Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan is often praised as being a mainstream and serious leader.
But the centerpiece of Ryan’s ideology — his budget plan that hands over seniors’ health care to insurance companies that we’ve dubbed “Medicare for None” — is anything but moderate.
A July 2011 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that just 35 percent of American adults supported Ryan’s plan (even 54 percent of self-described conservative voters disapproved).
Let’s put that into perspective by looking at some progressive policies that have much more support. Take, for example, marijuana legalization. Although the issue is often portrayed as fringe in the mainstream media, an October 2011 poll found that half of Americans support legalizing the use of marijuana. You’d have to go back to 2003 to find the cause to be as unpopular as Ryan’s budget plan is today.
Here are a few other progressive policies that are much more popular than Ryan’s proposal:
- Medicare for All: Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it by eliminating its guaranteed benefit and handing it over to the insurance companies. But Americans actually really like this single-payer health care system for the elderly and want to expand it to everyone. In 2007, the Associated Press and Yahoo asked Americans if we should “adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.” 65 percent of Americans agreed that we should. Majorities of Americans have continued to support the idea since then.
- Marriage Equality: Romney and Ryan oppose marriage equality, but Americans back it. A June 2012 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 54 percent of Americans want the government to recognize gay and lesbian marriages as valid.
- Public Financing of Campaigns: The Romney-Ryan ticket loves money in politics, with the former Massachusetts governor vocally supporting the Citizens United decision. But Americans have had enough. Bipartisan polling conducted in 2009 found that two-third of voters support some form of public financing that would let candidates for office bypass the need of fundraising with Big Money interests — including 64 percent of Republicans.
In the coming days, Romney and Ryan will continue to portray their “Medicare for None” budget plan as mainstream and moderate, but the numbers don’t lie. Their plan exists on the far-right of the American political spectrum.
The broad support for progressive priorities like marriage equality and Medicare for All is telling. America is a progressive nation, and Americans don’t want to see a shredding of social insurance and the safety net that the Romney-Ryan ticket is proposing. Whether America gets what it wants is up to the smart and persistent organizing of bold progressives all over the country.