Saturday, October 13, 2012

He Wasn't Born With The Monicker Lyin' Ryan-- He Earned It... And Keeps Earning It Every Day


The NY Times editors liked the vice presidential debate not despite but, in part, because they found "Ryan's nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign." They found the debate "both enlightening and entertaining" because Biden "would not sit still for a parade of misleading and often blatantly untruthful descriptions of the state of the economy and the Republican prescriptions for it. Though his grins and head-shakes were often distracting, he did not hesitate to interrupt and demand an end to 'malarkey'.” What a delightful way to inform its readers-- at long last-- what Paul Krugman has been writing for several years, namely that Ryan is a congenital liar and his snake oil approach to real problems is actually dangerous to the state of the nation.
Ryan, as always, refused to acknowledge the improvement in the economy, at one point throwing out a canned talking point about the increase in unemployment in the depressed industrial city of Scranton, Pa., Mr. Biden’s hometown. “That’s how it’s going all around America,” he said, ignoring the steady reduction in the national jobless rate, which dipped to 7.8 percent last month.

“You don’t read the statistics,” Mr. Biden said, jumping in. “That’s not how it’s going. It’s going down.” He repeatedly pointed out that Mr. Romney had firmly opposed the federal bailout of the auto industry, which turned out to be the single biggest act of job creation in the last four years. Mr. Ryan responded weakly that Mr. Romney was a “car guy,” but offered little in the way of economic proposals beyond cutting taxes and ridiculing the Obama administration’s stimulus program.

The vice president, who was in charge of that program, actually defended it, breaking with his campaign’s usual reticence to discuss an enormously successful effort that, he pointed out, kept the economy from going over a cliff. And he showed Mr. Ryan’s hypocrisy on the subject by pointing out that the congressman had asked for stimulus money for his state of Wisconsin, just as other Republicans did even as they vilified the program.

...Biden refused to ignore the condescending remarks that Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney have made toward the least fortunate, regularly described by the Republican ticket as “takers” who are irresponsibly dependent on government. That attitude, he noted, is reflected in the Republican tax plan that favors the rich. In one of his most effective summaries, he said that if Republicans would just “get out of the way,” there might be real action on middle-class tax cuts, jobs bills and mortgage relief.

“Stop talking about how you care about people,” he said. “Show me something.” Mr. Ryan’s predictable response: You said the stimulus would fix the entire economy and it didn’t. But he had no responsible answer for increasing growth.
Biden never brought up anything about the concerted, well-orchestrated Republican Party effort in Congress to obstruct every effort President Obama made to clean up the mess that right-wing congressmen like Ryan made while Bush was president. I guess it would have sounded too whiney or something... but it is the answer to their accusations. And when he parrots the GOP talking point about how the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, that was not just short-lived but included a number of conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson, Claire McCaskill, Mark Pryor, Jim Webb and Mary Landrieu (not to mention Joe Lieberman) who tend to vote with the Republicans on crucial issues as frequently as they do with the Democrats-- i.e., Washington's conservative consensus. Nelson's lifetime ProgressivePunch voting score on key roll calls is 45.14, which shows he actually voted more often with the GOP than with his own party. Joe Manchin is headed in the same direction.

Back to the idea of the Times editors catching up with Krugman. That's never going to happen. They've caught up to Paul Krugman from two years ago when he first alerted his own readers that Ryan is a flimflam man and that the GOP Budget Chairman don't know much about economics. Krugman has kept on going. Thursday he was warning his readers that when it comes to the economy, the Republicans have been wrong about everything. (Is it any wonder rightists don't like professors?)
The latest devastating demonstration of that wrongness comes from the International Monetary Fund, which has just released its World Economic Outlook, a report combining short-term prediction with insightful economic analysis. This report is a grim and disturbing document, telling us that the world economy is doing significantly worse than expected, with rising risks of global recession. But the report isn’t just downbeat; it contains a careful analysis of the reasons things are going so badly. And what this analysis concludes is that a disproportionate share of the bad news is coming from countries pursuing the kind of austerity policies Republicans want to impose on America.

