Sunday, August 12, 2012

With Selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R, Wi) for VP Mitt Romney Locks Up the Mitt Romney Vote

Partying Like Its 1996 All Over Again

Editor’s Note:  The Dismal Political Economist Gets it Wrong, Again

With his selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate Mitt Romney solidified the vote of all of those voters who were planning to vote for Mitt Romney in the first place.  Mr. Ryan is the darling of the fiscal conservatives because he wants to drastically cut the role of the federal government in the U. S. economy, to drastically cut taxes on the wealthy and to end Medicare once and for all.

As for as doing anything else for Mr. Romney, it is hard to see how this pick is nothing more than a concession to the conservatives who wanted a commitment from Mitt that he was one of them.  First of all, who makes a major announcement like this on a Saturday while the Olympics are still going on and everyone is either watching them or on vacation.  Do Mitt’s political advisers have any idea of how to play the game?

And as far Mr. Ryan giving Mitt an edge up in Wisconsin, again it is hard to see that happening.  Mr. Ryan is not all that popular even in his own district. His wins have come against lackluster opponents.  In fact, once the details of his Medicare proposals became known, the Republicans had to re-district Mr. Ryan to shore up his support lest he be vulnerable in the fall election. 

The choice also reverses one of the hallmark characteristics of the Romney campaign, namely that he would not give any specifics on his policy.  Now he is attached to the Ryan Plan, a plan which will now come under severe scrutiny and with that its two major flaws will be revealed.  The first is that the Ryan Plan numbers do not add up, the plan doesn’t do what it says it does with respect to the deficit.  This was rather strongly documented when it was first announced, and nothing has changed to make it any more credible.

The second issue is Medicare, which Mr. Ryan wants to end and replace with subsidized private insurance for seniors.  This is equally ludicrous.  For some reason Mr. Ryan may think that Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Oskosh is just dying to provide health insurance for an 85 year old with a history of heart disease, but nobody else on the planet thinks that is the case.  Given the way insurance companies treat the rest of us, how does turning over the most successful government program ever to them act as a campaign positive?

The choice of Mr. Ryan takes everyone back to the Dole campaign of 1996.  In that campaign an older Republican, Bob Dole, won the nomination because he was next in line, just like Mr. Romney did.  And just like Mr. Romney, Mr. Dole was not embraced by the true conservatives.  So Mr. Dole chose Jack Kemp to be his running mate.  Mr. Kemp was the truest of true believers in tax cuts, a person who felt that cutting the capital gains rate would cure every ill in society, not just the economic ones.  Dole and Kemp lost and now Mr. Kemp is just a hard trivia question answer.

The choice does give America a true choice, voters will choose to either continue America as it has been, or to radically change America to a country in which the federal government is largely charged with national defense, a treasury function, a justice function and foreign affairs.  Many Americans find that appealing on paper, but give them a taste of it (see the recent outrage by conservative mid-westerners and southerners over the tiny reduction in farm aid in the Senate passed farm bill) and they will find they don’t like it all. 

Finally, as the editor of this Forum notes, predictions here of a Marco Rubio choice or a Robert McDonnell choice turned out to be incorrect.  That should be a caution to all of  you.


  1. Unsurprisingly, the media response to Ryan's selection is mostly positive, but couched in euphemisms. Here are some translations of the media's terminology:

    "Ryan is a bold choice."

    Translation: We did not expect Romney to pick Ryan because he has no real accomplishments and no one likes him, outside of the members of the Ayn Rand Fan Club.

    "Ryan's blue-collar background and plainspoken manner will appeal to voters."

    Translation: Ryan has no personality traits we know of. Also, he does not own a car elevator or dressage horse.

    "Ryan will make the election a referendum on fiscal policy."

    Translation: Ryan has no perceptible skills except his ability to appear knowledgeable about fiscal policy.

    "Picking Ryan gives the Romney campaign a shot in the arm."

    Translation: We can't say that picking Ryan will help Romney win the election, but we don't want to be accused of liberal bias, so we will say something that would be applicable to any VP pick by any presidential candidate.

    "Ryan will energize the Conservative base."

    Translation: See above. As long as Obama is President, the Conservative base would be energized by Romney picking a dust mop or Dan Quayle as his running mate.

  2. DPE, you should not fault yourself for getting Romney's VP pick wrong. You had assumed that Romney would make a smart choice.

    I think Romney chose Ryan over more compelling options like Rubio and McDonnell because Romney does not see Ryan as a threat to steal the limelight. Romney wants people voting for him, not his VP. So he got a dull and insubstantial VP.

    I had predicted Jindal. Southern and ultra-Conservative with the veneer of intelligence, plus a minority whose family legally immigrated to the U.S. and found success. Folksy but no danger of becoming a distracting sensation like Palin.