Last night, word broke that Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan to be his running mate. And despite the promise that Romney’s veep app would give subscribers the first look at the nomination, the leak was confirmed this morning.
While Paul Ryan, who is famous for his budget plan, is a boone to the conservative vote, there are many groups that he does not appeal to. The Romney campaign has sent a clear message to these groups whether they meant to or not: the vote of ultra conservative white men is more important to the GOP than the votes of women or people of color.
Paul Ryan’s Woman Problem
After Mitt Romney decided to take a hard line on birth control and family planning during the primaries, Planned Parenthood began running relentless ads about the former governor’s anti-woman stance. The swing state ad campaign worked: more than half of women surveyed saw the ad, and those who did said they were far less likely to vote for Romney.
Where Romney is bad on issues of contraception, abortion access, and social services, Paul Ryan is worse. Ryan has a 0% rating by NARAL, indicating an entirely anti-choice voting record. It’s a long record, too: Ryan has cast 59 votes against abortion access and family planning funding since 1998, including several votes to completely eliminate Title X funding. Ryan is passionate about his extreme views on contraception, saying, “I’m as pro-life as a person gets. You’re not going to have a truce.” His stance is so extreme that he opposes everything from allowing abortion coverage by private insurers that receive any federal money – which is most insurance companies – to allowing doctors to perform emergency abortions to save women’s lives. A Romney-Ryan ticket guarantees that the war on women would win a battle at the executive level.
And it’s not as though Ryan has voted to help low-income mothers after their children are no longer fetuses. On the contrary, the Ryan budget plan included cutting SNAP benefits by nearly 20%.The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, keeps an estimated 1.7 million children in America from going hungry every year – something that should hardly be on the chopping block during the worst recession in generations. His massive cuts to Medicare would also have serious negative effects for women, who make up 56% of Medicare recipients. To top it all off, Ryan voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it illegal for employers to have discriminatory pay policies based on gender.
All of this is of little comfort to the millions of women that have been blindsided by the GOP’s aggressive attack on reproductive and gender equity rights in the last two years. This ticket is not going to do anything to improve Romney’s image with women, and may even make it worse.
It’s The Economy, Stupid
Paul Ryan’s stance on women’s rights isn’t his only position that is bound to be unpopular with voters. His budget plan, which became infamous for its massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare, is going to be a feeding frenzy for the Obama campaign. Not only would implementing Ryan’s plan repeal health care reform, it would replace the system with vouchers that would not keep up with the inflation of care costs. His plan to place Social Security in private accounts for individual citizens actually does nothing to reduce the deficit or reduce spending – it just moves taxpayer money to risky investments.
Beyond those cuts, Ryan’s plan would actually raise taxes for 95% of Americans. The plan disproportionately taxes middle class and low income families, while providing increased tax breaks to big businesses and the wealthy. It’s a repetition of Bush era policies. And when Ryan proposed the plan during George W Bush’s presidency, it was summarily voted down. Even in 2011, when the plan passed the House and was killed in the Senate, the plan had no support from Democrats and was voted against by some Republicans as well.
The Hunt For Red November
It’s unclear what Mitt Romney will gain from a run with Paul Ryan. The campaign must be seriously fearing low turnout among conservative voters. Romney’s campaign has been working overtime to appeal to the base, booking convention speakers like Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum. Pro-Romney ads have focused on Obama’s alleged hatred of small business and love of welfare, which are the equivalent of a conservative politician’s greatest hits. The VP nomination seems to be just another piece of that strategy.
But Romney will gain little else from this selection. He won’t make any ground with women, and he certainly won’t win over elderly voters in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania by taking a hard line on Medicare and Social Security. Ryan doesn’t even come with the possibility of appealing to the Latino community that would have come from a Marco Rubio nomination. There is even some concern that the conservative superstar will outshine the bland nominee a la Sarah Palin in 2008.
The GOP at large has tried to confine this election to the wealthy and middle class white people that make up their base. And with this nomination following a racist campaign ad, months of attacks on women’s rights, and voter suppression scandals, it’s clear that they intend to stick with that strategy until the bitter end.
For the rest of us, that bitter end can’t come soon enough.