As Mitt Romney‘s new running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, learned last week; words are pesky little critters which can’t be trusted. First, they have defined meanings that the majority have long agreed upon. And second, people remember it when you use them.
Rep. Paul Ryan spent his first few days as Romney’s pick stumping against Obama’s domestic fiscal policies. Lambasting things like the Affordable Care Act which Obama fought for, pointing out how it redirects over $700 billion away from Medicare only to have his criticisms somewhat neutered by the bothersome fact that Ryan’s own signature Budget Plan also calls for redirecting over $700 billion away from Medicare. The difference being that the Affordable Care Act gets that money out of Medicare via many cost savings measures that analysts have said will have no effect on the quality of care seniors are already receiving, then uses it to give additional health coverage for Americans who can’t afford it–while Ryan’s budget slashes services within Medicare to create the savings, and then uses the money to pay down debt and provide additional tax breaks for millionaires.
With his attacks on the Affordable Care Act’s fiscal maneuvering stymied, Ryan pivoted to denouncing President Obama for the 2009 Recovery Act, something Ryan called “a wasteful spending spree”. Which is when some of those vexing little things…words…rose up to bite Ryan’s rump again as reporting came out stating that Ryan had requested millions of dollars in Recovery Act funds for his district in Wisconsin.
In fact, Ryan spent several days stumping on the campaign trail, lashing out against big government spending under Obama for borrowing and spending as a stimulus measure during a recession. A strategy he’s called a failed neo-Keynesian experiment, referring to the ideas of Keynesian economics which essentially say that a healthy mixture of both private and public sector spending produces the most beneficial and sustainable economic outcomes, and that when private sector spending is cut back (for instance, during a recession) it must be countered with increased public sector spending–including deficit spending–to create jobs and keep the economic engine turning until the balance is restored.
It would be completely fair to have a national debate on the principles and merits of Keynesian economics, if that’s what Ryan was trying to start. My only thoughts would be that it seemed to serve our country well from the first implementation which helped lead us out of the Great Depression, during World War II, and through our post-war expansions up to the 1970′s, until it lost influence with some in government who opposed paying the taxes necessary to allow government to maintain its portion of the spending.
However, while he has thrashed Obama for policies rooted in the Keynesian school of thought, it came to light that Ryan himself has championed these very same ideas from the House floor. Arguing in favor of increased government spending during a time of recession to counter a staggering economy and private sector cut-backs, and to pay for a long list of things from tax cuts to unemployment extensions. He also argued in fact, that increasing government spending would create more jobs–and cited history of this being true to make his point.
A bit of glaring hypocrisy caused by those annoying little words that people pay attention to when you use them, and remember them when you contradict yourself later.
When you look beyond the campaign rhetoric in fact, there’s actually very little difference between the so-called “fiscal hawk” Ryan and President Obama when it comes to their fiscal beliefs. Their own words and actions clearly show that both believe in increasing government spending to counter a slowing economy when businesses are pulling back.
To find the real differences, “the Devil’s in the details” as my Grandpa used to say. Both Ryan and Obama call for more government spending to fix an ailing economy, where they split is in where you take the money from, and how the dollars get spent. Obama’s plans time and again show he favors government spending as an investment in the future. Borrowing while the rates are at near zero to get the money and then putting it into things like infrastructure for commerce expansion, better education opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders, and health coverage for the poor so that they may live longer and more productive lives. On the other hand, Ryan (and Romney for that matter) appears to favor taking the money from people (folks Romney would say just want more stuff from government) and putting the dollars into the hands of those who need them least, then hoping they will turn them into something better for tomorrow; like jobs or innovations.
Over The Weekend
Ryan’s problems, and repeated back-tracking because of them last week have been very public. Front page on most newspapers in fact. So, it’s a little surprising that Ryan’s peers would still be so loose-lipped at this time while talking with people…who might be listening.
But indeed they are, as shown by Rep. Todd Akin, who is challenging Sen. McCaskill for her senate seat, discovered on Sunday when he made this silly comment during a television interview when asked if he thought abortion could be considered in a rape case:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Seriously, “a legitimate rape”? What sort of rape exactly is that opposed to? And, what witch-doctors has Akin been seeking his medical council from?
Doesn’t it seem a bit frightening that someone who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology could be so woefully ignorant of facts. Such as the fact that more than 32,000 pregnancies per year result from rape. Perhaps someone should tell the members of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology about this little-known company on the Inter-webs which indexes information and makes it easy to find (unlike the old days when such information was safely hidden away in books). It’s called Google, and it took me just seconds to use and find out how not-so-rare pregnancy resulting from rape actually is, right from the government’s own C.D.C. website.
That would have probably been good information for the representative to know before making false and ridiculous statements which I imagine were highly offensive to every single victim of rape, along with most homo sapiens possessing a conscious.
Akin has since back-tracked from his comments, and issued a later statement where he essentially admits to speaking without first considering the meaning of what he’s saying:
“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview…”
I guess that lets him off the hook. I mean seriously, how could he have possibly expected or known that there might be questions about his political positions for him to answer during a campaign interview for goodness sake?
On a related note, Mitt Romney’s campaign issued a statement after Rep. Akin’s comments began making the Twitter rounds that said “Governor Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape”.
But of course, once again we have those pesky little word things out there. Like from a few months ago when Romney was asked on Fox if he supported a constitutional amendment that would establish the definition of life as beginning at conception. Romney replied, “Absolutely.”
So, Mitt believes life begins with conception, and that should be declared in a constitutional amendment, which would then make any-and-all abortions illegal, because if life is defined as beginning with conception then abortion would be deemed murder. That’s the cornerstone principle of all the proposed Personhood amendments–including the one Rep. Paul Ryan co-sponsored which in-fact would have prevented a rape victim from getting an abortion and only allowed for abortions in extreme cases where the mother’s life was at risk.
But today, while the conversational winds are blowing another direction, Romney apparently wouldn’t oppose certain abortions under certain circumstances. If you follow the turns in logic long enough, I believe you’ll find that the Romney/Ryan ticket is pro-life and pro-murder. I guess it’s hard to offend voters if you just come out in favor of everything.
Of course, reading this may lead some to think it’s my personal hack-attack against Rep. Ryan, or Rep. Akin, or even Mitt Romney. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m not attacking nor criticizing anything but their very own words–and completely in-context with how they’ve said them.
These examples also aren’t–as some talking heads have postured–gaffes. They aren’t comparable to Vice President Biden saying “This is a big f^@#ing deal” to the President about the passing of the Affordable Care Act with an open mic next to him. That was a gaffe.
These examples of hypocrisy, ignorance and/or “fitting the conversational yardstick of the moment” are candid snapshots of the positions (the often interchangeable positions) of men who are running for national offices right now.
And they are prime examples of how those pesky little words we use should be considered, and meshed through our mental filtering systems before we let them just fly from our lips.