(Article changed on October 7, 2012 at 23:04)
(Article changed on October 7, 2012 at 20:06)
There is no longer any ambiguity about the path that Romney would pursue as president, because it's the same trajectory charted by Paul Ryan, the architect of the House GOP's reactionary agenda since the party's takeover in 2010. "Picking Ryan as vice president outlines the future of the next four or eight years of a Romney administration," GOP power broker Grover Norquist exulted in August. "Ryan has outlined a plan that has support in the Republican House and Senate. You have a real sense of where Romney's going." As Norquist told party activists back in February, the true direction of the GOP is being mapped out by congressional hardliners. All the Republicans need, to realize their vision, he said, is a president "with enough working digits to handle a pen."
But the GOP legislation awaiting Romney's signature isn't simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it's far worse. Here's why:
Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House, and are simply waiting for Romney to take the presidency, would do the following:
* roll back clean-air protections so as to help increase the profits of many large corporations,
* gut both Medicare and Medicaid as a favor to big health insurance companies,
* lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, to help pay for those tax cuts,
* slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits, to help pay for more tax cuts for the very rich.
In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. "Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor -- which is the last thing you ought to cut," says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan's budget director. "It's ideology run amok."
A look at the bills that Republicans have passed since they took control of the House in 2010 offers a clear blueprint of the agenda that a Romney administration would be primed to establish:
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly put ideology before creating jobs. Example: For more than a year, they've refused to put President Obama's jobs bill up for a vote, even though projections show it would create nearly 2 million jobs without adding a penny to the deficit. The reason? The $447 billion bill would have to be entirely paid for through a surtax on millionaires.
Second example: the Republicans' signature initiative last year -- the debt-ceiling standoff -- was a known jobs-killer, clearly applying the brakes to the economic recovery. From February through April 2011, the economy had been adding 200,000 jobs a month. But during the uncertainty created by this congressional impasse, job creation was cut in half for every month the standoff continued. And according to the Economic Policy Institute, the immediate spending cuts required by the debt-ceiling compromise are likely to shrink the economy by $43 billion this year, killing nearly 323,000 jobs. This is putting ideology before job creation, the American people be damned.
What Ryan markets as his "Path to Prosperity" would make things even worse: The draconian cuts in his latest budget, according to the Economics Policy Institute, would put an additional drag on the economy, destroying another 4.1 million jobs by 2014.
The Republican War Against Women
Last year, the House passed a bill that would prohibit women from purchasing insurance plans that cover abortion. The so-called Protect Life Act would also allow hospitals to refuse a dying woman an abortion that would save her life. Ryan himself co-sponsored legislation that would have made it impossible for impoverished victims of rape and incest to receive abortions unless their assault met a narrow definition of "forcible rape." Under the bill's language, for instance, federal abortion coverage would be denied to a 12-year-old girl impregnated by a 40-year-old man -- unless she could prove she fought back.