Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Why Ryan Won’t Help Romney

He’s sexy, charming, articulate -- but exactly the wrong choice for Republicans.

By - Aug 13th, 2012 12:00 pm
U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan

In its 164 years as a state, no one from Wisconsin has ever been a candidate for president or vice-president for the two major parties. So the Paul Ryan pick is sensational news for this long overlooked state. But will he help Romney carry Wisconsin — or any state in the union?

He’s certainly good looking. For those miffed by how much attention is paid to the physical attributes of women candidates, we bring you Paul Ryan, the poster boy for reverse sexism. He’s been dubbed “handsome and charming,” by Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, not to mention “hot,” “sexy,” with “dreamy blue eyes,” who “looks like Superman,” as a story in Politico dished about Wisconsin’s super stud.

Ryan, we are told, flirted with trying to become a pro skier, and is a super-svelte workout fanatic, at six feet, two inches and a mere 163 pounds.

Moore suggested this may aid Romney with women, and he needs all the help he can get. In Wisconsin and other states, polls show Romney trails badly among women voters.

Ryan also brings the potential of firing up the Republican base, which has been suspicious of Romney, given his rather liberal days as Massachusetts governor. Ryan certainly brings it for the right: He gets a 0 percent rating from the ACLU and 92 percent from the American Conservative Union.

Just how right-wing is Ryan? “Based on his Congressional voting record… the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota,” political prognosticator Nate Silver notes. “By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center.” Wow.

Ryan is also articulate and genuine, in a way that Romney will never be. There’s so much that’s off-limits with Romney — his religion (because of negative views people have of Mormonism), his tax returns, his once-liberal views on issues like abortion — which often reduces the candidate to banalities and double-speak.

But not Ryan. “He’s a normal guy. That shows when you see him on the campaign trail,” says Wisconsin’s Assembly Speaker Scott Fitzgerald. It sounds like damning with faint praise until you consider what it says about Romney. For many religious conservatives in the Republican Party, there’s nothing normal — or Christian — about Mormonism. Ryan is a solid, Catholic, Midwestern guy, the sort of super-straight student all the teachers liked.

Ryan “joined nearly every (high) school club: Latin Club, History Club, the Letterman’s Club, for varsity athletes, and the International Geographic Society,” a New Yorker profile revealed. “At the end of his senior year, he was elected Biggest Brown-Noser.”

Ryan gave a very good speech Saturday and has continued to impress the media with his podium pizzaz. He will be a youthful, energetic campaigner and will probably draw bigger crowds than the often-robotic Romney.

Of course, that’s just what Sarah Palin brought to the GOP ticket in 2008. She had great appeal for the Republican base, but they still didn’t flock to the polls because people vote for the president, not the V-P, and John McCain was too moderate for true conservatives. Historically, vice-presidents have rarely had much impact on elections.

Indeed, they don’t even have a large impact in their home state. Silver has gone back through elections historically to measure that, and concludes that the vice-president, on average, has given the ticket a two-percent increase in the vote in his/her home state. But many of those V-P candidates held state-wide office; Ryan’s congressional district includes just one-eighth of the state and polls have shown more than a third of Wisconsinites have no opinion of Ryan. Among those who do, he has high negatives: 38 percent approve, 33 percent disapprove, Silver notes.

Silver appears dubious Ryan will provide an average, two-percent bounce, but his model gives Romney this anyway and that changes Wisconsin, based on all polls to date, from a state where Obama has an 88 percent chance of winning to an 80 percent chance of winning. Not much of a bump there.

Meanwhile, there is a huge downside risk for Romney’s pick nationally. His overwhelming advantage is the economy. No modern president with an eight percent unemployment rate has ever won reelection. Romney’s best chance of beating an incumbent is on the economy, on the hope he could bring more jobs.

That’s why Obama wants to make this an election about Romney’s wealth and tax returns and his alleged alienation from the middle class. Polls show 64 percent of all Americans believe Romney favors the rich over the middle class and 68 percent of independents have that belief.

Ryan will help cement that belief. The Ryan budget plan, if anything, tilts more toward the rich than even Romney’s current views do.

As a New York Times analysis notes, Ryan’s plan, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, would give people earning more than $1 million a year an additional $265,000 apiece in new tax cuts, on average, on top of the $129,000 they would get from his extension of President Bush’s tax cuts. After-tax incomes would rise by 12.5 percent among millionaires, but just 1.8 percent for middle-income households. Low-income working families would actually be hit with tax increases.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, “of the $4 trillion in spending cuts (Ryan) proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans. And by repealing last year’s health reform, without any replacement, the plan would also deprive an estimated 34 million nonelderly Americans of health insurance.”

The Ryan plan, the think tank charges, “is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids.  It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).”

Ryan not only crystallizes the negative vision of Romney as the plutocrat who serves the wealthy, he plays to what has historically been the Democrats single greatest advantage — that they will protect Medicare. His budget plan  greatly reduces federal spending on both Medicare and Medicaid, which besides its payments to low-income people, has also become a major funder of long-term care and nursing homes for the elderly. Not surprisingly, Ryan gets just a six percent positive ranking from the Alliance for Retired Persons.

To be sure, Republicans will have answers: they will argue that tax cuts to the wealthy will help create jobs, and cuts in government health care spending will foster competition among providers for scarcer dollars.

