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Is Ryan Good for the Jews? Make that ‘Are the Jews Good for Ryan’


Chassidic Consultant Ezra Friedlander Meets with Paul Ryan.

Chassidic Consultant Ezra Friedlander Meets with Paul Ryan.
Photo Credit: Gestetner

The selection of Paul Ryan, with his proposals for a trimmed-down federal budget, may not bode well for the Republican ticket among Jewish voters, wrote Josh Nathan-Kazis in the Forward.

He pointed to Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, in the heart of Jewish South Florida, which he says could be a key neighborhood in the presidential race.

But one early attack in a congressional race in a heavily Jewish Florida district suggests that Democrats will use Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security to bolster Democratic support among Jewish voters.

Lois Frankel, the Democrat running for the 22′s congressional seat, sent a press release just hours after Ryan’s appointment to be Romney’s running mate, tying her presumptive Republican opponent to Ryan’s proposed entitlement cuts.

Florida is the largest of the swing states, says Nathan-Kazis, and its Jewish voters will have a huge impact on the presidential election.

Jonathan S. Tobin is not convinced. Democrats shouldn’t count on the Jews flocking to Obama so easily.

First, he argues, the Jewish voters who fear changes in Mediscare are voting for Obama regardless of Mitt’s pick. On the other hand, those American Jews who consider Israel’s security a major agenda in casting their votes will not favor Obama. “Voters who believe the president will sell out Israel are not the most receptive audience for a Democratic campaign based on the idea that Romney and Ryan will sell out the elderly,” Tobin writes.

“The issue was not whether Obama could hold onto more than 50 percent of Jewish votes, but how much of the 78 percent he got in 2008 would he be able to retain,” he points out. “The most optimistic estimates of the Democrat vote will keep him in the mid-60s, with his share of Jewish ballots in Florida probably being even lower.”

Ronn Torossian of Rightwingnews.com points out that Ryan has co-sponsored pro-Israel legislation, and has been very outspoken against Hamas.

He cites from Ryan’s website: “I believe at least one thing is clear: we cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism. Hamas, which is one of the two major Palestinian political factions, is an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr.’”

Torossian also frames the Obama vs. Romney race as being one of secular vs. religious values: “The biggest response from the crowd today during his speech came when he said: ‘Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.’”

Interestingly, the NJDC is framing the competition similarly, except that the values it points to are not so much secular vs. religious, but the more vague non-Jewish vs. Jewish.

Their press release, titled “NJDC on Ryan Pick: Clearest Proof Yet Romney Does Not Reflect Jewish Community Values” reads:

“Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan to serve as his vice presidential candidate is the clearest indication yet that Romney does not reflect the values of most American Jews. Ryan’s signature budget plan drew the profound concern and even ire of many in the American Jewish community because of its plans to end Medicare as we know it, slash vital social safety net programs, and increase the burden on seniors, the middle class, and the poor—yet Romney today proudly hitched his horse to Ryan’s dangerous plan. This alarming partnership between Romney and Ryan will further reinforce the reasons why such a significant majority of American Jews will be voting to reelect President Barack Obama this November.”

You’ll notice the absence of any reference to Israel, Iran, Palestinians and other characters in the other story which is of interest to U.S. Jews.

The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake made no bones about Ryan’s staunch politics regarding the rest of the world, in his report “Defense Hawks, Rejoice—Paul Ryan’s Your Man!

“The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon, said he was ‘very happy’ with the Ryan pick. McKeon said he has worked closely with Ryan to come up with ways to at least put off what is known as the sequestration cuts, and he praised the Wisconsin lawmaker for his overall philosophy in defense. ‘He understands the Reagan principle of having a strong defense and the Eisenhower principle of having a big enough military that no one would ever think about attacking you,’ McKeon told The Daily Beast.”

Except that, with his reputation as budget slasher, it’s difficult to envision Ryan embarking on making America’s military even bigger. Or, maybe, once in office, Ryan will trade the Congressional Republican view on curbing costs for the Dick Cheney school of the Imperial Presidency and start borrowing till it hurts.

