Paul Ryan will help or hurt Romney?

Friends have recently been asking me whether I thought the choice of Paul Ryan would help or hurt Mitt Romney’s presidential chances. I haven’t been following the election closely because I already predicted Barack Obama’s reelection and I stand by that prediction from December 2011.

My response was that I think Ryan will hurt Romney. Let’s consider the worst possible presidential candidate. Mr. You’re Not Special would stand up in front of the American people and say the following:

  • You’re not as smart, educated, or hard-working as people in Singapore.
  • That’s why Singapore, despite having no natural resources, has a per-capita GDP that is 20 percent higher than the U.S.’s.
  • That’s why Singapore can fulfill all required government functions by spending 17 percent of GDP (source) while the U.S. local, state, and federal governments spend a total of 42 percent of GDP (source).
  • Which is why Singapore can have lower tax rates than the U.S.
  • And because we are comparatively fat, dumb, and lazy, we can no longer afford all of the things that we want our government to do.
  • Therefore we will have to cut back on health care, wars, public employee pensions, payments to the unemployed, etc.

The closer a candidate is to Mr. You’re Not Special, the worse he or she will do. That was the basis for my prediction that Barack Obama would beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 despite Clinton’s superior objective qualifications.

The only reasonable explanation for why government would have to be scaled back is that Americans aren’t smart and productive enough to afford the government that they want. What voter wants to hear that he or she is not smart and productive?

Let’s dig into some of the specifics of Ryanism. He wants to preserve the unlimited flow of government money to Medicare providers as long as the victims of this care (heart surgery for everyone!) are currently 55 years old or older. The median age of a voter is about 44 (source). The life expectancy for a 55-year-old is about 26 years. So Medicare costs will be ruinous for about 26 more years, necessitating savage payroll taxes. Those 26 years will carry the median age voter from age 44 through age 70, i.e., the rest of his or her likely working life. So Ryan promises “If you’re a typical voter, you will pay ridiculously high taxes for the rest of your working life in order the subsidize the world’s most inefficient health care system. But as soon as you do retire, you’ll get a voucher for minimal HMO care instead of the unlimited gold-plated care that you paid for others to enjoy.”

Did I miss something? What has Ryan said or done that would actually appeal to a voter who wants to think of himself or herself as exceptionally smart and living in a country poised for additional greatness?

13 thoughts on “Paul Ryan will help or hurt Romney?

  1. I wish they’d put you on CBS Evening News so you could end all the debates about whether Paul Ryan provides good optics for the Republicans. They like his hair and his eyes. They think he will help Romney with the “youth vote” because he is so handsome and dresses so nicely. He has a nice-looking wife too, and his kids aren’t bad.

  2. Singapore is a major city and financial center for east Asia and it’s GDP per capita does not compare favorably with New York City, Houston, San Francisco, Boston or Washington D.C.

  3. If Obama’s willing to take a chance on Joe “They’ll put y’all back in chains” Biden, I don’t think Paul Ryan will be a liability to Romney.

    Paul Ryan has presented a budget. A budget that even Obama found to be “ entirely legitimate proposal.” Have the democrats passed any sort of budget in the past 1200 days or so?

    Of course he does possess that one skill that democrats fear most — math. Watch him break down health care for Obama:

  4. You’re mistaken. It is precisely because Ryan comes closest to telling the truth that he will sway the election for Romney. Ryan is talking actual numbers that have some reality behind them. He actually does show with real numbers that changes have to be made. People in general, and seniors in particular, respond to this adult approach.

    Just this week Biden said that ‘Social Security will never be touched!’. Even Obama doesn’t say that. Of course Obama won’t talk numbers at all anyway.

    It’s clear from the current polling that Ryan is helping Romney in the key swing states of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida. This is likely to continue.

    It is clear that this election is between someone running as Santa Claus with a senile sidekick, and two adult men who actually understand numbers.

    I think the numbers guys win.

  5. Perhaps if Singapore had to pay for a military (including the added expense of two large wars started by Ryan’s Party) it would be a less “special” place too.

  6. Phil,
    Unfortunately, I don’t believe the “average” voter thinks things through to a logical conclusion. Ryan strikes me as very opinionated and not so charming. Does that make for a bad VP? No. Does that him unelectable on a national scene? Yes. IMO.

  7. Arthur, Daniel: I think that you’re inadvertently proving my point regarding Singapore and Americans’ unwillingness to believe themselves inferior. Arthur’s comment implies that Singapore was somehow selected by God to be a “major city and financial center” and their status as such has nothing to do with any hard work or investments by Singaporeans. Daniel’s comment similarly neglects the fact that Americans were not forced to start two losing wars. If we are embroiled in wars with objectives that are unattainable, I would say that is a reflection on our intelligence as a nation (and it doesn’t help to blame a particular politician or party because we as a nation have chosen our system of government and the particular politicians who are in power).

  8. Bidden strikes me as very opinionated and not so charming. Does that make for a bad VP? No. Does that him unelectable on a national scene? Yes. IMO.

  9. Philg what you said is partially true, but I think at least a good part of my argument is that because of some attributes of the countries themselves and the particulars of their histories, there are inherent differences in the cost structure of the two countries. For example: Singapore spends 0 on it interstate highways and state parks, should the U.S. give up territory, until we’re the size of Washington?
    The U.S. still has military obligations from WWII, was it foolish to enter WWII? If we are a wise people and want to make full use out of our expensive military, should we conquer Singapore to keep it from undercutting us on taxes? I am sure that Singapore has its own problems and opportunities too, but my point is simply that it is not a comparison of likes when we compare and ant Singapore and an elephant like the U.S., perhaps a more interesting comparison would be N.Y or San Francisco vs. Singapore?

  10. I’m just curious, in your own opinion do you want Pres.Barack Obama to be re-elected?

    Marc Lewis

  11. Marc: I live in Massachusetts and therefore it is not generally worth forming an opinion on which candidate to vote for. Most of the politicians on my ballot in November will be running unopposed. Aside from the anomalous Scott Brown/Warren race, any Democrat running for national office is guaranteed to win. Should Obama be re-elected? Probably. He reflects the will of the American people. As a nation, we want a planned economy and want to live in a fantasy world where we’re about 25 percent richer than we are. It is not an accident that we have politicians trying to deliver this to us.

    [Note: I’ll vote for Scott Brown because, out of the five congressmen and senators who theoretically represent the suburbs around Hanscom Field, Brown was the only one who could be bothered to answer a letter regarding our flight school’s difficulties in getting the Department of Homeland Security to answer a letter (Brown assigned a staff member to the challenge and eventually we did get DHS to respond; it wasn’t a response that enabled us to grow our business and pay more taxes, but it was better than the black hole we’d been sending letters into previously).]

  12. Hello.
    Have you ever been there? It is a very successful autocracy where people forced into success with an iron fist. Autocratic regimes have temporary successes like a first man is space or a first jet fighter but on the long run they will decline.

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