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Monday, August 13, 2012

Did Romney Make the Right Pick?

“Self-government stands or falls on integrity, not only in those who represent you but in the enactment of law. This indecency soiled our freedom and embarrassed the democracy we promote in other nations. And this may not be the last of it. To enact its transformative agenda, this leadership employs the Machiavellian saying that the end justifies the means. America was born in a revolution against that whole idea. Soon it will be the norm.” — Rep. Paul Ryan, Address to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, March 31, 2010.

On Friday night my daughter called me a 11:30 pm to tell me she had seen a Fox News alert stating that Mitt Romney was going to announce his VP pick on Saturday morning and it would be Paul Ryan, the Representative from Wisconsin. She wanted to know what I thought of Ryan and Romney’s pick. Being awaken from my first hour of sleep I was not very cognizant with my thoughts.

My first reaction was that with Ryan gone from the House we would lose a champion for smaller government and fiscal responsibility. I had heard so many pundits bloviate on Romney’s potential VP pick giving reasons for their favorites. Some wanted Marco Rubio because of his Hispanic ethnicity and the fact Florida was a swing state. Some wanted Senator Portman of Ohio as Ohio is considered a swing state. Others wanted Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana and still others were in favor of Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Very few thought it would be Paul Ryan.

I made it a point to get up on Saturday morning to watch Romney announce his VP selection with a backdrop of the aircraft carrier USS Wisconsin from Norfolk, Virginia. I listened to both presumptive nominees address the wildly cheering assembled crowd and I began to draw my conclusions to Romney’s choice.

During the day I watched the masterminds of the GOP climb on the Paul Ryan bandwagon and claim that Romney’s selection was nothing but brilliant. Many claimed that Romney paid homage to the Tea Party by chasing the Wisconsin Congressman — who has been a Tea Party favorite. Even Sarah Palin jumped on the Ryan bandwagon with posts on her Facebook page. So who is Paul Ryan?

According to Wikipedia Ryan was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin. He earned a B.A. degree from Miami University in Ohio. Following his studies, he worked as an aide to United States Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, as legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, and as a speechwriter for former U.S. Representative and 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp of New York. In 1998, Ryan won election to the United States House of Representatives, succeeding Republican Mark Neumann. He is now in his seventh term.

As chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has focused on fiscal policy and has proposed privatizing Social Security and replacing Medicare for those Americans under 55 with a voucher program. Ryan introduced a plan, The Path to Prosperity, in April 2011 which included significant changes to Medicare. He then helped introduce the similar The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal in March 2012.

Following his first election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, he had a walk-in delivery van converted into a “Mobile Constituent Service Center” that allowed him and his staff to meet with his constituents at rural locations across Wisconsin's 1st congressional district.

In 1999, Ryan voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which repealed480px-Paul_Ryan_official_portrait key provisions of the depression-era Glass–Steagall Act which regulated banking. In 2002, he voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution, authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq. In 2003, Ryan voted in favor of the Medicare Part D prescription drug law. In 2004 and 2005, Ryan pushed the Bush administration to propose the privatization of Social Security; Ryan's proposal ultimately failed when it did not gain the support of the then-Republican presidential administration. After the next election, he was chosen as the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

In 2008, Ryan voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as well as the bailout of GM and Chrysler. In 2011, he was selected to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address. In 2012, he accused the nation's top military leaders of using "smoke and mirrors" to remain under budget limits passed by Congress. Ryan later said that he misspoke on the issue and called General Martin Dempsey to apologize for his comments.

In May 2012, Ryan voted for H.R. 4310 which would increase defense spending, including spending for the Afghanistan War and for various weapon systems, to the level of $642 billion – $8 billion more than previous spending levels.

If it sounds like I am being negative towards the pick of Ryan you are mistaken. I always thought it would be Marco Rubio because of his Cuban ancestry and because Florida was such a big deal in the coming election. Florida will still be a big deal and Rubio will have to work hard to bring it into the GOP column, especially since Ryan has been portrayed as anti-seniors and so many retied folks vote in the Sunshine State. On the other hand Ryan could bring Wisconsin into the GOP column if the Tea Party gets out and organizes like they did for Scott Walker.

