As another millionaire joins the GOP presidential ticket; it’s obvious Romney wanted to pick someone he could relate to, and who better than a $350/bottle wine drinking, big oil connected, Republican slayer of the little people.
To me, the most important fact to know about Paul Ryan is this:
He was one of a dozen Conservatives who met on the night of President Obama’s inauguration and planned, in no uncertain terms, to prevent the government from functioning. That fact alone should be reason enough to reject Paul Ryan as a Congressman, let alone a Vice President.
That being said, here’s a look at the guy Mitt Romney tapped to run with him. Ezra Klein wrote in April:
“As Ryan argued in his October speech, the government does have a role in encouraging social mobility: It helps close the gap between the children of the poor and the children of the rich. Food stamps and other food-assistance programs help with nutrition. Public education and Pell grants help with skills. Medicaid — which covers more than 25 million children — helps with access to health care.”
And yet, Paul Ryan’s signature piece of work as a congressman is a proposed budget that will damage the middle class, devastate the poor, and gift the wealthy with tax breaks even George W. Bush never dreamed of; ultimately creating a nation of princes and paupers. So how did Paul Ryan become the voice of fiscal policy for the GOP…
Ryan had been in Congress since 1999 when, according to a recent New Yorker article:
“…after the 2006 elections, Ryan …won the top Republican spot on the Budget Committee…It was his job to draft an alternative to the new Democratic majority’s budget. Even for the smaller, more conservative G.O.P. caucus of 2007, Ryan’s draft was so extreme that forty out of two hundred and two Republicans voted against it.”
Ryan reworked the budget, and in 2008 presented what would eventually be known as “the Ryan Plan”, which is now on its 5th version:
- May 21, 2008, Ryan introduced H.R. 6110, The Path to Prosperity: Roadmap for America’s Future
- 2009, Ryan introduced his alternative to the 2010 United States federal budget
- January 27, 2010, Ryan released a modified version of his Roadmap, H.R. 4529: Roadmap for America’s Future Act of 2010
- April 11, 2011, Ryan introduced H.Con.Res. 34, a federal budget for the fiscal year 2012
- March 23, 2012 Ryan introduced a new version of his federal budget for the fiscal year 2013.
Republicans championed Ryan and his “bold thinking”; at the same time, the more budget details that came out, the less voters liked it. In his home state of Wisconsin, the outcry caused him to switch to pay-to-play town hall meetings in 2011. As the Huffington Post noted:
“During the summer of 2009, Ryan hosted some 17 town halls. Admission to Ryan’s one town-hall style event in his district this summer will cost $15…”
On top of that, paid attendees who spoke out at his town halls were removed, and in some cases arrested. In one incident, retired plumber Tom Nielsen from Kenosha, Wisconsin,
“stood up during Paul’s speech and began to angrily question Paul’s position on Medicare, social security and unemployment benefits. The 71-year old was quickly apprehended by security and led to another room where he was forced onto the ground and handcuffed. Neilsen was charged with resisting arrest in addition to the trespassing charges.
Paul, unconcerned and uninterested, made light of the situation mocking the protester, “I hope he’s taking his blood pressure medication,” to which the audience replied with laughter.”
Police were called to deal with protesters at his Wisconsin office as well.
“Staffers…called police on Thursday evening to disperse unemployed protesters staging a sit-in at his Kenosha, Wis., office, according to the protesters and police. Two protesters told HuffPost they’re unhappy with Ryan’s proposals to gut social programs and also his new policy of not holding free public meetings with constituents during the congressional recess.”
The so-called “Path to Prosperity” by most accounts is simultaneously pie-in-the-sky economics, and a work of financial fantasy.
A 2011 Esquire article explained Ryan’s budget this way:
“…this week, as he rolled out his lunatic conception of a federal budget, Paul Ryan produced the definitive statement of his political philosophy: There are those Americans who deserve to live and those Americans who don’t. Period. All of the former are very, very wealthy. All of the latter are poor, or struggling, or old.”
Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic summed Ryan’s budget up this way:
“Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.
Ryan’s budget was formulated with the advice and approval of the Heritage Foundation, a “think tank” who’s stated mission
“…is to formulate and promote conservative public policies.”
As Tina Dupuy pointed out in an article for the Atlantic,
“No surprise, the Foundation approved of Ryan’s “bold” and “brave” plan to cut taxes further for the wealthy (by a whopping 10 percent) and increase the burden on the rest of the populace…
“…[the] last three pages of Ryan’s The Path: Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution, published by the House Budget Committee are, in essence, this very analysis provided by the Heritage Foundation — complete with a link to the Foundation’s report.”
(The Heritage Foundation is funded in part by none other than Koch Industries)
So what kind of cuts are in Ryan’s budget:
- “…reducing total Pell grants by about $170 billion over the next decade; allow the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford loans to double; end student loan interest subsidies for those still in school; and make Pell spending discretionary — instead of mandatory — allowing further cuts down the line.”(Huffington Post)
- “Over the next 10 years, Ryan’s plan would shave $205 billion in Medicare spending. Then more savings would roll in as the Medicare eligibility age gradually climbed from 65 to 67. Ryan hopes to save another $810 billion in federal spending on Medicaid over the next decade.”(The Week)
- “…entitlement programs, including welfare, food stamps, agricultural subsidies ($30 billion), and transportation, would come under the chopping block. Together, they’d account for $2 trillion in spending cuts.”(The Week)
- “…spending 13 percent less on veterans, 6 percent less on science, space, and technology, and 25 percent less on transportation projects, such as upgrading roads and bridges.”(The Week)
But, it’s not all about cuts:
“Ryan’s budget would increase defense spending over what Obama has proposed, pushing spending in 2013 from $546 billion to $554 billion, and shield the Pentagon from $500 billion in cuts triggered when the congressional super committee failed to reach a deficit reduction deal last year.” (The Week)
Don’t forget those beloved GOP tax cuts; according to the Huffington Post:
Citizens for Tax Justice has an analysis showing that 90 percent of Americans will see their taxes go up under the Ryan budget, because the tax breaks his bill calls for actually total more than $4.1 trillion. The bottom 80 percent would pay $1,700 more in taxes under Ryan’s plan, while the top 1 percent (those making more than $460,000 dollars per year) would pay more than $211,000 less on average. As the folks at CTJ say, “It is difficult to design a tax plan that will lose $2 trillion over a decade while requiring 90% of taxpayers to pay more. But Congressman Ryan has met that daunting challenge.”
For all of the glowing reviews by Conservatives over the Ryan budget plan, one glaring fact has eluded them; according to The Hill:
“Ryan’s blueprint, “The Path to Prosperity,” would add $3.127 trillion to the deficit during the decade spanning 2013 to 2022…
In other words, Congress would save more money over the next decade if it allowed current law to continue than if it adopted Ryan’s budget.”
Paul Ryan is nothing new for Washington; he simply inserted a blasting cap where Republicans had been using a pick-axe; together he and Romney could accomplish what Conservatives have been trying to do for decades: wipe out the middle class.
As the AP reported:
During the Republican primary, Romney had called Ryan’s budget a “bold and exciting effort” that was “very much needed.”
Think Progress reminds voters, “Mitt Romney has been a full-throttle endorser of the Ryan budget on several occasions since its launch.” Right now though, Romney is attempting to distance himself from the Ryan budget, his campaign putting out this statement:
“Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.”
So voters are supposed to trust Romney and wait until after he’s elected for his budget details; the guy’s been running for 6 years already, and he hasn’t even got the outline of a plan? Of course he does, and he just made it clear, by way of his running mate: