Choosing Privatiser Ryan


The Republican nominee for the 2012 United States presidential election, Mitt Romney, has caused a splash by choosing as his running mate Paul Ryan, one of Wisconsin’s eight members of the House of Representatives. Mr. Ryan, a professional politician aged 42 is serving his seventh two-year term in the House; he had already interned there before winning election to the chamber. Mr. Romney has chosen Mr. Ryan despite his own stated preference for politicians to have prior private-sector experience — he once proposed a constitutional amendment which would have required that — but the selection is clear testimony to his nominee’s standing in the Republican Party, particularly among fellow party members in the House. Mr. Ryan has gained a reputation as a hard-right ideologue and the author of a budget plan which would involve substantial tax cuts for the very rich; he apparently intends that the lost revenues will be compensated by deep cuts in public spending and the abolition of current tax breaks for the middle classes.

Mr. Ryan will almost certainly have an impact on voters in November. A devout Catholic, he is likely to attract conservative Christians who may be suspicious of Mr. Romney for his committed Mormonism, and he is also likely to unite the rest of the Republican right behind the party’s presidential nominee. Secondly, his federal experience — he chairs the House Budget Committee — will add weight to the ticket. Thirdly, his anti-government ideology will fill what even some Republican supporters call a Romney policy void. Above all, Mr. Ryan is a clever operator; in 2002, he managed to get draft federal legislation altered so that his state, Wisconsin, would have lower targets for the law requiring states to get people off benefits and back into work. In addition, he avoids specifying what his budget cuts would mean for ordinary voters; for example, his plan to introduce vouchers for the senior citizens’ Medicare scheme will reduce the vouchers’ value as treatment costs rise. So the Romney-Ryan campaign is likely to rely on attacking Barack Obama, for example over his Affordable Health Care Act, despite its similarity to the health care laws Mr. Romney himself got passed in Massachusetts. Yet attacks alone will probably not be enough to win the White House. Mr. Ryan may help unite the Republicans, but Mr. Romney is already saying he will write his own budget, and the Democrats are attacking the implications of the Ryan plan. Media attention will be no substitute for serious policy, and Mr. Ryan’s ideological simplicities may well prove hard to defend in the public glare of the campaign.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 8:04:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/choosing-privatiser-ryan/article3796001.ece

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