At 8:45 eastern time this morning, Mitt Romney will name his vice presidential pick. I assumed that Romney was going to announce his vice president either this weekend or early next week, because it's been a terrible month for him, and a VP announcement is often a "Get Out of Jail Free" card which allows an ailing candidate to grab ahold of the media and pull it in the direction the candidate wants the conversation to go. It looks like Romney's selection for VP candidate will probably be Paul Ryan. This is a surprising choice—I thought it was going to be Portman or Pawlenty, with Ryan as a distant third—and it indicates that the Romney campaign knows it's in need of a shock to the system.
There are a lot of similarities to John McCain's Sarah Palin choice, here: You've got a campaign that is taking hits on all sides from the Obama campaign, is way down in the polls, and is unable to break free of a downward spiral in the media and among its own party. So they select a candidate they expect to rev up the base. A Romney adviser even used the word "game changer" to describe Ryan to BuzzFeed, evoking the same phrase that McCain's people used to describe Palin:
"I do think this is a game-changer," the adviser said. "Given his Irish Catholic background, he's a guy that can campaign in blue collar neighborhoods. I think that puts Pennsylvania in play, I think it's going to bolster us in Ohio, I think it puts Michigan in play. I think there's going to be a whole swath of the Midwest that look at this bright, young, very energetic guy, and is won over."
Problem is, the McCain campaign was unable to introduce Palin to independents in a positive light. The Romney campaign will have to do better than the McCain campaign did when they introduce Ryan to the world. (Of course, this is an inexact analogy: Ryan has been in the public eye a lot longer than Palin, he can string words together, and he's not as shocking a choice as Palin, so the risks aren't as high and neither are the potential payoffs.)
In the few hours since the Paul Ryan VP pick was leaked, the internet has started digging up everything they know about the congressman. Here's something interesting: Looks like Ryan wants to significantly lower taxes on the wealthy.
Ryan has proposed moving to just two two tax rates — 10% for lower income taxpayers and 25% for most taxpayers — both of which are significantly below current levels. He said the lost revenue would be made up through the elimination of various tax breaks and deductions, although he has not identified which ones. Ryan would also cut the top corporate tax rate to 25% and eliminate various business tax breaks.
Also, in 2005, Paul Ryan cosponsored a bill called the “Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005." Had this bill passed, it would have allowed people to put their Social Security into personal savings accounts. Which means that, had this bill passed, millions of people's Social Security accounts could have been wiped out in the crash of 2008. You can read more about it in this PDF.
Back in 2011, Ryan made inappropriate comments about immigrants, spawning headlines like "Paul Ryan Compares Latinos to Animals, Decries 'Anchor Babies.'"
Here, via BuzzFeed, is Ryan in 2010 talking shit about Romneycare:
And of course, we've been writing about Paul Ryan for a long time here on Slog. We've kept track of his weird Ayn Rand fetish (and the way he recently threw Ayn Rand overboard because she's a goddamned atheist), his plan to destroy Medicare, his whole-hearted endorsement of trickle-down economics, and his New Deal-repealing budget.
But hell, don't just take my word for it. As soon as this news broke, the whole 290-page oppo file on Paul Ryan suddenly appeared on the internet, from his allowance being cut by $2 for bad grades all the way up to his proposed Medicare massacre. You can read and download the whole thing here.