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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.
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
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!!!
Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and
"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)."
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."
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.
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.
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
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.”
watchdogs, Ryan’s effort to extend the tax breaks
creates the potential appearance of a conflict of
“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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
to the tax breaks, Ryan’s family has benefited in recent
years from another form or federal largesse—farm
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.
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 Shepherdon alternet.org July 11, 2011
Paul Ryan's $700-Wine-Sipping Buddies: Hedge Fund Manager And University Of Chicago Economist
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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
An excerpt from articles by
on swampland.time.com and
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
trying to give him
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
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
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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
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.
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.
I thought the GOP
was supposed to be the He-Man party. The party of tough choices,
masculine resolve and facing the music. So President Obama
invites a few Republicans for some straight talk about the
budget deficit and what happens?
Boo hoo hoo.
"Mommy, he called me a bad
name," Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan whined to reporters. "Make him
OK, that's a paraphrase.
The reportedly "furious" Ryan complained to PBS' Charlie Rose
that Obama's budget speech "was extremely political, very
partisan." An anonymous GOP aide told the Washington Post that
the sainted Ronald Reagan "had the decency to insult his enemies
when he was out of town."
Yeah, well, where I come
from, people have more respect for somebody who says it to your
face instead of behind your back. As for partisan, here's the
first sentence of altar boy Ryan's scheme to balance the budget
over 35 years by privatizing Medicare and cutting billionaire's
taxes: "Where the president has failed, House Republicans will
Elsewhere, Ryan accused the
"president and his party" of exploiting economic hardship to
indulge in a "reckless spending spree."
So Obama provided him a
first-person history lesson. "America's finances were in great
shape by the year 2000," he said. "We went from deficit to
surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely
debt-free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the baby
"But ... we lost our way in
the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for
two wars and an expensive prescription-drug program -- but we
didn't pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the
problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts
"And so, by the time I took
office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and
unprepared for a baby-boomer retirement that is now starting to
take place. When I took office, our projected deficit, annually,
was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible
financial crisis and a recession."
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
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
"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
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
Matthews asked Paul Ryan (R)
if we should let the Bush tax cuts expire:
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.
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
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:
Excerpts from an article on
alternet.org April 20, 2011
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
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
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.
philosophy, such as it was, which Rand laid out in her novels and essays
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
PAUL RYAN'S AYN RAND BUDGET
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
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
to put forward.
Politics, there are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican
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.
Excerpts from a article on
alternet.org April 21, 2011
by Mark Howard of News Corpse
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:
“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
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.”
“Nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
Dr. Ernest Partridge publishes the
website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
FWIW, here's a blog-spat
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
an article in the LA Times on
April 07, 2011
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?)
“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
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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;
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
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
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.
Economist and New York Times
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
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."
Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998
when two-term incumbent
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.
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