Last week Charles Krauthammer wrote a column that I consider one of his best in quite a while, titled “The case against re-election.” In it, he examined Obama’s failed programs and legislation and the potential campaign strategy for Mitt Romney. Krauthammer’s most important point focused on how important it is for Mitt Romney – and now Paul Ryan – to campaign against Obama on ideological grounds. Krauthammer stated:

“There are two ways to run against Barack Obama: stewardship or ideology. You can run against his record or you can run against his ideas.

The stewardship case is pretty straightforward: the worst recovery in U.S. history, 42 consecutive months of 8-plus percent unemployment, declining economic growth — all achieved at a price of an additional $5 trillion of accumulated debt.

The ideological case is also simple. Just play in toto (and therefore in context) Obama’s Roanoke riff telling small-business owners: “You didn’t build that.” Real credit for your success belongs not to you — you think you did well because of your smarts and sweat? he asked mockingly — but to government that built the infrastructure without which you would have nothing.

Play it. Then ask: Is that the governing philosophy you want for this nation?”

Exactly. And this is the question that Americans should have asked in 2008. But they were too preoccupied with the erupting financial crisis and Iraq fatigue to pay close attention to the ideological train wreck that was, and is, Barack Obama. No one should be surprised by what Obama has done, nor should they have been shocked by revealing, non-teleprompted comments such as “you didn’t build that” (“spread the wealth around“, anyone?). The Obama Rule was plain to see all along.

Barack Obama’s ideology has been out there, exposed to anyone who bothered to listen (certainly not the mainstream media). His ideology is, and always has been, his problem. Not his lack of experience. Not his birthplace or his religious affiliation or any of the other things that some on our side have blathered about.

It’s the ideology, stupid.

Krauthammer’s makes a stellar case for the Romney/Ryan camp to run strongly on ideology:

“The ideological case, on the other hand, is not just appealing to a center-right country with twice as many conservatives as liberals, it is also explanatory. It underpins the stewardship argument. Obama’s ideology — and the program that followed — explains the failure of these four years.”

Conveniently, Mitt Romney made this strategy much easier on Saturday. By selecting Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, he has made a stellar ideological choice. Ryan’s ideology is diametrically opposed to the Leftist mindset of Obama and his Democrat friends and provides a wonderful contrast to Mitt Romney’s more “stewardship-focused” story on the campaign trail.

On March 31, 2010 Paul Ryan gave a speech to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. In that speech, Ryan displayed his deep understanding of the profoundly broken “progressivist” ideology of Barack Obama and articulated a powerful opposing viewpoint focused on self-government, unalienable rights, the Constitution and limits on government power. his speech should be read by every American who opposes the intrusive, anti-liberty agenda of the Obama Progressivists. A few key items:

“Americans are preparing to fight another American Revolution, this time, a peaceful one with election ballots…but the “causes” of both are the same:

Should unchecked centralized government be allowed to grow and grow in power … or should its powers be limited and returned to the people?

Should irresponsible leaders in a distant capital be encouraged to run up scandalous debts without limit that crush jobs and stall prosperity … or should the reckless be turned out of office and a new government elected to live within its means?

Should America bid farewell to exceptional freedom and follow the retreat to European social welfare paternalism … or should we make a new start, in the faith that boundless opportunities belong to the workers, the builders, the industrious, and the free?

We are at the beginning of an election campaign like you’ve never seen before!”

Ryan said this in 2010, but it is equally applicable (if not more so) now. But wait, there’s much more:

“The Progressivist ideology embraced by today’s leaders is very different from everything rank-and-file Democrats, independents, and Republicans stand for. America stands for nothing if not for the fixed truth that unalienable rights were granted to every human being not by government but by “nature and nature’s God.” The truths of the American founding can’t become obsolete because they are not time bound. They are eternal. The practical consequence of these truths is free market democracy, the American idea of free labor and free enterprise under government by popular consent. The deepest case for free market democracy is moral, rooted in human equality and the natural right to be free.

A government that expands beyond its high but limited mission of securing our natural rights is not progressive, it’s regressive. It privileges the powerful at the expense of the people. It establishes the rule of class over class. The American Revolution and the Constitution replaced class rule with a better idea: equal opportunity for all. The promise of keeping the earnings of your work is central to justice, freedom, and the hope to improve your life.”

