104 thoughts on “Paul Ryan?

  1. For Romney, it’s all about the taxes.

    Its always bemused me when people would say that Romney had no substance or was wishy-washy or some other term to indicate that he had no consistent principles. Yes he does, his #1 and overriding principle has always been about how to acquire the greatest amount and keep the greatest amount of money for him and his family. Everything he has done in his public life (political + business) has been to that end and this pick fits with that criteria.

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    • I’m surprised there are not more people calling comments like this out for their obvious hyperbolic bullshittiness. It’s ALL Romney has ever thought about or been motivated by? And Obama is a communist hellbent on destroying America — it’s all he’s ever wanted since he was old enough to begin planning his transformation of America. Obama’s every move has had one goal in mind — destroy America as we know it.

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  2. This tells me Romney still didn’t feel like he had his base locked up; that he didn’t think their anti-Obama feelings were going to be enough to get all of them to the polls.

    That said, off the cuff I think this is a pretty good pick for Romney, electorally. Ryan is despised primarily by those who wouldn’t have voted for Romney even if Obama did turn out to be a secret Muslim fascist socialist bent on making the U.S. a Kenyan colony. And Ryan has name recognition, which is helpful. And the campaign can honestly–truthfully–say that Ryan has put forth a budget proposal this year while the Congressional Democrats have not. (Never mind that Obama has, Congressional Democrats haven’t even taken up his proposal and tried to use it as their own). That might resonate with moderates.

    And if Romney wins, Ryan gives him a veep with actual congressional experience–experience in passing legislation. That could be helpful if Romney were to actually listen to him, and if Romney was the type of business person he appears to have been, he’s probably the type to listen and make use of Ryan’s knowledge in that area.

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  3. Just as important – picking someone like Ryan, whom many don’t have much of an opinion on, doesn’t absolutely force independents/social liberals to vote for Obama, like many might have had to do if he had picked someone generally disliked like Santorum (who I refer to as “the Jerry” – the looks of Seinfeld, the personality of Falwell) instead.

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    • I dunno: Although I think your suspicion is generally correct that rigid economic conservatives are largely apathetic about social conservatism, Paul Ryan’s voting record is plenty theoconservative on issues like gay marriage and abortion.

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      • Sorry, in case it wasn’t clear I wasn’t opining on Ryan’s *actual* social positions vs. Santorum’s (for all I know they are identical).

        I just meant that my sense is that, for most, Ryan probably doesn’t inspire the reflexive revulsion that Santorum does. That could just be a matter of Santorum making more of a name for himself in these areas (and, well, of course he’s had…er…’help’ in that arena).

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  4. What’s to gain? Ryan is identified with the issue of budget reform and not much else, so there are two primary reasons to pick Ryan — to double-down on the deficit, and try to flip Wisconsin.

    Those who are inclined to take Romney seriously as a better-equipped than Obama to reform the budget don’t need Ryan on the ticket to get there. Those who are inclined to think Obama is better-equipped on this subject dismiss Ryan as a very un-serious cat indeed. The persuadable 10% doesn’t seem to have much of an impression of Ryan one way or the other — perhaps because all of his various budget reform proposals are unpleasant (as such things must be).

    As for flipping Wisconsin, well, maybe. Scott Walker survived his recall, by a slim margin. The same factors that were in play there will be in play when considering Ryan’s appeal outside of Kenosha and Racine, where his own machinery is located. I doubt Ryan is popular enough in Madison and Milwaukee to have an impact on the state’s two largest population centers; if he does flip the state it’s going to have be by pumping up the volume in the state’s rural north and west.

    Personally, I liked the first budget reform proposal Ryan offered, the one that made a splash and lifted him to national prominence. I liked it for sevearl reasons: it had a very long-term vision to reach an audacious goal, it was very gradual in its scaleback of entitlement payments, and it was offered with a very explicit and seemingly earnest invitation to those who had other ideas to contribute and collaborate, up to and including raising taxes. Since then, Ryan’s reform proposals have struck a more partisan tone, failed to leave room for compromise and input from other points of view, and addressed entitlements as a bizarre hybrid of bogeyman and sacred cow. He’s been co-opted by the party’s machinery, and I liked him a lot better the way he used to be. Getting the #2 spot isn’t going to be a step back in the right direction.

