stopped paying taxes, then it is their money they’re also giving away. If I were you I’d be more worried about the guy that say’s “I’m going to cut my taxes as much as possible, so I can pay as little as possible, while I raise yours”

  6. ranman,

    Of recent history, Bush made 177 promises, Clinton made 207. The significance of a man who had never run anything and who mostly voted “present” as senator- making 500 campaign promises- is it is a microcosm of his entire presidency- form over substance- entirely unrealistic about what government is actually capable of doing.

    Some how his supporters, who were convinced that he was going to do things differently, that he would hold himself to a higher moral standard, think it’s OK if now, he doesn’t. No accountability for failure. Self flagellation for the country because you still hate Bush.

    If you think that our problems with the deficit are due to rich people not being taxed enough, then you have not done your research and you have fallen for the exact slight of hand I accused Obama of. There is not enough money. PERIOD. Obama and the dems ran government for 2 years- when the stimulus was written- “gutting” by the Republicans didn’t happen. There is far from unanimous consensus by economists on the necessity of the stimulus and what it “accomplished”. Arguments like, “it could have been much worse,” are absolutely unverifiable because we will never know otherwise. Where’s the Democrat run Senate’s budget been the last 3 years? Why has our deficit been over a trillion dollars 4 years running? Fiscal irresponsibility, by both Democrats and Republicans, but Democrats are still ADDing entitlements and not reforming anything. Checks the country cannot cash- then Republicans get blamed for being cold hearted.

    You have no upper hand in arguing the other side has the bigger jerks. Obama knew the divisive nature of Washington and made his promises anyway. Now he points his finger just like everyone else- and takes money from men who use the “c” word. And from Wall Street. He has taken millions from Wall Street.

    The Daily Caller has said that 83% of doctors have considered quitting over Obamacare! I’d say that means they don’t like it. Insurance does not translate into care. The US government was already the world’s largest insurance provider because of Medicare and Medicaid- and both programs are rife with problems. Yes, health care in our country needs reform- watch Paul Ryan on You tube on a congressional panel showing Obama the problems with Obamacare.
    Constitutional policy doesn’t mean good policy.

    Democrats are giving away more than their own money, they are giving away money that is our children’s and grandchildren’s- money that does not exist. Again, this is not generosity, this is bribery, at everyone’s expense, to try to look like the “good guys”. Mitt Romney gives over 20% of his income to charity, he gave away every penny he inherited from his father. Obama and Biden, both rich, do not regularly tithe- Biden doesn’t come anywhere close. Voting democrat doesn’t mean you are generous!

  7. starkravingmad · · Reply

    I hear some talk of form over substance, but see no substance in the latest reincarnation of Warren Harding. There is some confusion here I believe in what is true substance, a great deal of repeating the lies over and over until people believe them, the finger prints of Karl Rove are all over this campaign, sound familiar? I find it interesting that people can speak so often of their strong beliefs in the family, in their community, in charity for all and not demonstrate compassion for all, vis a vi, the desperately essential social programs that are in place and should remain so.
    We are at a crossroads here, and the direction we move now will either take us back to the policies and philosophies that brought us to where we were four years ago, or continue to move us forward. There has been mention of the promises that were made in the last campaign and those that have not been fulfilled. I think it would be a challenge to factor in how the stonewalling by congress has affected those promises, but worthwhile to consider I do know that the President repeatedly stated that turning the mammoth tide of issues facing the country when he took over would not occur in four years. Try to think in terms beyond, “I’ve got mine”…try.

  8. more generic talk- as is to be expected. Instead of being touchy feely, you might do well to think in terms of reality. Did you not watch the above video? Are you not listening to the proposed solutions of your “enemies”? If you were go to the grocery store and you wanted to buy a steak that cost $20, but you only had $19, you would not be able to take home that steak. End of story. If you don’t have the money, you can’t promise your friends that you’ll be serving them steak for dinner. It would not be compassionate to make that promise, because you wouldn’t be able to keep it. In fact, it would be cruel.

    This is not about selfishness. This is about reality. This is about the FACT that we have limited resources from which to draw. By voting for Obama, you are asking for the consequences in Europe. Caos, bankrupcy. Debt for us and for generations to come. Dependency. “I’ve got mine” is the attitude of the left- of the unions, of all those who are so hardwired to see things in terms of what government should be doing for them. Demanding money you didn’t earn. The solutions being proposed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan deal in actual numbers- they deal in reality. There is plenty of room to help the needy- there is plenty of waste to cut.

    If the IRS took 100% of the income of everyone in this country making over 1 million dollars a year, that would be $616 billion. Our deficit for THIS year is 1 trillion. (AS IT’S BEEN THE LAST 4 YEARS!!!)

