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Paul Ryan and GOP runs home to Mommy

The Two Faces of Rep Paul Ryan


Enemy of Freedom & American Values (And Maybe a Crook?)

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Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Presented by: The Religious Freedom Coalition of the SouthEast

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan  The following web page is an excellent source of true Progressive and Liberal Information which allows you to form honest opinions about Neo-conservative and Conservative extremists who infest our government and society:  http://professionalleft.blogspot.com/  We will also list others as they are created by the true patriots of this country.

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Question:  "Separation between Church and State."  Who coined the Phrase?  Give up?  Answer:   Thomas Jefferson - one of the founding fathers of this great Nation and a creator of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment to that same Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, wrote a Letter to the Dansbury Baptist Convention, referring to the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  In it he said:

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."


We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether Rep Paul Ryan has made serious errors in in judgment.  He has supported a Conservative Far Right Christian position especially when it comes to Church and State issues.  It is apparent from the data collected, that the first amendment may be in danger from his past and future actions as well as other constitutional sections.  He has supported deregulation of banks and the SEC causing the current economic Depression.

Rep. Ryan's office stated that his position is that Certain Religions aren't  "Real" religions.  What is a real religion, Mr. Ryan?  What you have been practicing?  He says on the one hand that only certain Christian denominations are valid.  On the other hand he blatantly follows a philosophy similar to Satanism in formulating representation of his constituents.  Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be known."  This is a summary of information collected from several sources about Rep. Paul Ryan.

(Remember it is best to investigate on your own when looking at allegations about anyone.     Don't believe us, think for yourself and investigate for yourself!  And remember, the First Amendment Coalition and Religious Freedom Coalition of the South East do not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor are we involving ourselves in the political process.)

Paul Ryan is Damned.  That much is clear.  But where and how?  Dante neglected to specify which circle of hell a soul is consigned to after betraying the American People with his selfish GOP Budget for the sake of Greed and politics.

Traitors are of course consigned to the innermost circles, ranging from traitors to their kin, lords, country and benefactors.  No space appears to have been left for traitors to American Values.

The thought struck us that hell is long overdue for a make-over.  The business of sin has changed substantially since Dante's day.  Not only are many of the sins archaic (it seems doubtful at this point that Protestants are damned as schismatics) but as in the Ryan case, Dante has failed to keep up with the times.  What is the punishment for TV evangelists Political Liars, Political Thieves or for that matter for those take advantage of the Poor and Homeless.

Whatever Ryan's position, anyone who betrays Americas Poor and Homeless in that calculating manner deserves the fate that Dante would assign him:  being trapped in ice up to the neck in the deepest pit of the Inferno, where treachery against basic human bonds is punished and where Satan himself, once the brightest of the rebel angels, beats his bat's wings.

Good Luck Paul, Satan is coming for you anytime now - he remembers when you sold your soul and he's coming to collect!!!

Bush and Wicca and Doreen ValienteIn Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and Conservative Extremist Claims"


CONTENTS

Part I   Ryans Budget Payday - Its All About the money...In His Pocket

Ryan Was Never Courageous, But Is He A Common Crook?

Congressman Ryan: The Rich Man's Robin Hood

Ryans Financial Statements

Paul Ryans Ayn Rand Problem

Paul Ryan's New Big Lie About Medicare

How Paul Ryan's and GOPs Budget Destroys Medicare and Social Security

Republican Paul Ryan Runs Home to Mommy

Paul Ryan is Trying to Bring Back the Great Depression

The Tuth about Paul Ryan's Hero Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand Movie Fails in Free Market

Shameless GOP Lies: Is There Any Limit to What Republicans Will Say -- And What People Will Believe?

Paul Ryan Booed at His Own Town Hall

The Church, The State, and Paul Ryan's Non-Budget

Is Paul Ryan's Budget Against God?

Paul Ryan's Medicare Privatization Plan Increases Cost, Budget Office Says

Fact Checking the Ryan Budget Plan

Paul Ryan's Budget Plan is Severely Flawed

Who is Paul Ryan: Excerpts From Wikipedia

 


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Studying history is necessary to avoid repeating past mistakes. This saying comes from the writings of George Santayana, a Spanish-born American author of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bartleby: The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy http://www.bartleby.com/59/3/thosewhocann.html "The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996. William L. Shirer also made these words the epigraph for his Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959)." http://www.bartleby.com/66/29/48129.html

  


Ryan Was Never Courageous, But Is He A Common Crook Profiting From His Legislative Agenda?

 

Most Americans had never heard of a slick Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, when suddenly the corporate-owned media started using the words "serious" and "courageous" in front of his name. Corporate media was already very aware of Ryan, the Member of Congress who has taken more in legalistic corporate bribes than any other politician from his state... ever. Wall Street's darling, Ryan was always pushing their agenda-- whether helping reluctant Republicans to support the TARP bailouts or voting to gut Medicare and Social Security. Other than a precious few local journalists and national bloggers, it was only Paul Krugman who shouted from the rooftops that Ryan was a garden-variety corporate shill with not a single new or worthwhile idea and that he had nothing serious or courageous to add to the national debate.

This week the
Daily Beast highlighted the garden-varietyness of Ryan's politics when they pointed out that he and his family personally profited from his financial agenda in Congress.  Daniel Stone reported that Ryan "stands to make money from his stakes in four businesses that lease land to energy companies which would benefit from $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in his proposed budget."

When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled the GOP blueprint for cutting government spending, he asked Americans to make sacrifices on everything from Medicare to education, while preserving lucrative tax subsidies for the booming oil, mining and energy industries.

It turns out a constituency within his own personal investments stood to benefit from those tax breaks, Newsweek and the Daily Beast have learned.

The financial disclosure report Ryan filed with Congress last month and made public this week shows he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan's budget plan.

Ryan's father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

Some of these firms would be eligible for portions of the $45 billion in energy tax breaks and subsidies over 10 years protected in the Wisconsin lawmaker’s proposed budget. “Those [energy developing companies] benefit a lot from these subsidies,” explained Russ Harding, an energy policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, when presented with the situation, without reference to Ryan. “Without those, they’re going to be less profitable.”

To ethics watchdogs, Ryan’s effort to extend the tax breaks creates the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

“Sure, senior citizens should have to pay more for health care, but landholders like [Ryan] who lease property to big oil companies, well, their government subsidies must be protected at all costs,” says Melanie Sloan, the director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It smacks of hypocrisy.”

...Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat from Oklahoma who has announced his retirement next year, also owns stakes in three of the four same companies as Ryan. The two lawmakers are related through marriage. Boren is the first cousin of Ryan’s wife.

Boren aligned with his party and voted no on Ryan’s budget. But a month prior, Boren voted with Republicans (and only 12 other Democrats) to oppose an amendment that would have financially constrained major oil companies.

In a written statement, Boren told Newsweek and the Daily Beast, “It should come as no surprise the way I voted because the oil and gas industry is the largest private employer in Oklahoma.”

In addition to the tax breaks, Ryan’s family has benefited in recent years from another form of federal largesse-- farm subsidies. Federal records show his father-in-law and great-aunt have collected more than $50,000 in agriculture subsidies on lands owned by the family.

Ryan’s budget had proposed cutting $30 billion in farm subsidies over the next 10 years, although some conservatives criticized the number for being too low.

On Tuesday Mike Tate, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman, said "The least Paul Ryan can do is explain why he should personally profit from Big Oil tax breaks while asking Wisconsin's seniors and disabled citizens to pay for it."
 

Ryan's Shrewd Budget Payday

Exclusive: The congressman stands to make money from his stakes in four businesses that lease land to energy companies which would benefit from $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in his proposed budget. Daniel Stone reports.

When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled the GOP blueprint for cutting government spending, he asked Americans to make sacrifices on everything from Medicare to education, while preserving lucrative tax subsidies for the booming oil, mining and energy industries.
It turns out a constituency within his own personal investments stood to benefit from those tax breaks, Newsweek and The Daily Beast have learned.

The financial disclosure report Ryan filed with Congress last month and made public this week shows he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan's budget plan.

Ryan's father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

Some of these firms would be eligible for portions of the $45 billion in energy tax breaks and subsidies over 10 years protected in the Wisconsin lawmaker’s proposed budget. “Those [energy developing companies] benefit a lot from these subsidies,” explained Russ Harding, an energy policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, when presented with the situation, without reference to Ryan. “Without those, they’re going to be less profitable.”

To ethics watchdogs, Ryan’s effort to extend the tax breaks creates the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

 

Rep. Paul Ryan

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

“Sure, senior citizens should have to pay more for health care, but landholders like [Ryan] who lease property to big oil companies, well, their government subsidies must be protected at all costs,” says Melanie Sloan, the director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It smacks of hypocrisy.”

Ryan’s office says the congressman wasn’t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he drafted the budget blueprint that extended the energy tax breaks. “These are properties that Congressman Ryan married into,” spokesman Kevin Seifert said. “It’s not something he has a lot of control over.”

Nonetheless, the properties have been a lucrative investment for Ryan and his wife, earning them as much as $117,000 last year, and $60,000 the year before, his personal financial disclosure reports show. Overall, Ryan, 41, listed assets worth between $590,000 and $2.5 million, putting him in the top third of the richest members of the House.

Ryan and his wife reported owning minority stakes ranging from nearly 1 percent to 10 percent in the following four family companies: Ava O Limited Company, which holds mining and mineral rights; Blondie and Brownie, which holds gravel rights; Red River Pine Company, which holds timber rights; and Little Land Company, an oil and gas corporation.

While Ryan’s stake in the oil and gas firm was his smallest at 0.8 percent, it was listed as one of his most valuable assets, generating as much as $50,000 of his income last year, the report shows.

Aside from the land-lease income, Ryan could also personally benefit from the package of subsidies and incentives he has fought to protect. According to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Ryan himself would be eligible to recover money from the government for investments the four family companies might make in such things as machines and maintenance if they didn’t pan out on the properties and failed to generate revenue.

