I just watched Mitt Romney and his (well, Karl Rove’s) Vice-Presidential running mate, Wisconsin Republican House member and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan from Janesville. Ryan took his House seat in 1999.
The pair were grilled on 60 Minutes for a bit over a half-hour by the grand old man of interviewing, the ever-decent, Bob Schieffer, a straightforward pro not given to hyperbole or ‘gotcha’ questions. Ironically, the interview was held in a furniture factory in High Point, North Carolina. Interesting, given the fact that 75% of the wooden furniture sold in the U.S. is made overseas. High Point was once at the epicenter of Textile Mills and furniture factories. No more, because Romney and his ilk were busy sending American Manufacturing jobs overseas.
But the goobers around the rest of the country don’t know that, so why not High Point? After all, Romney and Ryan and Rove see President Obama as being vulnerable in a state he carried in 2008.
Responding to Schieffer, Romney said that the decision to ‘hire’ Ryan was made August 1st. The primary reason was that “this is a guy who is a real leader.’ I hang with a really politically aware crowd. The name Ryan hardly ever came up during the entirety of the Bush administration, receiving national (and our) attention only with his repeated entreaties to privatize Social Security and early declarations of war on women. He remained largely a back-bencher until the Tea Party takeover of the house in the mid-terms. He was then elevated to the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. That’s when his name started appearing in the media with regularity.
His limited profile really started its rise with the release of his first Ryan budget, “The Path to Prosperity” in 2008. That was followed by the 2009 and 2010 versions. His 2011 budget passed on a House vote though the senate despised it and stopped it in its tracks. When Teapublicans got a sniff of the Ryan budget’s inhuman, destructive contents and the federal government emasculation, the radical right had a new hero. A 2012 update Ryan budget also passed the House. Romney told Schieffer that he and Ryan share the same values.
If you call destroying most of the public safety nets of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, pimping government tax giveaways to the wealthy, brutally cutting food stamps, decimating health care on all levels and handing a good portion of social security over to Romney’s Wall Street pals, then, yes, these two share the same values. Ryan is synonymous with vouchers and privatization.
Considering what followed, I thought I had accidentally switched over to Comedy Central. Romney actually praised his new VP for dedicating his years in congress to working in ways that were not highly partisan or political. Yeah, hardly a day goes by when I don’t see Ryan on Fox News (a favorite and repeated haunt) begging his colleagues to be less partisan. And political? Ryan? There is no way on earth that the Ryan budget could get any more politicized. Deep tea party-loved cuts in federal, state and local services are at the epicenter of the budget. Every gain for the wealthy comes at the expense of the poor and middle-class; 45% of his tax cuts go to the top 1% or those with an income above $630,000 per year. Got an annual income over a million? Ryan gives you a $265,000 tax cut not to mention an extra $129,000 from the Bush cuts if the republicans prevail.
The boys said “the president has a terrible record, so he can’t run on that.” Virtually every facet of that part of the record that is indeed ‘terrible’ is a direct result of representatives like Ryan refusing to even remotely consider honorable and effective legislation that ‘bi-partisan’ republicans blocked 100% of the time. Is that political; non-partisan? Ryan told the 60 minutes audience that the president is going to try to distract attention from his record by attacking Romney.
Romney continued his farcical responses by looking Schieffer straight in the eye and assuring him that Ryan would help shepherd legislation through congress, again because he’ll be able to work with democrats and find common ground. He continued that Ryan had the capacity to get people of different parties to work together. Romney forgot to add, that they can work together as long as the Democrats do everything the Republicans tell them to do. That’s already been oft-quoted by the numerous Republican’s, themselves.
The funniest line of the entire interview was “We’re planting the seeds for bi-partisan cooperation.” So what have you been doing for the last two years when Obama was on his knees imploring you to “plant the seeds for bi-partisan cooperation?” Didn’t hear a word from Ryan.
One of them (I don’t remember which one) bitched about passing on a trillion a year (I assume he was referring to the deficit) to our children. Of course, neither proposed raising taxes on their wealthy colleagues to help eliminate said deficit. They even accused Obama of ‘crony capitalism’ and ‘corporate welfare’. Is there anybody this side of the Mason-Dixon line that doesn’t know that line applies pretty much exclusively to the republicans? That’s an old Rove tactic. Point the finger at the opposition and charge them with doing what you’re doing. Yeah, this was a Rove choice all right.
Sitting next to Captain Tax Shelter, Ryan, again with a straight face, pledged to take away tax shelters from high-income people. Ryan also said he was releasing 2 years of tax returns, “just like Mr. Romney”, apparently not being aware that Romney only released 1 year of tax returns (2010) and 1 year of tax estimates (2011). You could tell Ryan was extremely uncomfortable with that question. Whether it was for himself or Romney, or both, remains to be seen. If I had anything to say about it, I’d add Ryan’s name to the demand that both men release at least 10 years of tax returns.
As the interview ended, I thought about how evasive and manipulative the answers were; how much parsing was going on. How basically dishonest the answers were. It was the perfect ticket for the new Republican Party.