Presumptive Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Davis Ryan, chosen by Mitt Romney as his running mate on Saturday, August 11, 2012, has already found himself the target of attacks by President Barack Obama and other Democrats for his fiscal priorities.
These include shrinking the deficit by reforming the Federal income tax code, Social Security, and Medicare without cutting defense spending, as reported on Monday, August 13, 2012 by The Washington Post, Reuters, CNN and other media sources.
Vice President Joe Biden has offered his congratulations, but the 42-year-old popular Republican Congressman from Wisconsin has already become a magnet and lightening rod for the political opposition.
Making the mandatory rounds of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, kissing babies and shaking hands, Ryan has come under attack for his right-wing conservative principles, which has foreshadowed what may become a class struggle between the haves and have nots. Hecklers have hurled insults at him, while taking up the chant, “Stop the war against the common good,”
Ryan and his Republican base have been unmoved by the criticism. The young GOP politician has energized the Romney campaign and hardened the differences between the two candidates.
At stake are 95 electoral votes in the swing states of Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. The rest of the U.S. is already polarized into red and blue states, that are already projected to vote for Republicans and Democrats in the November presidential election.
Television comedians are already finding material for their satiric routines, claiming that Ryan’s solution to fixing Social Security involves raising the retirement age to 84. While Republicans are not amused, of more pressing political concern is that the announcement by Romney of his more conservative running mate did not move the needle of public sentiment. Some polls show that Obama is enjoying a 9-point lead over Romney if the election were held today.
But many things can happen in the next 84-days to change the minds of undecided voters, and end President Obama’s dream of a second term.
Ryan and the Republicans think they are holding a winning hand. Fiscal reform has been a core GOP principle, and includes spending cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy. This may be one of the reasons why Mr. Romney has been reluctant to release more than 2-years of his past tax returns. Many members of the middle class and blue collar workers do not enjoy some of the tax loopholes that enable the wealthy to shelter their income and reduce their percentage of taxes paid.
As Chairman of the United States House Committee on the Budget in the 112th Congress, Ryan has led his party’s push to cut domestic spending, lower taxes, and scale back the size of the federal government, making both friends and enemies in the process. Democrats attack his budget plan, saying it would gut the social safety net, and programs for the elderly and the poor.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, of the 314 million people in the United States, people age 65 or older make up 12.8% of the total population, almost 40.2 million citizens. Considered that the elderly tend to show up regularly at the polls, that’s a big voting block.
Even more controversial is Ryan’s stand of excluding the defense budget from cuts, which amounts to over 20% of discretionary spending, protecting this sacred cow from any significant cuts. That makes investors and members of the military industrial complex very happy. But even some Republicans, including former GOP presidential candidate and current senior Arizona Senator John McCain, think there is plenty of fat that can be safely trimmed, without jeopardizing U.S. military preparedness.
All this should make for a very heated and interesting 2012 presidential campaign. A downside will probably be that negative attack ads dominate over substantive debates of the issues. On the lighter side, Mr. Ryan also does not make as tempting a target as Sarah Palin did for Saturday Night Live writer and producer Tina Fey, but other cast members are likely to take up the challenge.
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