Economic radical Paul Ryan has endorsed Mitt Romney, Romney's embraced the Ryan budget, and the House Republicans have voted to enact the Romney/Ryan vision of the future into law. Yet an eerie silence has settled over the vision itself: How would it affect our daily lives? What kind of country would we become?
The Romney/Ryan America of tomorrow is more like the science-fiction worlds of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine or Fritz Lang's Metropolis than it is like the United States as we know it. The privileged few would be even more wealthy than they are today, while the rest of us struggle to survive in a dystopian world of disease, deprivation, and fear.
That's not lefty rhetoric, either. All you have to do is read the budget.
What did Romney say about Ryan's budget? "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." For his part, Paul Ryan expressed confidence that Romney will enact something very close to the budget he proposed and House Republicans passed this week.
And yet the real vision they're offering for the country is somehow off-limits in polite company. They're being treated like reasonable politicians, rather than as radicals whose social agenda is severely out of step with that their predecessors in both parties. That has to stop. We need to quit discussing the political horse-race and start talking in real-life terms about the country they intend to create.
Here are five glimpses of the American future under Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans:
1. Diseased America
Forget what it means to be a just society for a moment (they certainly have) and think about what it will mean for the public health of our nation if the Romney/Ryan budget is ever enacted.
By 2022 their plan would cut federal Medicaid funding by roughly one-third. The Urban Institute has estimated that states would drop between 14 million and 27 million people from Medicaid by 2021. Provider reimbursements would drop by roughly one-third, too, meaning that even people who still have Medicaid coverage will find it increasingly difficult to find doctors and hospitals willing to treat them. The Romney/Ryan plan's radical changes to Medicare would also dramatically cut older Americans' access to health care.
We live with the constant threat of deadly pandemics like avian flu and SARS. The fact that those two diseases didn't kill millions shouldn't be taken as proof that it can't happen, any more than failed terrorist attacks prove we aren't at risk: We are. And we're increasingly facing the risk of MRSAs and other deadly drug-resistant infections, which have a tendency to develop and spread in medically under-served populations such as inner cities and prisons.
So forget the inhumanity of this plan, one-percenters, and look at it selfishly: The Romney/Ryan plan to dismantle health will endanger your lives.
2. Time Machine America
Middle class? Not in their world. There will be the rich -- and everybody else.
The Romney/Ryan plan guts the financial security of middle-class Americans by leaving them to face on old age of deprivation, impossibly costly health care, and reduced benefits. What's more, their radical cuts will create a cascading wave of unemployment that will make today's intractable job situation even worse.
At the same time the Romney/Ryan plan promises more huge tax cuts for the wealthy and uber-wealthy (more about that shortly), which it tries to offset by closing unspecified loopholes.
Which loopholes could they mean? There aren't many to choose from. They probably intend to cut or eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction, which would decimate already-struggling middle class homeowners, and the tax deduction for employer-provided healthcare, which would leave middle-class Americans with even less health coverage than they have today.