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Watch Out for Ryan, Not Trump

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Posted on Apr 27, 2011
AP / Jeffrey Phelps

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan ponders a question during a listening session Tuesday at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis.

By Bill Boyarsky

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the media fascination with the potential presidential campaign of the great American phony, Donald Trump, has been helpful to the Republican Party. 

The conventional view is that his personality and rants about President Barack Obama’s birthplace have taken all the attention away from his potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, hurting their chances. I hope that’s true. But there has also been a big benefit to the Republicans: The Trump story—simple enough to absorb cable news and the Sunday morning shows—has sidelined media examination of something much more important. That would be the policies the Republicans have in store for the country if they win the presidency and the Senate and retain control of the House in 2012.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, spelled out the GOP’s intentions in a proposal that is a toxic blend of benefit reductions for the poor and middle class and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate America. The House passed it earlier this month. Since it’s unlikely to become law in the near future—Obama and the Senate oppose it—the plan hasn’t been given the serious examination it deserves. After the articles about House passage, it has pretty much disappeared from the news, submerged by other, more sensational stories, such as those about Trump’s comments.

The Ryan plan proposes the end of Medicare and Medicaid and food stamps and the elimination of much of the rest of the safety net that has sustained the growing number of poor during the recession.

And it would increase the huge disparity between the incomes of the rich and the rest of the country—by lowering taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations.

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An excellent analysis of how such a policy would further separate the affluent from everyone else is available in a 3,000-word article by David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of taxes while with The New York Times and now is a columnist for tax.com. His piece was commissioned by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and appeared in several publications around the country. Johnston didn’t write specifically of the Ryan plan, but he analyzed the implications of such policy proposals.

Johnston took on the tax myths upon which the Ryan plan is based. Among them: The poor don’t pay taxes and the rich carry most of the tax burden.

While the poorest don’t pay income taxes, Johnston wrote, “they still pay plenty of other taxes … federal payroll taxes [Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance] … gas taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes and other taxes” and “when it comes to state and local taxes, the poor bear a heavier burden than the rich in every state except Vermont. …”

“In fact,” he said, “the wealthy are paying less taxes.” He wrote that the 400 highest-income taxpayers pay 16.8 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service. “Adding payroll taxes barely nudges the number,” he said. “Compare that to the vast majority of Americans, whose share of their income going to federal taxes increased from 13.1 percent in 1961 to 22.5 percent in 2007.” An analysis by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, Johnston noted, showed “the top 300,000 Americans now enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million.”

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote specifically of the Ryan plan. He said it proposes cutting $4.3 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years, taking about $2.9 trillion of it from “people of modest means.”

The plan, he said, “would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.”

Add to the Ryan plan what is happening in America’s statehouses, where Republicans in November made their biggest electoral gains since 1928. The result of those state elections, along with state budget deficits, is producing reductions in both social and education programs.

Progressives should take this threat seriously.

The temptation is to give up. I know the arguments for doing that: Obama has sold out; the system is so corrupt that nothing works; the banks, hedge funds and industry finance and control elections and policy, buying Democrats and Republicans; politicians are all clowns.

But we still have to fight, election by election, vote by vote.

A first step in doing that is to put the spotlight on the Republican proposals. That’s why David Cay Johnston’s piece on taxes was so valuable. He explained in considerable detail how the tax structure was widening the gulf between rich and poor. Read that article and you won’t want to give up. You’ll want to do something about it.

Donald Trump is a distraction. The real player to watch is the boring chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan. Let’s focus on him.


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James M. Martin's avatar

By James M. Martin, May 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

Watch out for both of them.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 30, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

The only way to change the politics of this country and the people
to regain possession of their country that is being swiped is to
defeat every Republican in every election possible, election by
election, vote by vote.

Obama’s policies thus far have been an obamination in my view
that has allowed the Republicans to wedge in their policies and
receive the enhanced blessings for and on behalf of those who
already have the wealth.  The utter erosion of this country by too
many of the Democrats in office along with the President’s benediction
in their handing over to the Republicans, whose only goal is to deprive
the people of every single social program that sustains the disprivileged
and divert every single penny they can to the wealthy class, that 1%
now popular to call them, and their ability to ubiquitously subsidize the
wealthy by avoiding taxes and other financial reforms, which is the only
way for a liberal America to sustain its duties to its people. This can no
longer be endured.