Stephen Comstock, a tax analyst with the American Petroleum Institute, says the provision and several others like it would be protected under Ryan’s budget.

Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat from Oklahoma who has announced his retirement next year, also owns stakes in three of the four same companies as Ryan. The two lawmakers are related through marriage. Boren is the first cousin of Ryan’s wife.

Boren aligned with his party and voted no on Ryan’s budget. But a month prior, Boren voted with Republicans (and only 12 other Democrats) to oppose an amendment that would have financially constrained major oil companies.

In a written statement, Boren told Newsweek and The Daily Beast, “It should come as no surprise the way I voted because the oil and gas industry is the largest private employer in Oklahoma.”

In addition to the tax breaks, Ryan’s family has benefited in recent years from another form or federal largesse—farm subsidies. Federal records show his father-in-law and great-aunt have collected more than $50,000 in agriculture subsidies on lands owned by the family.

Ryan’s budget had proposed cutting $30 billion in farm subsidies over the next 10 years, although some conservatives criticized the number for being too low.

Long a star among young conservatives who admired his commitment to fiscal discipline, Ryan soared onto the national political scene earlier this year, when Republicans chose the youthful, handsome lawmaker to give the nationally televised response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Ryan then opened the floodgates of criticism a few months later, when he submitted his “Path to Prosperity” plan to slash $6.2 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, going further than the president or other major politicians in the scope of his cuts.

Democrats pounced on the depth of cuts, including the virtual elimination of Medicare for retirees who are not yet 55.

Ryan’s Medicare program also drove a wedge through his own party. When former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now a presidential candidate, referred to the idea as “right-wing social engineering,” the blowback was so severe that Gingrich had to immediately apologize to Ryan.


Paul Ryan, "Mr. Austerity," Drops $700 On Fancy Wine With Super-Rich Economist Friends

The monetary hypocrisy of austerity-touting Republicans is not that surprising — most of them are rich, and so can fathom a full and sustaining life without government-assisted programs like Medicare. But sometimes, a story breaks that might seem petty to parrot, but in fact highlights the disgusting gap between the reality of America's citizens, and the budget massacring politicians who hold our future in their hands.

Like this one: Paul Ryan—chairman of the House Budget Committee, widely referred to as a "czar" and man who proposed a budget plan that would decimate Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security income, military retirement funds, food stamps and veterans programs—was seen dropping $700 on two bottles of wine at an upscale Capitol Hill restaurant Wednesday night. He was in the company of Cliff Asness, a hedge fund manager (and former Goldman Sachs employee), and John Cochrane, an economist at the University of Chicago (which, you may recall, is accused of producing the rampant free-market philosophy that caused the economic crisis in the first place). So certainly he was getting great advice about the debt ceiling, no? Even worse, though, their pricey wine spree ended in an expletive directed at a business professor at Rutgers. TPM:

The three men were spotted ordering the $700 worth of wine at Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill by an associate professor of business at Rutgers University named Susan Feinberg. After dining in the same restaurant with her husband, Feinberg confronted Ryan and his pals about the high-end wine. The exchange became contentious. Ryan professed not to know the price of the wine, and one of his buddies responded to Feinberg's chastisement by loudly saying, "Fuck her," Feinberg told TPM.

Even better: for a man whose job it is to deal with numbers, Ryan apparently has a problem with carrying the one. The Awl has a picture of the bill, and a $392.70 tab plus an $80 tip [yowzah] equaled $372.70 at first. So it goes. Meanwhile, $472.70 would go a long way in a lot of households

Above is excerpt of a article posted by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd on alternet.org July 11, 2011

Paul Ryan's $700-Wine-Sipping Buddies: Hedge Fund Manager And University Of Chicago Economist

It didn't take long for TPM readers to identify the two likeminded conservatives with whom Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) shared two pricey $350 bottles of Pinot Noir Wednesday night.

The two names repeatedly flooded into TPM's e-mail since our story on Ryan's big spending night first ran Friday, and we spent the next 24 hours trying to reach the pair to confirm their identities and get their side of the story.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Hey Big Spenders: What Else Could Wealthy Candidates Buy With All That Campaign Cash?]

The three men were spotted ordering the $700 worth of wine at Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill by an associate professor of business at Rutgers University named Susan Feinberg. After dining in the same restaurant with her husband, Feinberg confronted Ryan and his pals about the high-end wine. The exchange became contentious. Ryan professed not to know the price of the wine, and one of his buddies responded to Feinberg's chastisement by loudly saying, "Fuck her," Feinberg told TPM.

When TPM asked Ryan who he was dining with Wednesday night, he declined to identify them, saying only that they were economists, not lobbyists. But TPM has confirmed that the two other men with Ryan were Cliff Asness and John Cochrane. Both men have doctorate degrees in economics and are well-known in the conservative media world as die-hard proponents of the free market's ability to right itself without government bailouts when the crisis hit in late 2008.

Asness, who ordered the wine and who, according to Feinberg was the one who said "Fuck her," is better known as a high-profile hedge fund manager. Asness founded and runs AQR Capital, which manages an estimated $26 billion in a variety of traditional products and hedge funds, and his life story has been the subject of numerous books and articles about the rise and fall of Wall Street. He's also grabbed headlines for being one of the most voluble opponents of President Obama's economic policies.

ABC's Jake Tapper ran an illuminating piece on Asness in May of 2009, describing him as having "a name and occupation straight out of Dickens" after he wrote an angry open letter to Obama -- "Unafraid in Greenwich, Connecticut" -- in which he blasted the President's attacks on hedge fund owners refusing to go along with his administration's plans for Chrysler.

"Who came up with the title for the letter?" Tapper asked parenthetically in his piece. "Axelrod? Perhaps 'Bold and on My Yacht' was too subtle."

Cochrane, the other, more tempered dinner companion, is the AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, an apparent tip of the hat to the contributions Asness' AQR Capital Management has made to the Booth School of Business there.

When contacted by TPM about his dinner with Ryan, Cochrane tried to get off the phone as quickly as possible.

"I don't want to talk about it. Thank you. Bye," is all he said.

Calls to AQR Capital Friday went straight to voicemail.

New York Times' Joe Nocera, a personal friend, calls Asness "biting, funny, articulate, angry -- and almost as opinionated as I am."

In May 2009, Asness served as a guest host on CNBC's Squawk Box and defended the $450 million in bonuses AIG executives received, arguing that President Obama and the Congress are responsible for the economic crisis and should pay the execs the bonuses themselves.

Before launching AQR Capital in 1997, Asness worked for Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, as the director of quantitative research for its Asset Management Division.

By the end of 2008, the firm was at the epicenter of the global financial crisis and received a $12.9 billion government bailout ($10 billion of which it paid back the next year). Amid the crisis, Goldman Sachs was under fire for doling out billions in bonuses.

"Cliff and his team at Goldman were responsible for building quantitative models to add value in global equity, fixed income and currency markets for Goldman clients and partner," states the bio on his firm's website.

Asness graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to earn his Ph.D from the University of Chicago.

As TPM reported, Ryan says he decided to pay for one of the bottles of wine after being confronted by Feinberg out of an abundance of caution. Ryan's office provided TPM with a copy of his credit card receipt. Congressional ethics rules bar congressman from receiving gifts from lobbyists and gifts of over $100 from anyone.

 


Excerpt from an article in truth-out.org by Kathy Mulady sourced to Equal Voice Newspaper on July 10, 2011

Congressman Ryan: The Rich Man's Robin Hood


 
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivers a Republican response to President Barack Obama's speech on the national debt at the Capitol in Washington, April 13, 2011. (Photo: Philip Scott Andrews / The New York Times)

Washington, D.C. – The debate over how to fix the $1.4 trillion shortfall and rein in $14 trillion in national debt has become less about money and more about government's role in caring for the poor, the vulnerable, and the growing number of unemployed and underemployed.

President Obama is standing firm on plans to discontinue tax breaks for the wealthy. Republican leaders are threatening cuts to safety net programs at a time when more Americans need assistance.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan (R-WI) describes his budget proposal as necessary steps “to get prosperity back on track” and “help people on welfare get back on their feet.” Others say it is a dangerous plan that will hurt millions of low-income families, children and the elderly.

In a recent conference call with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a nonpartisan forum for discussing policy solutions to poverty, Rep. Ryan said if the U.S. government fails to bring the budget and deficit under control, the first to be hurt will be those who depend on government most.

“The strength of that safety net is dependent on the health of our economy and the federal government's ability to finance the safety net,” said Ryan.

Critics say Ryan has it backwards. His swipes at programs for the young and old will hurt those barely hanging on in the fragile economy. Thousands more jobs will be lost in every state, further slowing recovery.

Ryan's “Roadmap for America's Future” cuts government aid that he says creates a culture of dependency. The plan snips the threads of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that Americans contribute to during their working years and count on for retirement or disability.

His plan also slashes Pell grants, which help students from low-income families go to college, and unemployed workers return to school to sharpen their skills or train for new careers.

“By continually increasing Pell funding, we are feeding education inflation,” said Ryan.

Ryan also proposes a 20 percent cut to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), pointing to reports that the food stamp program is "rife with fraud."

Ryan's budget proposal, called the “Path to Prosperity” – and which some Democrats refer to as the “Road to Ruin” – spotlights the deep fiscal-policy rift between the two parties.

“This budget anticipates the storm on the horizon and pre-empts the pain, the real pain, of being forced to cut everyone indiscriminately. The best welfare program is the one that ends with the individual empowered and not dependent on government,” Ryan said.

Clare Crawford, executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives in San Diego, said Ryan's plan fails to address the economic realities the vast majority of Americans face.

“He keeps referencing a life of dependence, but the economic reality is that there are multiple job seekers for every existing job. The people who are relying on the safety net now are recently unemployed or under-employed,” she said.

Crawford said she's frustrated that Ryan and other Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy that were supposed to be temporary.

