I n the parlance of the poker game “Texas Hold ‘Em,” Mitt Romney has gone “All
In” with his choice of Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate.
The choice of the hardline conservative Republican chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee pretty much puts an end to Romney’s vagueness about his own budget plans. Ryan’s budget is spelled out, and Romney now owns it – whether he wants to or not.
The Romney campaign quickly put out word that he would be developing his own budget. But he’s been real short on details up until now.
Picking Ryan as his running mate means that, one way or the other, Romney either will be defending Ryan’s budget, or, if he tries to distance himself from it, essentially disagreeing with Ryan about it. Neither choice is good.
In the budget that Ryan proposed, there are large spending cuts — $6 trillion over the first 10 years. Medicare would become a voucher program for those 55 and younger, allowing them to use their lesser funds to buy medical insurance and to invest more than a third of their current Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts.
And the federal contribution for Medicaid for lowincome people, and a rapidly growing number of senior citizens in nursing homes, would be cut dramatically.
The reduced amount of money would be sent to the states as block grants, with the states having much more control over how to spend it.
But there are also large tax cuts, of $4 trillion. Not for you middle-class folks; these would be for the well-heeled, like Romney and President Barack Obama. Matter of fact, those down the financial ladder would pay more under the Ryan-Romney budget.
Even then, the Ryan-proposed budget isn’t projected to balance for 30 years. President Barack Obama and his campaign wasted no time in going after Ryan.
Obama congratulated Ryan on being chosen, and said he’s a sincere guy and a good family man.
But Obama also derided what he called the return of the “trickledown fairy dust” proposals, that presume giving the benefits at the top of the economic food chain leads to positive economic growth that reaches those further down.
Obama’s preference, very obviously, is to put the investment bottom-up — further down the income pyramid, and also invest in health care for those people through Medicare and Medicaid.
It promises a very vigorous debate over the next three months about whether government should strive to take care of people, or whether it should give them the freedom to take care of themselves.
Some say the Ryan budget plan would be a problem to conservatives like the late President Ronald Reagan.
On the other hand, during the 1980 Republican presidential primary, Reagan said he would increase defense spending, cut taxes, and still balance the budget. Opponent George H. W. Bush described the proposal as “Voodoo Economics.”
And although Bush deep-sixed that term after he became Reagan’s running mate, he was right. The national debt almost tripled during Reagan’s eight years as president.
The “Voodoo” tag is already getting dusted off again.
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An interesting thing about Romney’s pick for a running mate is that, no matter how the November election goes, the vice-president in 2013 will be someone who has spent most of his adult life in and around Congress.
Ryan, now 42, started as a congressional aide when he was 22. At 28, he ran for an open congressional district in Wisconsin. He’s been in Congress since.
Vice-President Joe Biden, before being elected to that job in 2008, spent 36 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate.
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And in Texas . . . . The idea that Democrat Obama might have a chance in Red-State Texas is considered farfetched.
But the choice of Ryan may help re-emphasize the U.S. Senate race between farright Republican Tea Party poster boy Ted Cruz, and former state Rep. Paul Sadler, D-Henderson.
Sadler, who chaired the House Committee on Public Education for six years, is making public education a central part of his campaign.
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By The Numbers . . . . In the Texas Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate, Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst essentially exchanged numerical totals from the first primary to the runoff.
Dewhurst led the first primary, 627,731 to Cruz’s 480,558, of 1,406,648 votes cast in that race. Dewhurst led by147,173 votes.
The runoff turnout dropped by 20.9 percent, or by 295,167 votes. Dewhurst’s vote dropped 147,566, to 480,165.
But Cruz added 150,158 votes to his earlier total, and led the runoff with 631,316 – a margin of 151,151 votes over Dewhurst.
DAVE MCNEELY is political columnist. You may contact him at email@example.com or (512)458-2963.