Early on Saturday morning, it was reported that Mitt Romney had selected Congressman Paul Ryan for his running mate. The 42 year old Congressman from Wisconsin has distinguished himself in the past two years for his efforts to pass a federal budget that would overhaul Medicare and replace the current program with a voucher program and would repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
While the selection of Paul Ryan is most likely intended to solidify Romney’s conservative positioning especially considering that Romney created the template for “Obamacare” while serving as Governor of Massachusetts, this veep pick is probably not going to help Romney attract voters of color. Back in March, Politic365 published a piece explaining how the Ryan budget would affect African Americans and Latinos. Essentially Ryan proposed slashing programs that many in these communities rely on. But let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why Latino and Black voters will likely not warm up to Representative Ryan’s addition to the ticket.
1. Ryan’s Medicare plan proposed increasing the age of eligibility and proposed turning the current program into a voucher-like system where premium support payments to enrollees would then be paid to private insurers. Low-income Latino and Black seniors tend to pay more for health care than Whites in private fee for service plans. Medicare has played a key role in expanding access to care for Latinos and Blacks.
2. Ryan proposed overhauling the food stamp and housing assistance programs into block grants to be distributed to the states. One out of every seven Americans is fed through the food stamp program. While Black and Latino communities are emerging from the struggling economy, having the option of using food and housing assistance has made a difference for families trying to get back on their feet.
3. Middle class taxes will probably go up, while taxes on the rich go down under Paul Ryan’s tax plan. Fewer Blacks and Latinos are represented in the wealthiest income brackets, so for the vast majority in these communities, they can look forward to that tax increase.
4. Ryan has promoted repealing the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is popular in African American and Latino communities because it is expanding care to more people. When Mitt Romney suggested repealing the Affordable Care Act in front of the NAACP, he was greeting with boos. Polling has shown that Latinos are largely supportive of health care reform.
5. Ryan supports building a wall along the U.S. – Mexican border. He also has defended Romney’s immigration positions, which have been characterized as extreme as stated in the primaries. The Latino community has been looking for nuance and more flexibility on the immigration issue, and this is one area where Romney could have distinguished himself with a more moderate VP pick, but he didn’t. Also, back in 2011, Rep. Ryan decried “anchor babies” in a townhall meeting. This kind of rhetoric won’t foster feelings of warmth from the large majority of Latino voters who want to see more humane immigration solutions.