Now that Mitt Romney has effectively won the Republican presidential nomination, major figures within the party have come out to endorse him and push the other candidates out of the race. Romney’s latest endorsement comes from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who—on Fox and Friends this morning—warned that the GOP primary could become “counterproductive” if it doesn’t end soon:
“We need to coalesce as conservatives” around a nominee, Ryan said. “The longer we drag it out the harder it is to win in November. … I am convinced that Mitt Romney has the skills, the tenacity, the principles and the courage to put America back on track."
Even given the degree to which Ryan has convinced “official” Washington that he’s a wholesome defender of fiscal sustainability, I’m positive that Romney will walk away from this endorsement with his moderate reputation intact. But he shouldn’t. Two things lie behind Ryan’s endorsement. The first, as you can see above, is political expediency. The second, however, is Romney’s genuine ideological support for Ryan’s vision of government, and vice versa.
Here is Romney in April of last year, around the same time that the budget chairman released his “Roadmap”:
I applaud Rep. Paul Ryan for recognizing the looming financial crisis that faces our nation and for the creative and bold thinking that he brings to the debate. He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control. Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page.
From then on, Romney consistently praised Ryan’s work, and used a similar framework for his own budget, which would require massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and other non-Defense spending. According to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, Romney’s proposal would cut federal spending by 19.6 percent by 2016 (and 26.5 percent by 2022) if no program were spared. Of course, programs like Social Security are likely to be spared, in which case, the cuts to every other part of the budget (excluding defense) would reach 27.6 percent by 2016 and 38.5 percent by 2022.
It should be said that Romney also proposes a balanced-budget amendment, which—if Social Security is left untouched—would require a 34.8 percent cut to all programs by 2016, and a whopping 55.7 percent by 2022. To put this in concrete terms, Romney’s budget—as with Ryan’s—would eliminate food stamps, children’s health care, Pell Grants, Head Start, transportation funding, education funding, and a whole host of other programs for the poor, disabled, elderly, and infirm.
I know that Romney wears a nice suit, doesn’t yell at people, and seems comfortable around liberals—but that doesn’t make him a moderate. If elected president, Romney would (along with every other Republican in Congress) make an unprecedented push to roll back the welfare state and transform government into a money train for the rich. Marco Rubio knows it, Paul Ryan knows it, and you should know it too.
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