Mitt Romney chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate.
The wait is over: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate – or rather, as the “next President of the United States” in a slip of the tongue – during a campaign stop in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday morning.
The decision was kept well under wraps, and has so far set the cat amongst the pigeons in an already contentious race. It seems that both sides of the political divide are happy with the choice: Conservatives because they’re finally seeing someone with clear cut values that they can explain to voters, and liberals because they see someone they can attack, especially on the claim that Ryan’s budget plans will harm the holy middle class.
Who is Paul Ryan?
Ryan, 42, is a six-term Republican from the Midwest who was elected to Congress at the tender age of 28. Since then, he’s joined the ranks of the GOP’s elite and, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, is perhaps the “most influential policymaker” in the party, The New York Times claimed. But as chair of that committee, he’s also proposed massive changes to Medicare and Medicaid, changes that would help the government deal with the cost of the entitlement programmes – but might also shift some of the cost burden to beneficiaries and states. Democrats claim that the plans would destroy those programmes, long considered political no-go areas – so expect Democrats to hammer the Romney-Ryan team about their plans for the entitlement programmes. Still, Ryan is a rockstar amongst conservatives – especially amongst the Tea Partiers – bolstered by his 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future” which aimed to simplify America’s tax code. Republicans also hope the likeable, telegenic rep will appeal to the independent voter.
The Medicare Question: Ryan’s plan would fundamentally change Medicare, a programme most often associated with senior citizens; the question is how much change American voters are willing to accept. According to The Washington Post, polls suggest that Team RR will need to work hard to convince voters that their plan will allow seniors to keep what the care they have – nearly 80 percent of voters are opposed to reducing Medicare benefits as a way to reduce the deficit.
How Ryan has changed the race so far
Ryan, Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post claimed, has energized Republicans previously unmoved by Romney and the two have really good, natural chemistry. But more than that, Romney’s choice of Ryan makes the coming decision in November even more clear to voters: “The differences between where Romney wants to take the country and where Obama has guided it over the past four years were already relatively clear to anyone even sort of paying attention. But, in choosing the face of the Republican vision for governance — deep changes to the social safety net, an emphasis on importance of the private sector — Romney is ensuring that the lines of demarcation between the Democratic and Republican tickets are as stark as they have been in modern memory.”
Ryan makes this a better race
Regardless of for whom Romney’s choice works out – conservatives happy to have someone to stand behind, liberals happy to have someone to challenge – the inclusion of Ryan on the ticket makes this “a better and more interesting election”, argued Jacob Weisberg at Slate.com. “It forces the debate the country needs to have about entitlement spending and ensures that the remaining months will be more than an argument about whose negative ads are more disgusting.”
Email from Romney to his supporters:
“Paul Ryan is a strong conservative leader, and I am proud to have him as my running mate. He is widely respected for his leadership skills and his intellect, and for his ability to tackle serious issues. Together, we understand that a limited government and fiscal responsibility will unleash prosperity for all Americans.”
Koch brothers now own the Republican Party
How else to explain why Romney chose Ryan, whose budget plans would hurt senior citizens on Medicare, “yank health care from millions of children whose parents happen to be poor”, and end Earned Income Tax Credit? argued Adele Stan at AlterNet. The Koch brothers control the second largest privately owned company in the US, as well as a number of conservative and libertarian think tanks in America; Romney’s choice, Don Hazen argued at the same site, is “a hugely dangerous step toward getting the Koch brothers’ hand-picked star right to the verge of the presidency, which, if it should it come to pass, could dramatically transform the nature of American politics for our lifetimes.”
The next President of the United States? Notably, President Barack Obama made the same slip-up in introducing Joe Biden back in 2008.