“That they have been unwilling to consider real shared sacrifice by everyone on the income spectrum is just outrageous,” she said.

Nationwide polls repeatedly show Americans demanding shared sacrifice, tapping the rich instead of further punishing the poor. A recent Boston Globe poll showed 73 percent of likely voters support raising taxes on the wealthy.

Independent journalism is rare. Click here to get Truthout stories sent to your email daily.

Ryan's plan calls for across-the-board tax cuts, including for businesses, corporations and the nation's wealthiest.

He compares Canada's corporate tax rate of 16 percent to a business owner in Wisconsin paying 35 percent.

 “They win, we lose, and we don't get jobs. There's a belief that we can just keep raising tax rates on the wealthy, and that's going to pay for all this,” said Ryan.

Ryan's budget also turns responsibility for Medicaid management and reform over to individual states, which he says will encourage innovation. Medicaid provides health care to about 60 million low-income families with children, and nursing home care to seniors and people with disabilities nationwide.

“Let's reform health care with the patient and their doctor as the nucleus of the system, not some distant formula or bureaucrat,” said Ryan. Medicaid is already second-class health care. You're immediately thought of as somebody getting an inferior system."

Kelly Hardy, director of health policy for Children Now in Oakland, Calif., said the cuts would have a disastrous impact on the 3.5 million children receiving Medicaid and Medi-Cal coverage in California. Many of those children are from working families unable to afford health care insurance.

“We are innovating as much as we can. California has always been the testing ground for delivering care more cost effectively,” she said. “The idea that somehow the states can find amazing ways to solve this problem is a red herring. These cuts affect real children and real families.”

According to “Jobs at Risk,” a report released by Families USA, an organization that promotes affordable health care, shifting more costs for Medicaid and Medicare to the states and families will have a devastating human toll and will lead to increased unemployment.

According to the report, even the smallest proposed Medicaid cuts of 5 percent would cost states thousands of jobs and further damage their economies. The potential number of lost jobs includes more than 28,000 in California, 18,000 in Texas, 11,000 in Florida, 9,000 in Illinois, 5,820 in Georgia, and nearly 5,000 in Tennessee.

Eric Mann, director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, which advocates for working-class families and communities, said Ryan's budget paints a future that resembles something from Charles Dickens more than from Franklin Roosevelt.

“I would call this plan the road to cruelty,” said Mann.

2011 © Equal Voice for America's Families Newspaper

 


RYAN'S FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Earned income: $174,000

Honoraria, all donated to charity: $2,000 from the Economic Club of Sheboygan, for a speech May 10, 2010

Major assets: A 20 percent interest in the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, $250,001-$500,000; a 20 percent interest in the Ryan Limited Partnership, $100,001-$250,000; a college savings plan for daughter Elizabeth, $50,001-$100,000; and a college savings plan for son Charles, $100,001-$250,000.

Major sources of unearned income: Investment income from the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, $15,001-$50,000; investment income from the Ryan Limited Partnership, $5,001-$15,000

Major liabilities: None

Gifts: None

Narrative: Ryan was reimbursed by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, for travel, food and lodging for a trip between Charlottesville, Va., and Milwaukee, Wisc., in January 2010. Ryan's wife, Janna, is a partner in mining and oil companies in Madill, Okla.

 


Excerpt from an article on crooksandliars.com by Blue Girl - June 16, 2011

The Fatal Flaws in the Ryan Plan that He Doesn't Want to Talk About

It depends who you are talking to what will be achieved by Privatizing Ryan's Roadmap to Ruin budget plan should it be enacted. Most people either come down on the side of "it ends Medicare" or "it ends Medicare as we know it," while the Randians like Ryan insist on pretending that it "saves Medicare (okay, something we will call Medicare) for future generations."

Those in the last group are engaging in that age-old-and-time-tested political tactic that we call "lying" when they make that claim. They may call whatever private-insurance apostasy that they want to foist on those of us under 55 "Medicare" but it will look as much like the Medicare our parents know and love as a McNugget looks like a chicken.

Medicare has been wildly popular and extremely effective at delivering healthcare to America's elderly and disabled people for nearly fifty years, and as a result of that, it has been in the crosshairs of republicans and other assorted miscreants and privatizers for it's entire existence.

It was Rahm Emanuel who said "never let a crisis go to waste" and immediately he got hammered by republicans and their mouthpieces, but they were only protesting because they wanted to deflect attention from their own pioneering work in that same field of endeavor. It was just short of brilliant the way they ran up the deficit and depleted the nation's coffers when they were in power, making it possible for them now to scream, wail, gnash their teeth and rend the cloth from their breast as they decry the deficit and insist that "we're broke!" and all the safety net programs have to be gutted, if not outright shut down, otherwise the republic is doomed.

Credit where credit is due: When they get rolling, they can be far more melodramatic than any 8th-grade girl's-school production of Romeo and Juliette, and just hope that no one fact-checks them.

For a plan that they insist is necessary because the current system is headed for bankruptcy, it sure doesn't save any money. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, privatization would actually cost 11 percent more for the exact same services than leaving the current system in place -- and that cost disparity would widen over time, not shrink. The CBO, the non-partisan research arm of Congress, estimates that by 2022, the year the Ryan plan would start screwing retirees, it would cost a whopping 34% more than simply maintaining the current system.

The hard, cold truth is that those of us under 55 would pay more for less than our friends, siblings and spouses who are a little bit older. Our out-of-pocket expenses would skyrocket, amounting to about $6400 per year more than those born a year or two earlier.

Pity the person in their late forties who finds him- or herself struggling in this economy, underemployed, and likely to stay that way. Those poor folks get screwed seven ways from Sunday if Ryan gets his way. They will get no respite at age 65. The formerly middle class middle manager who is stocking shelves at Wal-Mart and depleting their 401K to pay the mortgage on a house that has lost a third of it's value is suddenly paying in a lot less in payroll taxes and this will affect the amount of benefit they are eligible for at retirement. Where they were on track to draw the maximum, they now stand to see their monthly benefit reduced by two or three hundred dollars, and they are depleting their savings now to save their house, so there may be nothing to supplement it. To add insult to injury, that thing they, in the spirit of George Orwell, want to call Medicare takes five hundred and change off the top of what they will get, eating up about half of their future Social Security checks, transfering that money directly to insurance companies and removing it from the economy of the areas where the seniors reside and spend their Social Security checks on living expenses.

The CBO also found that the greater cost-sensitivity could result less frequent use of newer and more expensive -- but frequently beneficial -- technologies and procedures than occur now under current law. In other words, the Ryan plan would kill that innovation that the republicans are forever insisting that free-market forces will certainly bring to bear if we just unfetter the market and let it work it's magic on our healthcare system.

There is one thing that republicans always say when healthcare is the topic that I can't believe they get away with. They always, without fail, say that they don't want a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.

This has to register a full five cow-pies on the BS-o-Meter.

Let me provide a little anecdotal evidence and tell you about my experience with reimbursements and the filing thereof, since I did some of that in both of my two most recent jobs.

I was the second shift supervisor of a hospital phlebotomy crew...this meant that we had a waiting room full of patients up until 4:30 or so, and then we saw any stragglers that came in. I did the paperwork and filed for payment for the stragglers. When I went to another hospital and worked third shift, part of that job was processing specimens that came in to the hospital lab from doctor's offices and smaller hospitals either for in-house testing or as send-outs to Mayo, ARUP or Quest/Nichols. After I processed the specimens, I processed the "paperwork" for payment and filed the claims electronically.

I can count on one hand the times I had a Medicare claim bounce back requiring more information or a call to their offices during business hours that I had to leave in the day shift's inbox -- and it was almost always a coding error that was quickly resolved. Private insurance was just the opposite. The technologists on day shift in that facility finally revolted at the revolving insurance-resolution job that no one wanted to do, and the lab director had to go to the budget committee and add a full-time employee to her staff, an associates-level technician who did nothing but resolve insurance claims five days a week, eight hours a day.

The dirty little secret is this: There already is a bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor. But he or she doesn't work for the government. They are bean counters for an insurance company, and their bonus depends on them denying you the care your doctor deems you need.

If Ryan's plan were to see the light of day, every claim for every procedure would get that sort of unreasonable scrutiny by a Utilization Management Panel. You are familiar with these -- Sarah Palin called them "death panels" and they are the stock and trade of the private insurance / managed care / profit driven healthcare system she was desperately trying to preserve.

I realize that Ryan tends toward Randianism, and Randians are, by definition, emotionally stunted, amoral and selfish. Indeed, selfishness is not merely a virtue, it is the highest, if not only, virtue to the true Randian.

So I have to wonder, what's in it for Ryan to put in place a policy that would transfer massive amounts of formerly middle-class wealth to private insurance companies? If he is really a Randian, he has an angle he is working. And if he doesn't, he isn't a Randian, he's just a garden-variety sociopath.


Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand Problem

An excerpt from articles by Amy Sullivan on swampland.time.com and huffingtonpost.com Friday, June 3, 2011
 
I am fairly certain that when Paul Ryan first decided to publicly share his admiration of Ayn Rand, he could not have imagined it would lead to him speed-walking to his SUV to avoid a young Catholic trying to give him a Bible and telling him to pay more attention to the Gospel of Luke. But that’s what happened Friday morning in downtown Washington after Ryan spoke to the surprisingly smallish crowd gathered for Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Conference.

These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”

Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”

Rand’s influence on Ryan’s politics is also the subject of a new ad produced by the religious group American Values Network, which hopes to run the spot in Ryan’s district. It’s a stinging attack, and again, one that was wholly unanticipated by the Republican rising star.

 


Paul Ryan's New Big Lie About Medicare

From excerpts on crooksandliars.com posted by Karoli 01 Jun 2011 04:00 PM PDT

Paul Ryan has consulted with Frank Luntz and the Republican Party has now chosen to revert to their old meme lie: The Affordable Care Act destroys Medicare.

