Massive criticism of Ryan’s “dishonest” speech

As I suspected after Paul Ryan’s speech last night, many commentators have not been kind to him. I am not talking about his performance. It was powerful and the speech was well written speech, and although Ryan in the beginning looked a bit like a nervous young kid, he clearly managed to establish a very good contact with convention delegates.

So the Republican base is now not only secure but clearly enthusiastic about Romney’s choice as vice president. Thus, the goal of the speech was accomplished.

But did Ryan manage to reach the broader American voter groups, especially the independents? We do not know yet. Probably not. It was somehow too partisan, the picture of President Obama’s years in the White House somehow too dark, with no nuances.

A few examples: “Mr. Ryan’s misleading speech,” the Washington Post wrote in its main editorial today, while one of the paper’s blogs, The Plum Line, talked about Ryan’s “staggering, staggering lie”.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has a good compilation under the headline “The Most Dishonest Convention Speech … Ever”? And Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine called the speech “Paul Ryan’s Large Lies and One Big Truth”.

Here’s a bit of what they are talking about:

  • The GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville closed before Obama became president.
  • Ryan, just like Obama, wants to cut more than $ 700 billion from the Medicare, but he was silent about this.
  • The downgrading of U.S. credit rating was not a result of Obama’s policies but of Republican’s refusal to agree to raising the debt ceiling.
  • Obama has not contributed more than anyone else to the increase of the national debt. It is rather the result of the policies that George W. Bush pursued and which Ryan as congressman fully supported: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the two huge tax cuts.
  • Ryan’s pledge to support the weak and the poor do not rhyme with his budget proposal, where 62 percent of his cuts affect the low-income earners, including Medicaid.
  • Bowles/Simpson Commission: Ryan attacked Obama for not having adopted his own commission’s proposal. But he neglected to say that Ryan himself, as a member of that Commission, refused to sign the proposal because it contained tax increases.

The Democrats have a lot of new ammunition for the remaining days of this election campaign, but Ryan, unlike Sarah Palin, is no fool, so it will be a tough debate! Who will the American voters believe in the end? Mitt Romney has a big task tonight.

Here is Ryan’s speech:


Success in Tampa crucial to Romney’s chances in the fall

Leading up to the Republican convention in Tampa this week, it’s not just the weather that’s put a spoke in the wheel of the Romney/Ryan strategy to focus the campaign on the economy and unemployment, and that they are better suited than Obama to lead the U.S. in these difficult times.

There has also been an abortion debate after Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s stupid statement about “legitimate rape,” which produced lots of attention on the fact that the Republican Party platform prohibits abortion in all cases, even rape and incest. Then we had Romney’s equally stupid statement that he has never been asked to show his birth certificate — a bad joke to some, to others a calculated political signal to the despicable “birther” movement.   And we had Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.

So it hasn’t been a smooth ride, which raises the stakes for the Republican ticket this week in Tampa. Although conventions are no longer what they used to be, an estimated TV audience of about 35 million is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it is a golden opportunity for Romney/Ryan to re-focus their campaign, show who they are and where they want to take the United States in the years to come. Romney, it is said, must reveal more for himself and of who he really is. It will be difficult. Does he really have something to offer beyond what we already know about him?

Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate has not resulted in any major swings in the polls, except that Obama’s lead in Ryan’s home state Wisconsin has shrunk a bit. On point after point, voters still prefer Obama over Romney, according to the latest Gallup Poll. Obama is more “likable” with 54 percent against 31. Obama is a stronger leader, he is more honest and generates more confidence, and he cares about people like you (the respondents). He is ahead on foreign policy, taxes, energy, healthcare. Only on the economy did Romney beat Obama, 52 percent to 43.

The economy is the most important issue for November, so the fact that those asked in the Gallup Poll thought that Romney is better suited to reverse the present dismal picture – something that could be re-enforced with successful convention – is of great importance looking ahead to November. But the economy alone will not decide the election. There will be Medicare and taxes and abortion, but, most of all, there will be the fundamental question of whether an ever more conservative Republican Party, increasingly hostile to the government, dominated by whites with only five percent Hispanics and two percent African-Americans, and with ever fewer moderate Republicans in the ranks, can appeal to a broader American electorate.

One of those moderates, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, has chosen to retire and walk away for a certain re-election this fall after 18 years in the Senate. In Sunday’s Washington Post, she pleaded almost in despair for deep changes in her party now so hostile to America’s women.

“Today, the Republican Party faces a clear challenge: will we rebuild our relationship with women, thereby placing us on the road to success in November, or will we continue to isolate them and certainly lose this election?”

This will be no easy task for Romney/Ryan. Another Gallup Poll recently showed that Obama leads among women voters by 50 percent to 42. Romney, once a moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, has since then a moved righton a number of issues, disavowing his record as governor, and taking far more conservative positions.

With his choice of Ryan, Romney’s conservative conversion is complete. He has now joined the ranks of Ryan and the Tea Party sympathizers in the House of Representatives and a party about which Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein recently wrote in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks:”

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges. “

This is where Mitt Romney now stands. The Republican Party’s conservative base is certainly happy about this. The question is what the broader American electorate, those outside the Republican Party, will say about this in November. Without them, Romney cannot win.