...(L)eading Republicans have very much tied themselves to the view that slashing spending in a depressed economy-- “fiscal consolidation,” in I.M.F.-speak-- is good, not bad, for job creation. Soon after the midterm elections, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives issued a manifesto on economic policy-- titled, “Spend less, owe less, grow the economy”-- that called for deep spending cuts right away and pooh-poohed the whole notion that fiscal consolidation (yes, it used the same term) might deepen the economy’s slump. “Non-Keynesian effects,” the manifesto declared, would make everything all right.

Well, that turns out not to be remotely true. What the monetary fund shows is that the countries pursing the biggest spending cuts are also the countries that have experienced the deepest economic slumps. Indeed, the evidence suggests that in brushing aside the standard view that spending cuts hurt the economy in the short run, the G.O.P. got it exactly wrong. Recent spending cuts appear to have done even more harm than most analysts-- including those at the I.M.F. itself-- expected.

...Republicans... are committed to an economic doctrine that has proved false, indeed disastrous, in other countries. Nor are they likely to change their views in the light of experience. After all, facts haven’t gotten in the way of Republican orthodoxy on any other aspect of economic policy. The party remains opposed to effective financial regulation despite the catastrophe of 2008; it remains obsessed with the dangers of inflation despite years of false alarms. So it’s not likely to give up its politically convenient views about job creation.
Obviously, Paul Krugman isn't the only wise observer of politics who has taken note of the GOP's-- and more specifically Romney's and Ryan's-- inability to even recognize reality, let along offer any useful plans to cope with it successfully. Over at Esquire Charles Pierce concluded after the debate that The real Paul Ryan is bad for America. We've been shouting that from the digital roof since 2005. But, as Pierce points out, there are a lot of closet homosexuals in the Village who want to have sex with Ryan and they've helped pass Wall Street's prize darling off as a serious player. Pierce worded it differently.

There is a deeply held Beltway myth of Paul Ryan, Man of Big Ideas, and it dies hard. But, if there is a just god in the universe, on Thursday night, it died a bloody death, was hurled into a pit, doused with quicklime, buried without ceremony, and the ground above it salted and strewn with garlic so that it never rises again. On foreign policy, Ryan occasionally rose, gasping, to the level of obvious neophyte. (He was more lost in Afghanistan than the Russian army ever was.) On domestic policy, his alleged wheelhouse, he was vague, untruthful, and he walked right into a haymaker he should have seen coming from a mile off, when he started bloviating about Biden's role in the "failed" stimulus program, only to have Biden slap him around with Ryan's own requests for stimulus money for his home district back in Wisconsin. He also made it quite clear that a Romney-Ryan White House will do everything it can to eliminate a woman's right to choose. This should make for some fine television commercials over the next few weeks.

...Moreover, the battering that Biden gave Ryan brought something into sharp relief that the Republican party has been fudging ever since Romney put the zombie-eyed granny-starver on the ticket-- that, for his entire political career up to that point, on critical economic issues, Paul Ryan was an extremist even by the standards of the modern Republican party, which are considerably high indeed. He was for full privatization of Social Security. He was for the absolute elimination of the defined-benefit Medicare and Medicaid programs. Since being selected, it has become clear that the Romney people have forced him to soften these positions. (His stance on Medicare, for example, has evolved from Kill It Now to Arrange for Its Slow Death Later.) On Thursday night, Biden dragged out the old Paul Ryan-- and, I would argue, the real Paul Ryan-- and put him on display, and he made the new Paul Ryan own him. For one brief moment, he almost got Ryan to commit to Social Security privatization again. You could hear the screams from Romney headquarters all the way up the Charles to where I was watching.

