Lost in the media obsession with what their children's-book narrative of the day is, and the reality-TV-like mania surrounding the "debates," are two critical realities, highlighted recently by New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, and the Washington Post's Katrina van den Heuvel, formerly editor of The Nation
Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.
Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.
Among the other items, this is what the Obama campaign has referred to as "the end of Medicare as we know it."
In How Romney's extremist policies insult us all van den Heuvel writes:
Jolted with a fresh shot of post-debate energy, Romney is just doing more of what he’s always done — whatever it takes to get elected. This comes naturally because he is, fundamentally, a cipher. The only thing he believes is whatever is politically expedient in that given moment. And right now, he needs to be a hard-liner to get the GOP base to the polls — and a moderate to appeal to those last few independent voters.
His solution is to sign on to the fanatical policies of the extreme right, and then duck and cover to confuse independents about where he really stands.
This, she says, is insulting.
But what Romney can't make disappear, she continues, is Ryan's extreme views on women's health.
Paul Ryan co-sponsored “personhood” legislation, which would grant a fertilized egg more rights than women. He opposed abortion with no exceptions. He worked with Missouri Senate candidate and biology-class dropout Todd Akin on a bill to redefine rape. His infamous budget would eliminate funding for family planning and gut programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, that disproportionately affect women.
His views are such a warping of Catholic teachings about compassion, justice, and the common good, van den Heuvel notes, that a bus full of nun's are following Ryan around the campaign trail to denounce them.
During the vice-presidential debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Ryan if advocates of legal abortion should fear a Romney/Ryan administration. Ryan answered:
"We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination."
The hidden meaning, van den Heuvel asserts:
A Romney-Ryan administration would stack the court with right-wing ideologues and overturn Roe v. Wade so that a bunch of male legislators, some of whom couldn’t tell a foot from a fallopian tube, can make decisions about women’s bodies.
So when you hear this year's election described as a choice, these two issues where the choice couldn't be starker.