    And since he let his ideas get co-opted by partisan machinery, his budget proposals have, for three years in a row now, raised the specter of breakdowns in budget talks with such fractious partisan polarization so serious that each time we’ve been threatened government shutdowns. He’s not the only one responsible for that, but he does get a piece of it. So I’m not buying the idea that “he knows how to work with Congress on the budget.” And he has no executive experience at all on his resume. I’d much rather have seen a state’s governor in the #2 spot than someone whose whole career had been in a legislature.

    So I’m not motivated to be any more supportive of Romney now than I was before.

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    • “What’s to gain? Ryan is identified with the issue of budget reform and not much else, so there are two primary reasons to pick Ryan — to double-down on the deficit, and try to flip Wisconsin.”

      I don’t agree with this necessarily, but for now let’s just note that the Wisconsin angle goes beyond Wisconsin, and there’s good reason to hope the Republicans can flip Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota all at once. It’s not just because of the magnetic personality of Paul Ryan (though that helps) but also because those states have significant cultural tendencies toward good government, the good-government, fiscal conservative credibility of the Republicans runs strong against the Solyndra/Government Motors/Fast and Furious cronyism of the Obama-era Demo’s.

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      • Er, the Republicans haven’t been fiscally responsible, or fiscally conservative, since before Reagan; they’ve run huge deficits under their last three presidents. “Cut taxes for the rich, increase military spending, and depend on borrowing to fund it” isn’t fiscal conservatism. Ryan’s proposal includes nothing about cutting military spending, or about raising taxes, so he’s no more fiscally responsible than any other Reaganite Republican.

        And if you can describe Bush’s presidency as “good government” with a straight face…

        (Also, btw, however ideologically distasteful you may find it, the government intervention in GM enabled to company to recover and pay back its debt to the government, and thereby saved a substantial number of jobs. This sets it apart from the failure of the much larger bank bailout.)

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  5. Like I said above, it may not gain him much – but had he picked Santorum, he might have lost more.

    In that scenario, many people – like me – would have likely held their noses and voted for Obama to make sure that Santorum never came anywhere near the WH, that is how much Santorum would have been a negative.

    So Romney may not have moved many swing voters into his column, but he (probably) didn’t shift many into Obama’s either.

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  6. This may be a sign to the fiscal conservatives that, hey, the Republicans are taking spending seriously again.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is a pretty danged low “neocon” quotient for this pairing as well, no?

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  7. The thing that I find curious is that this effectively means Mitt Romney owns the Ryan budget. Since we were just talking about how Romney’s best strategy was to stay low-detail, this seems to be a colossal mistake.

    I see this as high-five material for the Obama campaign team.

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  8. Oh, base shoring move. Take a look at the announcement timing — it was designed to gain as few actual eyeballs as possible. (It’s a VP pick, it’s gonna make headlines). Romney’s staff has been pretty open that they viewed the VP pick and the Convention as ‘reboot’ moments where they can wipe away the past.

    They just wasted one by announcing it early on a Saturday, during the Olympics, when only the politically interested are going to do more than skim it.

    Hence, base shoring. It wasn’t to get independents, it wasn’t to get a fresh look at Romney through his pick — he’d have announced prime-time on a weeknight after the Olympics wrapped. Where people would notice more.

    As for the politics of it — well, given Ryan’s actual budget, it plays right into the box Obama was squeezing him on in the battleground states (and now nationally). I mean, let’s face it — the Ryan plan is notorious for slashing the taxes of the rich, ending Medicare (replacing it with an insufficient voucher system that grows more so, with the lovely ‘But not for you old people who vote Republican!’ kicker that makes it seem extra cynical), and which actually makes the deficit worse in the name of making it better. (Slashing Medicare doesn’t actually pay for those tax cuts, much less works on the deficit).

    I suppose Romney’s hoping the chattering classes who loved Ryan for his ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ budget (Beltway code for “Really unpopular, but he said it anyways”) will still love him.

    Unfortunately, I think “austerity” is so last year. Even among the Beltway classes.

    Then again, I’ve been watching RedState and a few other Conservative blogs. He’s got NO chance without his base, and they were looking increasingly stay-at-home. They don’t like him at all. I suppose grabbing Ryan and hoping it makes the Erik Erikson’s of the world willing to vote for him is better than nothing.