I have argued for several years that we cede ground to the Democrats and Leftists by using the term “progressive” when referring to their philosophy. As Ryan states, nothing they prescribe remotely resembles “progress”. It is regressive. It returns us to the Middle Ages, where the King (government) ruled over the peons. Government dependency does not improve lives – it enslaves them to their King. Ryan’s description of progressivist regression takes us back to the Declaration of Independence, where the Founders stated “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” (Replace “King of Great Britain” with “President of the United States” and you have a perfect fit.).

Ryan continued in his address:

Self-government stands or falls on integrity, not only in those who represent you but in the enactment of law. This indecency soiled our freedom and embarrassed the democracy we promote in other nations. And this may not be the last of it. To enact its transformative agenda, this leadership employs the Machiavellian saying that the end justifies the means. America was born in a revolution against that whole idea. Soon it will be the norm.

The Constitution and the consent of the people are all that stand between limited and unlimited government power. Zealous ideologues with the best of intentions brush aside the limits on power in order to get whatever they believe is good for the people … no matter what the people believe. Our system of freedom can survive an assault, but it won’t survive if the people are frightened, or angry, or asleep at the switch. A great Democrat, President Andrew Jackson, once said: “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.” We can thank our current leaders at least for this: they have awakened the nation to the danger of taking self-government for granted.

Congress is not only enacting a social welfare state agenda over the objections of the people. It is failing to address the problems that threaten to engulf our country, principally economic decline and entitlement-driven debt crisis. The coming election will be a referendum on the agenda of our current leadership. Either it will give them a mandate that says “more of the same,” or it will end the abuse of power and put America back on the path of growth and freedom.”

Again, this was a prescient speech – it applied in 2010 and it does again in 2012. Unfortunately, the election of a conservative House of Representatives only took us partway to a solution. Now we must defeat Barack Obama and his Democrat crooks and liars in the Senate.

Ryan’s finale was a great:

“The question is, do we realign with the vision of a European-style social welfare state, or do we realign with the American idea?

My party challenges the whole basis of the Progressivist vision of this country’s future. We challenge their attack on American exceptionalism. We challenge their claim that bureaucratic centralization is the only way the US can meet the economic and social challenges of our time.

Those leaders have underestimated the good sense of the American people. They broke faith with independents, Republicans, and their own rank-and-file. They walked away from the foundational truths that made America the wonder and the envy of the world. The price of their infidelity will be high.”

That is indeed the question. What is the vision that the people of the United States wish to pursue? That of a social welfare state buried beneath entitlement spending, or of a free nation with minimal governmental intrusion and a lessened chokehold of taxes and regulations upon its citizens as envisioned by our Founders?

Again, Krauthammer is right. He likes what he sees in the Ryan nomination as he stated on Saturday morning on the Fox News Channel as reported by The Daily Caller.

“But second is also the shift in grounds, the dynamic of the debate — the argument from stewardship, from who can do a better job. to ideas,” he continued. “When Ryan spoke, he mentioned our rights are from nature and God. That’s a fairly fundamental idea. It isn’t even a policy. It’s a philosophy. He wants to make the debate about the philosophy of government and the policies that then follow. And I think by doing this they are now running on what is essentially an argument, ‘No to the status quo.’ It’s a complete reversal of 2008. Obama in 2008 was hope and change. ‘You don’t like status quo, we’ve got ideas.”


“Now here are the Republicans four years later saying, ‘well, you had your shot at charisma with this idea of hope and change. It’s not hope and change. It’s a dismal, sort of declining America. We have the ideas. We have the policies. We’re willing to risk on them. We are willing to lead on them, lead from in front.

“And that’s what I think shifts the whole debate. It is a dynamic one about future, ideas and change. Change is now on the side of Republicans, where as it was on the policy of this side of the Democrats in 2008. And they can make a coherent case of that as we heard Ryan doing in his introductory remarks.”

Ryan certainly makes a coherent case for change…now, just as he did in 2010. His conservative ideology, matched with Mitt Romney’s executive experience and business acumen is a superb combination for the GOP ticket. Paul Ryan is a man who should be Vice President, and Mitt Romney is the man who should be President.

