The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

August 14, 2012

What Ryan brings to campaign

Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as the Republican nominee for vice president unfortunately reinforces the class warfare narrative .

Romney casts himself as the business-friendly candidate who can accelerate the national economic recovery. He has vociferously denigrated progressive tax reform as class warfare.

His posture, however, barely withstood even a minor paid-media assault on his offshore banking, his pioneering role in outsourcing jobs or the possibility that his secretive tax returns harbor an outrageous record of first-rate tax avoidance.

By adding Ryan to the ticket, Romney gains an expert, experienced and vigorous voice for federal fiscal reform -- but one ideologically predisposed to shelter the wealthy at the expense of Americans caught in the sinking middle and increasingly desperate lower income levels.

The Romney/Ryan team wins points for acknowledging the ineluctable math of debts, deficits and demographics.

Their diagnosis is insightful, but their prescription is suspect (tax breaks for the rich while incomplete discussion of which tax loopholes they would eliminate to make up the difference).

The Ryan selection inks those distinctions indelibly. The congressman has risen to national prominence as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, by crafting budget plans that directly assault broadly supported Medicare and Medicaid -- replacing them with premium supports that independent analysts believe would compound greater risk with reduced benefits.

President Barack Obama, too, has challenges bridging his candidacy to beleaguered middle and lower income Americans.

The president is handicapped by the glacial pace of economic recovery. His signature achievement, health care reform, has largely been rejected by the public as bloated and ineffective legislation that failed to address the pivotal problem of health care costs.

If class warfare means a battle between ideologues for greater traction with the electorate broadly characterized as the 99 percent, then class warfare may actually drive the candidates toward the middle.

The middle — where expense reduction meets tax reform and special interest lobbies must yield to the greater public good — is where we all need to be.

Newly minted running mate Ryan said he believes in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.

That should include the opportunity for the rich participate in and to invest in the American experience right here, and not have tax incentives to shelter their wealth in a Swiss bank.

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