Via Think Progress:

RYAN: Millions of dollars of negative ads are being run to try and scare seniors and trying to confuse seniors. You know, the irony of this Bill, is with all this Mediscare that the Democrats are running, it’s Obamacare itself that ends Medicare as we know it. Obamacare takes half a trillion dollars from Medicare — not to make it more solvent but to spend on this other government program, Obamacare. And then it creates this 15 panel board of unelected, unaccountable, bureaucrats starting next year to price control and ration Medicare for current seniors.

This is already popping up on the right wing blog network as the new messaging around Medicare. So let's just debunk it right here and now.

The Affordable Care Act does not end Medicare as we know it, and the Affordable Care Act is not an "other government program." To be clear, what the Affordable Care Act does is to stop insurance company subsidies and establish cost controls to bring down the cost of health care overall.

I could go into a wonkish discussion of why the panel he refers to is the best chance we have to bend the cost curve and actually contain costs for all -- not just Medicare recipients -- but really, if Paul Ryan is kidding himself into thinking there aren't panels out there now making decisions on everyone's health care in the private sector (HIS plan), he's nuts. Every day someone at an insurance company will make a decision about price controls and rationing for their insureds. It may mean they deny a procedure, or they decline to include a specific medication in their formulary, or whatever. The only difference between that panel and the one established under the ACA is that the motive for decision-making will not be profit, but outcomes. That's a big difference.

Think Progress:

Policy wonks believe that the board and the payment reforms can help reduce costs in a transparent process and Ryan himself proposed a very similar commission in 2009 and maintains many of the ACA’s Medicare cuts in his plan. In fact, Ryan’s Patients’ Choice Act (PCA) sought to establish “two governmental bodies to broadly apply cost effectiveness research” and had more teeth than the ACA, including provisions to allow for penalties for physicians who did not follow the guidelines.”

I'd like to thank Fox News for allowing Paul Ryan to spew his nonsense unchallenged. Roger Ailes must be grinning ear to ear right about now, except for the fact that Ryan is just trying to distract everyone from what he's actually tried to do, which is to end Medicare and privatize it forever. Insurer death panels are Ryan's game. Don't ever let him forget it.

2:00 PM Update: The House just voted (again) to affirm the Ryan budget in a weird rules maneuver so they could tack it onto the Homeland Security Appropriations bill in a 'deem and pass' move. Via Nancy Pelosi:

Despite Americans soundly rejecting the Republican budget to end Medicare–with a new CNN poll out today finding 58% oppose and opposition from senior citizens even higher at 74%–House Republicans doubled down on ending Medicare by passing a Rule on the Homeland Security Appropriations bill which “deems” that the Republican budget is passed:

Provides that H. Con. Res. 34, including the related 302(a) allocations printed in the Rules Committee report accompanying the resolution, shall have force and effect until a conference report on the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2012 is adopted.

House Democrats unanimously opposed the Rule today and the Republican budget ending Medicare which increases costs by $6,000 a year for seniors, cuts benefits immediately, and puts insurance companies in charge.

Jared Polis explains what they did:

 


HOW PAUL RYAN'S AND GOP'S BUDGET DESTROYS MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY

Check out these videos of voters letting Republicans have it for slashing seniors’ health care benefits so millionaires and billionaires can get another tax cut.

The same right-wing special interests that attacked House Democrats for supporting Health Care Reform are back in full force thanking House Republicans for their vote to end Medicare. And get this, their misleading ads claim that by voting to end Medicare, Republicans were actually trying to protect it. Huh?

Here are the facts: if Speaker Boehner and House Republicans simply chose to get rid of the huge tax breaks for the wealthy, Big Oil, and companies that offshore to avoid paying their fair share, they wouldn’t have to slash health care benefits for seniors at all.

See for yourself:

 


REPUBLICAN PAUL RYAN RUNS HOME TO MOMMY

These are indisputable historical facts. To Republicans like Ryan and the carnival-sideshow performers seeking the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, however, mere reality is out of bounds. To resort to facts is to play the "blame game," a formulation seductive to simpletons essentially because it rhymes.

Then, after Ryan expressed his hurt feelings, Obama gigged him with the old open-microphone trick. Reporters overheard him during a supposedly unguarded moment: "When Paul Ryan says ... he's just being America's accountant ... This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription-drug bill that cost as much as my healthcare bill -- but wasn't paid for."

Mommy, he's picking on me!

See, that's the thing about these disciples of Ayn Rand, the bad novelist deeply appealing to insecure adolescents who dream of greatness because they're acing ninth grade. Unlike those of us drawn to John R. Tunis at an equivalent age, they never had to come to terms with their inability to hit a curveball.

So the magical thinking goes on forever. After their 30-year War on Arithmetic, these jokers have persuaded themselves that the current crisis enables a kamikaze attack on the 20th century.

Republicans, writes Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, "recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the 'welfare state,' a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

"The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts ... one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors."

Hence President Obama none too subtly reminding his invited Republican guests who's got the power: "They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs," he said. "That's not right. And it's not going to happen as long as I'm president."

Me, I blame Bill Clinton. No zipper malfunction, no President George W. Bush, no Bush tax cuts, no 2011 budget crisis. It's that simple.

But I digress. Having decoyed the GOP into overplaying its hand, Obama can't let voters forget it. Americans have succumbed to this fantasy before. Lower taxes, more revenue! Prosperity for all! What could possibly go wrong? And that handsome Mr. Ryan seems so sincere on television.

No retreating into the White House Fortress of Civility. The president's got to go into quasi-campaign mode, repeating the message until all but the most easily duped understand that they've been swindled by the proverbial deal that was always too good to be true.


This post first appeared on Hullabaloo July 27 2010

Matthews asked Paul Ryan (R)  if we should let the Bush tax cuts expire:

"I don’t think it’s a good idea, especially when we’re trying to come out of a jobless recovery and slow growth recovery. We’ve got unemployment at almost 10%, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on the economy. The worst thing for deficit reduction is a slow economy. You hit small businesses with these kinds of tax rate increases and you’ll slow down the economy even further…

"I would rescind the unspent stimulus funds, I would rescind the all the TARP funds, I would do a federal hiring freeze and spending freeze for the rest of the year and I would go back and cut discretionary spending back to 08 levels and freeze that spending going forward.

You and I can get into a debate about Keynesian economics if it worked or didn’t work, I don’t think it did.

I suppose there’s something to be said for consistency, but this perfectly illustrates just how radical Republican “thinking”, such as it is, really is on economics. I suspect that he believes he’s rejecting Keynesianism for Randism and that he’s very cutting edge. But the truth is that this is not new, even by Rand’s stale 50 year old philosophy’s standards:

From before his entry to the presidency, [Hoover] was a proponent of the concept that public-private cooperation was the way to achieve high long-term growth. Hoover feared that too much intervention or coercion by the government would destroy individuality and self-reliance, which he considered to be important American values. Both his ideals and the economy were put to the test with the onset of the Great Depression. At the outset of the Depression, Hoover claims in his memoirs that he rejected Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s suggested “leave-it-alone” approach, and called many business leaders to Washington to urge them not to lay off workers or cut wages. ..

Calls for greater government assistance increased as the US economy continued to decline. Hoover rejected direct federal relief payments to individuals, as he believed that a dole would be addictive, and reduce the incentive to work. He was also a firm believer in balanced budgets, and was unwilling to run a budget deficit to fund welfare programs. However, Hoover did pursue many policies in an attempt to pull the country out of depression. In 1929, Hoover authorized the Mexican Repatriation program to combat rampant unemployment, the burden on municipal aid services, and remove people seen as usurpers of American jobs. The program was largely a forced migration of approximately 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans to Mexico, and continued through to 1937…

Hoover in 1931 urged the major banks in the country to form a consortium known as the National Credit Corporation (NCC). The NCC was an example of Hoover’s belief in volunteerism as a mechanism in aiding the economy. Hoover encouraged NCC member banks to provide loans to smaller banks to prevent them from collapsing. The banks within the NCC were often reluctant to provide loans, usually requiring banks to provide their largest assets as collateral. It quickly became apparent that the NCC would be incapable of fixing the problems it was designed to solve, and it was replaced by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

By 1932, the Great Depression had spread across the globe. In the U.S., unemployment had reached 24.9%, a drought persisted in the agricultural heartland, businesses and families defaulted on record numbers of loans, and more than 5,000 banks had failed. Tens-of-thousands of Americans who found themselves homeless and began congregating in the numerous Hoovervilles (also known as shanty towns or tent cities) that had begun to appear across the country. The name ‘Hooverville’ was coined by their residents as a sign of their disappointment and frustration with the perceived lack of assistance from the federal government. In response, Hoover and the Congress approved the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, to spur new home construction, and reduce foreclosures. The plan seemed to work, as foreclosures dropped, but it was seen as too little, too late.

Never say that Ryan or Hoover didn’t want to end the economic crises they lived through. But they both believed that government should have balanced budgets with low taxes above all else, and that the people needed “tough love” or they would decline into indolence. They thought that businesses always knew best and they would voluntarily “do the right thing” (although I would argue that Ryan actually believes they cannot possibly do the wrong thing.) Hoover scrambled after it was too late to put some more rational policies in place, but not in time to halt the Great Depression of his own political ignominy.

The difference is that Hoover didn’t know any better and didn’t have the lesson of the Great Depression to fall back on and Ryan does. He apparently missed class that day (or made it up by reading Amity Schlaes puerile garbage for extra credit.) And anyone who knows better can do nothing but scream at the TV — “he’s actually trying to put us into another Great Depression” — when they hear him say these things, as I just did.

He can say that Keynesianism hasn’t worked in the first year of the stimulus, but that is not a repudiation of Keynes. The economy has not gotten worse, it has stayed moribund for a variety of reasons, some of which can be attributed to the restraint of Keynesianism by neo-liberals and Randian ideologues alike, rather than its application. But on the other side we have a perfect historical example in living color with cherries and whipped cream on top of Ryan’s prescriptions definitely making things worse over a prolonged period of several years. It’s called Hooverism. Anyone who actually goes on TV pushing those prescriptions can never be taken seriously.

