The most important decision Mitt Romney has made in his campaign so far, the selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan for his running mate, tells us two things — and neither bears good news for the middle class.
First, Romney has fully and unequivocally embraced the extreme Ryan budget plan. Earlier this year, he called it “marvelous” — now he’s made it his own. The Romney-Ryan plan would throw seniors under the bus and undermine their health security by ending Medicare as we know it. It would increase health care costs for seniors, including those on fixed income, by thousands of dollars a year.
The extreme plan proposed by this year’s Republican ticket would bring huge tax breaks to millionaires, paid for by tax hikes on the middle class, and massive cuts to investments that strengthen the middle class — priorities like education, health care, energy and scientific and medical research. Whether you are a college student trying to pay for school, a veteran worried about your health benefits, or a senior worried about retirement security, the Romney-Ryan plan is bad news. It would have devastating real-world effects on people young and old across the country.
Romney and Ryan have put ideology ahead of what’s right. They refuse to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans under any circumstance — not another dime, ever. Unlike the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan or the president’s balanced plan to reduce the deficit that include asking everyone to pay their fair share, the Romney-Ryan budget would reduce the deficit on the backs of seniors and the middle class.
Even the U.S. Conference of Bishops admonished the Romney-Ryan plan. So did a group of nuns who recently traveled by bus across the country with the message that our budget is not just our country’s fiscal map, it is our moral one. They rightly pointed out that, as it says in Corinthians, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it, if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
On the political front, Ryan’s selection is yet another sign that Romney is running to the far right and is the most extreme conservative candidate we have had in generations. The embrace of an ideologue like Paul Ryan may appeal to the Republican Party’s Tea Party base, but it will completely alienate independent voters, especially in battleground states.
Seniors in Ohio and Florida have every reason to worry what a Romney-Ryan administration would do to them when Medicare is handed over to private insurance companies and Social Security is subject to the whims of Wall Street. Voters should also consider that, even as our nation faces threats of terrorism and remains at war, for the first time in modern presidential history the Republican ticket lacks any national security credentials. It’s no coincidence, then, that its views on national security are dangerous and ill-considered.
Any voter wondering about our leaders’ values should consider what they do in the room when the tough decisions are on the table. While President Obama was in the Oval Office, making the toughest calls any president has had to make — how to save the economy from depression, rescue the American auto industry, bring affordable health care to millions of Americans or take out Osama bin Laden — Paul Ryan was in a different room.
He was sitting side-by-side with fellow House Republican ideologues John Boehner and Eric Cantor as they risked the full faith and credit of the United States, regardless of what it would mean for the middle class, jobs and women’s rights.
If there ever was a question about what this election is about, today’s announcement answers it. Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney has lacked a clear vision. Now he’s embraced a radical ideologue with a dangerous one. This election is absolutely a choice between two visions for our country’s future. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have solidified their roles as rubber stamps for the reckless and failed economic theories of the past.
Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking with Grease.” She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.