Paul Ryan's Quest To Destroy Medicare And Social Security Is Coming To A Head
Buzz is heating up again that Romney's hail Mary pass in his failing presidential campaign may be to pick Ayn Rand fanatic Paul Ryan as his running mate. Right wing propagandist Byron York reminds GOP zombies that "The heart of Ryan’s plan-- controlling the terrifying growth of federal spending by transforming Medicare-- isn’t at the heart of Romney’s agenda."
Romney doesn’t emphasize overhauling Medicare in his stump speech, either. Creating jobs, getting the economy moving again-- those are the points he hits over and over and over. Yes, Romney talks about bringing federal spending under control. But Ryan-like plans to curb entitlement spending? That’s just not something Romney emphasizes.
That would likely change if Romney picks Ryan. Should that happen, the Ryan plan would immediately become a far bigger part of the Romney campaign that it is now-- it would, in fact, move to the top of the Romney agenda.
That’s something that unnerves a number of Republicans. They respect Ryan and the work he has done, but they worry that putting him on the presidential ticket would brand the Republican party as the party of austerity at a time when more voters are more concerned about job creation than budget cutting.
Of course, Democrats are going to bash Romney on spending cuts and Medicare reform regardless of what he does. Since that is inevitable, say Ryan supporters, why not put the plan’s most articulate defender, Paul Ryan himself, on the ticket? One reason would be that Mitt Romney has shown no inclination to make the Ryan plan the centerpiece of his campaign. Perhaps that’s what he’s planning-- perhaps he planned all along to run on jobs until mid-August, only to pivot to entitlement reform for the rest of the campaign. But that’s not likely.
Probably not but... all those Republican "jobs" plans do virtually nothing about creating jobs. That's not just my opinion; that's what most economists say.
For almost a year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have plugged their jobs package at every opportunity. They regularly bring it up at press events, during floor speeches and in statements in response to just about anything related to the economy. Boehner even carries around in his jacket pocket a 4-by-8-inch card that lists off their jobs bills, and he encourages his members to flash their cards at campaign events.
...The GOP jobs package, which currently includes 32 bills, represents Republicans' hallmark legislative accomplishment over the past two years. In the months ahead of the election, they will lean on it as proof of two things: that they are not the do-nothing obstructionists that Democrats paint them as, and that they are working hard to address the 8.2 percent unemployment rate.
But there's a problem with their jobs bills: They don't create jobs. At least, they won't any time soon.
In interviews conducted by The Huffington Post with five economists, most said the GOP jobs package would have no meaningful impact on job creation in the near term. Some said it was not likely to do much in the long term, either.
"A lot of these things are laughable in terms of a jobs plan that would produce noticeable improvements across the country in the availability of employment in the next four or five years," said Gary Burtless, a senior economist at Brookings. "Even in the long run, if they have any effect all, it would be extremely marginal, relative to the jobs deficit we currently have."
Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, agreed that the bills would have almost no effect on job creation in the short term, though he was slightly more optimistic about their long-term prospects.
"These kind of changes will matter over a period of three to five years," Zandi said. "It takes that long before businesses can digest changes and respond to them."
He noted, though, that legislation as narrowly targeted as the Republican package is unlikely to do much for real job creation.
"For it to show up in a meaningful way in the natural economy, you can make specific changes that could affect a specific industry or a few companies, but it's not going to make a big difference in terms of the monthly job numbers," Zandi said. "It takes some very significant changes across lots of different industries to really make a big difference."
Carl Riccadonna, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said some of the bills could create jobs, but that they would amount to more of an afterthought in terms of achieving broader policy goals.
"They are very narrowly targeted, and it gives the impression that maybe some of this is special interest really pursuing these, not really taking a macro view but a very, very micro focus in what the impact would be," Riccadonna said. For most of the bills in the package, "jobs are a second- or third-order effect, not the main priority."
At the heart of the GOP jobs package is a push for rolling back regulations-- and gutting environmental laws that regulate clean air and water-- to spur job growth. The House Republican Conference website makes the argument that deregulation will "remove onerous federal regulations that are redundant, harmful to small businesses, and impede private sector investment and job creation."
But economists told the Huffington Post that regulation has had a minimal impact on the unemployment rate. Their claim is backed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that just under 16,000 jobs, or 0.4 percent, were lost because of "government regulations/intervention."
...Ultimately, each economist was clear on one point: The GOP package is far more political than practical.
"It's game playing to try to pretend like they're doing something," said Jesse Rothstein, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's silly season, and so they know they have to put up something that has the label 'job creation' on it, whether or not it would work."
