Having deferred to Mr Pierce in my initial response to The Rominee's pick for veep, I must include my two cents at some point, which point is now.
I think Mitt made a useful choice, in the sense that it makes abundantly and undeniably clear what's at stake in the election. Romney, following form, having once given his imprimatur to the Ryan budget, is already running away from it. Or not. (It's Mitt Romney, after all.) He can't. Ryan's budget is everything today's R party and its teabagging engine are about. The election will allow voters to decide if they buy what's being sold to them, and it'll give Democrats the chance to find out if they're capable of producing a coherent and effective message about how destructive it is.
Paul Ryan has taken the pre-failed Reagan model of economics and pushed it further than the Gipper could have imagined or, given his ultimate recognition of the need to raise taxes, supported. Further to lower already-low tax rates on the wealthy while increasing military spending, already greater than the rest of the world put together, he'll cut domestic spending not just to but into the bone, enough that the remaining skeleton of government won't support its weight. By cutting trillions in domestic spending, he'll paralyze our ability to educate our young people (a teabaggR, he'd see that as a good thing), turn Medicare into a voucher system (which will be great for insurance companies and lousy for patients), reduce Social Security, ignore failing infrastructure, eliminate funding for research, all while further enriching the already-wealthy. I'm not making it up: every independent analysis of the Ryan budget has drawn the same conclusion. The question will be whether most Americans think that's a good thing.
Paul "I Never Said I Love Ayn Rand" Ryan claims he'll pay for the tax cuts for the wealthy (but not for the non-wealthy) and balance the budget by closing loopholes, but has never specified which ones and how much. (Those same analyses have recognized that, even giving him the benefit of the doubt, it does NOT balance the budget.) I hope someone will ask Mr Ryan if he's thinking of the rules that allowed Mitt Romney to pay so little and to hide his money in tax havens. Like other specifics, I'd guess he'd dodge that one. Maybe because it seems the answer is a resounding NO.
Everyone likes the idea of a balanced budget, including me. Heck, when Bill Clinton actually did it, by a combination of raising taxes and cutting spending, I was doing pretty well. Weren't you? The question is the best way to achieve it. Is it really tax cuts for the wealthy? This time around, will that, magically, for the first time in history, actually cause revenue to increase? Do we really need to spend even more on the military, or is it possible to find ways to reduce that spending, as Obama proposed, while maintaining the strongest military on the planet? Do we think so little of government that we'd prefer it to stop doing those things heretofore considered important and central to its purpose? Is "you didn't build that" a truism about succeeding together and the role of government in promoting private enterprise, or, as Romney would have you believe, a call to end capitalism? Is "every man for himself" the way America became great? (I'd have added "and woman" but since women's health goes out Ryan's window, it's sort of moot.)
These are serious questions, deserving of forthright and open discussion. In my view, the answers are pretty obvious, which is why we'll see hundreds of millions spent by a handful of very rich white guys to obscure them, to convince voters to chose a path to their own ruination; once again to buy into the Reaganobushian mythology, despite its serial failures. But if it's what voters really want, so be it. Like the other people the goring of whose oxen Ryan has carefully seen to it won't happen in their lifetimes, I guess I don't need to care.
But, unlike today's Rs, whose central idea is to de-edify and disenfranchise voters, I sort of like the idea of democracy; it seems to have worked out pretty well for us. But I admit I'm feeling pessimistic (could you guess?). I don't think our founders envisioned the ease and thoroughness with which it's been possible to diseducate people, actually to get people to reject the very idea of knowledge and expertise, equating them with some sort of fey and foppish unAmerican liberal feloniousness. I doubt they foresaw the taking over of the press by a very small number of very rich people with a very specific and self-aggrandizing agenda; nor did they imagine that, in order to keep their own taxes low, consideration of the common good and promotion of the general welfare would be forsworn so completely by a major political party. Our constitution doesn't account for that.
As I see it, despite failing to be particularly bold of late, nor entirely genuous, President Obama seems to recognize two obvious things, which Rs would like us to ignore: one, that government has an important role in securing and preserving our future, in more ways than militarily; and, two, that you can't fulfill that role absent the ability to pay for it. (Ironic, isn't it, that our president's attempt to cut waste in Medicare, for which Rs actually voted in agreement and on which they've based campaign after campaign before that black guy took over, has been demagogued by the Rs, taking their already-unprecedented cynicism to ionospheric levels.)
If a majority of our people really want to see government stop functioning as anything other than a conduit for money to the already wealthy and as a military operation; if, having carefully considered it, they believe we no longer need to educate our kids and that it's okay to cede the future to China and India, stop building roads and bridges, funding research, well, okay. It'll be an America I won't recognize, but then, it's been a little hard to see it through the fog for a while now.
The worst part is I won't be alive to say I told you so. But by then, it'll be so hot that people, suffocating and sweating in their browned-out homes by the potholed roads above the ever-encroaching sea-level, will be too enervated to care.