Ryan a flop?

Americans are not big fans of Ryan; his call to Akin; and other top Wednesday stories

Topics: Paul Ryan, Medicare, Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections, Todd Akin,

Ryan a flop?

Americans still don’t like Paul Ryan or his Medicare plan: A new Pew Poll finds Americans are not too fond of Rep. Paul Ryan, or his Medicare plan. Their view of the plan is virtually unchanged from a year ago when House Republicans voted on it, which is to say that it’s mostly unpopular — Americans oppose it by a margin of 49 to 34 percent. That’s the same margin as independent voters. Nearly half of Americans say Ryan is a “fair” or “poor” choice for V.P., while just 28 percent say he is an “excellent” or “good” pick. Still, some good news for the Romney campaign is that most voters don’t associate Ryan’s Medicare plan with the congressman — yet. That may change as it gets elevated through the presidential election, meaning Ryan’s numbers could drop even further.

The word “hypocrisy” gets tossed around a lot, but …: In addition to requesting stimulus money while insisting he did not request stimulus money, and requesting earmarks at the same time that he insisted he was against earmarks, Rep. Paul Ryan helped steer money to campaign donors. The Huffington Post reports that “in at least two instances involving the Department of Transportation, Ryan has pushed the interests of companies whose members have given him campaign donations.” Ryan wrote to the department on behalf of a chemical company called PPG Industries, which contributed almost $7,000 to his campaign, and another expressing the concerns of the National Auto Dealers Association, which had given him $68,500. While this is common in Congress, Ryan has always portrayed himself as better than the rest and held himself to a higher standard. It’s just another issue that complicates his narrative of himself as an unconventional statesman.



Romney’s Medicare fib: The biggest policy debate of the campaign since Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan to be his running mate has been over Medicare: Does the $700 billion in Medicare savings implemented by Obamacare represent a debilitating cut, as Romney claims, or a needed savings, as Obama claims. Today, consulting with health experts, the New York Times reports that “Mitt Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion that he says President Obama ‘robbed’ from Medicare has some health care experts puzzled.” The experts said that reinstating the money would not only shorten the lifespan of the Medicare trust fund by eight years, but it would “add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries.” The reason is because beneficiaries share the cost of Medicare with the government, so if the programs’ costs go up, premiums will rise too. “There are only two explanations: Either they don’t understand how the program works, which is hard to imagine, or there is some deliberate misrepresentation here because they know how politically potent this charge is,” said John McDonough, the director of the Center for Public Health Leadership at Harvard.

Ryan called Akin: Despite intense pressure from Republican leaders, Rep. Todd Akin refused to drop out of Missouri’s Senate race yesterday, bypassing a 5 p.m. deadline when Republicans could change the name on the ballot. Akin told the “Today” show this morning that presumed vice-presidential nominee Ryan personally called him and asked him to drop out of the race (even though Ryan and Akin share similar views on abortion). But Akin is strident, reserving ad time through the end of September and even fundraising off of abortion. Most analysts think Akin’s staying in makes the race far harder for Republicans to win. And Missouri is a key Senate race, central to the GOP’s path to taking control of the Senate, so Akin’s decision could have consequences far beyond the Show Me State.

2,000 dead: The U.S. military hit a sad milestone in the war in Afghanistan this week, seeing its 2,000th death in the nearly 11-year-old conflict. And the pace of the killings has escalated. Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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