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August 16, 2012

Romney’s VP Pick - Out of Touch with Jews

Listed in: NJDC News, Opinions

Originally published in the Washington Jewish Week

By NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has confused me quite a few times during his presidential campaign - especially in his campaign for Jewish votes.

Particularly, I have been confused by Romney’s recent attempts to convince Jewish voters that he best represents their values, all the while failing to support policies in line with the beliefs of most in our community. But with his announcement this past weekend that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be his running mate, I am more confused than ever as to how his campaign will try to convince Jewish voters that Romney champions our community’s values.

Since the beginning of his campaign, we have been trying to figure out where Romney stands on the issues, watching him flip flop from position to position based on what is politically popular. But Ryan is different. He is a member of the GOP’s “Young Guns” - a group of young Republicans with an allegiance to extremely conservative views. Ryan has not wavered on his stances and has been a leader in the GOP’s radical wing.

This is a dangerous combination. Between an indecisive presidential nominee and an extremist vice presidential nominee, I have never been surer that a Romney administration would not represent the values of most Jews.

Who better to implement Romney’s regressive budget plan that slashes the social safety net than the person who essentially created that plan? It has been clear that Romney is extremely supportive of the Ryan budget plan, even saying that he “would have signed” the budget if he were president. Does Romney not know how this controversial budget would negatively affect our country, returning us to the economic mess of the previous administration?

Aside from privatizing Medicare, creating a voucher system where a typical senior would pay $6,350 more per year, Ryan’s budget would result in deep cuts in investments for our future, including dropping 200,000 kids a year from Head Start, reducing funding for Veterans’ Affairs by 19 percent, and dropping the option of Pell Grant scholarships for 10 million students. Is this what we want for our children’s future? Or for ours?

Ryan’s plan would also lower the standard of care for those most in need. It would repeal Obamacare and cut over $1 trillion from Medicaid during the next decade - resulting in inaccessible health care for close to 60 million people, including seniors, the disabled and the poor. Meanwhile, the plan would extend all of the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy and even provide them with an added $5 trillion. Ryan has even gone as far as to describe Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” suggesting that future retirement benefits should be tied to the risky ups and downs of the stock market.

But Ryan’s extremism does not stop there. Ryan has voted repeatedly to limit a woman’s control over her own body, even co-sponsoring a bill that would ban in-vitro fertilization and many common forms of birth control. The bill even contained language that could be used to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.

And while Ryan has said he is a close friend of Israel, he has also joined House Republicans at least six times in voting against measures to strengthen Iran sanctions. His lack of foreign policy and national security experience was clear when he pushed for increasing cuts to the foreign aid budget. Here Ryan didn’t hesitate to slash a top agenda item for the pro-Israel community - one that helps keep America secure and pays dramatic dividends.

The Jewish tradition teaches us that we have a responsibility to take care of each other, especially those who cannot take care of themselves. In contrast, Ryan’s record demonstrates that he works on behalf of a small minority, with unfortunately far too little concern for lower-income individuals and families. Ryan’s belief in the antiquated “trickle down” theory is not only out of line with Jewish values but dangerous for the future of this country.