Over the weekend I listened to the National Venture Capital Association trying to disassociate themselves from Romney and to point out that the kind of predatory vulture capitalism that he practiced-- private equity-- was never about creating jobs. "We're the white hats," explained their spokesperson, leaving to the imagination what color Romney's hat was, but making it clear that venture capitalists create jobs by supporting fledgling startups whereas Romney's business model was about destroying businesses (and jobs) in order to create profits for investors. His model defines sociopath and was, clearly, a cancer on society.
Polling shows that only about a third of the public approves the Ryan budget (i.e., Republicans), In fact, polling shows that Obama’s lead over Romney doubles when voters learn of the Ryan budget. Educating voters about the budget will have a big impact in swing states around the country. By putting Ryan on the ticket, Romney would be playing right into the Democrats' ideal scenario. As Rob Zerban, the Democrat running for the House seat Ryan currently holds, told his supporters last week, "The more voters learn about Ryan's plans to kill Medicare, slash funding for Pell Grants and Stafford Loans and gut veterans' benefits, the more they realize that Paul Ryan and the GOP are only representing their wealthy donors, not the average American... Paul Ryan's budget is an albatross for the GOP, and educating voters on the budget is a winning strategy for us."
Meanwhile, the DCCC still hasn't put Rob Zerban in their Red-to-Blue program, although he's raised more money-- without their help (to put it in as kindly a way as possible)-- than most of the candidates they are backing. And, as we've discussed before, Rob in running in a district Obama won in 2010. So why won't "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel allow the DCCC to get behind Zerban? Israel hates progressives and is more interested in packing the House Democratic caucus with corrupt transactional hacks and conservatives like himself than in regaining the majority for his party, a virtual impossibility under his hideously flawed strategy of trying to resuscitate the Blue Dogs and New Dem conservative coalition that were nearly wiped out-- by the Democratic grassroots voters-- in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010.
Zerban is a Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt populist Democrats who stands up for working families, not for Wall Street and not for the kinds of corporate special interests that have helped Israel and his careerist cronies gain and maintain power, The DCCC isn't interested in helping candidates like that, no matter how badly the alternative impacts policy.
Ryan, for example, is the biggest threat to Social Security since the program first passed during the Great Depression.
That House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) supports the privatization of Social Security is well known. Ryan proposed $1.2 trillion in cuts and the partial privatization of Social Security upon taking control of the Budget Committee in 2011, and he has constantly warned about the supposed doom facing the program if major reforms aren’t enacted immediately.
But Ryan’s attempts to gut the most popular entitlement program in America go back quite a few years, as Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker profile of the conservative hero makes clear. Ryan’s fight against Social Security has been ongoing since he pushed President George W. Bush to privatize the program in 2005:Under Ryan’s initial version, American workers would be able to invest about half of their payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, in private accounts. As a plan to reduce government debt, it made no sense. It simply took money from one part of the budget and spent it on private accounts, at a cost of two trillion dollars in transition expenses. But, as an ideological statement about the proper relationship between individuals and the federal government, Ryan’s plan was clear. [...]
Two weeks after Bush’s Inauguration, Ryan gave a speech at Cato asserting that Social Security was no longer the third rail of American politics. He toured his district with a PowerPoint presentation and invited news crews to document how Republicans could challenge Democrats on a sacrosanct policy issue and live to tell about it.
Bush ultimately went with a slightly less radical proposal that still failed in the Senate and caused Republicans massive losses in the 2006 mid-term elections. But Ryan, undeterred, told Lizza that the failure of privatization was simply due to marketing, not that the plan was unpopular:What some might interpret as the failure of an unpopular idea Ryan insisted was mostly a communications problem. “The Administration did a bad job of selling it,” he told me. Bush had campaigned on national-security issues, only to pitch Social Security reform after reelection. “And... thud,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to prepare the country for these things. You can’t just spring it on them after you win.” The lesson: “Don’t let the engineers run the marketing department.”
Aided by the mainstream media’s spreading of the lie that Social Security is “going bankrupt,” Ryan has been able to thrust Social Security “reform” back onto the table, and it was embraced during the primary by virtually every Republican candidate.
What Ryan and his Republican colleagues continue to ignore, however, is how easy fixing Social Security would be if they weren’t so insistent on protecting the wealthiest Americans from a single tax increase. By lifting the payroll tax cap that currently limits Social Security contributions to the first $110,100 in income, Congress could ensure the program’s solvency for the next 75 years-- longer than the program has been in existence to this point.
That wouldn’t fit Ryan’s belief that the government doesn’t have a role in helping protect the financial security of the American people. But it would prevent millions of Americans from losing the much of their retirement savings, as they would have during the 2008 financial crisis had Ryan’s plan to privatize Social Security become law.
That's why Blue America has a special Stop Paul Ryan Page-- and why we've had it for years. Steve Israel-- another one not wearing a white hat-- will never help unseat Paul Ryan. But, please, don't let that stop YOU.