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
economy, to drastically cut taxes on the wealthy and to end Medicare once and
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
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
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.