"To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan," wrote Ryan Lizza in the latest issue of The New Yorker.
In "Fussbudget," Lizza examined how Rep. Paul Ryan captured the Republican party and Mitt Romney along with it. Make no doubt, the Ryan budget is the Romney budget and even if the presidential candidate wanted to put distance between him and Ryan's plan, there's no chance those running the Republican party will give Romney reins long enough to maneuver.
“I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan,” Mitt Romney said on March 20th, in Chicago. The following week, while campaigning in Wisconsin, he added, “I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budget and adopt it and pass it along to the President.”Lizza was interviewed by Terry Gross yesterday on Fresh Air, where he explained further how Ryan is shaping the Republican party and what the congressman and his fellow Republicans are wanting from a Romney presidency. Lizza noted that "Romney, under some pressure, frankly, endorsed" the Ryan budget.
And if Romney were to be elected president, I think this would be an unusual presidency in that it would be led from Congress. You know, one quote I didn't include in the piece but I think is instructive is there's this phrase you hear in Washington from some Republicans and some conservative activists that we don't really want a president with a whole lot of ideas. We know what we want to do, we being House Republicans. We just want a president who's almost like an auto-pen. We'll pass the legislation, send it to the White House, and it will be signed.Candidate Etch-A-Sketch will become President Auto-Pen.
In his article, Lizza quotes remarks Barry Jackson, John Boehner's chief of staff, made in Robert Draper's recent book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do, on how it would unfold:
"That's what Cantor and Ryan want... They see a world where it's Mitch McConnell [as Senate majority leader], Speaker Cantor, a Republican president, and then Paul Ryan can do whatever he wants to do. It's not about this year. It's about getting us to 2012, defeating the president, and Boehner being disgraced."David Frum explained earlier this year that Romney will do as he is told. "Major conservative leaders... have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives". Frum quotes Grover Norquist:
All we have to do is replace Obama. ... We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.Romney has a history of just signing documents with no questions asked. Rachel Maddow reported yesterday that Romney's explanation for signing tax returns saying he was a resident of Utah instead of Massachusetts, was that "he never bothered to read that stuff that he signed." Even in the unlikely event that Romney, disagreed with the legislation it is doubtful after spending a campaign of pandering to the radical right wing that he'll stand up to them.
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.
The freshly emboldened Tea Party is already telling Romney that he better keep moving to the right, ABC News reported. The victories of Ted Cruz in Texas and other Tea Party candidates "are going to force Romney to the right," Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman for Tea Party group Freedom Works told ABC News.
"If we can elect a really conservative House and Senate that will force Romney to go along with our bold conservative agenda," Shell said. "He's going to have to really, really go to the right. He'll be working with guys in the House and Senate. He won't be able to get away with too many middle of the road policies, especially on things like the deficit."Newt Gingrich said Romney is already moving further right. "Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget plan, opposed tax increases, and indicated he supports the full repeal of Obamacare," he said.
"It's not going to be a Romney driven presidency," Norman Orenstein, a researcher at the conservative think tank AEI recently told ABC News. "It's going to be a Congressional, conservative, Republican driven presidency from Congress."Sen. Jim DeMint said he has Romney's personal assurance that he will back the Tea Party's agenda next year.
“If we get the [Senate] majority and the White House, we have got to pass a budget that sets up the structure, through reconciliation, to repeal Obamacare by killing the mandate,” he says. He also wants to “totally redo our tax code,” put “Medicare on a sustainable course,” and “deal with Social Security.” But should Republicans win then stumble, “it’d be betrayal to our country.”Paul Ryan is poised to canter into Congress next year, excited to dismantle America's social safety net. With a Republicans in control and their show horse, Romney, in the White House, there's nothing to stop the congressman from Wisconsin riding roughshod over Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“We need to do it in the first 100 days,” DeMint says. “[Mitt] Romney has told me, face to face, that he knows that he needs to get these things done right away. He is looking at this as a one-term proposition.”
The Ryan Roadmap "was a comprehensive plan to reduce the welfare state and radically curtail the government’s role in protecting citizens from life’s misfortunes," Lizza wrote.
Ryan recommended ending Medicare, the government health-insurance program for retirees, and replacing it with a system of direct payments to seniors, who could then buy private insurance... He proposed ending Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor, and replacing it with a lump sum for states to use as they saw fit. Ryan also called for an end to the special tax break given to employers who provide insurance; instead, that money would pay for twenty-five-hundred-dollar credits for uninsured taxpayers to buy their own plans. As for Social Security, Ryan modestly scaled back his original proposal by reducing the amount invested in private accounts, from one-half to one-third of payroll taxes. Ryan’s Roadmap also promised to cut other government spending, though it didn’t specify how. Likewise, it promised to lower income-tax rates and simplify the tax code, but it didn’t detail which popular deductions — mortgage interest? retirement contributions? — it would eliminate.Ryan unplugged with the Romney auto-pen signing the congressman's destructive Ayn Rand legislative daydreams it into law is what awaits Americans in 2013 with a Republican ballot vote this November 6.
In April, after months of this education campaign, Ryan formally unveiled a third version of the Roadmap, renamed the Path to Prosperity.
After the listening sessions, Ryan had removed some of the most controversial ideas, including the manifesto-like introduction, and even the Social Security privatization plan. The credit for taxpayers to buy health insurance was scrapped as well, but Ryan added a new plank: to repeal Obama’s health-care law and to effectively cut Medicaid by a third. (Under the plan, Medicaid would no longer keep up with rising medical costs.) Ryan conceded that he couldn’t get his colleagues to go along with everything in the old plan. “I had to pass a bill — I had to get two hundred and eighteen people,” he told me. His original Roadmap “was just me, unplugged,” he said.
President Obama and most of his fellow Democrats offer a different vision for America's future. Addressing fiscal responsibility and the Romney-endorsed Ryan plan in April, Obama said:
I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them.This is what the Republican wrecking crew seeks to do to America's social safety net and other federal programs.
It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that 10 years from now, if you’re a 65-year-old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck -– you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.
It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents -- may be one of yours -- who wouldn’t be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some of these kids with disabilities are -- the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.
And worst of all, this is a vision that says even though Americans can’t afford to invest in education at current levels, or clean energy, even though we can’t afford to maintain our commitment on Medicare and Medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about that.
At a campaign event in Ohio yesterday, Obama noted that centerpiece of the plan is more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans making more than $3 million per year paid by the rest of us. A study (pdf) by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Institution verified the president's assessment. Obama said:
They're asking you to pay an extra $2,000 not to pay down the deficit, not to invest in our kids’ education -- Mr. Romney is asking you to pay more so that people like him get a tax cut.The Ryan budget and the Romney welfare for the wealthiest is bad for America's future. Romney fully support Ryan's ideas for ending America as we know it.
“He’s already endorsed these things,” Ryan said. “I want a full-throated defense for an alternative agenda that fixes the country’s problems. I want to show the country that we have a solution to get us out of the ditch we’re in, and to be proud about it.”A vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan. If you want to know where a Romney presidency will take America, look beyond the fancy dancing horse and pay attention to the rider. The man sitting in the saddle is Paul Ryan.