Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What if the Wealthy Right Steals this Election?

That was no bounce – It was a thud! Here’s some stuff about Paul Ryan for you to think about if you’re thinking he helps the Republican ticket!
by Charlie Leck

The Republicans are pretty well stalled out in this campaign. They have their loyal base and that includes all the radical Tea Party folks and most of the Ron Paul libertarians. They have economic conservatives locked up and most everyone who leans right of center.

The real question for the Republicans and the key
that would unlock a victory for them

is whether or not they can get enough of those people who range in the hard-core center of American politics to vote for them. That is and always has been a key to winning presidential elections in the United States – winning the center.

Here are the folks in the center who must be wooed…

First time voters

The above categories include sub-categories having to do with the Jewish vote, the Hispanic vote and the black vote. Among the first two, there are large pools of people in the undecided center to whom both parties will be making appeals. Romney’s vice presidential pick doesn’t seem to have any positive impact on any of these categories or sub-categories.

The prevailing opinion among those who carefully watch the very professional polling that goes on at this period in presidential elections is that the Romney ticket received no bounce from the Paul Ryan announcement. None! That’s interesting and curious. Gallup calls the public reaction to the Ryan pick “among the least positive” that it has observed in recent elections. The polls did not significantly move as a result of this pick.

A good many political observers believed that Romney needed a boost in foreign policy matters (as did I) and he gets none from the Ryan pick. Voters are going to look toward Romney, not Ryan, for leadership on foreign policy matters. So far, as evidenced by his one trip to England, Israel and Poland, Romney gives his ticket little hope that he can handle the task.

And, Ryan’s youth hasn’t seemed to give Romney any help with the opinions of senior citizens about how to vote this fall. A number of the most astute political observers in the nation believe that “Romney’s road to the White House runs through seniors… to win in 2012, he’ll need to do even better than McCain.” [Nate Cohn] The questions about the future of Medicare are crucial with this group and Ryan’s pick is making them nervous because of his views that favor slashing spending and entitlements. This is not to say that the Romney campaign won’t develop a winning strategy for seniors and that they won’t be able to calm the minds of those who worry about a disruption of their Medicare coverage. Obama’s campaign, however, will remind seniors that Ryan’s plan for Medicare would essentially make it a flat-rate voucher program that would pay a fixed amount for each person’s health care, but would leave them figuring out ways to pay for costs above that voucher amount. You need to be a senior on a fixed income to understand how worrisome that idea is.

The Obama campaign will also remind voters how far from the center Mr. Ryan’s plan for the federal budget is. That plan would cut nearly 6 trillion dollars in spending at a time when lower income and lower-middle income people need the help those dollars provide – Medicaid, food stamps, tuition assistance and aide to cities that enable communities to control local taxes. All this at a time when the wealthy have historically low income tax rates and Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan want to keep them there.

Rumblings inside the Obama campaign seem positive. They didn’t gulp in fear when the Ryan pick was announced. Ryan pleased the right of center folks a great deal. That’s a group that the President has written off anyway. Can Ryan appeal to the vast center? The Obama folks apparently think that he cannot.

Mitt Romney entered this campaign as a moderate and he has allowed himself to be pushed further and further to the right by his own party; and, sadly, he now takes as his own many of these radical proposals of extreme conservatism. Remember when the Simpson-Bowles commission made their recommendations about bi-partisan fiscal reform? At the time, that seemed a tough pill for the nation to swallow. Paul Ryan served on that commission and voted against its recommendations because they were not tough enough. Even Newt Gingrich was put-off by the depth and sharpness of the cuts that Ryan recommended in response to Simpson-Bowles.

One wonders why Romney has allowed himself to be pushed and pulled so far to the right of his original positions and his very nature. The right of the political spectrum is already won for Romney. Why does he need to keep moving more and more to the right? It's probably because this very radical group demands more and more evidence of Romney's faithfulness to them. Well, they got it in the Ryan announcement!

Let me promise you that the Obama campaign is going to remind this country’s voters, again and again, about the kind of Supreme Court they are going to get if they allow this far-right element to win the coming election. A future Supreme Court, in such a circumstance, would be made up of types very similar to Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia – the men who gave us, gift wrapped and decorated with pretty ribbons and bows, the Citizens United decision that made companies and corporations the equal of American citizens. Hard-core conservatives are pushing Romney so far to the right that moderate justices will no longer be an option.

And, as well, appointments that Romney might make to federal departments are going to be vetted by the likes of billionaires Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson and Bob Perry.

Will America vote for such radicalism? I don’t think so, but that chapter of American history is yet to be written. The only way it will happen is if the American middle class buys into the vacant and empty promises of the far-right. Stay tuned and we’ll find out!

I personally think it is vital that Barack Obama runs the finest and most skillful presidential campaign in American history. Lots of important things for middle America hang in the balance.

Additional reading assignment
I suggest you might find Katrina vanden Heuvel column in this morning’s Washington Post interesting: Paul Ryan: Cruel, not courageous. She explains how catastrophic that Ryan’s Medicare plan would have been (a plan, to be honest here, Romney has rejected and would not support). Here’s a clip from the referenced column…

“But however courageous you consider a congressman for actually revealing his policy preferences, Ryan’s blueprint — now the blueprint for the entire Republican Party — is profoundly uncourageous in its implications for the vast majority of the country.
“Under Ryan’s plan, the wealthiest 1 percent would get a massive tax break. Meanwhile, Medicare would be privatized, leaving seniors with vouchers that could never keep up with rising health-care costs. It would slash programs helping struggling families stay afloat, such as food stamps and housing assistance, by nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade. Education and employment training — vital to our nation’s future — would be cut by a third. Ryan, whose great-grandfather founded a large road construction company, would spend 25 percent less than President Obama rebuilding our deteriorating infrastructure. And since gutting Medicaid and Medicare isn’t enough, he would also repeal the president’s health-care law, leaving tens of millions of people uninsured.
“Cue the fanfare.
“Recently, voters in focus groups refused to believe anyone would propose such a vicious plan. Back when the GOP retained a modicum of humanity, even many Republicans were shocked by how far Ryan went. In polls, people of both parties recoil from his proposal to end Medicare as we know it.
“It is a plan, as the recently departed Gore Vidal said of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that so influenced Ryan, “nearly perfect in its immorality.” Ryan’s extremism bleeds into social issues. He saluted the troops on the deck of the USS Wisconsin, but voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He has repeatedly voted for defunding Planned Parenthood and letting hospitals refuse emergency abortion care, even when a mother’s life is in danger. The right to love whom you want or to make decisions about your own body are not, apparently, among the rights that Ryan believes ‘nature and God’ gave us.”

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