Skip to main content

Why Ryan pick won't help Romney

By Ilyse Hogue, Special to CNN
updated 9:25 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, during a June hearing on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, during a June hearing on Capitol Hill.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ilyse Hogue: Mitt Romney has faced criticism recently on Bain tenure, tax returns, his tax plan
  • She says Paul Ryan pick no help and Romney already backing away from Ryan budget plan
  • She says Ryan plan would hurt middle class, cut Pell grants, move to privatize Social Security
  • Hogue: Ryan pick may have made Romney's trust deficit even worse

Editor's note: Ilyse Hogue is co-director of Friends of Democracy, a super PAC aimed at electing candidates who champion campaign finance reform. She is the former director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org and has been a senior strategist to Democratic and progressive groups, including Media Matters for America, Public Campaign and Rebuild the Dream. She is a regular contributor to The Nation magazine.

(CNN) -- Elections are ultimately about trust. And trust may be the only kind of currency that Mitt Romney is running low on lately. After a brutal couple of months defending the outsourcing of American jobs by his private equity firm, Bain Capital, and his mysterious tax returns, Romney took another body blow when an independent report revealed that his tax plan would grant himself and his wealthy friends a big tax cut while raising taxes on 95% of Americans.

After his botched European tour failed to deflect attention from his troubles back home, on Saturday he played the one card he had left to change the subject: announcing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick. But instead of making Americans forget their concerns, the Ryan pick sends a clear signal that Romney intends to double down on his anti-middle-class economic policies.

Ryan, the fresh-faced congressman from Wisconsin, would certainly be voted prom king at Tea Party High. But the tea party fever of 2010 has given way to widespread concerns about both unemployment and political corruption, which frustrated voters view as an insurmountable impediment to putting middle-class families' concerns above those of corporate lobbyists'. On those two counts, as Ryan becomes known outside of the Beltway elite, Romney may end up second-guessing his choice as much as John McCain did when Sarah Palin couldn't name a newspaper.

Ilyse Hogue
Ilyse Hogue

Opinion: Paul Ryan, Gen X Republican

In fact, it appears second thoughts are already creeping in. After initially lauding the Ryan budget of 2011, Romney now claims he doesn't exactly support everything on Ryan's radical wish list. No wonder: Upon closer examination, Ryan's budget reads like a blueprint for dismantling the American middle class.

Had the Ryan budget passed, those few families who make more than $1 million a year would have saved an average of $300,000 annually. How to pay for this? Ryan agrees with Romney that tax hikes for the middle class are in order, but Ryan's budget would eliminate programs that offer ordinary American families a leg up. Under the Ryan budget, in addition to getting rid of tax credits for kids and tuition costs, cuts to Pell grants would leave a million more students unable to afford a college education. At least Romney had a suggestion for them: Remember when he suggested that students ask their parents for a loan to get ahead, just like he did?

What do Democrats think of Ryan?
Thune: Ryan helps with base
'Game changer' vs. 'more of the same'
Will Ryan pick put Wisconsin in play?

Ryan's Social Security plan hands over Americans' retirement funds to Wall Street, with its stellar track record of managing money. For two-thirds of our seniors, those Social Security checks represent most of their monthly income, and for half of those, it's a full 90% of their income. Ryan's plan to privatize this last line of defense for American elderly was so radical that even George W. Bush rejected it. Romney has been passively in favor of privatization, but with Ryan on the ticket, we can expect to see a renewed push to dismantle Social Security.

Opinion: Ryan pick will steer Romney campaign to treacherous waters

And what about jobs, the top concern for American voters of both parties? Romney's jobs plan is the old Republican standby: giving millionaires like himself even more tax cuts and waiting for the jobs to trickle down to the rest of us. But Ryan's plan suggests he would not wait to make the job situation worse. By laying off tens of thousands of police, nurses, medical researchers and construction engineers -- each of whom then would spend less money in our small businesses -- Ryan's unyielding fixation on dismantling our government is projected to result in 4.1 million lost jobs in two years.

Numbers like that make policy wonks go crazy, but in the voting booth, most Americans will pull the lever based on a different measure: how much they trust a candidate's integrity, and empathy. Romney's integrity has taken a beating as voters are left to wonder what he's hiding in the tax returns he refuses to release.

Opinion: Paul Ryan will shift the campaign dynamic

And every new gaffe that shows just how little he appreciates what Americans are going through leaves Americans feeling less empathy from Romney. Ryan's aggressive embrace of self-serving politics only makes these problems worse. While Ryan likes to justify his draconian cuts by saying all Americans need to sacrifice, he protected $40 billion in tax breaks for oil companies -- a move that stands to make his own family a hefty profit.

This is the kind of move that has led to a historic low approval rating for Congress while causing voters to elevate corruption to second highest on their list of concerns. But Ryan elevates selfishness to doctrine. His devotion to 20th-century novelist Ayn Rand, who considered Jesus evil for caring about the poor, is well-documented. Even the Catholic bishops, long the nemesis of the Obama administration, said that "Paul Ryan's budget fails to meet (our) moral criteria."

In picking Ryan, Romney may have hoped to deflect concern from jobs to Ryan's hobby horse of the deficit. But, at first glance, it seems like he just made his own trust deficit worse.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ilyse Hogue.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT