My first thought: “Romney’s out of his f—ing mind; how the Dems will demagogue and demonize this!”
My second thought: “All right! Game on!”
Nominating Ryan does play to the Democrats’ worst instinct of painting Republicans as heartless scrooges who “want to take away your Social Security and Medicare.” While Dems will protect those programs. With what money, nobody knows. (A 1000% tax rate on millionaires?)
Paul Ryan has outlined a fiscal path toward economic sanity that would, yes, reform such programs, which every responsible observer recognizes are otherwise unsustainable. Frankly, I would do it somewhat differently than Ryan, taking bigger whacks out of affluent people (like me) than needier ones. But at least Ryan had the cojones to tackle this issue and actually put a plan on the table, that recognizes reality. His plan can be debated. We need that debate. Instead, the Democrats only see Ryan’s plan as a club for beating Republicans, while still selling the fantasy that these social programs can just go on forever, unchanged. (One local Dem candidate, reacting to the Ryan pick, said, “We must not play politics with the future of Medicare.” Wrong – that’s quintessentially a political issue the nation must decide.)
Ryan, in his introductory speech as running mate, defined what’s at stake. We can face reality, defuse the debt bomb, and have a bright future of economic progress. Or we can continue in the La-La Land of mounting fiscal irresponsibility, leading us over an economic cliff.
Ryan was dead-on in saying that if President Obama isn’t part of the solution, he’s part of the problem. And Obama refuses even to acknowledge the problem. (No, it’s not undertaxing the rich.)
Let me be specific. The U.S. can get away with a lot because the Dollar is still the international reserve currency, and we can finance our trillions in debt at rock-bottom interest rates because the markets still think it’s the world’s safest. But those conditions can change, and they will, when/if it becomes clear that our borrowing vastly outstrips our ability to repay. Then interest rates will spike up, and we’ll be eaten alive by the cost of financing our past debts, never mind new ones (which, in consequence, will also explode). Higher interest rates will furthermore crush our economy; while a plunging Dollar makes everything we import more expensive. And those social programs? Bye-bye. But there is good news: now we’ll be more competitive against China – because our real-dollar wages will be that low.
There is still a way out, but the exit is closing, as we continue sleepwalking in La-La Land. That’s why Paul Ryan is such an important political figure, and why putting him on the ticket is such a thunderclap. I just hope Romney himself can emulate Ryan’s force and clarity.
So let’s have the debate. Let the Democrats try one more time to sell their old snake oil of a free lunch. Let the voters choose our fate. Game on.
* Both sides have been criticized for recent ads. Obama was accused of killing the 1996 welfare reform’s work requirement. Romney was accused of killing a woman (her husband lost health insurance). Romney’s ad may be arguable as to accuracy, but that’s a political argument. Obama’s ad is inaccurate on the facts, but more important, this goes beyond political argument – to a new low I didn’t think possible (and I thought a lot was possible). I would rather have a president willing to close uneconomic businesses, so people lose jobs, than a president willing to call his opponent a murderer for that.