Too many people simply don’t understand this country’s problem of
concentration of income and wealth mainly because they don’t see it. 
People just don’t understand how much wealth there is at the top. This
blindness has been cultivated by the iron-fisted Republicans with the
help of Republican corporations and the Republican wealthy. The wealth
at the top is so extreme that it is beyond the ability of people to
comprehend, to even imagine, such massive wealth. Can you imagine
it?  If you can, then you can describe it and should.

The thesis is that if the general public understood just how
concentrated wealth has become in our country and the effect it has on
our politics, our democracy and our people, they would demand our
politicians do something about it. This understanding is something the
Republicans fear the most. Because an educated and informed public
would put them permanently out of business. So obviously my
argument is that knowledge is power. A great many of those who post
on TD do understand the power of money, but they moralize more than
anything, rarely providing measures that well might be taken to effect
change. That is understandable really. For the vastness and mixture of
the population does make it a Herculean task to see just how to offer
any coherent remedies.

However, it must be intuited in every cell in one’s body that action is
more important than lofty moralizing, and when put into action, we as
agents of change, the common people, not only by reason of self-
interest that is motivated by the desire to live in a certain kind of
society, not simple self-interest as do contemporary conservatives and
anarcho/libertarians, has the kind of self-interest that sees the
individual as part of a thriving society, and action is the only way any
redesigning of the politics of this country can come about. This is a
perfect venue to have a lucid, intelligible, comprehensible,
understandable, cogent, coherent, articulate, vivid, straightforward,
unambiguous, rational, sane, sensible and balanced discussion. 

My first question into this incursion: How much is a $billion? Some Wall
Street dudes, and others, make over a billion dollars a year – each and
every year. So how much is a billion dollars?  Can you even visualize an
amount of money so high?  We hear about billions of dollars every day
with respect to budgetary issues, even trillions but I’ll stick with billions
for the moment as a trillion is even less fathomable. Here is one way to
think about it: The median income in the US is somewhere in the
neighborhood of $29,000. This means half of us make less and half
make more. If you make $29,000 a year, and don’t spend a single
penny of it, it will take you 34,482 years to save a billion dollars!  Do
the math.  (Do you need a moment to recover?)

Report this

By ardee, April 30, 2011 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Virginia777, April 29 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment

ardee:

“If you think I am being unnecessarily confrontational I offer that a lie unchallenged becomes as truth.”

yeah, true. but yeah also, you are, as usual, being unnecessarily confrontation. Lol.

Coming from one such as you, whose every effort reeks of both ignorance and vitriol that is quite a statement.

Oh, sorry, is that too darn confrontational for you? Then post something as if you were both adult and knowledgeable and we can proceed from there.

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, April 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

felicity:

I agree with you about the danger of Ryan.

Report this
Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, April 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment

ardee:

“If you think I am being unnecessarily confrontational I offer that a lie unchallenged becomes as truth.”

yeah, true. but yeah also, you are, as usual, being unnecessarily confrontation. Lol.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, April 28, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

From the article “... the system is so corrupt that nothing works; the banks, hedge funds and industry finance and control elections and policy, buying Democrats and Republicans…”

Not just banks, hedgefunds and industry.  Dont leave out one of the major players… the Unions, mostly buying off Democrats.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who introduced a Unionization bill in the Senate a few years ago, was corrupted by more than $1.7 million in Union cash.

In the House the same bill was Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.),  coincidently he pocketed the same amount of labor money at $1.7 million.

Unions are at their best as fountains of campaign cash for Democratic candidates running for state and local offices. The 15 biggest unions contributed more than $206 million in the 2008 and 2010 campaigns, with 91 percent going to Democrats, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

Yeah the system seems so corrupt. But we must overcome it. Election by election. Vote by vote.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Maybe we should swack the defence budget in half or maybe 2/3’s.  That would make up 4 trillion in 10 years.

Our bloated military would have to get by on 200 billion per year.

Report this

By ardee, April 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

All the criticism of Ryan and his hurtful and hateful attack upon working people and the poor is well deserved.

But this article also serves to highlight the distortions , in a recent thread, of our favorite extremist, GRYM, who made the tired supposition that the wealthiest pay the most taxes thus deserve their cuts.

If you think I am being unnecessarily confrontational I offer that a lie unchallenged becomes as truth.

Report this

By felicity, April 28, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Virginia777 - If the media had done their task, Trump
would have been required to present a birth
certificate from a country other than Hawaii before
they allowed him any air time at all.  Put up, or
shut up.

