Paul Ryan’s budget seems to be one for deft acrobatics. When it comes to the Republican stance on the budget, it’s difficult to keep pace with what the GOP is offering from one day to the next.
Paul Ryan said for years that Ayn Rand was the single greatest influence of his life. The Russian author and atheist, whose writings suggested the wealthy elite are to be set aside and given special treatment, clearly struck a chord with the young Republican in his formative years. Accordingly, he produced a budget which he titled "The Path to Prosperity," something which he felt worthy of his mentor.
The budget is straight out of Atlas Shrugged. It cuts taxes on the wealthy, slashes the social safety net, and creates a balanced budget (but in 28 years!). It ends Medicare as we know it by creating a voucher system which people can use to buy their own private insurance. Certainly, this budget would be implemented in environment in which the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and people would be once again left at the mercy of the insurance industry.
To no one’s surprise, the budget has been lampooned by the left. The Bishops and nuns of Ryan’s own Catholic faith called the budget “immoral.” Ryan shamelessly tried to defend the budget in Catholic publications by claiming it would increase jobs which would benefit the poor. Ayn Rand would have been proud. Mitt Romney certainly was, as he tapped Ryan as his VP candidate.
One would certainly expect the Democrats to oppose the budget, but Republicans, some in tight races or Democratic districts, have also run from it. Some are even running commercials stating their opposition to it. At the GOP convention, Ryan all of a sudden stopped mentioning Ayn Rand and claiming that Jack Kemp is his economic influence. As if on cue, many on the right began spouting a party line that this is the Romney ticket, and that the Republican budget will be the Romney budget, not the Ryan budget.
Romney has given few specifics about his budgetary plans. What he has put forth was called mathematically impossible by the non partisan Tax Policy Center. Like virtually every other issue, Romney has been murky about what he would do or how he would do it. He claims he will increase military spending, while not touching social security or Medicare. His quasi budget calls for a huge tax cut for the wealthy and a tax increase on the middle class. And he says all of this will balance the budget. If we believe the few specifics that he offers, 57% of government will have to be slashed to pay for his wish list. But, being specific seems to be the one thing this ticket seeks to avoid.
The Romney Ryan ticket is asking us to believe a lot. We’re asked to believe all of this will create more jobs. We’re supposed to believe a man who has flip flopped on every major issue several times. We’re supposed to believe he cares about the middle class. We’re supposed to believe in a package of beliefs and platform goals that is nebulous at best. I suspect we’ll need to see more concrete ideas and consistency from Mr. Romney before that belief sets in.