    While Obama is saying “tax the rich!” to all sorts of cheers and high fiving from the left- the absolute FACT is, this is a spending problem and he keeps spending. It is naive and dangerous to put your faith in getting solutions from continually digging into the pockets of others to invest in progressive programs that repeatedly fail. There is no compassion in being impractical. Higher taxes will flatline into lower revenue for the government because the rich have ways of getting around paying more- like moving to different countries- or like Tom Golisano did- leaving the state. Progressive solutions often hurt who they are intending on helping- example- a few years ago, the left was going to “give it” to the rich by taxing yachts! Yeah! Rich people shouldn’t have yachts! Well guess who suffered? The middle class Americans who make yachts- their business plummeted when the rich just bought yachts made in different countries.

    BOO hoo on Congress interfering- I mean really, get over that you are not a good politician unless you can get things to work anyway- and Obama has gotten plenty of what he wanted- which is why we are running out of money!!

    Put your hatred of Bush aside and see that every person is their own person, and you can’t lump every Republican, Conservative or anyone else you disagree with into villains. This is a continuous thread of this paper, of many who write comments like yours, of liberal argument- they are the bad guys, we’re the good guys- they want people to die and go hungry and live in polluted cities……. HOW EASY to sum up the opinions of those you disagree with! Read some libertarian thought if you can’t get past Republican social issues- John Stossel is a good place to start.

  9. starkravingmad · · Reply

    wow gee…umm sit down there chief..you’ll hurt yourself…thanks for the heads up on the John Stossel, been there read that. Here is a name for you, Ayn Rand, your blue eyed boy has a crush. …no response on the Warren Harding comment, are you up on your Malcolm Gladwell…by the bye, I’m a plant eater…easier on the environment…..:) Read it all, debated it all, your Messiah tripled the national debt while he was in office, and he who’s name will not be mentioned?? WMD, yes for some of us history did not begin on 1/20/09…stick a fork in this old carcass, because I’m done.

  10. hmm, “read it all, debated it all,” I am sure. Obama’s debt is unlike anything in history and it will ruin us- I am still looking for a response to that one.

    I have made no praise of Bush in this entire discussion. If you are skeptical of the power of government (which I am) then seek to shrink it’s authority and size. Obama promises the opposite. And Obama’s no pacifist, in case you missed what he’s been doing with drones and authorizing the killing of civilians.

    Warren Harding has been dead since 1923. If you are going to make a connection between Harding and Mitt Romney and if you expect some sort of response, it would help if you did more than just mention his name.

  11. its not it’s- in the second paragraph

  12. starkravingmad · · Reply

    two wars don’t come cheap, and if The President were a pacifist you you would find fault with that, speaking of assumptions, the facetious first line…please! like you boys always say ” you have to spend money to make money” There’s no digging out of the hole you guys put us in without capital. You seem like a bright enough chap, look into some of these parallels between characters for yourself…I will give you a small hint…tall, handsome fellow,no ideals of his own that he would stick by in a pinch, easily manipulated by the wealthy…you know…a sock puppet. Now toddle off….and deny someone steak….errr….I mean health care, because we can’t afford it…the richest nation in the world and we can’t afford it….no more, please, my bleeding heart won’t take it. Wouldn’t that be fortunate…

  13. Two wars did not cost 5 trillion dollars. Two wars, that Obama has continued right on schedule with. Many people voted for Obama because he had voted against the war in Iraq. He seemed to be a pacifist. He has not acted like one.

    Speaking of assumptions, I am not a boy or a chap, let alone one of “you boys” or a war hawk- I agree with cutting defense spending and I know that has not been stated as a goal by Romney- he is not a perfect candidate, but of the two, there is no comparing. You forget that for all the talk that democrats care about the poor and Republicans don’t- that poor people are poorer today under Obama. Minorities have soaring unemployment rates. Yours is the same, mindless argument said over and over again- as if those who disagree with you are evil- as if because I think Obamacare is the wrong answer to our health care problems that means I want to deny people health care. The U.S. government is already the world’s largest insurance provider and they stink at it- $34 + trillion unfunded liability. That’s 34 trillion dollars promised that do not exist. Our costs are rising exponentially- that is the problem- and Obamacare offers NO solution. It won’t matter if you have insurance when there’s no doctor to see you. It won’t matter if you have insurance when hospitals go under because of lack of reimbursements. These are not petty, mean spirited problems, as you like to simplify. When things are bad, the poor and the sick suffer first. Things have not gotten better and they will not under Obama. Hint: he’s never run anything before.

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