Two thoughts on the Paul Ryan pick:
- From a policy perspective, it’s difficult to overstate how awful Paul Ryan and his budget are. In short, he basically wants to gut the social safety net as we know it and give the money to rich people. Presumably so they can “create jobs,” since they’ve been doing that so well for the past decade. His reputation as someone who wants to reduce the deficit is total bullshit. Anyway, read Robert Reich’s takedown. Read Krugman’s damning analysis of the budget from April. Look at the charts that get into the weeds on taxes and spending. You’ll get the idea.
- Not sure how this will play politically. I sense that the cuts to social insurance programs, particularly Medicare, will not play well with the national electorate. For reference, a Democrat basically won a Congressional seat last year in an ordinarily non-competitive Republican district by linking the G.O.P. candidate with Ryan’s Medicare plan. It’s undoubtedly a risky pick made from a position of relative weakness (more on this from Sean Trende and Nate Silver), and it’s more likely to work out poorly than well.
But the odds of Romney winning the election, Ryan becoming vice president, and these abhorrent policies become law are far from out of the question, and that would be awful for the country. I think that progressives forget sometimes that in the last twelve years alone, Americans:
- elected George W. Bush President of the United States twice (Well there is a giant asterisk next to that 2000 election but that’s for another day.)
- did not overwhelmingly reject John McCain in 2008 with the knowledge that Bush and the Republicans misled the country into war, crashed the economy, committed a whole host of other sins, and oh by the way McCain thought Sarah Palin as vice president wasn’t such a bad idea
- returned control of the House of Representatives and six Senate seats to Republicans just two years later
We can argue about why those things happened, but the fact of the matter is that the right wing’s role in American politics is just a political reality. I said last week that I had a hard time seeing Obama losing and I still believe that. I even think the Ryan news make it more likely. But it would be a mistake to pretend that a Democratic victory is inevitable.