Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney) Versus the Nuns

Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney) Versus the Nuns

Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney) Versus the Nuns

The Republicans are traveling the country to pitch their austerity schemes. But a busload of nuns are calling them out.

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Paul Ryan has made it clear enough that he’s interested in joining Mitt Romney’s 2012 Republican ticket.

Of course, Ryan says only that he would “consider” the vice presidency.

But those who are schooled in the language of career politicians know that “I’d consider it” translates as “I’d like you to consider me.”

And the consideration will be fully in play on Monday, when Romney rolls his battleground-state bus tour into Ryan’s hometown of Janesville.

Ryan has become something of a defining figure for the bus tour, using media appearances to scope out its theme. In a bombastic statement circulated not by Ryan himself but by the Romney campaign, Ryan says, “On Day One, because we need a new president, Mitt Romney will fix this.”

Among other things, Ryan says Romney will “announce a 5 percent spending cut on government agency budgets to begin the process of deficit reduction.”

If evidence from the rest of the world is to be believed—especially European countries, which have experimented with these sorts of austerity schemes—that “Day One” move will stall out whatever economic recovery is in play. And if Romney and Ryan implement Ryan’s proposed assault on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the prospects for a full-on recession will spike.

None of this will be a problem for Romney and Ryan, who enjoy the privileges of the 1 percent. But it will spell even harder times for working Americans and our nation’s poor.

So it is that, on the day after Romney and Ryan visit Janesville, Catholic nuns will come to town as part of a national “Nuns on the Bus” tour organized to highlight efforts to ease the conditions of low-income Americans. Ryan has tried to suggest that his proposals are in keeping with Catholic social-justice teaching; the nuns do not agree.

“As Catholic sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan,” say the organizers of the trek, which is sponsored by NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. “We do so because it harms people who are already suffering.”

The visits by Romney, Ryan and the nuns to Janesville highlight the stark choices that the presidential election will present to America’s voters. It is not simply a matter of choosing between Republicans and Democrats, or even conservatives and liberals. It is, as the “Nuns on the Bus” suggest, between “further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families” and “confronting injustice and systems that cause suffering.”

Ryan and the nuns, so clearly at odds over social-justice theory, are framing the 2012 contest with a clarity that is as rare as the wealth gap is daunting.

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