Daren Jonescu writes in American Thinker what I consider a relevant commentary on the section of Ryan and the shift in the debate for the coming election:

“The GOP has so damaged its reputation with conservatives that even a rare reasonable decision is met with a measure of cynicism from some quarters. Beneath the inevitable immediate wave of enthusiasm for the choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, one also notices a faction of naysayers, one likely to grow as the initial excitement dies down: constitutionalists who see the Ryan selection as just the same old, same old from the Republican Party establishment.

The very fact that the establishment approves of someone is now regarded by many as prima facie grounds for suspicion. Thus it is that the choice of Ryan is garnering extremely cautious kudos from some conservatives, and a resounding "So what?" from others.

They are right to be skeptical, after having watched their champions and agenda being repeatedly muffled or held at a distance by the GOP inner circle precisely when they and their message are most urgently needed. During these critical years of civilizational life-or-death struggle, the traditional moderate argument against highlighting conservative principles — "conservatives are unelectable" — has been blown full of holes by the rise of the Tea Party, the 2010 midterms, Scott Walker's victorious stand in Wisconsin, and so on. Yet the establishment has continued to resist the call to constitutionalist renewal. Why, then, should conservatives trust the GOP?

While perhaps not trusting, however, one can, following Reagan's Cold War slogan, “seek to verify”. Wondering whether Ryan will live up to expectations is reasonable. He was, after all, one of the first prominent conservatives to get behind the establishment candidate during the final stages of the GOP primaries. He voted for Bush's prescription drug plan. He voted for TARP, and the auto bailout. And one can, no doubt, find other questionable decisions and votes over the years.

On the other hand, he is the man personally responsible for the moment's only viable comprehensive attack on the nation's debt. He has put his neck on the block legislatively, not merely "advocating" entitlement reform in the abstract, which most Republicans do as a matter of talking-point duty, but actually putting his name on a specific plan to begin unraveling the entitlement threads with which the suffocating sack of fiscal irresponsibility has been sewn shut over America's future.

Liberals dislike him for the best reason — namely, because they fear him. He articulates the nature of the nation's fiscal crisis, and the need for entitlement reform, with a clarity that pre-empts the typical accusations of "heartlessness" that the left hurls mindlessly at everyone who opposes unconstitutional government. And while those who see the enormity of the catastrophe awaiting America might argue — correctly, I believe — that the final Ryan budget, on its face, does not go far enough, one must not lose sight of the inevitable gulf between the ideal and the practically realizable. Had Ryan proposed legislation that would do what this moment really requires, the plan would likely never have made it past John Boehner's trash bin.

Instead, Ryan's plan, shortcomings notwithstanding, has played a central role in shifting public discussion of the economy, and specifically of the debt, onto more rational ground, making calls for substantial overhaul a mainstream idea, rather than something easily dismissible as a libertarian pipe-dream.”


The greatest real cause for concern with Ryan popped up in Romney's introduction of him in Norfolk, Virginia. Romney lauded him as a man who does not "demonize" opponents, and who can "find common ground" with "people of both parties."

Those are pretty words, but they completely miss the tone of the moment. Western civilization is in a pitched battle for survival with forces that would undo the great practical achievements of modernity -- political and intellectual freedom, widespread prosperity, and material comfort -- in favor of a return to the mass degradations of the worst forms of authoritarian government. The vanguard of those regressive forces has found its American home within the Democrat Party. Its continued success depends entirely on the opposition failing to recognize the seriousness of the stakes.

This is not the moment to lead through "collegiality." If "Finding common ground" is the campaign slogan for 2012, Obama wins, and America is all but lost. A more suitable slogan would be "A line in the sand." The left's march "forward" must be resisted without reservation, and with every tool in the conservative belt, whether that sounds collegial or not.

Ryan has the principles and intellect to play an important role in this effort. The question he must answer now, particularly as Romney's running mate, is whether he has the stomach for it.

In the meantime, those who enjoy quick knockouts can look forward to the vice presidential debate.”

The next 85 days will be very interesting as the debate changes from Obama’s record to the vision for America’s future. This is a debate that is sorely needed. Will we follow the philosophy of Madison and Jefferson or will go down the road to a progressive state run by statists masterminds.

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