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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ryan Bromances Mitt

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It was inevitable that after Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan spent five days cozying up to Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, people would start talking.

After all, that was far longer than anyone else could imagine hanging around with Mitt.

Sure enough, by the time Romney won Wisconsin's underwhelming Republican primary, The Washington Post was writing about the budding "bromance" between Romney, the likely Republican nominee of Silly Putty principles and beliefs, and Ryan, the rock-solid hero of the tea party extremists.

Five days of public bootlicking works wonders. But Romney wasn't the only one who noticed Ryan's shameless auditioning.

President Barack Obama and Democrats also witnessed the public spectacle, and they couldn't be more overjoyed to tie Romney to the toxic budget Ryan got House Republicans to approve.

Democrats had been eager to tie Romney to Ryan's outrageous "throw the middle class to the wolves" budget even before they started making eyes and cooing over each other.

In a blistering speech at the height of the heavy breathing between Ryan and Romney, President Obama flayed Ryan's budget as "a Trojan horse" that would destroy Medicare, student loans, college scholarships, medical research, national parks and even the technology to make weather forecasts.

"Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country," Obama said. He called Ryan's budget "thinly veiled social Darwinism."

Right-wing extremists don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution. They have their own version called "survival of the richest." And there's nothing at all natural about the selection. It can only be imposed by politicians, bought by millionaires and billionaires, willing to dismantle decades of government programs protecting ordinary Americans to ship semi-trailers filled with money to the wealthiest 1%.

Redistributing Our Wealth

In fact, Obama's speech was not even the strongest criticism of Ryan's extreme budget.

That belonged to Robert Greenstein, president of the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Ryan's budget, Greenstein wrote, "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)."

Greenstein said: "Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation's poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured."

The most amazing thing about Ryan's budget is that it does absolutely nothing to reduce the national debt he talks about so much. Instead, Ryan's bait-and-switch budget actually adds $3.1 trillion to the national debt over 10 years and then brazenly passes out those trillions in more tax cuts for the richest people in the country.

There is little question that if most ordinary Americans understood what Ryan was trying to do to them, not only wouldn't Ryan be mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, but it's extremely unlikely he could ever be elected to Congress.

But he is mentioned. So what in the world is going on?

First of all, you have to realize this is the Republican vice presidential nomination we are talking about.

Democrats are the ones who tend to nominate someone you could actually conceive of as president. Al Gore may have been a little stiff, but no one ever seriously questioned his intelligence. (Well, no one except Republicans who try not to notice extreme weather in a changing world climate.)

Republicans seem to enjoy nominating "surprise" vice presidential picks—the last people anybody ever would want to think of as president. For most Americans, all you have to say is two words: Sarah Palin.

Yes, it certainly was a surprise. It got John McCain headlines for days as journalists tried to figure out who this ridiculous person was. Then, of course, after they did, it started getting him even more headlines.

As a native Hoosier, I was disappointed Palin replaced Dan Quayle as the most absurd national candidate ever nominated by Republicans.

Only fans of really dark conspiracies reveled in Dick Cheney as the evil puppet master behind whoever that guy was Republicans try to avoid mentioning ever was president.

Compared to recent nominees, Ryan almost makes sense. As House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan already is a leader of the party's furthest right netherworld. He also is much more presentable than most of its leaders.

In fact, Ryan may be the only Republican who can explain the Ryan budget in innocuous-enough sounding terms that it doesn't appear as vicious as it really is.

So if Romney and the Republicans are going to be tied to Ryan's toxic budget anyway, why not go all in? It could finally expose the darkest forces behind the current Republican Party.

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