With Ryan, Libertarians more likely to vote for Romney
Monday, August 20, 2012
Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen

 

The big news in politics this week is, of course, the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate.

This is a wise move by Romney and his team, because it reassures libertarians and fiscal conservatives that Romney’s focus is shrinking government and reforming entitlements, something that has not always been clear.

Paul Ryan has a background in economics and, while not a libertarian (he is pro-foreign war and voted for expanded Medicare and the Wall Street bailout), he has mostly advocated the same thing for nearly two decades: reining in entitlements and shrinking government, while lowering taxes to rejuvenate the economy.

Regardless of whether we think Romney and Ryan would, against all the odds, actually be able to accomplish these goals, the selection of Ryan has changed the presidential race into a clearer choice offered to the American electorate: Do we want more government or less?

Although actually, the real choice is not between more and less government, but between chaotic and orderly reduction of government – because entitlement programs and government employment benefits are simply not sustainable at their current trajectories.

Cuts will be made. The choice is whether to make humanely gradual reductions now, while our economy is still relatively healthy (if not growing), or to make drastic, emergency cuts later, during the Greece-style economic meltdown, government bankruptcy and immense suffering that will occur if we do nothing now.

The cuts that Paul Ryan has advocated are certainly not drastic. If anything, they do not go far enough. His proposed Medicare changes, for example, wouldn’t affect anyone older than age 55, would merely offer a choice between a private plan partly paid for by government or the current government plan for those younger than that, and wouldn’t actually cut Medicare spending at all, it would only limit the spending growth rate – and only after 2023.

This is hardly “a plan to end Medicare as we know it” – unless what hysterical accusers mean is to make it solvent for future generations, unlike how we know it to be headed for bankruptcy now.

These are the sort of compassionate cuts that we now must make, because sadly, government has recklessly promised so much to so many people that it simply cannot fulfill all of those promises.

The compassionate choice is often the hard one. We, as a nation, must take a hard look at our choices and take action to make necessary changes. Those who blindly defend the status quo and claim that cuts are not necessary, only higher taxes on someone else, are the ones who are perpetrating cruelties on the least fortunate, despite the compassionate motives of (some of) them.

 

However, it is not compassionate to expand government programs to so many people that the programs collapse entirely, leaving the truly needy, for whom they were originally designed, even worse off than before.

It is not compassionate to hire so many government employees and promise them such rich benefits that spending on them crowds out help for the poor, schools for children and retirement funds for the elderly who have been led to rely on them.

It is not compassionate to pretend that raising taxes (or even talking about raising taxes) has no effect on the economy, on the number of people who lose their jobs or remain jobless for years, losing their homes, their self-respect and their ability to provide for their families.

I believe Paul Ryan understands all of this, and I am relieved that Mitt Romney has chosen him to be his running mate. I had serious doubts about Romney before this, concerning whether he has the necessary ideological commitment to making what will be difficult, unpopular changes.

But Paul Ryan makes me more comfortable voting for Romney, and I believe I am not alone. I think he will be our next Vice President, and who knows after that?