Friday, October 12, 2012

The VP debate: part I

1. Abortion

During the Vice-Presidential debate on Thursday, the candidates were asked about how their religious beliefs affected their views on abortion (both Biden and Ryan are Catholics). Ryan said the following:

REP. RYAN: I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.

 This is exactly the opposite of what John F. Kennedy said in response to the same question. Biden, like Kennedy, said that he wouldn't impose his religious views on other Americans.

Ryan also went on to say: The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

While such an administration most-likely couldn't pass any sweeping anti-abortion laws, it is likely that it would have at least one Supreme Court nomination during its first term. Since Roe v. Wade is hanging by a one vote thread in the Court, this would almost guarantee its overturn.

Incidentally, Ryan has always opposed abortions in all cases -- even for rape and incest (I'm not about saving the life of the mother). Among most anti-abortion people, this is a radical position -- so much so that, at least for the moment, Ryan is suppressing his true feeling on the issue in order not to damage the ticket. Ryan, following official Catholic doctrine, also opposes contraception, a position he also dares not air too publicly. Since, as he says, he can't separate his faith from politics, we can assume that he will actively work to limit the availability of contraception.

But he is such a cute fellow, isn't he? Kind of elfish...

Of course, Ryan's adherence to Church teachings doesn't extend to other facets of morality. As I pointed our previously,  the Ryan budget, which is the official document of the Republican Party on matters economic, is so grossly anti-poor that even the quite conservative Conference of Catholic Bishops declared it immoral. Like so many abortion ayatollahs, Ryan believes that life begins at conception and ends at birth (in the words of Barney Frank).

2. The Romney Tax Plan

Both Romney and Ryan claim that their tax plan, which includes re-upping  the Bush Tax Cuts when they expire, as well as elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax, elimination of the Inheritance or Estate Tax, and "across the board" 20% cuts in income-tax rates, would not lead to deficits. The Democrats have claimed that, on the contrary, they would produce, on face value, a $5 trillion dollar deficit over 5 years. Part of this discrepancy results from a poor agreement on what each side is talking about. The Democratic figure is taking the budget cuts alone, while the Republicans claim that they will counter them with closing of various loopholes, eliminating certain deductions, and, of course, spending cuts. The Democrats -- and most economists -- claim that these countermeasures would at most partially offset the cuts, and that severe deficits would still result. The Republicans claim 6 (count them: six) studies show otherwise. Some of these so-called "studies" have been debunked as simply blogs and not real studies. You can read a summary of the Six Studies debunking in a recent article by Josh Barro in Bloomberg News. (Barro is himself a blogger and not an economist, but he does summarize the debunking material pretty well. I'm waiting for Paul Krugman to take up the Six Studies.) Pretty much every defense of Romney's plan, however, makes the assumption that these lower taxes will so stimulate the economy that deficits will vanish like fairy dust. Of course, the Bush Tax Cuts and the rest of conservative dogma led to a very weak recovery in 2003, and, to put it mildly, didn't do so well when the economy went south in 2008...

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