Ryan takes center stage
VP candidate accepts party nomination; MSU, Michigan react
TAMPA, Fla. — Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan wants one message to be loud and clear: He and Mitt Romney have a plan for the future of the United States.
“I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready,” Ryan said. “Our nominee is sure ready.”
On Tuesday evening, Ryan officially was declared the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee and Wednesday, addressed television viewers and attendees at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Earlier in the week, RNC officials installed a giant “debt clock” depicting the amount of total federal debt, which hangs in the Tampa Bay Times Forum and is projected to tick its way to $16 trillion by the end of the convention.
As the numbers climb higher and higher with each passing day of the RNC, many Republican politicians consistently have urged the importance of eliminating this debt during their time to speak at the podium. MSU students and academics also are watching Ryan’s fiscal policies closely.
Throughout Ryan’s campaign, several of his stances on various issues have managed to stir up controversy in the political community, including his views on eliminating the U.S. fiscal crisis and transforming Medicare entitlements into vouchers.
For students at MSU and elsewhere, Ryan’s proposal to eliminate Pell Grants, which fund many students’ tuition, could take the largest toll.
Ryan’s budgets have faced scrutiny and public attention for years, and are facing even more now because of his place on the Republican Party ticket.
According to Education Trust, a nonpartisan national education organization, Ryan’s proposed budget will cut the Pell Grant program by $170 billion during next 10 years, leading to more than 1 million students losing their Pell Grant funding entirely.
Political theory and constitutional democracy senior Nick Kowalski, who is attending the RNC, said despite Ryan’s plans to cut Pell Grants, he believes the fact that the U.S. faces a fiscal crisis is an obvious sign the nation is in economic trouble and all budgetary matters should be fair game for review.
“Four-year college education for a traditional degree … costs too much,” Kowalski said. “Cost has been inflated for years now and will only continue to rise.”
Kowalski said because of student loan policies, schools such as MSU continue to raise rates and students are left to foot the bill, which Kowalski considers to be “highway robbery.”
He said the system ought to be reformed and the Ryan budget is taking steps to do just that.
But during his speech Wednesday evening, Ryan made sure to address a concern of many college students — employment after graduation.
“Millions of young Americans have graduated college in the Obama presidency … half of them can’t find the work they studied for or any work at all,” Ryan said. “So, here’s the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?”
Under a fiscal budget proposed by Ryan, who serves as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, federal debt would drop from its 2011 rate of 68 percent of gross domestic product, which is the market value of goods and services in the U.S., to 53 percent by 2030 and drop again to 10 percent by 2050, according to Congressional Budget Office documentation.
“In this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time,” Ryan said during his speech.
However, the concern of insurmountable amount of federal debt isn’t shared just amongst Republicans, MSU economics professor Charles Ballard said.
Both parties share the same concern for a balanced economy, but disagree on the overall solution.
For Ryan, the answer to the economic crisis lies in several areas of the federal budget.
However, Ballard said the Republican’s plans to balance the budget won’t be fruitful until decades after the potential vice president is out of office.
“There’s a lot more lip service cutting the debt than actual policy,” Ballard said. “The Ryan plan will not balance the budget until 2040 because its top priority is lowering taxes.”
Michigan delegate Norm Shinkle said he had known Ryan for his budget expertise long before Romney put him on the ticket because of the congressman’s energetic attempts to balance the federal budget — something he believes Republicans are talking about, but Democrats aren’t.
Another aspect of the Ryan budget proposal under public scrutiny includes the congressman’s take on Medicare, a national insurance program.
Under his proposal, Medicare no longer will be treated as an entitlement but recipients will use vouchers.
Ballard said while doctors who treat individuals with Medicare usually are reimbursed by the government, Medicare users now will be given vouchers with a certain amount of money to use toward any medical procedures or treatments.
Part of Ryan’s passion for controlling health care comes from his disapproval of incumbent President Barack Obama’s current system.
But Ryan said during his speech that he and his running mate would be sure to adhere to American’s medical needs.
“Medicare is a promise and we will honor it,” he said.
Ballard said many are concerned the changes in Medicare policy will lead to substantial gaps in health care coverage, because some medical treatments might cost more than the voucher covers.
“Critics of the plan believe the amount of the voucher will not be sufficient to buy as much insurance as Medicare currently provides,” he said.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, other critiques of the voucher plan and Medicare cuts include senior citizens’ limited access to health care and a reduction of investment in the latest high-cost medical technologies.
However, Shinkle said he felt Ryan’s plans for the health care system are right for the U.S.
“The Medicare system will be bankrupt in a few years,” Shinkle said. “We have to make Medicare work for people now.”
As for Ryan’s overall outlook on the future of the U.S., Kowalski said he can’t help but support the congressman.
“The Paul Ryan budget plans the road map for recovery,” he said.