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August 27, 2012

Jewish Voters Problematic for Paul Ryan

Listed in: Women's Issues, Israel, Other Domestic Policy, Reproductive Rights, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally Published in The Sun Sentinel

By NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley

In life, it is often said, actions speak louder than words. For members of Congress, votes speak loudest about a representative’s principles—about his or her willingness to act on promises.

For Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI), his votes tell a story of pledges, proposals, and actions inconsistent with Jewish values and incompatible with the political beliefs of most American Jews.

From his plan to end Medicare as we know it, to his agenda of extra tax breaks for the wealthiest among us, to his cuts to education and health care and assistance to the needy, to his firm opposition to a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape and incest,—on nearly every matter of domestic policy—Ryan’s positions are remarkably out-of-step with the vast majority of the Jewish community.

But these differences don’t end at the water’s edge. For a Republican party and a Romney campaign that regularly touts itself as being staunchly pro-Israel, Ryan’s history of repeated votes against strengthening Iran sanctions, foreign aid, and packages containing assistance to Israel must be an unwelcome surprise or an inconvenient truth.

For Jewish voters, the record of the GOP’s new number two presents yet another reason to oppose the Republican ticket this fall.

Here are the facts. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran represents the greatest threat to Israel’s security today. President Barack Obama has committed to taking no options off the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. He has been joined, repeatedly, by leaders of both parties in imposing the most far-reaching sanctions regime ever enacted against Iran.

Yet, when the going gets tough and partisan politics beckons, Ryan consistently chooses party loyalty over Israel’s safety.

Time and again over the past year, Ryan has voted against stronger Iran sanctions. He opposed measures to prevent any business dealings with Iran’s crude oil industry, to punish mineral companies that do business with Iran, and to block Iranian government-tied enterprises from raising funds in the United States. Ryan voted “no” on a measure ensuring that companies violating the Iran Sanctions Act could not profit from American oil leases, “no” on blocking an American business from partnering with a British mining company with ties to Iran, and “no” on an effort to deny tax benefits to businesses that illegally engage with Iran.

Earlier in his career, Ryan even voted against a proposal to cut $359 million from our contributions to the World Bank—the value of World Bank loans to Iran—and redirect those funds away from Iran to humanitarian aid efforts across the globe.

In every case, Ryan chose to heed the instructions of GOP leadership rather than stand firm against Iran. Is this the kind of action we can expect from a potential Vice President Ryan?

The story doesn’t end there. As President Obama has delivered more security aid to Israel than any of his predecessors, in the past decade, Ryan has cast a series of votes against foreign aid packages.

Anyone who follows the ins and outs of Congress knows that if a foreign aid bill fails, Israel does not receive its critical military and defense assistance. Certainly the GOP’s leading budget expert should be aware of this fact. Yet, Ryan chose a path that places Israel’s security squarely in the midst of partisan squabbling that ultimately undermines the U.S.-Israel relationship. Is this the message the Romney campaign wants to send to pro-Israel voters?

The Romney team and the Republican Party continue to spend time and resources spreading falsehoods about President Obama’s staunch and unwavering pro-Israel record. But they can’t escape the truth. They can’t avoid the facts about Ryan any more than they can ignore President Obama’s strong and unyielding support for the security of the Jewish state.

Republicans can’t hide the votes of their vice presidential nominee.