So buried in a Saturday news dump, Mitt Romney (Republican presidential nominee and all around asshole) announced his choice for vice president, the Republican budget hawk* with the striking blue eyes, DC GOP rock star Paul Ryan.
Now even though this announcement was greeted with a collective “who?” by a large part of the United States, I am assuming that my readers are a bit more politically savvy than the average American. While a good portion of America was failing poll questions asking if Ryan was a Representative, a Senator, or a Governor, those of us who follow the issues know that Representative Ryan is the architect of the GOP budget proposal, the Path to Prosperity. You know, the one that effectively would end government as we know it, slashing all federal spending on everything but Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to an absurd 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.
This one is a bit long (over 1800 words) so read the rest of it after the jump.
As Ezra Klein writes at the Wonkblog:
Take Ryan’s budget. It’s most famous for cutting entitlement programs, particularly Medicare. But that’s not primarily what it does. If you look at the numbers Ryan gave to the Congressional Budget Office, the cuts to Medicare are only 60 percent as large as the cuts to Medicaid and other health-care programs. And the cuts to Medicaid and other health-care programs are only half as large as the cuts to non-entitlement programs.
The truth is that the Ryan budget’s largest long-term savings don’t come from Medicaid or Medicare or Social Security, or even Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security put together. They come from everything else. Ryan says that under his budget, everything the federal government does that is not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security will be cut to less than 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, energy research, national parks, civil service, the FBI — all of it. Right now, that category of spending is 12.5 percent of GDP.
Critics point out that defense alone has always cost more than 3 percent of GDP, that Romney has promised to keep defense spending above 4 percent of GDP, and that the cuts to government services required to make those numbers work are beyond draconian. They also note that Ryan’s plan increases defense spending in the short term, and that his tax cuts have a 10-year price tag of more than $4 trillion, but he’s not identified any offsets.
Honestly, the Ryan budget would be hilarious if not for one thing. It is backed by one of the two major political parties. A bit more from Erza Klein on the budget proposal. All bolding is mine as always:
Perhaps his most ambitious policy proposal prior to his celebrated budgets was the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, a plan to privatize Social Security. The program’s actuaries found that Ryan’s plan would require $2.4 trillion in additional costs over the first 10 years, and the Bush administration ultimately dismissedit as “irresponsible.”
On Medicare, Ryan originally proposed eliminating the traditional Medicare plan entirely and replacing it with a menu of private plans. He subsequently softened the proposal to include the traditional Medicare plan as one option on the menu, But either way, he would remake Medicare from a defined-benefit plan, in which seniors are simply guaranteed Medicare coverage, to a defined-contribution plan, in which they are given a voucher equal to the cost of the cheapest plans on the menu, and if they don’t want those plans, they have to pay the difference.
On Medicaid, Ryan proposed turning the program over to the states and limiting the federal contribution — which now increases alongside Medicaid’s actual expenses — to block grants that grow more slowly than health-care costs. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that this would cut Medicaid spending by more than $700 billion over the next decade, but at the cost of throwing between 14 and 19 million people, many of them children, off Medicaid.
So how crazy is Ryan’s budget? Priorities USA Action, a liberal Super-PAC, held a focus group where they attempted to inform people how extreme Ryan’s budget plan was. What happened? To the New York Times Magazine:
For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.
So yes, Ryan’s budget is absurd and horrifying. Democrats have been trying to tie Romney to Ryan’s budget for months now, and this weekend Romney did their job for them. To say Ryan’s proposals are unpopular could be considered one of the top ten understatements of the year. Our problem now is convincing people that the things in Ryan’s plan are really in Ryan’s plan.
Wait, you say. The title of this post had something to do with a “War on Women,” didn’t it? So far it sounds like a “War on Everyone Not Making Millions of Dollars a Year”, when do the women come in?
Well Paul Ryan has more conservative credentials than just his terrifying budget road map. Ever hear of a “personhood amendment”? If not, here is Colorado’s 2008 personhood amendment that residents voted on:
The approved ballot title reads:
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?
The proposed initiative says:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado: SECTION 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read: Section 31. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of article II of the state constitution, the terms “person” or “persons” shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization.