BTW: He also claimed that the taxes and the wars have nothing to do with the deficit. He lied:

 
 
 

Ayn Rand -- Russian émigré, founder of the mid-century Objectivist movement, putative philosopher, writer of the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and the inspiration for a small but intensely devoted band of acolytes -- has been enjoying a resurgence of late on the American right. The cultural capstone to this resurgence arrived last week with the release of a filmed adaptation of the first third of Atlas Shrugged, independently financed by a wealthy devotee of Rand's work and pitched explicitly at the Tea Party demographic. FreedomWorks, one of the central organizations in that movement, rolled out a massive campaign to encourage audience attendance and to push the film into as many theaters as possible. The 2011 CPAC conference held the world premiere of Atlas Shrugged's trailer, and the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation hosted an advanced screening of the film. This marketing tactic is understandable. The opening line of Atlas Shrugged -- "Who is John Galt?" -- has appeared again and again on signs at Tea Party protests across the nation. The Tea Party builds the theme of "Going Galt" into its rhetoric -- a reference to the strike of industry titans organized by the hero of the novel. Glenn Beck praises Atlas Shrugged regularly on his various shows, and even held a panel dedicated to asking if Rand's fiction is finally becoming reality. The Economist reported several sharp spikes in sales of Atlas Shrugged since 2007. And according to the Ayn Rand Institute, sales of the novel hit an all-time annual record that year, then reached a new record in 2008, with possibly another peak in 2009. By all accounts, Ayn Rand is now one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party.

RAND'S INFLUENCE ON GOP

"For over half a century," says Jennifer Burns, a recent biographer of the novelist, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right." And with good reason. Besides her prominence in the Tea Party's intellectual and cultural lexicon, some of the Republican Party's leading lights have cited Rand by name as an inspiration. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said she was the reason he entered public service. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called Atlas Shrugged "his foundational book." Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an avowed fan and quotes extensively from Rand's novels at Congressional hearings. His father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told listeners that readers ate up Rand's Alas Shrugged because "it was telling the truth," and even conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography -- and apparently has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of The Fountainhead. The phenomenon holds amidst the right-wing media as well: Rush Limbaugh called her "brilliant," Glenn Beck's panel on Rand featured the president of the Ayn Rand Institute Yaroom Brook, and Andrew Napolitano enthusiastically recounted a story in which his college-age self introduces his mother to Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness. John Stossel and Sean Hannity have name-dropped her as well. Going further back, Alan Greenspan -- former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a fierce advocate of free-market ideology -- is an acolyte of Rand's thinking and knew her personally, and Rand was also dubbed the unofficial "novelist laureate" of the Reagan Administration by Maureen Dowd. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Ayn Rand's reach on the right is how unremarked-upon it most often is.

RAND'S PHILOSOPHY

The philosophy, such as it was, which Rand laid out in her novels and essays was a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary. Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between "moochers" and "producers," with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry. The "moochers" were more or less everyone else, leading TNR's Jonathan Chait to describe Rand's thinking as a kind of inverted Marxism. Marx considered wealth creation to result solely from the labor of the masses, and viewed the owners of capital and the economic elite to be parasites feeding off that labor. Rand simply reversed that value judgment, applying the role of "parasite" to everyday working people instead. On the level of personal behavior, the heroes in Rand's novels commit borderline rape, blow up buildings, and dynamite oil fields -- actions which Rand portrays as admirable and virtuous fulfillments of the characters' personal will and desires. Her early diaries gush with admiration for William Hickman, a serial killer who raped and murdered a young girl. Hickman showed no understanding of "the necessity, meaning or importance of other people," a trait Rand apparently found quite admirable. For good measure, Rand dismissed the feminist movement as "false" and "phony," denigrated both Arabs and Native Americans as "savages" (going so far as to say the latter had no rights and that Europeans were right to take North American lands by force) and expressed horror that taxpayer money was being spent on government programs aimed at educating "subnormal children" and helping the handicapped. Needless to say, when Rand told Mike Wallace in 1953 that altruism was evil, that selfishness is a virtue, and that anyone who succumbs to weakness or frailty is unworthy of love, she meant it.

PAUL RYAN'S AYN RAND BUDGET

Given that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the lead architect of the GOP's 2012 budget plan, his own devotion to the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and its author are worth noting. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has dismissed the connection as Ryan merely saying some "kind words about Ayn Rand," which simply isn't a plausible characterization given what we know: Ryan was a speaker at the Ayn Rand Centenary Conference in 2005, where he described Social Security as a "collectivist system" and cited Rand as his primary inspiration for entering public service. He has at least two videos on his Facebook page in which he heaps praise on the author. "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism," he says. All of which reflects a rather more serious devotion than a few mere kind words. So it should come as no surprise that Ryan's plan comports almost perfectly with Rand's world view. He guts Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole host of housing, food, and educational support programs, leaving the country's middle-class and most vulnerable citizens with far less support. Then he uses approximately half of the money freed by those cuts to reduce taxes on the most wealthy Americans. By transforming Medicare into a system of vouchers whose value increases at the rate of inflation, he undoes Medicare's most humane feature -- the shouldering of risk at the social level -- and leaves individuals and seniors to shoulder ever greater amounts of risk on their own. But if your intellectual and moral lodestar is a woman who railed against altruism as "evil" and considered the small pockets of highly successful individuals to be morally superior, it's a perfectly logical plan to put forward.


Ayn Rand Movie Fails in Free Market (Despite Tea Party Hype)

Bush and Wicca and Doreen ValienteIn Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Claims"

The reviews of "Atlas Shrugged" have been merciless. And despite a major push by Tea Party networks, Ayn Rand's paean to ego-centrism has not drawn audiences.

 

The film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s soporific paean to malevolent ego-centrism, has finally been released to the throngs of slobbering Tea Baggers desperate for some cinematic validation. Sadly for these pathetic flim(flam) buffs, this flick hardly fills the void in their lost souls.

The movie is being released as “Part 1″ with the promise of two more in the unlikely event that this one turns a profit. But the circumstances of its production foretell its dreary fate. Producer John Aglialoro has stated publicly that he was forced to commence production a few days short of the expiration of his rights to the book. As a result it was hurried into production without a script or a cast. He also admitted that casting was difficult because “Talent agencies were not sending us many of their top people.” Apparently no one of note wanted to be associated with a project that had been aborted on numerous occasions. That’s why one of the most popular books of the last half century is coming to the screen with unknown TV talent in the leads. The director complained that he didn’t have the necessary time to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s almost as if the principals are preemptively making excuses for why the movie sucks so bad. And they aren’t the the only ones who think so. The reviews have been merciless:

Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the big screen. They should have waited longer.”

Kurt Loder, Reason Online: “The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.”

Peter Dubruge, Variety: “Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave.”

Washington Post: “Nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”

Some of the most damning criticism highlighted above comes from those who might otherwise be considered the film’s target audience, for instance the Wall Street Journal (Fox’s newsprint cousin) and Reason Magazine (the imprint of Randian Libertarianism).

From the start the film’s prospects were dim. It was an independent with little backing and decades of false starts. In order to preserve his rights, Aglialoro bankrolled the project with $10 million of his own money. Without a heavyweight distributor they had to be creative. So they hit up the Tea Party circuit for support.

A trailer for the film debuted at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. It was screened for such cultural tastemakers as John Boehner, and Andrew Breitbart (yes, that was sarcasm). Then they brought in the big guns: FreedomWorks, the AstroTurf Tea Party organizers sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers. Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks went to work promoting the film via his Freedom Connector social network (which has been prominently plugged by Glenn Beck), and a massive email list. It doesn’t appear to have worked.

The boxoffice for the opening weekend, timed to coincide with the federal tax filing deadline, was middling at best. The movie pulled in $1.7 million for three days from 300 screens. The take dropped nearly 50% from Friday to Sunday, which doesn’t bode well for increasing the number of screens in the weeks ahead (and the universally dreadful reviews won’t help either). The filmmakers are already touting the per-screen attendance numbers, but what they fail to acknowledge is that per-screen sales are generally higher for limited releases because more people are funneled into fewer venues.

The truth is that the Tea Party marketing has been less than spectacular (perhaps because the Tea Party doesn’t actually exist). If FreedomWorks has a couple of million people on their mailing list and all of the film’s viewers were FreedomWorkers (not likely), then 90% of their supporters ignored the call to action. The weak turnout by the Tea Party set mirrors their weakness at the annual Tax Day rallies where mere dozens bothered to show up.

The affinity for Ayn Rand by the Tea Party has always been a bit of a mystery. Sure, there is a shared hostility for government, particularly when it endeavors to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide for the general welfare. Both Rand and the TP’s despise efforts to aid society’s less fortunate, whom they believe deserve to suffer. But how do predominantly Christian, patriot, Tea Partyers justify their idolization of an anti-American, atheist who regards compassion as evil and selfishness as the pinnacle of human values?

Ironically, a key theme of the book and the film is the rejection of society by the wealthy business class who mysteriously disappear. There is a correlation to that plot point in contemporary America as we have already witnessed the disappearance of business luminaries like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernard Ebbers, and John Rigas, to name a few. It doesn’t appear that society has suffered from their absence. Yet there is another industrial titan who not only hasn’t vanished, he is masquerading across the airwaves as a presidential candidate. I’m not sure Ayn Rand would approve of this, however, the popularity of Donald Trump at Tea Parties is perfectly understandable. He is the ultimate manifestation of Randian politics: a greedy, conceited, selfish bully. But for every Tea Party supporter there are probably twenty other Americans who wish that Trump would “go Galt.”

