Political Choices

If a person is judged by the company he or she keeps, then Mitt Romney is doubly disappointing. First Donald Trump (about whom I have blogged previously) and now Paul Ryan the man with a heart of stone. Romney’s choice of Ryan as a running mate is especially disturbing.  The man has shown himself to be determined to eradicate every possible safety net that keeps the  poor, elderly, and chronically disadvantaged in this country from falling out of sight. As a recent editorial in the HuffPose by the Rev. Chuck Currie points out:

Ryan’s budget proposals affect the support of seniors, cut assistance to programs aimed at combating childhood hunger, and would leave people who have lost their jobs without heat during cold winter months. This isn’t hyperbole but reasoned analysis of his budget goals from non-partisan groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Ryan’s plans would eventually end “everything from veterans’ programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families,” according to the CBPP.

The Presidential race that was becoming boring in spite of the millions of dollars that have already been spent on it has just become a race of major importance. It now matters a great deal whom we vote for. While Obama has shown himself to be weak on environmental issues, too quick to wage war, and unwilling to take on the corporations that support him, he is certainly preferable to a man who is openly avowing a public strategy to eliminate the middle class, eradicate the E.P.A., and turn the government’s back on the poor and needy in this country. As Rev. Currie points out, this election has suddenly become a matter of extreme moral import: it’s not just a choice between Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee as it may have appeared at times.

The movement to cut taxes at all costs and eradicate protective agencies is disturbing on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. To the extent that we support this movement, it shows us to be a greedy and self-serving people who lack compassion for our fellow human beings or concern for the planet itself. This sounds like exaggeration, but it is not. The time to attend to the issue of global warming, for example, was months ago and we still have largely ignored it — while many continue to deny it. But the attacks on social programs that assist people in real need are in many ways even more disturbing. The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, for example, estimates that 62 percent of Paul Ryan’s cuts as Chairman of the House Budget Committee were to programs for the poor. The frenzy to cut taxes by a people who pay less than most others who enjoy the benefits of a “developed” country shows us as a people unwilling to consider the real costs involved: our stewardship of the planet and a concern for human suffering and genuine human needs.

I really cannot believe we are at that point. My suspicion is that Mitt Romney has made a huge blunder in picking Paul Ryan as his running mate and that the American voters will see that this man represents the reductio ad absurdum of Mitt Romney’s political thinking.  Surely this approach to politics will be deemed unpalatable to the majority of voting Americans in November.

[I would only add by way of a closing parenthesis that Ryan’s favorite author, Ayn Rand, is by no stretch of the term a “philosopher” even though the Rev. Currie places her in company with the likes of Socrates. But the fact that she is Ryan’s favorite theorist — and that Ryan once said “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism” — tells us a great deal about the man himself, things we need to know before we vote in November.]

25 thoughts on “Political Choices

  1. Great post. If you want to see a real picture of our problems and resolutions, Erskine Bowles wrote a column in The Washington Post earlier this week. It was reprinted in my morning paper. That is who we should be listening to. I do applaud Ryan for at least putting something out there, yet I find huge fault on a number of fronts, some of which you note above. My main concerns are threefold – (1) the Tea Party’s representing that we are taxed enough already, which is quite far from the truth; (2) not making cuts to defense- folks we cannot balance a budget without them; (3) Pouring gasoline on the social insurance programs that will help those in need, plus those on fixed incomes, and lighting a match. We need more tax revenue and smart cuts to all programs. On the broader front, responsible capitalism is different from unfettered capitalism, a key point lost on the Libertarian and Ayn Rand crowd.

  2. I’m not one to vote for the lesser of two evils, but the divide seems much greater with Romney/Ryan. Obama shines like two suns compared to those two seemingly plastic, (I shudder to say it-) men.
    Obama may fall short in our eyes, and not have held up to his promise. Put that next to the men who freely hold disdain for those with less money, well, it makes my stomach turn and my decision elementary.
    I don’t have to hear any more about those two less-than-human beings to be scared nearly to death thinking about the suffering and despair they’ll cause with their short-sighted, selfish, self-absorbed, narrow thought processes. This may sound harsh, but if there’s a hell, they are certainly going there. Rotten apples, right to the core.
    Here I go again, relating a Twilight Zone episode titled THE MASKS, in which the players become on the outside, what they are in the inside. Oh, we should be so fortunate to see this become reality.
    Perhaps enough of us will be so terrified of the future, that we’ll again become revolutionaries in our own time.

  3. Ryan is an interesting choice. I think he will become a lightening rod for all things bad about Romney. Andcontraryto the press releases, I think Romney was partially at least cornered into this choice.

  4. Thanks Hugh. I was out hiking this morning and deliberating on the Ryan choice. It makes the ultra conservative base happier, but they were going to vote for him anyway. So, he does not gain a lot of votes there. So, on the Independents, he runs the risk of alienating them, so he may lose votes there. Ryan will come across as very articulate and is a policy wonk. Yet, his hard edge on cuts may haunt him. The Bowles editorial is great, as he is says we have to every thing on the table to address the deficit. R/R won’t do that. Obama is doing some, but not enough.

