Congressman Paul Ryan
By choosing Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate Mitt Romney seems to have secured his credentials as a "severely conservative" Conservative. Ryan, the Representative from Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, currently chairs the House Budget Committee and is the principle author of The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal, an alternative to the Obama Administration's 2013 Budget.
Conservatives like Ryan because he is against abortion, against gay marriage and civil unions, against the Affordable Healthcare Act (ObamaCare), against regulation of the oil and gas industry and carbon credit accounting, against the DREAM Act, and for a strong National defense. In May of 2012 he voted to increase spending on defense, support for Afghanistan, and new weapons systems at a cost of $642 billion--about $8 billion more than previous levels. Ryan's proposed budget would decrease all discretionary spending from 12.5% of GDP to 3.75 GDP by 2050.
Tea Party members have celebrated Ryan's leadership in the House, and many Party regulars have lauded Romney for making a "bold choice." Mike Murphy, a leading GOP strategist, tweeted "Ryan is smart, honest, optimistic, experienced, respected, charismatic. The Base will love him." Ryan's big test, however, is whether his genuinely likeable personality will be enough to counter Democrat attacks on how his budget plans change Medicare.
Among the changes Ryan has proposed is phasing out Medicare's traditional fee-for-service model offering instead fixed sums in the form of a vouchers to buy, starting in 2021, private insurance. The federal government would no longer pay for Medicare benefits for persons born after 1975. The plan attracted criticism since the voucher payments would not be set to increase as medical costs increase, leaving beneficiaries only partially uninsured. I suspect this will be a hard sell in today's every man for himself environment.
The clarity and firmness of Ryan's proposals can be starkly contrasted with State Republican plans to cut and eventually eliminate Arkansas's income tax. Roughly speaking, they propose to produce or offset the difference by cutting "waste, fraud and abuse" in current operations, cutting spending overall, and finding new revenues. Naturally, they have not specified what waste, fraud and abuse is targeted, what programs they will cut, or what miracle of alchemy, besides more sales taxes probably, will produce the new revenues.
Because Arkansas has been a net recipient of Federal money since the end of World War II--we receive $1.41 in Federal money for every $1.00 we send to Washington--reductions in Federal assistance to States, and the proposed elimination of internally raised revenues such as income taxes, will have a material effect on Higher Education, Workforce Development and, of course, on any economic development initiatives currently planned.
It will be interesting to see how this all gets explained, but I'm betting that it doesn't. Voters seem to have other priorities and don't seemed concerned about confronting the magical thinking of their respective political leaders.