If you ask me, after all the above quotes are copied and pasted, the Romney appointment of Paul Ryan is still a sign of weakness. Normally, a Republican candidate would want to appoint a VP that’s a bit to the left of him, to attract the independent voters at the center. The fact that Romeny chose to appoint someone to his right, politically, suggests that his own pollsters have been telling him that the home base is less than enthusiastic about the Mormon former governor of Massachusetts.

The fact that Romney picked a Catholic for the VP slot could mean either that the evangelicals no longer fear and loath Catholics (fat chance), or that Barack Obama gets four more years at his current residence.

And that, finally, is not very good for the Jews.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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6 Responses to “Is Ryan Good for the Jews? Make that ‘Are the Jews Good for Ryan’”

  1. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    It all depends on which Jews one is considering. If we're speaking about the CEO who owns a Lear Jet, probably. If we're speaking about the average American Jew, who eats meat only once a week because his salary/retirement isn't keeping up with the prices, then no, that one isn't good for Romney-Ryan, nor are Romney-Ryan good for him and chances are he'll vote Obama in order to survive and keep a roof above his head.

  2. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Obama and the Democrats are trying to turn Ryan's Medicare plans into a boogeyman it's not. Current and soon-to-be senior citizens aren't affected by any changes.

    People would have the CHOICE of insurance plans, not locking them into Medicare.

    Jewish Voters should not be afraid of Ryan. In fact, if the Forward is so against him, all the more indicator that there's something right there.

    Here are the highlights:

    For seniors who are now in Medicare, nothing changes. They can stay with the traditional program as it is.

    Beginning in 2023, 65-year-olds would have their choice of insurance plans — private and traditional — on a new Medicare exchange. A premium-support payment, like a subsidy, would be sent to the plan of their choice.

    If the chosen plan costs more than the premium-support, the senior would pay the difference.

    The Medicare eligibility age would be slowly raised to 67 by 2034.

    All plans on the Medicare exchange would offer a base level of benefits, and they would be regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  3. Why are food prices so High? Because Obama and his Eco buddies insisted on Ethanol and that comes mostly from corn. The roof over their heads is in danger because our president can't seem to do anything about the economy except blame Bush and write more
    rubber checks which will come back to haunt us all, long after Mr. Millionaire Obama is retired to his thug palace in Chicago next to Re, Wright, Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko!

  4. There are many of us who care very much about Israel but realize that no nation can "count" on America because our regime changes every four to eight years. Israel MUST be prepared to stand on its own.

    Ryan's budget will kill seniors in America including those of us who are already on medicare because his plan is to withhold increasing amounts of the government subsidy that keeps prices in line. I already pay more than 1/3 of my income for health insurance and medical expenses and I'm not real sick or real old. You cut the government subsidy to medicare and charge me more and I die from that–sooner or later.

    Ryan is a Libertarian and they don't have a philosophy that bodes well for a society. They are a softer form of anarchist in a fashion. Romney is aligning himself with them by putting Ryan a heartbeat away from the office of President. And besides that, I don't trust Romney or Ryan with Israel's welfare. I don't trust their sincerety over any topic.

    I wish one of the two parties had given us a better choice but between the two choices that I'm given, I must hold my nose and vote for Obama because my own survival is threatened as well as the future of the younger members of my family and friends.

  5. Evangelicals no longer fear and loath Catholics on this one, because both the evangelicals and the Catholics are unhappy with Obama's stance on same sex marriage. In addition, the Catholics are unhappy with the government mandate on contraception which is blatantly unconstitutional.

  6. Anonymous says:

    With close to 12 million people unemployed, another few million underemployed, college graduates, many with PH.d's looking for jobs, and a growing immigrant population that votes, it isn't hard to see how Mittins choice may cost him the election. Again the GOP has mistakenly chosen the wrong running mate. Ryan may have empowered/excited his GOP base, but he also may have distanced those on the fence who have everything to lose from a Ryan policy. Medicare and SSI cuts are just a sneaky way of raising the taxes on the working class.

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