Just minutes after Mitt Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice presidential choice, his campaign was working to distance itself from Ryan’s signature piece of legislation — his “Path to Prosperity” budget, which would massively overhaul Medicare, Social Security, and other social programs.
In internal talking points that are sure to disappoint conservatives, Romney’s campaign weaseled around fully embracing Ryan’s plan, writing, “Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.”
But Mitt Romney has been a full-throttle endorser of the Ryan budget on several occasions since its launch. Here are five quotes from Romney himself, endorsing the Ryan plan:
1. “Very supportive.”“I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier. I think it’s amazing that we have a president who three and a half years in still hasn’t put a proposal out that deals with entitlements. This president’s dealing with entitlement reform — excuse me — this budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy, which as you know is very similar to the one that I put out and efforts to reign in excessive spending. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.”
2.”The right tone.” Romney told Talking Points Memo, “He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control. …Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page.’”
3. “Marvelous.” “I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budgetand to adopt it and pass it along to the president,” Romney once professed while in Wisconsin.
Obama mocked him for this one:
4. “An important step.” “I spent a good deal of time with Congressman Ryan. When his plan came out, I applauded it, as an important step. … We’re going to have to make changes like the ones Paul Ryan proposed.”
5. “The same page.” In March, on a local Wisconsin radio show called the Vicki McKenna Show, Romney told the host “Paul Ryan and I have been working together over some months to talk about our mutual plans and we’re on the same page.”
The Romney campaign’s attempt to distance itself from Ryan’s budget is particularly striking, given that one of Romney’s surrogates attacked Newt Gingrich’s campaign for doing the same thing during the GOP presidential primary. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said on a call with reporters, “Mitt Romney supports what Paul Ryan did. He endorsed what Paul Ryan did. Mitt Romney had his own package of entitlement reform, which Paul Ryan has praised. They both meshed together.”
Now that Romney is distancing himself from the proposal, it will be interesting to know which parts of Ryan’s budget he disagrees with.
Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has hammered President Obama for a lack of experience in the private sector, saying “he doesn’t understand how the free economy works. He’s never had a job in the free economy; neither has Vice President Biden.”
And so it’s surprising that Romney has picked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a man who, outside of a job at McDonald’s and a brief stint at a company owned by his family, has hardly any private sector record.
Ryan began his career in the public sector before he even graduated college — in 1991 as a senate intern — and then spent the mid-1990s as a senate aide to Sens. Bob Kasten (R-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). After that, he worked for vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, then settled in for 13 years as a member of the House of Representatives.
Obama actually worked for private companies for the sum total of 14 years. If he is unqualified by Romney’s standards to grasp how the economy works, it’s not clear what would make Romney think Ryan more prepared to understand job creation, or to assume the Office of the President.
The Romney campaign has released some facts on the private sector jobs Ryan has held: “Ryan moonlighted on Capitol Hill as a waiter at the Tortilla Coast restaurant & as a fitness trainer at Washington Sport and Health Club. …One of Ryan’s summer jobs in college was as an Oscar Mayer salesman in Minnesota, peddling turkey bacon and a new line called ‘Lunchables’ to supermarkets – he even drove the ‘Wienermobile’ once.”
Mitt Romney has picked as his running mate 42 year-old Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, which the New York Times has described as “the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress in modern times.” Below are 12 things you should know about Ryan and his policies:
1. Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ryan heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” Rand described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages. Though he publiclyrejected “her philosophy” in 2012, Ryan had professed himself a strong devotee. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he said at a D.C. gathering honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.” Learn more about Ryan’s muse:
2. Ryan wants to raises taxes on the middle class, cut them for millionaires. Paul Ryan’s infamous budget — which Romney embraced — replaces “the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cut the top rate from 35 percent.” Federal tax collections would fall “by about $4.5 trillion over the next decade” as a result and to avoid increasing the national debt, the budget proposes massive cuts in social programs and “special-interest loopholes and tax shelters that litter the code.” But 62 percent of the savings would come from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, who would also experience a tax increase. That’s because while Ryan “would extend the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year, he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time.” Households “earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.”
Audiences have booed Ryan for the unfair distribution:
3. Ryan wants to end Medicare, replace it with a voucher system. Ryan’s latest budget transforms the existing version of Medicare, in which government provides seniors with a guaranteed benefit, into a “premium support” system. All future retirees would receive a government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But since the premium support voucher does not keep up with increasing health care costs, the Congressional Budget Offices estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. A recent study also found that had the plan been implemented in 2009, 24 million beneficiares enrolled in the program would have paid higher premiums to maintain their choice of plan and doctors. Ryan would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67.
4. Ryan thinks Social Security is a “ponzi scheme.” In September of 2011, Ryan agreed with Rick Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and since 2005 has advocated for privatizing the retirement benefit and investing it in stocks and bonds. Conservatives claim that this would “outperform the current formula based on wages earned and overall wage appreciation,” but the economic crisis of 2008 should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers who seek to hinge Americans’ retirement on the stock market. In fact, “a person with a private Social Security account similar to what President George W. Bush proposed in 2005″ would have lost much of their retirement savings.
5. Ryan’s budget would result in 4.1 million lost jobs in 2 years. Ryan’s budget calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”
6. Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more more than 1 million students. Ryan’s budget claims both that rising financial aid is driving college tuition costs upward, and that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” So he cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could “ultimately knock more than one million students off” the program over the next 10 years.
7. Ryan supports $40 billion in subsides for big oil. In 2011, Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill. His budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.” For instance, it “calls for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone” and would spend only $150 million over five years — or 20 percent of what was invested in 2012 — on energy programs.
8. Ryan has ownership stakes in companies that benefit from oil subsidies . Ryan “and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” the Daily Beast reported in June of 2011. “Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.”
9. Ryan claimed Romneycare has led to “rationing and benefit cuts.” “I’m not a fan of [Romney's health care reform] system,” Ryan told C-SPAN in 2010. He argued that government is rationing care in the state and claimed that people are “seeing the system bursting by the seams, they’re seeing premium increases, rationing and benefit cuts.” He called the system “a fatal conceit” and “unsustainable.” Watch it:
10. Ryan believes that Romneycare is “not that dissimilar to Obamacare.” Though Romney has gone to great lengths to distinguish his Massachusetts health care law from Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t see the difference. “It’s not that dissimilar to Obamacare, and you probably know I’m not a big fan of Obamacare,” Ryan said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the American Spectator in March of 2011. “I just don’t think the mandates work … all the regulation they’ve put on it…I think it’s beginning to death spiral. They’re beginning to have to look at rationing decisions.”
11. Ryan accused generals of lying about their support for Obama’s military budget. In March, Ryan couldn’t believe that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey supports Obama’s Pentagon budget, which incorporates $487 billion in cuts over 10 years. “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said at a policy summit hosted by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget.” He later apologized for the implication. Watch it:
12. Ryan co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, an extreme anti-abortion measure. Ryan joined 62 other Republicans in co-sponsoring the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This would outlaw abortion, some forms of contraception and invitro fertilization.