    • Are these politicians too close to the forest to see the trees? It seems so clear to me that we need a balance between cuts where there is still fat and increased taxes — especially among the wealthy? Or do the latter really have that much power?

  5. I hope all of you have read Paul Ryan’s plan yourself, instead of relying on biased organizations that tell you how to think. So-called “non partisan” organizations are usually just using that term to mean “non-affiliated”. But they are almost always biased and ideological. And that’s true of both right-leaning and left-leaning “non-partisan” think tanks. The CBPP is a left-leaning think tank, folks.

    All I’m suggesting is that you please look at Paul Ryan’s plan directly. If you dont have time for it all, at least read the up-front summary info and explanation of its goals. Then draw your own conclusions, uncolored by other people’s biases, including mine.

  6. Thank you for reading. Can we assume that the claim that 62% of the cuts Ryan engineered as Chairman of the House Budget Committee directly affected the poor is a correct figure? Or is that somehow biased?

    • I re-checked on the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and found the following. It is not at all clear from what I have read that the group leans left or right, though they have been active for many years determining the effects of budgetary decisions on low-income families. Here is what their web site says about the group: “Over the past 30 years, the Center has gained a reputation for producing materials that are balanced, authoritative, accessible to non-specialists, and responsive to issues facing the country. Our materials are used by policymakers and non-profit organizations across the political spectrum, and by journalists from a wide variety of TV, radio, print, and online outlets.”

      • I also found this information regarding Ryan’s priorities and his apparent unwillingness to cut the “defense” budget: “Chairman Ryan’s budget proposes $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts (and about $200 billion in defense increases).”

      • I think we tend to say a source leans left or right depending on whether we like what they have to say!! Thanks for the comment — as usual!!


      • Good evening Hugh,

        1) Again, I respectfully ask…have you (and the other contributors to this thread) yourself read Paul Ryan’s plan? It was a fair question….

        2) You said “Can we assume that the claim that 62% of the cuts Ryan engineered as Chairman of the House Budget Committee directly affected the poor is a correct figure?” Where is that statement from? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but how can I answer if you haven’t footnoted it? I don’t take any middle-man’s word for anything…I go check it out myself. That’s the only way to meaningfully utilize this wide-open, free-for-all medium called the internet.

        3) You said “Here is what their web site says about the group:….” That’s like consulting the fox for his opinion about how well he guards the henhouse. I’m making an even-handed point here: I wouldn’t expect a right-leaning website’s opinion of itself to be any more objective than a left-leaning website’s opinion of itself. Therefore, I’m not the least bit interested in ANY organization’s opinion of its own impartiality. It is circularly meaningless.

        4) You said “I think we tend to say a source leans left or right depending on whether we like what they have to say!!” That’s precisely my point. So, now that we’ve reached agreement that a person shouldn’t stand on somebody (anybody) else’s opinion, please go back up to #1: Have you directly read Paul Ryan’s plan yourself? Once you have cut out all middle-men, then you don’t have to “source” anybody but yourself. You’ll have developed and expressed your own self-formed opinion (which no-one can deprive you of, and no-one can impeach you for), and I won’t have any remaining leg to stand on in this friendly debate…I will have no logical recourse but to graciously bow out at that point.

        – Jack

      • Hi again, gentlemen. Hope you had a good day….

        As a courtesy to you, I thought I’d bring Paul Ryan “in his own words” right here to your domain.

        I of course owe you full disclosure: This video was produced 15 months ago by a right-leaning think tank (The MacIver Institute), but about 98% of this is just Paul Ryan talking directly into a camera and personally rebutting President Obama’s criticisms of the House Republican’s Path to Prosperity budget plan.

        So essentially this is just you and him, one-on-one…no middle men. Whatever opinions you form by watching it are yours, 98% untainted by any spin-meisters. Most tap water isn’t that pure.

        I hope you’ll take 9 minutes to watch it.

        Respectfully yours,

      • Thanks for the comments, Jack. I did watch the video and Ryan is an impressive speaker. But nothing he said contradicts the information I passed along in my blog.[I do wonder if the “MacIver Institute is a reliable source (i.e., unbiased). I’m kidding, of course. I have a drafted a blog on the impossibility of getting unbiased information.] I tend to doubt even what a person says — especially a clever politician who knows how to speak out of both sides of his mouth. One wonders, for example, how money from oil profits will be used for research into ways of separating us from our dependence on oil and gas. I can’t see that happening: it sounds like double-speak. There are other comments he made that also bother me, especially about the Republican plans to stop “education inflation” by holding Pell Grants at their present level. I think this simply passes the burden of increasing tuition costs along to the students. I don’t see the colleges and universities cutting tuition! But I appreciate the opportunity to view the tape. Hugh Curtler


  7. Great post! I am honestly stunned. At least this sets up a true, undeniable difference between the two parties this year. I can’t even imagine the political advice that Romney recieved before making this choice. Maybe a second HBO documentary? 😉

    • My guess is that his advisers wanted to lure some of the religious conservatives and Tea Party types back into the fold. Romney’s too “moderate” for the right-wingers. BTG would know!!


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