Mitt Romney named Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice-presidential running mate. So ... just what does that mean to Romney? And to the voters? This is MY take on the situation and I want to make this clear: I speak for no one else. I will NOT be sharing my opinions with my students; my job is to help them develop the tools they need in order to arrive at their own opinions.
Economics: The Romney-Ryan ticket finally has something to tell voters. Up until now, Romney ran as the "if you want to get rid of Obama, I'm the alternative whether you like me or not" candidate. He had no talking points, no plans, and couldn't even follow his own script. Now the Republicans have an economy script - and it was written by Ryan in the form of the Ryan Budget (approved twice by the GP-controlled Congress and endorsed wholeheartedly by Romney).
Ryan's budget gives additional, substantial tax cuts to the wealthy - at the expense of everyone else. The theory is this: the wealthy will then invest, create jobs, and the wealth will - magically - find its way down to the rest of us. Problem: the wealthy don't invest and create jobs. They send jobs overseas to save money and hike profits; they put money in offshore accounts in order to avoid taxes. Uh ... does that sound familiar, Mr. Romney? We already experienced eight years of those economic policies with George Bush. Add deregulation of a corrupt banking industry and two wars, and we ended up in the worst economic situation since the Great Depression!
So ... the Romney-Ryan ticket DOES give voters a VERY clear choice regarding the economy: go back to what has already failed or be bold and push forward with a plan that hasn't been given the time (or cooperation) needed to make it work. Warning to Obama-Biden: we want to see your plans, too!
Ryan is a darling of the Tea Party folks ... but Romney already had them. The GOP ticket will have to persuade independent and moderate Republicans that this is the way to go.
That brings us to social issues. Ryan's budget changes the way this nation treats our elderly, our ill, our women, and our poor. If you're over 55, you don't need to worry about Medicare being disemboweled but if you're under 55, you need to pay attention. Instead of getting actual health care when you are at the right age, you will get a voucher so you can purchase your own health insurance - if you can afford it. Ryan says competition will result in lower premiums but that's debatable. If you can't find health insurance that your voucher will pay for ... sorry, you're on your own.
I think that's going to be a tough sell to seniors - and those nearing the so-called "senior" years.
Ryan (therefore, Romney) wants to change Medicaid - the poor's access to health care. His plan would give block grants to states and give the states more freedom to determine who gets help - and how much. But the money is much less than states get now. So ... who's going to be left out?
This tact will, of course, be very popular with the Tea Party and the rich Republicans. Again, it may not play well with voters who have actually experienced some hard times and had to ask for assistance. They vote, too, you know. (Okay, they'll vote unless they are prohibited from doing so by the current rash of Voter ID regulations that are designed to engineer a Romney win - hey, a top Republican admitted that - I didn't make it up!).
Ryan wants to privatize Social Security. I don't know enough about his plan so if someone can give me some details, I'm listening! But I will say this ... Social Security is NOT an "entitlement." That money was yanked from my paycheck by my government and when it's time, I want some of it back!
As for women ... I see nothing about Ryan that should interest women who want to live in 2012 instead of going back to the 1950s. Romney, at one time, believed women should make their own reproductive choices; Ryan has never believed that. He has voted for every anti-choice measure, including a couple that ban some forms of contraception. Ryan says he will not fund Planned Parenthood, thus throwing thousands and thousands of women under the bus when it comes to health screenings, prevention treatment, and contraception. Ryan voted against re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a measure that's had bipartisan support since the very beginning ... until the current crop of Republicans took control of the House.
Romney won't get any female converts with Ryan on the ticket. He will have the extreme right - but he had them all along.
Education: College students can't be too thrilled with Ryan because he plans to slash Pell Grants. For thousands of young people, those grants are the only way they'll ever be able to enroll in a college course, let alone get the education they will need to compete in a global economy and help THIS economy grow.
The good news for Republicans: Ryan actually gives the GOP ticket something to talk about. It gives the campaign direction.
The bad news for Republicans: Ryan actually gives the GOP ticket something to talk about. But the direction may be too extreme and too restrictive to be popular with the average American who doesn't have enough money for an offshore account.
The good new for voters: We now have a VERY clear choice. We return to the Bush policies - and get what we got before. Or we push forward ... put statesmen in office instead of pledge-signing ideologues ... and work together to solve problems and improve the future.
I actually believe the 2012 election is the most important one in my lifetime. Unfortunately, many voters don't read anything other than the TV Guide or the mall sales promotions. They'll vote based on 1) their political party or 2) a 60-second TV commercial. Or they'll say politics doesn't affect them and they'll stay home.
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." ~Dante