That said, Ryan strikes me as a dupe and as such not
the sharpest pencil in the box. His latest proposal,
if Republicans actually adopted it, would pretty much
write their ticket to political oblivion.  As it is,
Republicans will step away from it.  The public will
give a great sign of relief.  The Republicans will
‘replace’ it with a kinder and gentler one - which
will, of course, still screw us, but kindly and
gently.  Just wait.

Report this

By Stephen, April 28, 2011 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remind me again, when was the last time a member of the House of Representatives was elected president?

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Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, April 28, 2011 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Rep Ryan?  A sleaze in the best tradition of a bought and paid-for American politician,  masquerading as a responsible representative of the people; a pimp for the invisible puppet masters pulling the corporate special interest strings, not accountable to any but boards of directors and investors in the profit motive. What happens when new voting blocks appear in the future that do reflect current perceptions of who is important and must be obeyed?  A government takeover arguing for an unelected dictatorship by the rich and famous? Why bother? Tis already a fact in name only. What is not is a true social revolution by newly franchised ethnic groups aligned with those of us who finally wake up and reality as it is. That’s a Maybe soon a fact.

Sabagio Mauraeno, alive and well in Decatur , Georgia after a nightime bout with tornadoitis.

Report this

By jlt, April 28, 2011 at 7:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The comb-over is the clown…ryan has a committee chair and a vote in the house…It is all about the vote and voice in the House..not about the nbc clown..who needs to be boycotted!

Good points all the way thru the relevant posts..

Report this

By Salome, April 28, 2011 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Clinton ended “Welfare-As-We-Know-It” I didn’t do anything because I wasn’t on welfare
Now Ryan wants to end “Medicare-As-We-Know-It”.  If I don’t do anything because I’m not on Medicare, how long will it be before they get to something that affects me?

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, April 28, 2011 at 12:18 am Link to this comment

Bill Boyarsky:

“But we still have to fight, election by election, vote by vote.”

AND with our voices.

Report this
Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, April 28, 2011 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

*double-take*

Bill Boyarsky is seriously saying the Paul Ryan is a greater threat than Donald Trump, i.e. Presidential hopeful.

Not!

I don’t care for Paul Ryan either, but lets kick Trump out of the running, and then we can take on the other slowtards.

Report this
Queenie's avatar

By Queenie, April 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

Paul Ryan is a Fascist. A venomous pathological hater of the “other”. He views most of humanity as beneath him unless they have lots of money and he will suck up to bigger Fascists like the Koch brothers to gain their favor and thus their money.

I hope he dies a long and painful death. A death that will give him time to suffer the torment of hell, which awaits him.

Report this

By TDoff, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

Think of Paul Ryan as a card player. A lousy one.

First, he’s not playing with a full deck. And almost all the cards he’s dealing are Jokers.

Second, even though his deck is mostly Jokers, out of habit, he’s dealing seconds.

Lastly, he bluffs too much. In fact, that’s his whole game.

‘Course, the game he’s playing, he can’t lose, ‘cause he’s playing with OPM*.

Unfortunately for US, that OPM is ours.

*For non-poker players, OPM is Other People’s Money

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By TDoff, April 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

Boyarsky is correct.
The Donald has been such a hilarious slapstick distraction, that apparently no one has bothered to read Ryan’s entire ‘Path to Prosperity’ ‘budget’ plan. For example, on page 1,666, it recommends that all US residents whose gross income does not exceed $250,000 ‘shall be disposed*’.
The asterisk leads to a footnote, EMC2, which refers to Appendix DOG, which defines ‘disposed’ as ‘Referred to the Genetic and Chemical analysis division to determine whether the resident is best suited for disintegration to be used as cat food, dog food, or kitty litter, and shall, upon determination, be transposed to the appropriate disintegrator.
One would think those who were concerned about the ‘Death Panels’ they fantasized as included in Obamacare would be concerned about the proposed ‘disintegration’ of a majority of our population to be used to feed the pets and absorb the crap of the cats of the remaining minority, but that’s not so.
Staunch Ryan Tea Party supporters maintain that ‘disintegration’ is just in the ‘budget plan’ as a ‘negotiating ploy’, and that if ‘those commie/socialist democrats’ accept the rest of ‘The Path to Prosperity’, the ‘disintegration’ clause may be removed ‘as a gesture of good will’ on the part of the GOPer/TP party.
Whew, thank goodness!

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