But historically, these have not been issues they can win. President George W. Bush labored long and hard to transform social security and got nowhere. Seniors, who vote in droves, will be just as fearful of losing Medicare.

Ryan is a zealot who contends the country must face these issues eventually. Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean you make it a campaign issue. As Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and countless other candidates have proven, the key to victory is carrying America’s still-broad middle class. Paul Ryan’s remarkably sweeping views, whether you call them “bold” or “radical,” will make it much harder to Romney to win middle America.

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

14 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Why Ryan Won’t Help Romney”

  1. He’s sexy, charming, articulate? Everything that you used to be.

  2. Bruce Murphy says:

    Wow, Conservative Digest, I’ll take that, even in the past tense.

  3. Jerad says:

    You’re still all of the above for me Bruce. Nice article!

  4. You finally stopped using your high school picture, now get rid of your high school ideology.
    Remember Churchill: “If you are not a liberal before you are 30 you have no heart, if you are not a Conservative after 40 you have no brain”.

  5. Chris says:

    Apparently Wis. Conservative Digest still clings to high-school-style ridicule. How very, adult.

    Nice article Bruce. This doesn’t even wade into Ryan’s far right, extremist social views.

  6. Unless you are Irish you will never understand banter.

  7. Nice article.

    A while back I searched the internet to try to find the Ryan budget. I was unsuccessful. There was nothing that I found that looked like any budget I had ever seen: a detailed breakdown showing the tradeoffs that needed to be made.

    I did, however, download something called the “Path to Prosperity,” but it took me a long time to convince myself that that was what was called his budget. The first eighty-some pages are highly partisan and mainly generalized arguments about policy. For example, one section argues against the mess of tax breaks in the current law, but avoids listing those that should be on the hit list.

    Starting on page 87, is Appendix I: Summary Tables. This is the most budget-like thing in the document. The budgets I have seen do often have summaries, but these precede a detailed breakdown. But apparently the summary tables are all that we get. I couldn’t find any explanation of the assumptions that went into them or any discussion of how they fit with the policy issues that constituted the bulk of the document (other than the new health law which was zeroed out–again no discussion of what would replace it).

  8. For those interested in the Ryan budget, here are a couple of links: The Path to Prosperity is here: The bill that passed the House is here (it has a somewhat similar table at the end, but the numbers differ slightly–not sure why):
    By contrast, see the detailed assumption discussion in the administration’s budget:

  9. Res Ipsa Loquitor says:

    Here’s a scary thought: Ryan is a co-author of the House Resolution which would establish “personhood” — under which every fertilized egg would be regarded as a living, breathing, fully cogent human being. If this were the law of the land, just to cite one of its far-reaching consequences, IVF treatment would be banned. Some forms of birth control used by millions of people would be declared unlawful. It is a bizarre concept.

    It is so bizarre that the proposition didn’t even get a hearing in the Republican House. It has been put to a vote as a proposed constitutional amendment and defeated at the polls in both Colorado and Mississippi. Imagine that — too bizarre for the goobers in Mississippi!

    I understand that Ryan is Uber Catholic — that’s fine. But when you try to impose the ultra-conservative views of the Church’s elders (which few practicing Catholics in this country buy into) upon the country, you’re outside of the mainstream. FAR outside the mainstream.

    For whatever reason, social issues like this are being swept under the rug. This is not something that a majority of the people in any state believe in, yet Paul Ryan buys it.

  10. Chuck Peirce says:

    About the first four comments….

    I think they are misreading Mr. Murphy’s article.

    It is neither liberal or conservative. He is just looking into
    the future. Does x help y win an election? Who really knows
    but there are facts and reasonings can help us out every
    once in awhile, none of which is challenged or even acknowledged
    by the “conservatives” critics.

    I would be great if conservatives where right and liberals were wrong
    about everything but when has anything been that easy?

  11. Bill Sweeney says:

    Oddly enough, the pick of Ryan could backfire as did the pick of Palin in 2008. People who follow politics closely know who Ryan is, but for many other voters, he is an unknown. These voters are not familiar with the details of the proposed Ryan economic plan, but now that he has been named as the VP candidate, there are a lot more articles detailing what his views and past votes have been so they will get an education. Ryan and his “young gun” cohorts try to portray him as a policy wonk, not a politician, that he just looks at ‘facts,’ and does not let ideology shape his opinions. This is all bunk. Like Scott Walker, his extremist attitudes are masked by his ‘aw shucks, gee golly’ just a regular Joe persona. Another ‘big lie’ aspect of how he is portrayed by some in the media is that he is somehow courageous because he is the author of a budget that even Marie Antoinette would be ashamed to support. When he proposes a budget that will give the very rich even more tax breaks than what they already receive, and cuts programs that provide real support for lower and middle income people, he wants it known that this hurts him more than it hurts them. If he wanted to display real courage, he would propose returning the tax rates to what they were under Nixon. It is a terrible thing to say, but the more you learn about Ryan’s views, the better Nixon and Reagan look. If this keeps up, people will start calling George W Bush one of the great orators of modern American political history.

  12. It is always fun to go back and count how often Bruce is wrong. This 1001, more than McGovern.

  13. flyonthewall says:

    So, what’s with the childish personal attacks? Do you really think anyone takes you seriously, obviously you’ve got some issues. I’m not sure anonymous, random whining on is the therapy you need.

  14. I have to agree with fly. The comments are childish and add nothing to the discussion, let alone to the conservative cause.

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