Thanks to the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, we’re going to be saved from a negative campaign. Now we’ll be elevated by a campaign about Big Ideas.
At least that’s the latest tripe being peddled by the Big Media, which has spent a lot of time drooling over the insane Ryan budget plan House Republicans passed before it died, only to be joyfully revived by Democrats who sought to pin in to the chests of their Republican opponents in Congressional races, then revived again by a befuddled Mitt Romney, who seems to want to cling to it (for his base) and distance himself from it (for everybody else).
According to the media, Ryan is a cheerful wonk who is the only one brave and bold enough to propose a plan to reduce the federal deficit. Never mind that the numbers don’t add up, or that his budget scheme involves a massive future reductions not only of Medicare but all government services except defense spending.
Ryan has become a top expert at capitalizing on legitimate skepticism about government and economic anxiety in the wake of the 2008 bailout and grafting those feelings on to the austerity agenda of the 1 percent – crushing all government regulation, reducing popular government services like parks and health care for the elderly and privatizing Social Security while placing the burden of the nation’s fiscal problems on those least able to afford it and keeping tax rates low for the wealthiest Americans.
For our media elite, these are what pass for serious ideas. There’s little scrutiny beyond reporting Ryan’s rhetoric, in which he insists he’s out to save Medicare and merely facing a fiscal reality that others are afraid to confront.
You don’t have to dig very deep to find Ryan’s real motives, and who the winners will be if he wins his fight.
As usual in contemporary politics, the reality can be found in the money that has fueled Ryan’s rise. Among his top campaign contributors: Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, UBS bank and Wells-Fargo, along with corporate powerhouses like AT&T, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and Northwestern Mutual. He’s been closely associated with the billionaire Koch Brothers Americans For Prosperity.
Once you into Ryan’s actual record, he looks a lot more like your garden-variety congressional hypocrite: preaching the free-market gospel while he votes for the 2008 no-questions-asked bank bailout, trashing the Obama administration stimulus package while making sure that his congressional district got its share of the spoils.
If the media were doing its job, Ryan would be dismissed for the craven con artist that he is, not lionized. Mitt Romney claims that he chose Ryan to balance out his own inexperience in Washington. But Ryan’s efforts to push through his budget scheme have failed miserably – except at making him a media darling.
If the media were doing its job, the headlines would be describing Ryan’s real, and embarrassingly modest, legislative record since he was elected to Congress in 1998. His first successful piece of legislation renamed his local post office in Janesville, Wisconsin for longtime Wisconsin Democratic congressman and former defense secretary Les Aspin in 2000. His other legislative achievement has been a bill to amend the IRS code to modify the taxation of arrow components. (Ryan uses bows and arrows for sport.)
Along with other fellow Republicans, he signed on to the Bush tax cuts, a partial-birth abortion ban and several efforts to increase sanctions against Iran.
Aside from that, he’s co-sponsored eight pieces of legislation issuing commemorative coins and five resolutions honoring Ronald Reagan.
There must have been some tough choices involved. Just who exactly should get a commemorative coin in their honor? Not just anybody, and you’re bound to make somebody mad. But it’s not exactly a profile of courage. How much courage does it take to do the bidding of the CEOs who keep you in office, against the retirees and the poor who can’t afford fat contributions and lobbyists?