Ryan: Not Great News From A Transportation Perspective, But....

MLewyn's picture

The Transport Politic blog has a post on Paul Ryan's anti-transit voting record, and concludes that "we should be clear about what direction the United States may head after November’s election." I disagree, for two reasons.

First of all, the post says "We can only assume that Mitt Romney’s decision to share the platform with Mr. Ryan implies an endorsement of the latter’s view."  It seems to me that in most Administrations, the Vice President's job is not to be the chief policymaker; the Vice President's job is to get votes for the ticket and (after the election) to stand around waiting for the President to die. 

This is especially true when, as in 2008 and 2012, the Republican nominee is perceived to be to the left of his party's mainstream.  To unify his party, he will naturally seek to balance his ticket. (Conversely, in 1980 conservative Ronald Reagan balanced the ticket with the more moderate George Bush- but Bush wound up changing his public views to fit Reagan's rather than vice versa).  Given this pattern, Ryan's views were an asset to Romney insofar as they will help unify the Republican Party behind Romney, and not as a predictor of Romney's Presidency.  

Second, the post assumes that the President is actually relevant to transportation policy.  But the pro-transit Obama Administration has been accompanied by a plague of transit cutbacks nationally, and by stagnant federal transportation spending.  Why? Because Congress has the power of the purse, and (especially if one or both chambers is controlled by the opposition party) doesn't give much deference to the President's budget. 

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