Can Romney/Ryan sell the idea that trimming the safety net will help everyone?

I haven’t been churning out posts with much frequency lately, even though I would like to keep up with the presidential race. At this point I can’t see so clearly how it is going, except that it seems like it is still neck and neck.

I understand the polls show that Republican candidate Mitt Romney did not get much of a boost from the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, but on the other hand, I see that Romney is ahead in the key battleground state of Florida, according to at least the Rasmussen poll. And it seems that the Ryan selection is indeed turning the contest into an economic philosophy debate (well more or more specifically than it has been), and since nothing seems to be working right now, the electorate just might be willing to listen.

(I interject. My own personal economics, as modest as they are, are just fine, but that always seems to be the case with me. When it is said times are good I don’t see it and when they are supposed to be rough, not necessarily for me.)

One might think that because the Republican Ryan is known for his proposed budget plan that among other things cuts back on social programs and would do away with Medicare as we know it, that seniors, in particular, might be concerned. But Ryan has turned this on its head and charges that actually President Obama’s health care law, known widely as “Obamacare”, actually makes cutbacks in Medicare to pay for itself. Also it is charged that Medicare at its present rate is due to run out of money in the not-so-distant future.

Of course, as everyone knows, the Republicans like to go light on social programs, except they tend to vote to retain them when they hear from their constituents. All those self-made men (and women) don’t want to give up their Social Security and Medicare. You see they paid into it all these years (and think for some reason no one else did). Well everyone pays for these things. Have you ever seen the withholding on your paycheck? And if you are a renter, have you ever been told by your landlord that the rent has to be increased to pay the taxes?

Even though I think there is a lot of hypocrisy and double talk in all of this, as I have stated on this site before, I do think it is healthy to have a debate about competing philosophies of government.

Even though the Republicans decry big government and object to government being involved in everything, it has been my observation that really they just mean they want government to be involved in supporting business interests as opposed to being a safety net for the downtrodden (are there no debtor prisons? No charitable missions to feed the poor?).

The Democrats are a mixed bag of interests but are more in favor of promoting social programs. They claim to support “working people”. But really that often means big labor. For my part, even though I realize labor unions have historically lifted the wages for both their members as well as non members (companies sometimes feel forced to pay more just to keep their employees from going union or going to another job), I don’t necessarily see all their activities as promoting the interest of non-union working people, and not everyone wants to be in a union or can for that matter. Because of the nature of a job or the geography or size of a company and other reasons, not all jobs are open to unionization.

But back to the presidential race specifically.

Barring any unforeseen international thing or other unexpected event, I would imagine it is going to be the state of the economy or perceived state in the weeks or days leading up to the voting that will be the decisive factor.

Romney and Ryan will have to convince enough people — primarily the so-called swing voters — that somehow slashing social programs and helping people who don’t need help will somehow foster a better economy for everyone (and I know I just wrote a sentence biased against them, but really that it what it seems).

It’s the old Reagan trickle down trick. Those who did well in his time say it worked. Others not so much.

Really a whole lot of the economic problems are beyond a president and even beyond the government’s ability to fully handle, it seems to me anyway. But the president can provide leadership and the government structure.

Also, after so many people went broke by running up their credit cards and paying too much for houses at absurdly inflated values, they are more likely to be amenable to the argument that the government should not spend more than it takes in (and really most of us can’t argue with that, except I guess there are economic theories, namely Keynesian, that suggest otherwise).

The government has been deficit spending, as it is called, for decades under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

I find it interesting that a story I read over the past day says that Ryan’s personal business interests have benefited largely from government contracts — you know from that government that is too big. Why am I not surprised?

That aside, there is some evidence, I think, that the Ryan selection will force Obama to defend his spending ways and be more specific about how he is going to fix in his second term what he could not in his first.

P.s.

Even though reports over the past day or so indicate top-of-the-ticket candidate Romney (or his staff) wants Ryan to just look good and say little, and although Ryan vows to simply support Romney’s proposals (as vague as they often are), it seems to me that really in the news reporting it’s almost like Romney pointing to his new more vocal sidekick and saying “what he said”, figuratively speaking, that is.

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