Romney and Ryan: the big government twofer

Here’s a great article in the Daily Caller outlining why Steve Deace said after the Ryan pick that it suggests that Romney has no intention of reining in government even a little bit, and, in fact, has brought alongside him another big government bureaucrat.

This election is so friggin’ depressing.

Paul Ryan and the dangers of bipartisan perception

by Adam Bates

Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his potential vice president has  predictably set off a storm of commentary from Republicans and Democrats alike.  Notably, in these immensely divisive (so we’re told) times, the bulk of the  commentary from both sides of the aisle seems to be operating on the same basic  reality: that Paul Ryan is a paragon of fiscal conservatism. Obviously both  sides have different opinions about the implications of this reality, but the  underlying premise is the same.

The only problem is that it’s not true.

Even assuming that a Romney administration would adopt Rep. Ryan’s fiscal  philosophy in its entirety, the most cursory scrutiny of that philosophy beyond  all the shrill hyperbole and alarmism shows that Paul Ryan is just another big-government authoritarian,  even on fiscal issues. Rep. Ryan is intelligent, articulate, and does a  wonderful job wrapping himself in the mantle of a fiscal conservative, but there  simply isn’t any evidence to back up the perception.

Rep. Ryan supported TARP. He supported the auto  bailouts. He supported Pres. Bush’s Medicare expansion. He supported the  extension of unemployment benefits. He supported massive expenditures for the  occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Paul Ryan has supported trillions  of dollars in Keynesian stimulus spending during his tenure in Washington. The  Ryan Budget, his claim to fame, takes 30  years to achieve a balanced budget and would increase the size of government  only slightly less than Barack Obama’s monstrous proposed budget over the same  period.

Have we really moved so far toward the fallacies of Lord Keynes over the last  12 years that Bill Clinton looks, by today’s standards, like some kind of  Frankenstein’s monster pieced together from Ayn Rand and F.A. Hayek? Perhaps,  but there’s another force at work here as well: the manipulative influence of  bipartisan perception.

With roughly two out of every three Americans getting  their news from their televisions, the power of the party system to spin its own  narrative is immense (and the reward great).

Both parties have a vested interest in Paul Ryan representing  small-government fiscal conservatism. The Democrats need Paul Ryan to be a  fiscal conservative so they can condemn him as a draconian slasher who wants to  gut essential government programs and drag our society back into the 19th  century. The Republicans need to portray him as a crusader against the bloated  federal budget and the perfect “bridge” pick to help Gov. Romney attract those  fickle budget hawks and libertarians to his cause. The fact that Paul Ryan  actually wants to drastically increase the size and scope of the  federal government isn’t useful to either major party, and so it’s  discarded.

The fictional narrative of “Paul Ryan the budget hawk” is not unique by any  means, it should be said. Both parties are similarly interested in portraying  Barack Obama as a foreign policy peacenik. That’s what Republicans need so they  can accuse Obama of being “soft” on terror and showing weakness to our  enemies (notwithstanding the killing of Osama bin Laden, the overthrow of Col.  Gaddafi, and increasingly harsh sanctions on Iran), and so they can pretend that  Mitt Romney’s foreign policy prescriptions are different in any meaningful way. That narrative also  allows Democrats to tell themselves that they support Barack Obama, winner of  the Nobel Peace Prize, and not Barack Obama, unilateral warmonger and assassin. The fact that President Obama has  implemented the Bush Doctrine far more zealously and effectively than the  staunchest neocon would have believed doesn’t fit into the narrative that both  sides want to sell the American people, and so the truth finds no place in the  discourse.

It’s plainly true that there is a sizable contingent of the American  electorate that is desperate for change. Some are desperate for economic change:  an end to the crony capitalism, corporate welfare, runaway deficits, and massive  corruption inherent in economic authoritarianism. Some are desperate for the  restoration of civil liberties: an end to over-incarceration, draconian  immigration policies, warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, and  executive assassination. Some are desperate for a new foreign policy: an end to  occupations, undeclared wars, drone terrorism, bloated defense budgets, and the  bankrolling of tyranny.

The Republican and Democratic parties have a clear incentive to capitalize on  that desperation, and they know it. Thus, desperate though we may be, it is  essential that we not allow ourselves to be seduced by the narratives the  parties construct for us rather than the truth. Paul Ryan represents none of the  reforms for which so many are so desperate, no matter what your party and your  television tell you.

Adam Bates received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of  Miami (FL) in 2007, and a J.D. and M.A. in Middle Eastern & North African  Studies from the University of Michigan in 2011.

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