There is another curious irony in the marketing strategy for the film. Tea Partyers and other Rand fans were furiously emailing appeals to their friends and Facebook buddies to implore them to see the movie -- not because they considered it great cinema, they hadn’t seen it yet -- but because strong ticket sales would somehow validate the book’s principles. In Rand’s world money equals truth. They regard the quality of the film as secondary to the need for box office success in order to advance their agenda and to prove the power of the Tea Party as a consumer/political force. In other words, these Utopian free marketeers were afraid to trust the free market to decide the film’s fate.

Alas for them, it will anyway. And in the end, all anyone will remember of this drivel is that, when moviegoers were presented with a poorly planned, shoddily executed load of dreck, the audience shrugged.

This is far more entertaining:.

Mark Howard is an artist and author and the publisher of News Corpse. His political and socially disruptive artwork has been displayed internationally.

 


If it were in the interest of the ruling oligarchs to convince a majority of the public that the earth is flat, could they succeed?  Excerpts from an article an alternet.org written by Dr. Earnest Partridge on April 20, 2011

 

Photo Credit: ajagendorf25

"In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

Is there any limit to the outrageousness of the GOP lies?

Is there any limit to the capacity of a large number of our fellow citizens to accept these lies?

If it were in the interest of the ruling oligarchs to convince a majority of the public that the earth is flat, could they succeed?

This is, after all, a public almost half of which refuses to accept evolution -- the central coordinating concept of modern biology. And approximately half of the GOP primary voters believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

These unsettling thoughts came to my mind when I heard Michael Steele remark that "not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job." This from a man who held a government job as Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. That remark was echoed by Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana and Sarah Palin and I can testify that I have heard it elsewhere.

Michael Steele's comment is more audacious even than the claim that the earth is flat. (After all, the earth looks flat, doesn’t it?). To say that government never created a single job flies in the face of ordinary, everyday experience. What are police, firefighters, teachers, judges, prosecutors, postal workers, military personnel, etc engaged in if not “government jobs.” What is the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, the certification of the safety of our food and drugs, air traffic control, if they are not “government jobs.”

The claim that government never creates jobs is so preposterous that it seems pointless even to bother to refute it.

Yet somehow, some GOP politicians freely utter this absurdity without fear of being laughed off the stage of public debate. And apparently some people, failing to give the claim even a moment’s critical reflection, believe it. Otherwise, why would Steele and others say such nonsense in the first place?

And this is only the most egregious of a long string of Republican lies thrown at the public by right-wing politicians and pundits and largely unchallenged by a compliant corporate media. Among them:

  • Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet and to have discovered the toxic contamination of Love Canal.

  • John Kerry’s allegedly heroic war record was fraudulent.

  • Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is a secret Muslim.

  • Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

  • Global warming is a gigantic hoax, perpetrated by thousands of deceitful scientists.

  • Obama has raised taxes.

  • “Obamacare” is a “socialist government takeover of health care.”

  • Ninety percent of Planned Parenthood funding is for abortion services.

  • Elections in the United States are always accurate and fair.

These are not “matters of opinion,” they are flatly and demonstrably false. Clear and decisive refutation of all these claims are available to anyone who cares to examine the evidence. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously remarked, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts.

Then there are the contradictions:

  • Teachers, police officers and firefighters are greedy. But billionaire CEOs and hedge-fund managers are not.

  • Wall street banksters are entitled to their million-dollar bonuses because these bonuses are contractual obligations with their firms. But the states are not required to honor their contractual obligations to public workers, obligations such as pensions and health coverage.

  • Federal revenues are increased by cutting taxes (i.e., revenues).

  • During the Bush administration, “Reagan proved [that] deficits don’t matter.” (Dick Cheney) In the Obama administration, the GOP tells us that the federal deficit is the Number One economic problem today.

  • “Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.” (Michael Steele, etc.). “Since President Obama has taken office, the federal government had added 200 thousand new federal jobs.” (John Boehner. Also false, by the way. The correct number is 56,000).

And finally, there is the “dogma” -- a priori “first principles” too sacred to be doubted or subjected to rational analysis and confirmation:

  • “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” (Ronald Reagan).

  • Market fundamentalism: “A free market [co-ordinates] the activity of millions of people, each seeking his own interest, in such a way as to make everyone better off.” (Milton Friedman)

  • Privatization: "Whenever we find an approach to the extension of private property rights [in the natural environment,] we find superior results.” (Robert J. Smith).

  • “There is no such thing as society.” (Margaret Thatcher)

  • “There is no such entity as ‘the public.’” (Ayn Rand)

These last two dogmas bear significant implications. For if there is no such thing as “society,” it follows that there are no social problems or “social injustice. Poverty is the fault of individuals who are sinful and lazy. And if there is no “public,” then there is no “public interest,” and thus no need for government to promote same.

A large portion of the American public believes these lies, accepts these contradictions, and embraces these dogmas, not because of supporting evidence (there is none) or cogent arguments (there are none), but out of sheer unquestioned repetition in the corporate media.

Students of propaganda methods call this “The Big Lie” -- a term that has its origins in the Nazi Regime.

Congressman Steve Cohen (Democrat, Tennessee) correctly observed that when the GOP claimed that “Obamacare” was “government takeover of health care,” they were engaging in a “Big Lie.” Yet when he said this on the floor of the House of Representatives, he was so mercilessly hounded by the media and his colleagues, that he felt obliged to apologize.

So now the corporate media has, in effect, ruled the expression, “The Big Lie,” out of bounds of polite political discourse, despite the fact that the term precisely describes the successful method of the right wing propagandists. In short, those who wish to complain against this practice have been effectively disarmed.

So where is the bewildered citizen to go if that citizen is to avoid the big lies and to encounter a fund of verifiable facts and informed opinion? Rule One: stay clear of the corporate media. Even The New York Times, once regarded as “the newspaper of historical record,” can no longer be trusted to deliver “all the news that’s fit to print.”Remember the hullabaloo about Bill Clinton’s “Whitewater” deal? Remember Judith Miller’s breathless disclosure of Saddam Hussein’s nefarious “aluminum tubes”? All promoted by the New York Times. All false.

So where do we find authentic news? Try National Public Radio (while it lasts) and, of course, the internet (until it is privatized and sold to the media conglomerates) where one can find a multitude of independent progressive websites. Also deserving honorable mention is the evening contingent of MSNBC -- O’Donnell, Maddow and Schultz. Even so, along with the entire corporate media, these worthies never question the integrity of our elections and only rarely discuss the size of the military budget, now approximately equal all the other military budgets in the world combined, including those of our allies. It should be noted that NBC, the parent company of MSNBC, is half owned by the world’s largest military contractor, General Electric.

In addition, some of the best sources of news are foreign -- and all available on the internet. They include the BBC (England) and the CBC (Canada), The Real News (broadcast from Toronto, Canada), Al Jazeera English, and, amazingly, Russia Today. The Russians, it seems, are returning the favor that we bestowed upon them during the Soviet Era, when the U.S. and Western Europe sent accurate news across “the iron curtain” via The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Yes, it has come to that!

But these are all pathetically weak voices accessed by thousands, arrayed against the corporate media that is devoured by millions. And as long as this remains the case, and those millions accept uncritically the lies, myths and dogmas fed to them by the mega-corporations that own our government, there appears to be little hope of a return to economic justice and democratic government that we once enjoyed in the United States of America.

But all is not lost. As the folk tale of the boy who cried “Wolf!” reminds us, liars tend through time to lose their credibility. We should strive to accelerate this process as it applies to the corporate media by exposing the lies and boycotting the sponsors of those who tell the lies.

The experience of the Russians is instructive. My Russian friends tell me that after decades of unabashed lying by Pravda, Izvestia and Gostelradio, fewer and fewer Soviet citizens believed the state media. The facts bear them out, as history discloses that Russians instead sought out foreign sources of news such as The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. (See my “What if America Loses its Voice?”). Some Russians were so desperate for authentic news and uncensored opinion that they risked arrest and prison by producing and distributing underground manuscripts, "Samizdat," hand to hand. In the United States today, a comparable "American Samizdat" can be found on the internet.

When the Soviet government lost control of the hearts and minds of its citizens, its days were numbered.

In the United States, the corporate media, unlike the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is sensitive to market forces. As ever more Americans refuse to believe the lies served up by the corporate media, the media will either reform or become politically irrelevant, and more and more attention will be directed to responsible sources of news, both foreign and domestic. The fate of Glenn Beck’s TV show and the diminishing audience of Fox “News” may be harbingers of such reform.

Whatever the outcome, Thomas Jefferson’s warning remains enduringly true: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

The restoration of sanity in our public discourse is essential to the restoration of our democracy. Necessary, but not sufficient. In addition, the liars in public offices must be removed from those offices. And that will only happen if official election returns can once again be trusted to reflect the will of the voters, and not the output of secret software written by right wing partisans.

Dr. Ernest Partridge publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".


PAUL RYAN BOOED AT HIS OWN TOWN HALL

Excerpts from an article by Andrew Leonard on salon.com Thursday, Apr 21, 2011

The Republican legislator's own constituents send him a very simple message: Tax the rich! Video

Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Paul Ryan booed at his own town hall

Every Democratic legislator needs to sit down and watch the video of Paul Ryan appearing at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin on Wednesday. A constituent lays out the problem of growing concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent of the U.S. population, and then questions the wisdom of continuing to give tax breaks to the wealthy.

He is applauded by the audience.

Ryan, in response, attacks the notion that wealth should be redistributed, and says "we do tax the top."

He is booed, heartily.

The message could not be any clearer. The people -- arch-conservative Paul Ryan's people!-- have spoken. Tax. The. Rich.

 


The following contains excerpts from an article by Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast on-line Blog April 15, 2011

THE CHURCH, THE STATE, AND PAUL RYAN'S NON-BUDGET

.... I believe the federal budget crisis is real and must be tackled by a radical reform of tax and spending soon. I also find it morally hard to deny vulnerable people healthcare that is available and far more effective than ever before in human history.