Ryan’s budget will haunt the Republican ticket

They look happy, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but it’s hard for me to see how Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate will strengthen the Republican ticket, increase its chances for victory, and bring joy for the party in November.

Yes, the choice will energize the far right in the party — the born-again Christians and the Tea party, who will now feel more motivated to actually turn out and vote. That’s not bad, of course, but beyond that? Not much.

Ryan is not broadly known and has no strong geographic base. It is unlikely that he will succeed in helping Romney carry his home state of Wisconsin in the fall. And his view of America, based on his budget proposal that he persuaded his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives to support, is too radical and too controversial for the broader electorate. But the former Governor of Massachusetts, seen by many as a moderate voice in the Republican party, is now closely associated with that budget, and he will not be spared in the coming months.

Here is what the The New Yorker’s economic commentator James Surowiecki wrote about Ryan’s budget last spring:

But the simple truth is that his plan is not an evenhanded attempt to solve America’s long-term budget problems. It’s a profoundly radical document, its proposals skewed by ideological biases. Raising taxes, of course, is out of bounds. The same goes for using federal power to hold down Medicare costs, which will be the key driver of future budget deficits. Instead, House Republicans would cut spending on almost everything else the government does.

This budget will be a big negative for Romney/Ryan during the rest of the election campaign. The Obama team will see to that and their attacks will be relentless. Here is what Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager said today, and this is just the start:

In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.

Here is what Paul Ryan said himself today, in his first speech as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate:

Paul Ryan: a sign of a campaign in trouble

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, as his running mate was surprising, but no bolt out of the blue like when John McCain nominated Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. But Romney is taking a big chance with Ryan, just like McCain did. Ryan is untested, like Palin, largely unknown to the general American public, like Palin, and Romney’s choice gives the impression of desperation, as McCain’s did.

Romney’s campaign is in trouble, if not in a crisis. He needed to do something drastic to. In three recent major polls, President Obama’s lead over Romney has increased, and according to Fox News, it is now 9 per cent. Romney needed to do something drastic to wake up the slumbering conservative Republican base.

The choice of Ryan means that Romney has succumbed to the harsh pressures from the party’s right wing and leading press voices like The Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard, which demanded that Ryan, seen by them as a leading conservative intellectual, be nominated. These voices opposed candidates such as Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty and Ohio’s Rob Portman, too plain, too much like Romney himself and without any chance to inspire the conservative Republican voter base.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the Republican Party’s chief economic and budget spokesman, is a controversial figure, best known for the heavy-handed, radical cuts, in the country’s entitlement programs, particularly Medicare, while lowering the taxes for higher income groups and increasing them for the middle class. Ryan as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee means that the campaign will now completely be about pensions, health care for the elderly and a fair tax system. That debate will be favorable to President Obama.

Conservative columnist David Frum describes the problems in his comments on the Daily Beast today. The election will not be at about jobs and the economy but about security, about pensions and Medicare.

Economic conditions are so tough – the Obama re-election proposition is so weak – that Romney may win anyway. But wow, the job just got harder.

The choice of Ryan, according to Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog in the Washington Post, means that “both the Democrats and the Conservatives have the exact debate they wanted. I’m not so sure about Republicans. “

To learn more about Paul Ryan, 42 years old, Catholic, father of three children, born in Janesville, Wisconsin, which he has represented in the House of Representatives since 1998, you must not miss Ryan Lizza’s recent stellar profile of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in The New Yorker.

Medicare for all!

Medicare, Medicare, Medicare won the election on Tuesday in the 26th district in New York State, and the Democratic candidate Kathy Hochula became the beneficiary of the voters’ verdict in a surprising upset in the, usually, staunchly Republican district.

As a European, who has made America my home for many years, I am still partial to anything in the American health care system that smells like Canada or Europe – where health care is a fundamental right for everyone, like basic education, too important to leave to private market forces.

I like Medicare. I profit from it myself. So I completely understand the voters of the 26th district in voting down the Paul Ryan proposal to privatize Medicare. It works, unlike so much else in American health care.

For this reason, I am delighted that Vermont’s Democratic Governor, Peter Shumlin, today signed into law a new single payer health care system, which basically is Medicare for all, regardless of age. Shumlin said that the new law would make Vermont the first state in the nation to make health care “a right and not a privilege.”

I like Vermont, a State of proud firsts, as Amy Goodman writes, “first to join the 13 colonies. Its constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all – public education.” On “Democracy Now,” you can listen to Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All explain it all.

We will hear a lot more about this in the coming months. In fact, it is likely it will dominate the campaign rhetoric up until the election next year.

But, as E. J. Dionne points out in the Washington Post today, the election in New York State was not only about Medicare, it was Medicare combined with the promotion in the Republican budget proposal of further tax cuts for the wealthy. That made the whole thing into an issue of fairness. The Republicans have gone too far, they have no mandate for this.

The result in New York’s 26th district and the vote yesterday in the Senate on the Ryan budget proposal, with four moderate Republicans, two of them up for re-election next year, siding with the Democratic majority, are both clear signs how worried the Republicans have become. They mutter about “Mediscare,” but the truth is that to tamper with a popular program like Medicare has proven politically disastrous.