From fertilization. Got that? Of course, this would ban all abortions. No exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. But it would go oh so much farther as well. How far? Goodbye birth control pill. Hell, goodbye non-condom birth control. In vitro fertilization? See ya!
Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly against this amendment, 73.21% against versus 26.79% for. The personhood people tried again in 2010, and it went down in flames a second time, 70.53% to 29.47%. I guess they are hoping the third time is the charm, since they have the measure back on the ballot in 2012, but this time, Republicans running for office in Colorado are also running away from this toxic amendment.
How radical are personhood amendments? In 2011, Mississippi voters were given the chance to vote on personhood. Mississippi. That most progressive, blue tinted state. /sarcasm off And the deep red electorate of Mississippi rejected the amendment, with over 55% voting against it.
So you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down. Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. Into the blue again, after the money’s gone. Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground. You may ask yourself, how do I work this?
Sorry, I had a momentary Talking Heads related break from reality. Anyway…..
So you may ask yourself, Foster, why are you blabbering on about personhood amendments? Aren’t we talking about Romney’s VP choice? I mean, if personhood is too extreme for Mississippi, what could it possibly have to do with a national election?
Well, how about this from The Rachael Maddow Show: (That is the link to the show’s transcript. I copied this text from the Daily Kos cause it included a link to the actual bill)
Congressman Paul Ryan, now presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, co-sponsored a bill in the House that it is a federal version of of the personhood amendment, the abortion and hormonal birth control ban. The same one that even Mississippi voters rejected last Fall. How’d ya like it for the whole country? The national personhood bill that Paul Ryan co-sponsored declares that, quote the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent… at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood. And they got really specific about when precisely an egg becomes a person, quote The term “fertilization” means the process of a human spermatozoan penetrating the cell membrane of a human oocyte to create a human zygote, a one-celled human embryo, which is a new unique human being [See Bill Text, 112th Congress (2011-2012), H.R.212.IH]. That’s Paul Ryan. That’s Paul Ryan’s bill. That’s who Mitt Romney put on the ticket.
That is your vice presidential nominee, folks. Co-sponsoring a bill nationally that is too extreme for Mississippi! A bill that not only would ban all abortions, but that would also ban the most popular forms of birth control.
Now Mitt has had various opinions on this subject. (I know, shocking right? Romney behaving like an Etch-a-Sketch. Who ever would have guessed?) For example, on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show, Romney had one opinion:
In October of last year, Mike Huckabee was one of the political celebrities working to try to pass personhood in Mississippi, to try to criminalize abortion and hormonal birth control. In that capacity, on his Fox News t.v. show, Mike Huckabee asked Mitt Romney if he would have supported personhood in Massachusetts. [Plays video from Huckabee with Mike Huckabee Show on Fox News.]
Mike Huckabee: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?Video of Mitt Romney: Absolutely.
Absolutely. That was Mitt Romney, October of last year, signing on to a policy that would ban all abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest, it would ban most forms of birth control, It would likely ban in vitro fertilization. That’s what Mitt Romney said he would absolutely support as of October of last year.
Absolutely you say?
The Romney campaign has been trying to run away from that position, Mr. Romney took, pretty much ever since he took it. When the Obama campaign started running ads [see Obama for America TV Ad: “Troubled” ] last month attacking Mr. Romney for holding exactly that position, for advocating a ban on all abortion with no exceptions, the Romney campaign push back was immediate. They called the ads viciously negative and false [See Obama attacks Romney on abortion stance, campaign calls new ad false, Fox News, July 7, 2012]. In order to prove it was false, they pointed to another time last summer when Mitt Romney said something different about his position on abortion [see My Pro-Life Pledge by Mitt Romney, The National Review Online, June 18, 2011].
So what is Romney’s true position on this issue? Honestly, with Mitt we will probably never know. Whatever position he thinks will help him get elected will be the position he takes, even if that position has to change day to day.
But now we know who he has tapped as his vice president. The man who could be one heartbeat away from the presidency.
And we know Paul Ryan’s stance on the issue. He co-sponsored the bill.
That’s your Republican VP nominee. Paul “Possibly Scarier Than Palin” Ryan.
The War on Women rages on…….