Everyone’s excited about Ryan ... except me
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 16, 2012 | 813 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daniel Gaddy
Daniel Gaddy
slideshow
When Mitt Romney announced that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan would be his running mate, I fully expected conservatives to react as if Ronald Reagan had been reincarnated. And they did.

Ryan is, after all, a hard-nosed fiscal hawk dedicated to reducing the nation’s crippling debt through tough but necessary austerity blah, blah, blah.

Think what you will of Ryan as a candidate, but I’d like to point out that he voted for the Bush tax cuts, Medicare Part D and putting both wars on America’s credit card — all of which added trillions to the national debt. But I digress.

The reaction I didn’t expect about Romney’s veep pick, however, was the excitement of many Democrats. That day, my Facebook news feed filled up with decent, God-fearing liberals who were overjoyed that the Republicans chose Ryan. According to their reasoning, anyone could beat this guy. He is, after all, the “Kill Medicare Guy.”

To be fair, the Kill Medicare label has been debunked by popular fact-checking websites. But calling Ryan the “Fundamentally Change Medicare into a Voucher Program Guy” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

No matter how you characterize it, Ryan initially proposed to end the traditional reimbursement structure of Medicare and simply give senior citizens a voucher to buy private insurance. More recently, he proposed a type of Medicare exchange where seniors could choose between traditional Medicare or a government-subsidized private insurance plan.

That’s a theme you will see in most of Ryans ideas: HERE’S YOUR COUPON, GOOD LUCK. In one budget plan, he suggested allowing people to opt out of Social Security and use private accounts. He also stated that he wants to change Medicaid and food stamp funding to a block grant system. Doing things that way, would mean a state will receive a certain amount from the federal government decided by its population and poverty levels. After that, the state would be on its own.

What makes the fiscal hawk label really laughable, though, is that Ryan wants to increase defense spending and slash tax rates for the top income brackets. In fact, that has been the one consistent policy idea throughout every budget he has proposed.

I’m sure many people will say that I’m insinuating that Ryan doesn’t care about poor people. If that is the case, then let me stop insinuating. PAUL RYAN DOESN’T CARE ABOUT POOR PEOPLE.

Regardless of any policy idea, Ryan is known for one thing: proposing a budget that makes drastic cuts to the social safety net. He, like so many Republican leaders in Congress, has aligned himself with the philosophy of libertarian novelist Ayn Rand, who believed poor people are parasites.

And by picking Ryan as a vice presidential candidate, the Romney team placed their confidence in the idea that Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

That’s what scares me. That Romney’s strategists knew exactly what they were doing when they picked the “Kill Medicare Guy.”

I will never understand why there is such widespread disdain for social welfare programs. The fraud rate for food stamps has been below 3 percent for years. It provides one in seven Americans with nutrition, and the typical beneficiary gets a whopping $1.50 per meal.

In a world where scumbag bankers get bailed out for wrecking the economy, how can lawmakers point to a person struggling to feed his family and say “there’s our problem’?

Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at daniel.gaddy@mountaineagle.com.