BANGOR — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate drew predictable reactions in Maine that ran along party lines.
To Republicans, Romney’s vice presidential choice was seen as a needed bridge between weathered Republican values and the ultra-conservative, Tea Party faction of the party that has gained increasing momentum in recent years. Democrats characterized Ryan and his ideals as a potentially disastrous formula that will shift more burdens onto middle-class taxpayers and those who rely on social services like Medicare.
Romney’s announcement was seen largely as an attempt to put government spending and the country’s multitrillion-dollar deficit in the limelight of the campaign against President Barack Obama. Seven-term Wisconsin Rep. Ryan, who chairs the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee, is perhaps best known as the architect of the January 2010 Ryan Plan, which would reform the country’s tax code and minimize federal spending largely through an overhaul of Medicare.
Republican Olympia Snowe, Maine’s senior senator who will step down after the November election, said Romney’s choice proves that the former Massachusetts governor is serious about deficit reduction and economic growth.
“It is vital that we have a national conversation on the necessity of getting America’s fiscal house in order given our skyrocketing and historic levels of deficits and debt,” said Snowe in a press release. “Governor Romney’s decision underscores his commitment to policies that are critical to establishing an environment for expanding our economy and creating jobs … Our nation is at a tipping point and we cannot afford the status quo course of more spending and an ever-expanding government, while families and individuals haven’t experienced any positive effect in their own lives. That’s what this election is all about, and that is the choice Americans will face on Election Day.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who put out a press release despite Saturday being her wedding day, agreed, despite the fact that she has not always agreed with Ryan.
“Paul Ryan has extraordinary knowledge of the federal budget and deficit, which is important to tackling the $16 trillion debt burdening our country’s economy and taxpayers,” said Collins. “While I did not support Congressman Ryan’s budget proposals, I gave him enormous credit for taking on this significant issue, something the president regrettably has failed to do.”
Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat who represents the northern portion of Maine, said in a press release that he respects Ryan but not his budget proposals.
“I just don’t see how turning Medicare into a voucher program is a good thing for Maine seniors and future retirees,” said Michaud. “I also don’t see how passing more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires will improve the lives of middle-class families or help small businesses. Our country already tried this approach over the last decade and it hasn’t worked. All it’s done is given us giant deficits year after year.”
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant brutalized Ryan in a press release, calling his budget plan “one of the most extreme, anti-middle class budget plans in our nation’s history.” He also said the choice shows that Romney is “out of touch” with most American families.
“A Romney-Ryan ticket would mean the end of Medicare as we know it, huge tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and more of a burden on middle-class seniors and families. Romney sent a message to Americans today: if you don’t have a big bank account and millions of dollars, he doesn’t want your vote.”
Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster said the opposite and called Ryan a “great choice.”
“He is a very bright young star in the Republican Party with fresh ideas and an ability to communicate our ideals like few others can,” said Webster in a press release. “Together, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are America’s best hope for more jobs, less welfare and a strong future for working people.”