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August 2012, Week 2

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Sat, 11 Aug 2012 12:07:06 -0400
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Paul Ryan? Seriously?

By John Nichols
August 12, 2012
The Nation

http://www.thenation.com/blog/169285/paul-ryan-seriously

    This appeared three days before the official
    annouuncement of Ryan selection - Portside

Of course Paul Ryan wants to be Mitt Romney's vice
presidential running mate.

The hyper-ambitious political careerist - who has spent
his entire adult life as a Congressional aide, think-
tank hanger-on and House member - is looking for a road
up. And he is sly enough to recognize that, like Dick
Cheney with George Bush, he could be more than just a
vice president in the administration of so bumbling a
character as Romney.

Ryan figured Romney out months ago.

The two men bonded during the Wisconsin presidential
primary campaign in late March and early April. They got
on so well that Ryan was playing April Fool's Day jokes
on the Republican front-runner - giving Romney a rousing
introduction before the candidate came from behind a
curtain to find the room where he had expected to be
greeted by a crowd of supporters was empty.

Romney loves the prep-school fraternity that he has with
Ryan, and every indication is that the former governor
would be delighted to add the House Budget Committee
chairman to his ticket.

The conversations have occurred. The vetting has been
completed. It could happen. And, indeed, as the time for
choosing nears, the Ryan buzz has been amplified -
mainly by the Wisconsin congressman's friends at The
Weekly Standard, which has editorialized
enthusiastically on behalf of his selection, and other
conservative media outlets. But, now, even ABC's "Veep
Beat" headlines "Paul Ryan's Rising Momentum."

There's just one problem.

Vice presidential nominees are supposed to help tickets,
not hurt them.

Romney clearly needs help. Just back from a disastrous
trip to Europe and the Middle East, mired in
controversies about the "vulture capitalism" he
practiced at Bain Capital and his refusal to release tax
returns that his dad - former Michigan governor and 1968
Republican presidential contender George Romney - said
contenders for the Oval Office had a a responsibility to
share with the voters, Romney could use a boost.

But Ryan would be a burden, not a booster, for a Romney-
led ticket.

Like Romney, Ryan is a son of privilege who has little
real-world experience or understanding. He presents well
on Sunday morning talk shows and in the rarified
confines of Washington think tanks and dinners with his
constituents - the Masters of the Universe on Wall
Street - but his record in Congress and the policies he
now promotes are political albatrosses.

Some Republicans, perhaps even Romney, do not get this.

But the Obama campaign recognized, correctly, that
Ryan's positioning of himself as the point man on behalf
of an austerity that would remake America as a
dramatically weaker and more dysfunctional country makes
him the most vulnerable of prominent Republicans.

Ryan scares people who live outside the "bubble" of a
modern conservative movement that thinks the wealthiest
country in the world is "broke" and that Ayn Rand is an
literary and economic seer.

The House Budget Committee chairman imagines himself as
a high priest speaking unfortunate truths about debts
and deficits, the unforgiving foe of social spending who
would gladly sacrifice Social Security, Medicare and
Medicaid on the altar of debt reduction. Ryan has
branded himself well within Republican circles, so well
that he has parlayed himself into contention for the
vice presidential nod. To get that nomination, however,
Ryan must count on the prospect that the party that
takes as its symbol the memory-rich elephant will
suddenly suffer a spell of forgetfulness. That's because
the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, for all his
bluster, is anything but a consistent advocate for
fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. He is, in
fact, a hypocrite,

Or, to be more precise, a hypocritical big spender - at
least when Wall Street, the insurance industry and the
military-industrial complex call.

Ryan has been a steady voter for unwise bailouts of big
banks, unfunded mandates and unnecessary wars. Few
members of Congress have run up such very big tabs while
doing so little to figure out how to pay the piper. How
has Ryan gotten away with his fool-most-of-the-people-
most-of-the-time politics?

For the most part, he has until recently flown under the
radar - dazzling fellow Republicans with fiscal fancy
footwork, while dancing around weak Democratic
opposition in his home district.

But no more. This year, Ryan is being called out by an
able challenger with actual experience in the private
sector, as well as local government. Rob Zerban, the
congressman's Democratic challenger, is not fooled by
Ryan's budgetary blathering.

Zerban is familiar with Ryan's record. And he has been
calling the budget committee chairman out on his "faux
fiscal credentials."

"Congressman Paul Ryan can grandstand about the debt all
he wants, but at the end of the day, Ryan is a root
cause of many of the financial issues our country faces
today," says Zerban."From supporting two unfunded wars,
to dumping millions of senior citizens into the Medicare
Part D `donut hole' while tying the hands of the
government to negotiate prescription drug prices, and
from fighting for subsidies for Big Oil that his family
personally benefits from, to supporting the unfunded
Bush tax cuts for his wealthiest campaign contributors,
Paul Ryan's hypocrisy is astounding."

Even as national Republicans "vet" Ryan as a potential
running mate for Mitt Romney, Zerban has been revealing
the reality of a congressman who may talk the talk but
who has never walked the walk. "Congressman Ryan fell
down on the job, and is now trying to push the blame for
his bad policy decisions onto President Obama," says
Zerban. "Congressman Ryan had ten years in Congress -
almost all with a House Republican majority - to reduce
the deficit, prior to President Obama's election. He did
nothing."

That's right.

If, by some chance, Paul Ryan were to become the
Republican nominee for vice president, the whole country
would be talking about his duplicity when it comes to
the balancing of budgets.

Ryan's first vulnerability would be the legitimate
concern about his willingness to rip apart the social
safety net, under the guise of "reforms" that would
undermine and eventually destroy Medicare, Medicaid and
Social Security.

But under the serious scrutiny to which he would finally
be subjected, Ryan would be revealed as something worse
than a fiscal fabulist.

He would be revealed as a hypocrite of the highest
order. Americans can handle hard truths and bold ideas.
But they're not so good with hypocrisy.

And they wouldn't be so good with Paul Ryan.

___________________________________________

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