Paul Ryan

It used to be that the Republicans would run as the “no new taxes” party. Now we have a Republican ticket that is effectively promising to raise taxes on most Americans, while giving huge tax cuts to the richest Americans. At the risk of sounding portentous, I can’t help but wonder if we are entering a new phase of capitalism, one in which politicians no longer even pretend to care about the general welfare. Ronald Reagan pretended to be a friend of the working class, even as he attacked workers’ living standards. Romney and Ryan are effectively giving the finger to the working class. They are here to benefit the rich, and they want everyone to know it. The question is: how many Americans will buy this? True, there are a lot of people who have read Atlas Shrugged, but there are a lot more who haven’t. Not everybody has been indoctrinated into the Randroid zombie army. Not yet, anyway.

There must be a deep affinity between Romney and Ryan, for one can see no other reason why Romney would choose him. According to this article in the New York Times, Ryan doesn’t give Romney any electoral advantage. Being a Catholic, he won’t help the Mormon Romney with evangelicals, although he won’t hurt him either. The Catholic fanatic, Rick Santorum, had his strongest support during the primaries among Protestant fundamentalists. (Interestingly, Santorum tended to do poorly in states with large Catholic populations.)

Ryan’s proposed budget calls for cuts in Social Security and effectively scrapping Medicare. As I have pointed out before, attacking Social Security and Medicare is a losing argument for the Republicans, since their largest voting base consists of old people. Ryan has even echoed Rick Perry’s claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Perhaps Romney and Ryan are gambling that their supporters are too senile to know what they are talking about.

In this admiring article about Ryan from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (“Wisconsin’s Free Market Think Tank”), we learn: “With his father’s passing, young Paul collected Social Security benefits until age 18, which he put away for college.” Assuming that Ryan is a principled man, he would certainly want to return his ill-gotten gains from our national Ponzi scheme, wouldn’t he?

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