Sunday, January 17, 2016

Yes Trumpf And Cruz Are Dangerous-- But Hardly More So Than Paul Ryan


Paul Ryan, who still hopes, perhaps at this point unrealistically, to be the compromise candidate of a deadlocked GOP convention, has been tweeting all weekend that "We will put forward a bold, pro-growth agenda. It will show where we stand." Except Paul Ryan didn't just pop onto the scene when he managed to "Awww... shucks, fellas, not me" his way into the Speaker's chair. We already know exactly where he stands, unless we've been politically asleep for the past decade or so. 

When he was 16 his father died and young Paul received Social Security survivors benefits which put him through college, a government program he has since come to decry as "socialism" and which he would like to abolish (or "privatize"). But first he was elected Prom King of his Janesville, Wisconsin High School. He was soon captivated and infatuated with Ayn Rand's adolescent novels and they have completely shaped his political philosophy, studying every sentence when he was on break from driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Ryan worked as a fitness trainer in DC and later as a speechwriter for the forerunner of FreedomWorks and then for Jack Kemp, with whom he was rumored to have had an affair, before moving on to work for Kansas neo-fascist Sam Brownback. In 1998 Ryan ran for an open seat and has been in the House ever since, a prodigious fundraiser, who knows exactly what to say to the ultra-rich to get them to sit down and write big checks with his name on them. Since 1998 the Finance Sector has been his single biggest source of funds-- $5,519,391-- primarily while he was Budget chair and Ways and Means chair, obviously flagrant conflicts-of-interest. Although only two bills he's written have ever become law-- renaming a post office in his district and lowering the excise tax on arrows-- he has been tremendously influential in shaping the Republican Party economic agenda, basically using failed European Austerity schemes to ensure that the rich become richer and the poor poorer.

Paul Krugman, who dubbed him the Flim Flam Man in 2010, has been following Ryan's slippery career for nearly a decade. He often wonders who does Ryan's p.r. for him. "Ryan has somehow acquired a reputation as a stern fiscal hawk despite offering budget proposals that, far from being focused on deficit reduction, are mainly about cutting taxes for the rich while slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. In fact, once you strip out Mr. Ryan’s 'magic asterisks'-- claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify-- what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt."

This week Ryan has been squawking away about bold new ideas, but he's still trying to sell his tired, failed notions and bottles of snake oil  As Krugman put it half a dozen years ago, "Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his 'Roadmap for America’s Future,' a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable... He’s often described with phrases like 'intellectually audacious.' But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce."

And 4 years later, Krugman was again reminding Times readers that Ryan Don't Know Much About Economics. The 2 minute video up top from Robert Reich and MoveOn is important to take a look at even if there is no brokered GOP convention and Ryan just stays where he is-- as a very radical and very ignorant Speaker of the House. His "bold ideas" are the same conservative nonsense the GOP has been peddling since the 1800s turned into the 1900s, highlighting all their excuses to opposed the New Deal. The clip details his 7 terrible ideas:
1. Reduce the top income-tax rate to 25% from the current 39%. A terrible idea. It’s a huge windfall to the rich at a time when the rich already take home a larger share of total income that at any time since the 1920s.

2. Cut corporate taxes to 25% from the current 35%. Another bad idea. A giant sop to corporations, the largest of which are already socking away $2.1 trillion in foreign tax shelters.

3. Slash spending on domestic programs like food stamps and education for poor districts. What?! Already 22% of the nation’s children are in poverty; these cuts would only make things worse.

4. Turn Medicaid and other federal programs for the poor into block grants for the states, and let the states decide how to allocate them. In other words, give Republican state legislatures and governors slush funds to do with as they wish.

5. Turn Medicare into vouchers that don’t keep up with increases in healthcare costs. In effect cutting Medicare for the elderly. Another awful idea.

6. Deal with rising Social Security costs by raising the retirement age for Social Security. Bad! This would make Social Security even more regressive, since the poor don’t live nearly as long as the rich.

7. Finally, let the minimum wage continue to decline as inflation eats it away. Wrong again. Low wage workers need a higher minimum wage.
Conventional wisdom is that Herr Trumpf has loudly shaped the Republican primary. Mike DeBonis, writing a puff piece bordering on a press release, for the Washington Post, though, asserts Ryan is shaping the general election. Ryan is the mouthpiece of the Republican establishment and, of course they want to set the parameters and tone; they always do. But this time they don't just have the Democrats trying to do the same thing, they also have Herr Trumpf. Sure Ryan is trying to enshrine his 7 terrible ideas into the party platform, but does that matter at all... to anyone-- unless he does wind up as the "compromise" candidate of a deadlocked, brokered convention? DeBonis strayed from the Ryan script towards the end of his love note: "Trump, so far, has mostly ignored Ryan. In a rare mention at a rally in Massachusetts earlier this month, Trump lambasted the spending deal Ryan finalized with Democrats last month: 'Everything that you don’t want is in that budget,' he said. 'And I say where was Paul Ryan? Where are all of these people that are supposed to be representing our interests? Where were they?'"

The Republican extremists responded to American sailors being taken into custody after "wandering" into Iranian territorial waters very predictably. While John Kerry was successfully negotiating for a speedy return of the sailors, Ted Cruz surrogate Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was loudly demanding the U.S. bomb Tehran. This morning on Fox News Sunday, Cruz implied he agreed and claimed "our enemies are laughing at us." This incident ended well; had Cruz been in the White House, it may well have turned into a catastrophe. And where was the face of GOP adult-like moderation on all this? Ryan issued a bellicose statement Saturday meant to buff his credentials among the fringe nuts in his own party. "Today," he wrote, "the Obama administration will begin lifting economic sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. As the president himself has acknowledged, Iran is likely to use this cash infusion-- more than $100 billion in total-- to finance terrorists. This comes just weeks after Tehran's most recent illegal ballistic missile test, and just days after the IRGC detained ten American sailors. A bipartisan majority in the House voted to reject this deal in the first place, and we will continue to do everything possible to prevent a nuclear Iran."

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At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan employed a current-favorite, Nazi-mimicking "big lie" regarding Iran.

Examine the map at the following link. It shows the US military bases surrounding Iran.

So who, exactly, is "the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism"?

(Note, also, that only in dystopian US politics can our return of money, that WE SEIZED from Iran, be considered a "cash infusion." )

A statement summarizing the status of US once-and-future sanctions on Iran can be found in the White House statement, here:
(Note there is also the requisite helping of hypocritical, patronizing BS.)

Ryan's seven point plan amounts to the US government's sanctions on its own people.

John Puma


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