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Ryan's vice presidential candidacy could mean a worse Obama administration

August 13, 2012 - Mike Maneval
A decision by presumptive Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may signal poor leadership in the future ... by his opponent, incumbent President Barack Obama.

It is conventional wisdom in the wake of the selection of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as the Republicans' vice presidential candidate, found across the ideological spectrum from progressive website Daily Kos, the conservatives at National Review Online, and to the libertarian website Reason.com, that the president's reelection campaign will grind away at certain proposals by Ryan.

One proposal would replace Medicare with a series of coupons with which the elderly beneficiaries could purchase health insurance from private companies. Under the plan, as private insurance plans increase in price, the coupons would not, leaving the elderly to pay more and more out of pocket for health care as the difference between what the coupon or voucher covers and the actual cost of an insurance policy widens.

More broadly speaking, the reelection campaign is expected to attack and insinuate the GOP ticket is hostile toward Social Security, and also desires heavy cuts to the benefits the elderly receive under the decades-old program.

But the tactic leaves the Democratic White House, if successful in securing another four years, in a bind. The national deficit and debt continue to grow, and reversing the trend will require a multifaceted approach, including cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The more vigorously the Democrats treat current benefits as untouchable now - including benefits like the prescription drug coverage of Medicare Part D, for which the beneficiaries never paid even a cent - the more untouchable they likely will find the benefits if they win and have to pivot toward addressing the untenable pattern of spending outpacing revenue.

And so, the selection of Ryan on the national ticket could leave a second Obama term, if it comes to pass, as feeble in reversing or even slowing the ballooning national debt, or shamelessly reducing benefits for the elderly after painting such an option as horrific, fueling more cynicism of the political process. While the latter is preferable, and perhaps the needle can be threaded, so to speak, to bring the option back onto the table, it will be an immensely tough sell in negotiating any compromise.

 
 

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