The base is fired up! The fundraising numbers are astounding! The turnout at campaign stops has increased twenty-fold! The RNC Convention is going to be a time to party like it’s 1999!
All these headlines and many more flooded the newsstands and right half of the interweb tubes over the past three weeks, as news of Mitt Romney’s pick for the VP slot first leaked late on a Friday night, then got confirmed early on a Saturday, then spread like California wildfire from there.
Hey, girl! It’s Paul Ryan!
And so it is. But who is Paul Ryan? Unassuming congressman from Wisconsin, chairman of the influential House Budget Committee, and now nominee for Vice President of the United States. Yes, he is all of those, and is fairly well-suited to each role, respectively. But is there more?
Early on in my foray into web radio, I had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Ryan for a short interview. The podcast can be found here.
One thing you will notice, in listening to that audio (besides the fact that I’m a much more seasoned host now, 2 years later), is that the Congressman seems to have a very firm grasp on how dire our fiscal situation truly is.
The Congressman and I were both making the Greece comparison since mid-09, in fact. And we weren’t alone.
He also agreed with my assertion, in that interview, that this struggle is one of philosophy, not mere politics (a point I’ve been harping on since the early 2000s).
So, we can add “One of the few that actually gets it” to the description of who Paul Ryan is. Good to know.
What’s more, Ryan’s budget proposal for fiscal 2012 was the only one placed on the table which would have satisfied the publicly-disclosed requirements of both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s for avoiding a downgrade of our nation’s AAA credit rating. If it had passed.
But it didn’t pass. Not in the Democrat-controlled Senate. And the downgrade happened, for the first time in US history.
“Well, with Ryan as VP, we can fix all of that, right?” That seems to be the argument from the myriad of pundits and policy wonks who have made a mess of their nether regions in glee since the announcement.
But, perhaps we need to step back a pace or two? After all, the only reason that much-praised Ryan Budget was introduced in the House to begin with, much less passed, is because Paul Ryan was Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
A role he would have to vacate as VP.
And, maybe we should remind ourselves just how influential a Vice President is in shaping legislation? See: irrelevant. See also: U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 3 & Article 2.
The Vice President can sit in the Senate chambers, and cast tie-breaking votes, when necessary. That is his only Constitutional role in our legislative process.
For a quick refresher, let’s examine Joe Biden’s votes in the Senate, from the VP’s chair. Ready?
Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?
Oh, you think there was some missing text there? Nope.
Even the supreme embodiment of eeeevvviiillll, Darth Cheney, only cast 8 tie-breaking votes as VP, which is astoundingly low, given that the first 6 months of the W. administration were essentially hamstrung by a 50/50 Senate.
Jim Jeffords fixed that. The bastard.
But, I digress. The point is, Paul Ryan’s budgetary prowess and depth of knowledge regarding our looming fiscal apocalypse will have zero effect on legislation aimed at reversing this decades-long trend of federal excess, as Vice President. Sure, his contacts on the Hill, which have been cultivated for 14 years, will allow him some input, but there will be no more “Ryan Budgets”. Period.
And that may very well be a good thing.
Because, even though the much-touted Ryan Budget would have met the guidelines for saving our AAA credit rating, it was not actually a serious proposal when viewed in terms of the looming fiscal zombie apocalypse.
As I said on my radio shows, throughout late 2010 and through 2011, the Ryan Budget amounted to nothing more than rough battlefield triage on a mortally wounded General America. Paul Ryan merely took on the role of field medic, trotting into the hot zone carrying a white box with a red cross emblazoned on the side.
And, inside the box? A tube of simple antibiotic ointment and a tourniquet. Just enough to stanch the full-on bleeding-out until we could airlift the patient out of the combat theater and off to an actual hospital. One with proper lighting, trained medical personnel, and an amply-supplied operating room.
The patient, the US economy, is in critical condition, folks. The damage is severe. Shrapnel is embedded in numerous areas, and gangrene has begun to set in.
Trained doctors will know, immediately, that some level of amputation will have to be conducted. And anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of economics will be able to pinpoint the areas that need to go under the knife. All are in the public portion of our economy, due largely to the rapid expansion they’ve seen, just since late 2008.
But, as I’ve said numerous times: when no one else seems willing to offer up so much as a freaking Band-Aid, Paul Ryan’s budgetary first aid kit looks like manna from heaven, in comparison. However, as I’ve also said for years: “Calm down, conservatives! Paul Ryan is from Janesville, not Nazareth!”
Because, what no one seems willing to discuss is the fact that Paul Ryan himself contributed to that bloating of the General government. He voted in favor of TARP, which further facilitated the slide down the slippery slope of government intrusion into the banking sector of the economy.
Paul Ryan voted in favor of the auto bailouts (using money wrongly set aside in TARP for the purpose of buying up toxic assets), an action that ultimately screwed the taxpayers and the secured creditors of those auto companies.
Ryan voted in favor of the AIG bonus clawback, a 95% tax on AIG employee bonuses. Bonuses, by the way, that were mandated by the Federal government under TARP. This amounted to not only “ex post facto” legislation (a blatant violation of the Constitution), but a “bill of attainder,” as well, since it applied only to a select group (another express violation of the Constitution).
And that was all in a 6-month period from late September ’08 to early April ’09.
Need we go back even further into Ryan’s illustrious career? How about Medicare Part D in 2003? Yes, arms were twisted mercilessly by Hastert, Armey, and DeLay, all at the behest of Bush and Rove. Yes, the vote was held open, for three unprecedented hours, until what even non-Irish folks call “the wee hours” of the morning. That does not excuse Ryan’s vote, especially when he runs around today preaching about “the most predictable economic crisis in human history.” If it was so damned predictable, sir, why did you vote to hasten it? Numerous times?
And let’s not even get started on the Export-Import Bank, and Ryan’s votes (yes, plural) to preserve that anti-free-market monstrosity.
The point is this, folks: Yes, Obama must be defeated. His plans for this country and our economy do not include the Constitution, the civil society, respect for private property, individual liberty, or the rule of law. Or, frankly, YOU.
But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that voting for the only viable alternative, in the Romney/Ryan ticket, is some sort of panacea to cure all the ills of our economy.
When this ticket spends more time and energy pontificating on how to “preserve Medicare and Social Security for future generations” rather than exploring simple and bloodless ways to begin the task of rolling back and eliminating these Marxist programs and their BS “social contract” underpinnings, are you reassured that they “get it”?
After all, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Whether this quote can be properly attributed to John Philpot Curran, Edmund Burke, or Thomas Jefferson matters not. Whoever said it did not do so with a qualifier denoting a particular party or ideology in charge of government that would render the admonition less urgent.
As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that, were any of them alive today, they would argue vehemently (and with unassailable logic) that vigilance is required universally. Hence the use of the word “eternal.”
Moreover, I would argue, it is precisely when those who profess to share our core beliefs are in power that we should hold our vigil with much more seriousness and resolve, and to do so vocally.
It is far too easy to slip into a mindset of complacency, and to assume our liberties are safeguarded in hands we trust, simply because we may have had the opportunity to shake those hands. All too often we find, as the founders did, that those same hands have a tendency to creep around our throats, intent on throttling us, because we made the mistake of allowing them to rest on our shoulders for too long in seeming kinship.
By all means, cast your votes in November to shake off the tyrannical aims of the current power structure. But never let down your guard, believing foolishly that a “good man” won’t be changed, overwhelmed, and ultimately corrupted by that power.
We’ve seen it happen, far too often, to fall for that again.
As Joaquin Phoenix’s character opined in the movie “8mm”: “When you dance with the devil, the devil don’t change. The devil changes you.”