The announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s choice for Vice President seems to have given at least a temporary boost in enthusiasm for the GOP ticket. Given that Romney has been running for president since 2007 and struggled to get more than a third of the vote for much of the last primary, this is sort of a big deal. That conservatives haven’t been really excited about Mitt Romney’s campaign until someone else was added is telling.
Robert Wenzel has published a nice collection of posts critical of Paul Ryan on his EconomicPolicyJournal, which I recommend perusing; here I wanted to present my own take on the pageant.
As if on cue, conservatives jumped on board immediately with Ryan. They praise him on talk radio, the Internet is abuzz with what a great conservative he is, editorials from various news agencies are singing his praises, and Cato has come out in favor of Ryan. Finally, they thought, someone who can speak the conservative language, someone who can articulate the values of free enterprise and limited government, and oh they can’t wait to see Ryan mop the floor with Joe Biden in the VP debates.
Apparently all of these folks forgot, never knew, or just don’t care about Ryan’s actual record as a congressman. Speaking the language, articulating values, regurgitating platitudes in a debate, those mean nothing when one takes a second look and considers that a vote for TARP used to be a litmus test fail for conservatives. Apparently not anymore; here’s the neo-Reagan pleading with congress to pass the Great Bank Bailout of 2008.
The thing about his argument that is perhaps most telling is that he was “offended” by Henry Paulson’s simple three page request for cash. But after it had made the rounds and been tweaked here, fiddled with there, and grown to 110 pages, well then it was suddenly acceptable.
He also voted for and supported the Great Auto Bailouts of 2009, raising the debt ceiling, a huge expansion of Medicare, No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, the NDAA (with the government kidnapping sections) and a host of other fiscally irresponsible and draconian government programs. And this is conservative; this is the guy they expect to wipe the floor with Biden in a debate?
If the No Child Left Behind Act or Medicare Part D had been passed under Democratic presidents would anyone be surprised? We’re talking about a massive expansion of the Department of Education, itself a creature of the Democrats, but also one of their pet institutions because of its close ties with teachers unions and leftist academia in general. And Medicare? It’s part of the welfare legacy of progressive-Democrat Lyndon Johnson, not some conservative program. The bailouts, the debt, the executive power, while these increased dramatically under George W. Bush, they’ve continued to unprecedented levels under Obama.
So what exactly are Biden and Ryan going to debate about, that is of any substance? I suppose they could quibble over how many foreigners the Feds should allow in the country each year or how much wealth the Feds should confiscate in the present via taxation versus how much they should consume in the future via borrowing, but all if this arbitrary and no substantive difference remains. In the other areas of token marginal disagreement we have abortion and gay marriage, but neither Romney nor Obama is likely to affect any major changes in those areas.
So what we have in Paul Ryan is the same as with other supposed limited government Republicans – all talk and no action, or rather action, but in the opposite direction of their rhetoric. With Democrats, generally what you see is what you get. They don’t hide the fact that they’re in favor of a powerful central government. They proudly and unashamedly support government intervention and an overall policy of tax and spend.
With Republicans it’s different. They wax on about the virtues of free enterprise, of a limited government, of low taxes, fiscal responsibility, adherence to the rule of law and the sanctity of human life. But seemingly at every turn their actions are more in-line with Democrats than anything representing what their rhetoric calls for.
During the Bush years Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House, and we got tax breaks, sure, but they weren’t offset with equal cuts in spending, they were financed with borrowed money. There was the aforementioned No Child Left Behind and gross expansion of Medicare, the first Trillion dollar deficit, a doubling of the national debt, the Patriot Act, the build-up of the National Security bureaucracy with the DHS (where Aunt Janet now rules), and of course the TSA. And all of those pro-life Republicans did nothing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
So in short, they’re both evil, there is no “lesser” of these two parties or their candidates. Replacing Obama with someone who agrees with Obama on virtually every issue is no change, and it’s long past time for people to realize this.