Inside Story: US 2012
Is Romney 'Ryan's man'?
As the Republican presidential candidate chooses a staunch conservative as running mate, we analyse their politics.
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2012 14:55

Mitt Romney, the US Republican presidential candidate, has struggled to solidify support from the most conservative wing of the Republican Party. And it is for that reason, many analysts say, that he chose Paul Ryan to be his running mate.

"If you look at [Ryan's] background he doesn't truly understand the needs a lot of Americans have and the need that they have for social programmes to pull them out of poverty, and it has for many millions of Americans."

- Wendell Potter, a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity

Ryan, 42, is a congressman from Wisconsin and a staunch conservative, both fiscally and socially. He believes in giving fertilised embryos full rights – essentially equating abortion with murder. And he is a climate change skeptic.

Among other things, Ryan proposed privatising social security in 2004, supports replacing Medicaid with a voucher programme, and as congressman voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He voted to give bailout money to banks and the US auto industry, voted against a law that demanded equal pay for women, co-sponsored a bill that would ban in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and co-sponsored a bill to ban abortions in cases of rape and incest.

But when Romney refers to him as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party, he is most likely referring to his reputation as a deficit hawk.

"Romney doesn't have a budget. He has a series of proposals that seem to be very fluid …. Romney chose Ryan as his running mate because his campaign has been so ill-defined and he is seeking definition with the party base. He wants core Republicans to think he's a Ryan man."

- John Nichols, a political writer

In 2011, he proposed a budget plan that would reduce government spending by more than $5 trillion over 10 years.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, most of the cuts would come from programmes that help the country's poorest.

On this episode of Inside Story: US 2012 we ask: How has Romney's pick been received by both Republicans and Democrats? So who is Ryan and why did Romney choose him as his running mate?

Joining presenter Shihab Rattansi for the discussion are guests: Wendell Potter, a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity and a former executive-turned-critic in the US medical insurance industry; John Nichols, a political writer for The Nation magazine; and Bruce Fein, a former senior policy adviser to the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign.

"Presidents don't like to give credit to their running mates. Every president has egos. I can guarantee you Romney is not going to say 'I'm a carbon-copy of Paul Ryan', it diminishes him .... This [Ryan's budget] is vastly inflated as to how much it will influence Romney."

Bruce Fein, a former senior policy adviser to Ron Paul


According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan's budget would come at a huge cost for the country's most vulnerable.

  • The proposal calls for $5.3 trillion in non-defence budget cuts over 10 years
  • At least 62 per cent, or $3.3 trillion, would come from programmes that help Americans with low or moderate income
  • About $2.4 trillion in reductions would come from Medicaid and other health care programmes for people with limited means
  • There would be a $134bn cut from the US food stamp programme, which would effectively render 8-10 million people ineligible for food assistance
  • It calls for another $1.2 trillion in cuts but does not specify which other programmes would be affected


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