Tag-Team Flip-Floppers- Romney and Ryan
One of Romney’s major problems in the eyes of the electorate is his characterization as a flip-flopper, changing his mind about past stances on various issues for political gain. This attribute of his has been noted throughout his political career, arising this time regarding his past support of the Massachusetts health care plan and universal health care, being for abortion rights and gays in the military, agreeing that global warming is real, favoring the TARP bailouts, immigration reform, an assault weapons ban, and so forth.
In Ryan, head of the House Budget Committee, he has found a soul-mate as well as a running mate. This lionized small government conservative, during the Bush years backed many initiatives that greatly expanded government, increasing the national debt and enormous budget deficits. At that time, Ryan’s supposed qualms about government spending and the budget deficits did not stop him from supporting two foreign wars while cutting taxes, actions which he knew were bound to increase the deficits. The wars he advocated were thus conducted with borrowed money. He wanted to garner greater public support by cutting taxes in spite of the war’s high costs. Going along with other politicians, Ryan agreed to kick heightened military spending down the road for other Congresses and perhaps the next generation to find ways to pay the bill. Now he’s decided that cutting domestic programs is the way to do it.
In another politically motivated action that was harmful for America, Ryan voted in favor of Medicare Part D in 2003, the prescription drug plan that the nation could not afford. He backed a costly entitlement program along with a Republican Congress that greatly enlarged Medicare and country’s future debt. How could a supposed small government conservative approve of this program? Now he wants to shrink Medicare by using vouchers to have seniors buy private insurance, saving the federal government money by shifting expensive care onto the backs of older people. Why didn’t he think about costs previously when he voted to expand Medicare? (Interestingly, the bill passed by the Republican Congress in 2003 did not allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, a move that might have saved billions of dollars for the government, but that was opposed by Big Pharma.)
Ryan voted as well to approve the TARP program to bail out the banks, a measure that conservatives subsequently railed against. During the Bush years with Ryan’s acquiescence, the national debt grew by $5 trillion. Now after having done tremendous damage to the nation with members of Congress from both parties, Ryan wants to down size the government.
Just like Romney, Ryan has changed his views on many issues to benefit politically. Ryan may be viewed by some people as a principled conservative with a reasonable plan for shrinking government. But he’s a flip-flopper who followed the opposite course only a few years ago and now wants to destroy the social safety net to balance the budget.
A VietNam vet and a Columbia history major who became a medical doctor, Bob Levine has watched the evolution of American politics over the past 40 years with increasing alarm. He knows he’s not alone. Partisan grid-lock, massive cash contributions and even more massive expenditures on lobbyists have undermined real democracy, and there is more than just a whiff of corruption emanating from Washington. If the nation is to overcome lockstep partisanship, restore growth to the economy and bring its debt under control, Levine argues that it will require a strong centrist third party to bring about the necessary reforms. Levine’s previous book, Shock Therapy For the American Health Care System took a realist approach to health care from a physician’s informed point of view; Resurrecting Democracy takes a similar pragmatic approach, putting aside ideology and taking a hard look at facts on the ground. In his latest book, Levine shines a light that cuts through the miasma of party propaganda and reactionary thinking, and reveals a new path for American politics. This post is cross posted from his blog.