    I don’t see it helping him electorally. The map is really against him, and Ryan’s plan plays into the negatives Obama has already established about him. (Richey Rich buying the Presidency to slash his own taxes on the backs of the working man. Since that was Ryan’s budget, it’s a double-down on the concept). Negatives that are working, judging by the polling spreads.

    Figure a week or two bump as his base shores up — but it’ll all be coming from soft Republicans, not the mushy middle.

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  9. As a practical matter, there is no “right pick” here. As in, a pick that most people outside of GOP circles would be calling anything but a bad. It’s the nature of the beast, this time around. To be a Republican is to be a “bad VP pick”.

    That said, it’s really pretty impossible to say whether this pick was good or bad in the actual sense until we see how he does (not that I’m not going to guess below). My pick would have been Thune, probably. There are a lot of the same pluses and minuses. And here is why I could be wrong…

    Ryan gives off an air of seriousness, and provides a little direction for exactly what the party means itself to be apart from simply hating on the president. He’s attractive, articulate, and a possible future face for the party (this gives him a trial run). These positives probably outweigh the negatives, the primary of which being that the plan for which he was famous has its problems from a popularity standpoint.

    This is probably a better pick than Pawlenty, whom I like more. The party is crying out for a bit of direction at the moment. Ryan provides that. Seeing as how I don’t expect the VP selection to add or lose votes, unless it’s a terrible pick, that’s not actually a bad basis on which to make the choice.

    So if I were to assign a grade, even though it’s really hard to say, I’d probably give it a “B” on a curve.

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    • “As a practical matter, there is no “right pick” here. As in, a pick that most people outside of GOP circles would be calling anything but a bad. It’s the nature of the beast, this time around. To be a Republican is to be a “bad VP pick”.”

      I think there is. For about the last week or so, the VP choice has come to Ryan or not-Ryan. McDonnell, Portman, or Pawlenty would be perfectly ok in a normal year, but the main benefit of Ryan is that he carries the possibility of changing the narrative of the campaign to issues the GOP intends to win on.

      And along with that, the idea that the GOP is not afraid of Mediscare campaigning from the Demo’s.

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      • the main benefit of Ryan is that he carries the possibility of changing the narrative of the campaign to issues the GOP intends to win on.

        I don’t see that happening, but we’ll see. A refined message wouldn’t be a bad thing.

        And along with that, the idea that the GOP is not afraid of Mediscare campaigning from the Demo’s.

        Which is funny, considering they used just that tactic to try to sink PPACA.

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        • “I don’t see that happening, but we’ll see. A refined message wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

          I do, especially in contrast to the last week or so when as the political class has been wondering out loud if Romney has killed people.

          “Which is funny, considering they used just that tactic to try to sink PPACA.”

          I’m afraid you’ve got that one backwards, Will. The old people had to clue the Republicans in for that one.

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      • Do you mean Mitch McConnell? That would be a bad choice. I don’t know how Republicans feel about him but he is just as much of a cartoon villain for Democrats. Obama can use McConnell as an example of needless obstruction for the sake of putting party above country. It would be a variant of 1948 with Harry Truman and the “do nothing” Congress.

        I agree that Portman and Pawlenty would probably have been better choices in some ways from a political prospective because they don’t give Obama and the Democratic Party any real fire. Both seem relatively popular within the Republican base and are presentable to undecideds as decent chaps. Ryan gives Obama and the Democrats an Ayn Rand-worshiping cartoon villain. My facebook feed is already lighting up with stuff against Ryan and his budget. I can’t have seen my Democratic friends (and I am included obviously) getting this worked up against Portman or Pawlenty.

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        • “Do you mean Mitch McConnell?”

          No, McDonnell, Republican governor of Virginia. McConnell has done a great job as GOP leader in the Senate imo, but is not suitable for a national ticket and as far as I know has no aspirations to be on one.

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        • I think he was referring to Bob O’Donnell, governor of Virginia.

          I think it would have taken longer to get worked up over Portman, but I think it would have happened.

          Not with Pawlenty, but that wasn’t Pawlenty’s problem.

          In any event, “let’s avoid firing up Democrats” is not necessarily the best of strategies.

