On the day when Americans begin to lose interest in Olympic Games that are about to wind down, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential pick. Unlike in 2008, this is a much safer choice; Ryan is no Sarah Palin but a smart, intellectual and bold conservative who will boost the GOP ticket and help Romney with the base. As for independents, Democrats are convinced that the choice of Ryan will only intimidate voters, especially when they begin to pay attention to the race for real and read up on what Ryan stands for. What is especially amusing about Romney’s introduction of Ryan above is his talk about “preserving Medicare”, which is the direct opposite of what the congressman believes in. I did also get a kick out of Romney mistakenly calling Ryan “the next president of the United States”, but, hey, that’s only human. Obama made the same gaffe in 2008 as he introduced Joe Biden.
As for the famed Paul Ryan budget, it is now going to be the most widely debated political topic for a while. Everyone discussing it will likely either exaggerate or downplay its effect. A stab at a neutral description might sound something like this (courtesy of TIME Magazine):
Everyone agrees that Ryan’s plan calls for dramatic changes in how federal health insurance programs are funded. If the plan were to be followed, everyone below the age of 65 in 2022 would have to find some kind of private insurance, partly subsidized by the federal government. Those above 65 (and later on probably 67) would still be eligible for Medicare. Obamacare would be repealed (which is a blow against Romney’s Massachusetts plan, although he would never admit it). Medicaid would be decentralized, meaning that the federal government would lose control over it; the program would also be cut by $750 billion over ten years. Ryan’s plan won’t touch the defense budget; cuts come chiefly from health care programs and his plan would spend $6.8 trillion less over ten years than the Obama Administration. Some tax breaks will end to help bring in revenue for the government, but he hasn’t specified how this will come about.
So how will Democrats fight Paul Ryan? The folks at BarackObama.com were quick to put up a YouTube video denouncing Ryan; its attacks on the Congressman are clear pointers on how he will be fought. What comes first in the ad is a reminder to senior citizens, i.e. those who vote, that Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system. The ad then targets students, middle-class families and veterans, indicating that they are going to have to help Republicans fund tax cuts for the wealthy, according to Ryan’s plan. All supported by Romney. A good illustration of what the argument against Romney-Ryan is going to be like in the coming months.
Now, this is a movie blog after all. And that’s where I leave any pretensions of being neutral behind; this is where I express opinions. As you may have noticed in the clips at the top of this blog entry, Ryan was introduced to the tune of Jerry Goldsmith’s music score for Air Force One (1997), an action movie starring Harrison Ford as the U.S. President and Gary Oldman as a Russian terrorist hijacking Air Force One. A very effective, patriotic score, and I can’t help but laugh at the idea of Romney as president when I hear it. He and his partner represent nothing of what I traditionally associate with American leadership. In the clip above, which is lifted from the end of the film, Ford tells Oldman, “Get off my plane”. Which candidate do you believe best embodies Ford’s spirit? The also-ran from 2008 who’s so out of touch that he proposed a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry… or the President who ordered the death of bin Laden against the advice of his vice president?