Ryan got hit on the stimulus. He looked ridiculous trying to defend his refusal to specify what "loopholes" he and Romney plan to close to make the magic arithmetic in their tax plan work; Raddatz treed him completely on the mortgage-interest deduction, on the elimination of which neither Ryan nor his running mate will commit to a position. He looked even more ridiculous when Biden started pounding him on his career-long quest to end Medicare and throw old people onto the tender mercies of large insurance companies. Biden kept saying "vouchers" until Ryan, at one point, said, "It's not a voucher. A voucher is a check you get in your mailbox."

Wait. So if Paul Ryan gets his way, and Medicare as we know it gets eviscerated in favor of a pot full of offal on which Paul Ryan has slapped a label reading "Medicare," and my inadequate health-insurance allowance comes by e-mail, then it's not a "voucher" because it wasn't a check I got in the mail? And this is the issue on which Paul Ryan is supposed to be Genius on roller skates.

...For years, Paul Ryan has been the shining champion of some really terrible ideas, and of a dystopian vision of the political commonwealth in which the poor starve and the elderly die ghastly, impoverished deaths, while all the essential elements of a permanent American oligarchy were put in place. This has garnered him loving notices from a lot of people who should have known better. The ideas he could explain were bad enough, but the profound ignorance he displayed on Thursday night on a number of important questions, including when and where the United States might wind up going to war next, and his blithe dismissal of any demand that he be specific about where he and his running mate are planning to take the country generally, was so positively terrifying that it calls into question Romney's judgment for putting this unqualified greenhorn on the ticket at all. Joe Biden laughed at him? Of course, he did. The only other option was to hand him a participation ribbon and take him to Burger King for lunch.

You know what's the difference between Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan?


And he lies even more blatantly-- and convincingly-- than she does. Thursday night was unchallenged when he let loose with the big one: “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” If Congress stays in obstructionist mode the way it is now-- with the GOP actively undermining fixing problems-- Social Security would be fully solvent until 2037 and nearly fully solvent until 2084. Surely by them the American people would wise up and get rid of the Republicans and their corrupted conservative Democratic allies permanently. And the fix is easy as pie-- get rid of the payroll tax cap. Right now everyone pays the same amount until you start earning $106,000. Then they simply stop taking money from you. Everything between $106,000 and infinity doesn't get taxed. They should end-- with a vengeance. Crooked hedge fund criminal-- and huge Romney/Ryan donor-- John Paulson made $2.4 million per hour in 2010. So he only pays Social Security payroll tax on the first few seconds of his work year. Lift the payroll cap-- my preference would be to abolish it-- and Social Security would have no problems ever. Medicare is in similar shape-- not going bankrupt and easily fixable-- like, as Biden suggested during the debate, by negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies so that they are no longer allowed to rip off consumers in return for financing politicians' careers.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) pushed back against another blatant Ryan lie, namely that he was supporting Ryan's attempt to kill Medicare. This was his statement on his own Facebook page when he heard the debate:
The Vice President is right, Romney/Ryan moved the goal post on Medicare and I strongly oppose their plan because I believe it hurts seniors. The Romney/Ryan plan raises the age of eligibility and repeals the ACA leaving millions of seniors with no health coverage. The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare pulls the safety net out from under the poorest and most vulnerable seniors, taking away the opportunity for nursing home care from seniors who need it and have no other options.

The Wyden-Ryan white paper strengthened the safety net for these dual eligibles. The Romney/Ryan version shreds it. The republican ticket knows that neither I, nor any other Democrat, would support these policies.

The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare is further proof that Mitt Romney is singularly unfit to end gridlock and bring bipartisan solutions to Washington.
And that from the guy he tried to use to hoodwink the American people into thinking his extremist agenda is somehow "bipartisan" and mainstream. And the appellation "Lyin' Ryan" isn't all he's earned. He's earned a defeat in the congressional election for WI-01. Please help Rob Zerban replace him in Congress. It'll be a lot healthier for all of us.

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At 10:47 AM, Blogger The Bleat said...

I always find it intriguing that the austerity measures that are squeezing European countries give conservatives in the United States the leverage to say, "See, we don't want to be more like Europe, all socialized and stuff."


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