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    • The better pick would have been Rob Portman. He’s popular enough throughout Ohio and has recent machinery in place there so that one of the two most critical states in the electoral college will always remain in Romney’s grasp. He has executive experience, budget (had been director of OMB, on Senate Budget Committee). You get some of the Chris Christie/Scott Walker union polarization for the base, and the social conservatives like him just fine. And you get some foreign policy-ish experience from his time in the Senate (Armed Forces Committee, Homeland Security Committee). Portman brings (would have brought) the whole package; I thought and still think he’s the best available choice.

      Ryan is an all-in, or at least a double-down, on the budget. The budget can be a strong issue for Romney so it’s not a bad move — just not the best available one.

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      • The big negative against Portman is that he was OMB director during Bush’s term. Which means Obama can bring up 2001-2009 and it’s actually somewhat relevant. I think that’s less of an anchor than a plan so unpopular that focus groups don’t actually believe it’s real (yes, this is a true story), but what do I know?

        I think Portman would’ve been the pick as other people said, if Romney’s camp believed they were tied or within a few points. This is the pick they make if they believe the only way to win is to completely change the conversation.

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        • Jesse, good point about the Portman-Bush connection. Toxic. FTR, Reps believe the race is tied: Gallup has it even and the others are oversampling Dems.

          I hear the logic is that Romney bought the Ryan plan and will be attacked for it anyway. Might as well have Ryan [ably] defend it.

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  10. …the good thing about the Ryan pick is that the Presidential campaign will instantly turn into a very clear choice between two distinct ideologies that genuinely reflect the core beliefs of the two parties.

    I think Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker has this about right. Paul Ryan’s plan, which Romney has endorsed, calls for non-discretionary spending at 3% of GDP within a few decades. Ryan would grow the defense budget at the same time. This is a NOT a middling position, but one that entails a dramatic change in what government would be resourced to do.

    If Romney wanted to give American voters a stark choice, he’s succeeded.

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  11. One thing this choice may indicate – which liberals can be happy about – is that Romney (and perhaps the Republican Party generally) doesn’t think he can win by playing on social conservative issues. Look back at how heavily the Bush campaign pushed opposition to gay marriage and abortion in both campaigns. In twelve years, gay marriage at least has gone from being a winning, turn-out-the-base issue for Republicans to one for Democrats.

    In that sense, this choice is a politically smart one for Romney: a lot of more left-wing Democrats are already unenthused about Obama. Social issues are the one area where. Picking a hard-core social conservative would have helped energize the more liberal flank of the Democratic party; whereas the far-right flank of the Republican Party already loathes Obama sufficiently to get them to the polls regardless of who Romney chooses as a running mate, and Ryan’s been adopted by the Tea Partiers.

    Regardless, this confirms that this election will be fought on economic issues; or at least, on economic rhetoric.

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  12. The cat gif is appropriate, not that it may not seriously be a serious symptom of something serious that self-styled serious people in all seriousness declare someone else to be serious on the basis of wholly unserious premises.

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        • Eh. There are picks Romney could have made that would have gotten me to say “Romney just lost the election” (though I don’t know that there are any picks that might get me to say “Romney just won the election”, there are a few that might make me say “Romney just fired a shot across the bow”) but this pick was *NOT* a “Romney just lost the election” pick.

          We’ll see what the fallout is.

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      • No, he’s not, though I don’t expect you to take my assertion any more “seriously” than I take yours. I see no evidence of a “serious” discussion of Ryan’s seriousness.

        Otherwise, I’ll refrain from attempting to characterize “almost all the comments,” but I don’t see why this LOOG-day should be taken as different from any other LOOG-day. As for the GOP, a good day for the GOP under present circumstances is a bad day for the GOP, and vice versa.

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  13. psrt of me thinks this the GOP establishment moving to kill the Ryan approach in its crib, or at least arrest its political development for the time being, so they don’t actually have to deal with it should they gain office. Romney’s already said today he’s not running on Ryan’s proposals. VP is the least autonomous position of its stature in the federal government. Perhaps someone can tell me, then, where this leaves the Congressman’s signature proposals for the next four years should the Romney-Ryan ticket prevail.

    Conservatives, I ask you sincerely: should people who strongly desire to see Path-To-Propertity-like fiscal policy enacted actually hope for a Romney-Ryan victory this election, rather than hoping for Ryan to bank the nod and run under his own banner in 2016?

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    • I actually think there’s an internal split that helped Ryan get on as VP.