Hence my mixed response to the Ryan and Obama plans. I agree with Ross that the Ryan plan was indeed brave (perhaps insanely so) as well as deeply flawed (it seems absurd to me to rule out any net increase in tax revenues when the debt is this damaging, and loopy to insist still on supply-side fantasy when it comes to future growth). I agree with Ezra that the Obama plan is preferable in terms of suppressing healthcare inefficiency, but still doubt it's radical enough to save us from mounting debt without centralized and politicized rationing on a scale we've never seen before.

But the Catholic Church is pretty clearly in favor of Obama's vision rather than Ryan's. I don't need this April 13 statement to know that, but it is clarifying:

"The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources. A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."

This you won't find at NRO - because it sounds a lot like Obama's speech on Wednesday.

... I don't believe Catholics should have their policy decisions made for them by the USCCB; that would be Christianism. But a humane concern for the poor, sick and elderly is integral to the Gospel message and spirit. And my own gut-unease about withholding available healthcare - perhaps more than any other good - from the needy is rooted, I think, in this Catholic admonition.

The Bishops are often cited by men such as Newt Gingrich as unquestionable authorities when it comes to questions of abortion, marriage and euthanasia. So it is perfectly fair to confront Newt with the stark distinction between his views on the budget and the Vatican's and the American Bishops'. Does he agree with the Bishops of his new Church? And was the social teaching of the Church one reason for his conversion? Or was it an issue he just agreed to disagree on?

FWIW, here's a blog-spat between a liberal Catholic and a priest in my own archdiocese of Washington. The latest foray is here. It's not as simple as the liberal Catholic makes it out to be - isn't debt reduction part of the common good? - but it's very hard to see how the Ryan plan (with no revenue increases and no cuts in defense) can pass muster even for the most conservative Catholic.

 


IS PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET AGAINST GOD?

This document contains excerpts from an article by Jim Wallis of Sojourners.  He is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

Congressman Paul Ryan makes every member of his staff read Atlas Shrugged by philosopher Ayn Rand, the shameless promoter of the gospel of aggressive self-interest.   As I read Congressman Ryan's new budget proposal, it makes perfect sense.

While widely lauded by conservatives, Congressman Ryan's budget isn't really about deficit reduction. It's about choices that will determine what kind of a country we become. And Paul Ryan has made the choice to hurt people who don't have the political clout to defend themselves. Two-thirds of the long-term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad. At the same time, he proposed tax cuts up to 30 percent for some of our country's wealthiest corporations. Let me say that again: Two-thirds of the cuts come at the expense of already struggling people and families, while corporations posting record profits get tax breaks. In short, the most vulnerable members of society are being attacked by Ryan and his supporters. This makes them bullies.

In dramatic contrast, Ryan has chosen to help the people who need help the least. Wealthy individuals and companies reap a windfall of benefits in Ryan's plan -- with tax cuts and breaks, continued subsidies and loopholes for every powerful special interest, and increased corporate welfare payments from the government. Congressman Ryan and his supporters have carefully and faithfully rewarded the rich people who make their campaign contributions, and, in most cases, have also rewarded themselves as rich people. This makes them corrupt.

And, as self-professed budget hawks, they have completely ignored the most consistently egregious, wasteful, and morally compromised area of the whole federal budget -- our endless and unaccountable military spending. Paul Ryan and the Republicans would cut nothing from the Pentagon profligacy. This makes them hypocrites.

You may think that my language sounds too strong: "bullies", "corrupt", "hypocrites." But listen to the prophet Isaiah from the same Bible Ryan professes to believe in:

Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims -- laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. What will you have to say on Judgment Day, when Doomsday arrives out of the blue? Who will you get to help you? What good will your money do you?  (Isaiah 10:1-3, The Message)

Ryan's budget seems to follow, almost line by line, the "oppressive statues" Isaiah rails against. Ryan's budget slashes health care for the poor and elderly by gutting Medicaid and undermining Medicare, and cuts funding for food stamps, early childhood development programs, low-income housing assistance, and educational programs for students.

Cuts of this magnitude for people of modest and low-incomes will result in a direct increase of poverty and misery in America. Furthermore, poverty-focused international assistance proven to save lives is under continued attack. As Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson said, not all cuts are equal because some will lead to "a fever and a small coffin."

Simply put, the Ryan budget is a bonanza for the rich and devastation for the poor, and it will never be accepted by the religious community. And I don't believe Ryan's budget expresses the values of the American people.

Of course, many Americans, including in the faith community, believe that rising deficits are immoral and a threat to our future.  But how you reduce a deficit is also a moral issue, and to do so by further impoverishing the poor in order to add more wealth to the wealthy is not an acceptable political or moral strategy.

Ayn Rand said, "Money is the barometer of a society's virtue," and she made no apology for not liking the teachings of Jesus. But for many of us the Paul Ryan budget is a moral non-starter.

Yesterday, as President Obama offered his budget, he both failed and succeeded. What Obama failed to say was that we are currently wasting lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan on a strategy that fails to make us any safer. Today, I am joining with some fiscal conservatives and Republican members of Congress at a "Rethink Afghanistan" press conference. We don't agree on a lot of other budget issues, but we are united in our belief that we are wasting lives and money with misguided strategy in Afghanistan. For those who truly care about the deficit, I believe this is the first place we should start cutting.

The president succeeded yesterday by making this important statement: "In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. They need to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That's not right. And it's not going to happen as long as I'm president."

This last line was the clearest message we've heard for some time from the White House. It's a message President Obama will have to repeat over and over again in the months ahead against all the pressures to compromise. Presidents sometimes have to draw some clear lines in the sand, and the time for this president to do that is now.


REP. PAUL RYANS's MEDICARE PRIVATIZATION PLAN INCREASES COSTS, BUDGET OFFICE SAYS

The Republican congressman's proposal to privatize Medicare would mean a dramatic hike in U.S. healthcare costs for the elderly, an independent analysis finds. Seniors would pay almost double — more than $12,510 a year.

Excerpts from an article in the LA Times on April 07, 2011 by Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau.

When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan unveiled his blueprint this week for cutting federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade, he argued that a revamping of the government's health safety net would rein in skyrocketing costs.

But because commercial insurers cost more to run than government plans, the Wisconsin Republican's proposal to privatize Medicare starting in 2022 would actually spark a dramatic increase in how much the nation spends on healthcare for the elderly, according to an independent analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Rep. Ryan's Office did not respond to repeated requests for comment (Got something to hide Mr. Ryan?)


FACT-CHECKING THE RYAN BUDGET PLAN

An excerpt of an article on factcheck.org  

 “We need to get rid of all these accounting tricks, all these budget gimmicks, and we've got to attack the drivers of our debt.”  -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, April 5, 2011

With a snazzy video presentation and a plan long on rhetoric and short on details, Rep. Ryan unveiled his 2012 “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint Tuesday, setting the stage of a titanic clash of government philosophies. Give Ryan credit for his willingness to offer some bold ideas on spending, including fundamentally changing the venerable Medicare and Medicaid programs — after all, President Obama punted on those issues — even as Ryan refuses to consider any kind of tax increases to deal with the growing budget deficit.

In any case, the Fact Checker doesn’t deal in philosophical questions; we look at cold, hard facts. Ryan on Tuesday suggested he was going to get rid of “these accounting tricks, all these budget gimmicks” in writing his budget plan. So how did he do?  Here are some initial findings.

The Facts

First of all, his fancy presentation stacks the deck a bit. His budget presentation shows a scary-looking graph depicting an ocean of red stretching out into the future. The graph is titled, “We are in a Spending-Driven Debt Crisis” and says it is based on “CBO’s Alternative Fiscal Scenario.”  But then when you actually look at one of CBO papers that outlines this scenario, it turns out that the scary scenario is also based on taxes being too low, not just spending being too high. 

In fact, taxes are a big part of the problem. The CBO paper assumes, among other things,  the Bush era tax cuts are extended forever (as Ryan proposes to do), the alternative minimum tax that increasingly snares middle-income Americas is indexed for inflation (Ryan says he will deal with this problem) and tax law evolves so that tax revenues remain at 19 percent of GDP (as Ryan proposes to do.)

The alternative fiscal scenario also accounts for other aspects of current law, such as assuming discretionary spending will match the rate of growth of the nation’s economy (gross domestic product). But a large part of the ocean of red comes from the revenue side of the equation, not just the spending side, as Ryan implies.

Ryan also claims that his proposal has the imprimatur of the Congressional Budget Office. The budget document declares: “According to the Congressional Budget Office, this budget charts a path to complete balance. By 2040, the CBO estimates that this budget will produce annual surpluses and begin paying down the national debt.”

This Seriously Overstates the Case.

Yes, CBO has produced a letter in which it plugged various data, plans and scenarios provided by Ryan’s staff into its budget database. But just as Republicans have repeatedly complained about the cost estimates associated with the Obama health law, this document largely reflects the scenarios that Ryan has concocted. There are, for instance, no real revenue estimates, just an assumption that federal revenues will remain at about 19 percent of GDP.

In fact, CBO included a major caveat emptor: “CBO’s long-term scenarios and the proposal analyzed here are all subject to pressures over the long term that would make them difficult to sustain.” It said that although under Ryan’s plan debt would shrink relative to the size of the economy, Medicare beneficiaries “would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the current program,” payments to doctors would shrink dramatically, states would have to pay substantially more for Medicaid and spending for programs other than Social Security and health programs “would be reduced far below historical levels relative to GDP.”

As the CBO dryly put it, “It is unclear whether and how future lawmakers would address the pressures” resulting from Ryan’s plan.

Indeed, the spending cuts proposed for the nonsecurity discretionary budget seem absurdly low. Obama’s budget would bring such spending to the lowest level since the Eisenhower administration — about 2.8 percent of GDP in 2016 — and that seemed unrealistic. But Ryan would bring it to about 2 percent of GDP by 2016, giving Americans a bare-bones government they have not experienced since before the Great Depression.

