Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letter to Paul Ryan

You were supposed to be different. I remember reading about you a few years ago in a Time magazine article that touted an early edition of what is now your "Path to Propriety" plan. The main theme from the article and form most media coverage over the past few years has been that while a lot of people might not like some of your ideas at least you were willing to crunch the numbers and come up with something to tackle the national debt. You understood that nobody will balance the budget without coming up with a plan to either a) raise taxes/revenue b) cut spending on defense, health care and/or social security, since those three buckets alone account for 78% of the federal budget or c) both.

I appreciate your honesty even if I disagreed with some of your policy proposals. Turning Medicare into a voucher program is something that was a clear difference between you and President Obama's policies. I didn't understand how this would do anything more than shift health care costs from the government to individual people, but at least you were willing to address one of the sacred cows.

When you were selected as Mitt Romney's Vice Presidential candidate, I was told many times that this was something that was good for the country because we could have serious conversations now. I was optimistic. It was time for you to explain to the country your Atlas Shrugged influenced worldview and let the country vote on those issues. This is what I thought your talking points would be:
  • Medicare will be a voucher program starting in 2022.
  • The age of eligibility on Medicare will increase to the age of 67.
  • Your plan to decrease non-defense discretionary spending.
  • The specific deductions, exemptions and subsides you would remove from the current tax code.
  • The details of your tax code that seems to favor the wealthy.
  • Why reducing the deficit is critical for the country and why you will succeed when so many other politicians (especially Republican Presidents) have failed.
I haven't heard any of that. I've heard why Obama has failed the country and how you love America, but you act like a normal politician and not the "policy wonk" that I was expecting. You were supposed to talk details and give us the hard, honest truth about our budget. Instead now you talk nothing but generalities and say stuff like "I don't have the time, it would take me too long to go through all the math." Not to be like the ESPN announcers on Monday Night Football, but come on, man. This was your moment to be the wonk that we all wanted and needed. Explain the math. I have the time and am curious how you plan on reducing taxes without reducing revenue - what deductions are you getting rid of. Are you planning on getting rid of the mortgage interest tax deduction? Are you going to cap the amount of deductions you can make?

When I hear you speak it doesn't give me pride in the fact that we both have degrees from Miami University. I would like to think that a Miami alum wouldn't be judged to have had 44% of his statements be mostly false, false or pants on fire.  (If you were curious Obama comes in at 27% and Romney is at 43%). It was supposed to be different with you. You were supposed to elevate the debate, and maybe it is because my expectations were too high, but right now I've never been more disappointed in a VP candidate.

There is still time to change. There is a VP debate. You can be honest about your plan and vision for the country or you can lie like you did with your RNC speech. I will probably never agree with your policies, but I hope some day soon you will better represent Miami's motto "to accomplish rather than to be conspicuous." Right now you would rather attract attention than actually get anything accomplished.

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