      1.) Establishment Republicans, who want tax cuts for the rich and if they can get away with it, cuts in funding to poor people, but want to protect middle class entitlements (ie. Medicare/Social Security) because they know it’s political idiocy to go after those. So, throw Ryan on as VP, he gets beaten with Romney, and they can happily go back to Bush-era “fiscal conservatism.”

      2.) OTOH, true believers think that even if Romney does lose, being the VP candidate puts Ryan in the driver’s seat for 2016 and basically makes him the defacto leader of the GOP for Obama’s second term.

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    • Interesting note at the end of that piece, pointing out that under Republican House rules, Ryan’s chairmanship of the Budget Committee likely ends even if he returns to the House. If he’s going to continue as the spokesman for the Republican budget, he needs to be in the VP slot.

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  14. This will fire up Romney. I saw a speech he gave today, and it was far more passionate than the ones before. Ryan is good for Romney. Now, though, Romney has to give specific roll-backs he’s prepared to fight for. This is not about the best policy ideas, but about the best plan to roll-back statist advancements, and how to free the market from government clutches. I would love, also, to see Romney and Ryan talk about a sane, non-interventionist foreign policy — strong, capable, ready military, yes — interventionist foreign policy, no. I would love to see Obama talk about this too, but he’s going in the opposite direction, and indicators show he’s leaning toward some type of action against Iran/syria, soon, before the election. Political, of course.

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  15. If Romney was smart, he would start talking now about our insane interventions in the Mideast, to cut Obama off at the pass. Romney should call for our withdrawal from the region after a good plan of withdrawal is drawn up that will not put our remaining soldiers at risk. Romney should talk about Israel as capable of taking care of itself, and that they should do what is in the best interest of their national security, but we no longer have any business in the mideast. Won’t happen, but Romney should give this speech — talk about a game-changer — it would likely give voice to those afraid to speak out against the endless interventions. If it’s presented right, it will be a popular position.

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          • Exactly.

            I agree that Romney should give this speech. But I also agree my dog should learn to clean up his own messes. In each case it’s asking the animal to go against its own basic nature, so what’s the point of even broaching the subject?

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            • Once upon a time, Republicans were considered the isolationist party. “Democrats get us into wars, Republicans get us out”. Remember that?

              They were mocked by the Democrats as not caring about foreign countries.

              Remember that?

              What they pulled off once, maybe they could pull off again.

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              • If the GOP says what Mike F. suggests about Israel, they lose a huge percentage of the social conservative vote. If Democrats say it, they lose some percentage of the Jewish vote, but I would bet it’s not so huge.

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              • Remember that?

                In the 50s, John Foster Dulles was entangling us in alliances all over the world and installing dictators we’d have to prop up indefinitely, in the 60s and 70s Nixon was prolonging a war he’d promised to end, in the 80s Reagan was fighting proxy wars in Central America, in the 90s Bush was invading Iraq, and and in the 00s, another Bush was doing it again on a much larger scale.

                So no, I can’t say I do.

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                • Despite the reality Mike points to, the popular perception once upon a time was in fact that the Democrats were the War Party. U.S. participation in WWI, WWII, and Korea began under Democratic presidents, and for people of a certain generation who’d grown up thinking that way, LBJ’s escalation in Vietnam reinforced the perspective. But the generation that perceived things that way has mostly died away now, and the Republicans have done their level best to kill it off in the minds of everyone else.

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                  • Remember when Bush wanted a more humble foreign policy? The ironies, contradictions, reversals, and profound historical necessity involved in the rise of the U.S. to politically reluctant, ideologically and economically enthusiastic global hegemon are far too rich for a comment thread, but they can be glimpsed in the tension between quasi-isolationist fantasies like MFarmer’s and equally fantastical yet at the same politically very real Romney-Ryan-Bolton-Senor neoconservative imperialism. The populace generally remains happily uninterested in the latter, while the skeptics in the R coalition, the ones who less habitually supply the deficits in their understanding with whatever required wishful thinking, seem to assume that political-economic reality and true personal disinclination would soon enough expose Romney’s hawkishness as another comically empty and self-serving pose of the sort he’s famous for (for Pete’s sake).

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  16. If Romney was smart, he would start talking now about our insane interventions in the Mideast, to cut Obama off at the pass

    How does criticizing the invasion of Iraq help the Republicans?

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