Mysteriously, though Ryan relies on the CBO to vouch for his plan, he appears to ignore CBO estimates that a repeal of the health care law would lead to an increase in the deficit. Instead, a substantial part of his claimed deficit reduction — $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years — comes from repealing the health care law. Where do those numbers come from? Ryan does not explain, and his spokesman did not respond to a query.

In one of the more dubious assertions, Ryan relies on a report from the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis to claim his budget would result in a gusher of jobs. Readers always should be wary when politicians rely on analyses from outside groups, rather than respected government auditors.

The Heritage uses “dynamic” budget analysis, which assumes such things as lower tax rates and less government spending will result in a burst of economic growth and thus more tax revenues, higher wages and more jobs. There has been a long dispute among economists about the actual effect — and whether it can be accurately measured. At first glance, this Heritage model comes up with some numbers that seem rather strange — in fact, so strange that Ryan does not even claim them in his presentation.

For instance, the Heritage analysis claims that the unemployment rate would hit 2.8 percent in 2021, which is a rate that has never been achieved. The claim must have been even too much for Ryan, since his budget document only mentions a 4 percent unemployment rate in 2015 — which itself would be a neat trick.

The Pinocchio Test

We have only scratched the surface, but a pattern is emerging. The Ryan budget plan relies on dubious assertions, questionable assumptions and fishy figures. The ideas may be bold, but the budget presentation falls short of his claim that he is getting rid of budget gimmicks.

Two Pinocchios


REP. PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET PLAN IS SEVERELY FLAWED

The below are excerpts from an article by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post.  he is also a contributor to MSNBC. His work focuses on domestic and economic policymaking, as well as the political system that’s constantly screwing it up. He appears on The Rachel Maddow Show, Charlie Rose, Real Time with Bill Maher, The McLaughlin Report, the Colbert Report, and many more.

Just over a year ago, I wrote a column praising Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap. I called its ambition “welcome, and all too rare.” I said its dismissal of the status quo was “a point in its favor.” When the inevitable backlash came, I defended Ryan against accusations that he was a fraud, and that technical mistakes in his tax projections should be taken as evidence of dishonesty. I also, for the record, like Ryan personally, and appreciate his policy-oriented approach to politics.

So I believe I have some credibility when I say that the budget Ryan released last week is not courageous or serious or significant. It’s a joke, and a bad one.

For one thing, Ryan’s savings all come from cuts, and at least two-thirds of them come from programs serving the poor. The wealthy, meanwhile, would see their taxes lowered, and the Defense Department would escape unscathed. It is not courageous to attack the weak while supporting your party’s most inane and damaging fiscal orthodoxies. But the problem isn’t just that Ryan’s budget is morally questionable. It also wouldn’t work.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from Robert Reischauer, who directed the Congressional Budget Office from 1989 to 1995 and now leads the Urban Institute. “If this is a competition between Ryan and the Affordable Care Act on realistic approaches to curbing the growth of spending,” Reischauer says, “the Affordable Care Act gets five points and Ryan gets zero.” But Ryan would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with his own wishful plan. In doing so, he makes it harder, not easier, for us to balance the budget.

To understand why Reischauer gives Ryan a zero, you need to understand the technical trick that gives Ryan his savings. His proposal says the federal government’s contributions to Medicare and Medicaid can’t grow at more than the rate of inflation. Then he told CBO to score his plan based on that assumption. That’s where his money comes from. But it’s nonsense.

Health-care costs don’t grow at the rate of inflation. Ever. Previously, Ryan acknowledged that. His Roadmap capped federal contributions between inflation and the actual cost of medical care. He then developed a more bipartisan version of the idea with Alice Rivlin, who founded the Congressional Budget Office and directed the Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton. That one was capped at the growth of GDP plus 1 percentage point. Both targets were far more plausible than the fantasy target Ryan is now using.

So why the switch? He has not said. I suspect he couldn’t make the numbers add up without tax increases. The problem now, however, is that his numbers don’t add up at all. Rivlin — a budget hawk’s budget hawk — has abandoned the proposal that Ryan says she helped write. “The growth rate is much, much too low,” she says.

Rivlin’s worry is that Ryan’s plan won’t control costs so much as shift them to seniors. And the CBO agrees with her. It concluded that Ryan’s privatization plan would actually add to Medicare’s costs. In 2030, traditional Medicare insurance, CBO estimates, would only cost 60 percent as much as the private options Ryan is offering. But under Ryan’s plan, seniors would pay two-thirds of the cost, while under traditional Medicare, they’d pay only 25 percent.

That’s not cost control. That’s cost-shifting. And even assuming Congress would turn a deaf ear to the cries of seniors, it wouldn’t solve our nation’s fiscal problems. It would just shunt them off the federal budget and onto family budgets, and make them worse.

It’s been fashionable for commentators to admit to Ryan’s failings and wonder why Democrats haven’t proposed anything of their own. The chorus has grown loud enough that Obama is scheduled to give a speech Wednesday outlining his alternative. But unlike Ryan, Democrats not only have a plausible proposal for controlling health-care costs, they have a law.

The Affordable Care Act, as Reischauer says, isn’t perfect. You can argue whether its cost controls are a five or a six, but not that they’re a 10. Nevertheless, it’s built atop a theory that actually makes sense, because it focuses on making medical care cheaper rather than changing who pays for insurance.

The law has three big ideas for controlling costs: First, pay doctors for quality rather than volume; second, vastly increase the amount of information available about which treatments work best and when; and third, pay providers more to keep people out of the hospital than to treat them once they get in it. If any or all of these strategies work, costs will go down, but not because the premiums seniors pay have gone up.

And the law takes the next step by including some big ideas for how to spread cost controls through the health system: a board of experts empowered to reform Medicare even when Congress is paralyzed or worrying about other things; exchanges where people can easily compare insurers based on cost and quality (the same model Ryan uses in Medicare, incidentally); electronic medical records that give doctors easy access to the latest information about drugs and treatments.

One refrain we’ve heard about Ryan’s budget is that it may be flawed, but at least it’s a starting point. Maybe so, but it’s the wrong one.  Taking Ryan’s zero and making it into a five would be a lot harder than taking the Affordable Care Act’s f and making it into a seven — and the Affordable Care Act has the advantage of already being law, not just a glimmer in a congressman’s eye.


WHO IS PAUL RYAN: EXCERPTS FROM WIKIPEDIA

Early political career

Ryan worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Bob Kasten beginning in 1992 and as legislative director for Sam Brownback of Kansas from 1995 to 1997. He worked as a speechwriter to "drug czar" William Bennett and Jack Kemp during the latter's run for the vice presidency in 1996.

U.S. House of Representatives

Ryan is one of the three founding members of the House GOP Young Guns Program.

In 2008, Ryan voted for TARP, the Wall Street bailout that precipitated the Tea Party, and the bailout of GM and Chrysler.

In 2010, The Daily Telegraph ranked Ryan the ninth most influential US conservative. In 2011, Ryan was selected to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address.

Committee assignments

Roadmap for America's Future

On May 21, 2008 Ryan introduced H.R. 6110, titled "Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2008". This proposed legislation outlined a plan to deal with entitlement issues. Its stated objectives were to ensure universal access to health insurance; strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; lift the debt from future generations; and promote economic growth and job creation in America. The act would have abolished the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 2010. It did not move past committee.

On April 1, 2009, Ryan introduced his alternative to the 2010 United States federal budget. This proposed alternative would have eliminated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, lowered the top tax rate to 25%, introduced an 8.5% value-added consumption tax, and imposed a five-year spending freeze on all discretionary spending. It would also have replaced the Medicare system. Instead, it proposed that starting in 2021, the federal government would pay part of the cost of private medical insurance for individuals turning 65. Ryan's proposed budget would also have allowed taxpayers to opt out of the federal income taxation system with itemized deductions, and instead pay a flat 10 percent of adjusted gross income up to $100,000 and 25 percent on any remaining income. Ryan's proposed budget was heavily criticized by opponents for the lack of concrete numbers. It was ultimately rejected in the house by a vote of 293-137, with 38 Republicans in opposition.

In late January 2010, Ryan released a new version of his "Roadmap." It would give across the board tax cuts by reducing income tax rates; eliminating income taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest; and abolishing the corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the alternative minimum tax. The plan would privatize a portion of Social Security, eliminate the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance, and end traditional Medicare and most of Medicaid. The plan would replace these health programs with a system of vouchers whose value would decrease over time.

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman took issue with the contention that Ryan's plan would reduce the deficit, alleging that it only considered proposed spending cuts and failed to take into account the tax changes. According to Krugman, Ryan's plan "would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population" but would produce a $4 trillion revenue loss over ten years because of the tax cuts for the rich. Krugman went on to label the proposed spending cuts a "sham" because they depended on making a severe cut in domestic discretionary spending without specifying the programs to be cut, and on "dismantling Medicare as we know it", which is politically unrealistic.

In response to Krugman, economist and former American Enterprise Institute scholar Ted Gayer was more positive toward the Ryan plan. Gayer agreed that, as written, the plan would cause a $4 trillion revenue shortfall over 10 years. He noted, however, that Ryan had expressed a willingness to consider raising the rates in his tax plan. Gayer concluded that "Ryan’s vision of broad-based tax reform, which essentially would shift us toward a consumption tax, ... makes a useful contribution to this debate."

Political Campaigns

Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 when two-term incumbent Mark Neumann retired from his seat in order to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate. Ryan won both a Republican primary over 29-year-old pianist Michael J. Logan of Twin Lakes, and the general election against Democratic opponent Lydia Spottswood. Ryan successfully defended his seat against Democratic challenger Jeffrey C. Thomas in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

2008

Ryan defeated Democratic nominee Marge Krupp by a wide margin in the 2008 general election.

2010

Ryan defeated both Democratic nominee John Heckenlively and Libertarian nominee Joseph Kexel by a wide margin in the 2010 general election.


 

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