Friday, August 17, 2012

The Great Ryan Scam

Well, we all know in advance, don't we, the line that the mainstream press is gong to take about Paul Ryan.  He is the brilliant intellectual policy wonk who has done the math, who really understands the economics of the Federal budget; he is the bold, brave leader who is willing to put forth a carefully developed plan to solve the problems of our runaway deficits (which were of course caused by profligate Democrats.) And this is what we hear, from all sides.  The press is so desperate to find reason and balance on the Republican side of the aisle that they are going to push this fantasy from now until election day, despite the truth that is staring them in the face.

So, let's take a look at the basics of the Ryan plan:

1. Ryan's original plan (supported by virtually all Republicans, including Mitt) vastly slashes taxes on the rich, including doing away with all capital tax gains- a move which would have left Mitt Romney with a Federal tax burden for 2010 (the only year for which we have records) of 0.82%.  This would have reduced Mitt's personal tax payments from the ludicrously low rate he already paid, by 2.8 million dollars. This would have been made up for by "closing loopholes;" i.e. raising taxes on everyone else via such things as eliminating the mortgage deduction, doing away with the earned interest tax credit, and slashing Medicaid and all other domestic programs.  Of course, neither Ryan nor Mitt will admit this in public, but with military spending due to rise in their proposals, there really is no other choice.

2. Ryan has proposed "privatizing" both Medicare and Social Security. Let us not fool ourselves: this is but the first step in a systematic plan to destroy them.

 As for Social Security, here is what he has in mind:

"Under Ryan’s initial version, American workers would be able to invest about half of their payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, in private accounts. As a plan to reduce government debt, it made no sense. It simply took money from one part of the budget and spent it on private accounts, at a cost of two trillion dollars in transition expenses. But, as an ideological statement about the proper relationship between individuals and the federal government, Ryan’s plan was clear. [...]"

If you care to read the actual bill, you can find it here.  At this point, after 2008, we all know what a disaster it would have been to force average people to place their retirement income into the stock market, competing against huge companies that are utterly dishonest, and which have vast computer networks enabling them to make millions of trades a minute.  Yet, this is still what Ryan proposes.  This is, in fact nothing but a plan to force workers to place their savings in a place where they can be promptly stolen by the rich.

As for Medicare, we have all heard that, under Ryan's original 2010 plan, costs to the average Medicare recipient could increase by as much as $6,000.  Ryan issued a new plan, after even Republicans screamed about that one, which supposedly isn't quite so cruel, but conveniently for him, no real numbers seem to be available to evaluate its effects.

It has been the desire of Republicans to destroy Social Security and Medicare programs ever since they were created by Democrats, and this is the traditional way they set about doing it.  We all know that this would be only the first step in reducing the amount of these benefits until they mean nothing; although I haven't heard a word from the Republicans about reducing the amount they intend to collect from working people during their entire working lives, while they continue to gut these programs more and more at every step.

3.  The notion that Ryan is concerned with reducing the deficit is a sick joke.  The Ryan budget plan, in every impartial analysis, has been proven to result in vast increases in the budget deficit.  Here's (who else?) Paul Krugman:

"Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.

What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works."

 Ryan and the Republicans know this perfectly well.  Their entire years-long campaign of screaming about the deficit is nothing but a charade, to justify taking even more away from ordinary people in the future, until only the hyper-rich are left with anything.  Here is a glimpse into the truth of deficit spending, from Ernest Canning at Bradblog:

This chart speaks for itself.  Canning comments:

"None of that, of course, has kept the bulk of the "Lamestream Media" from repeating the myth of Republicans as "fiscal conservatives," a concept this site has spent many years attempting to debunk. Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did exactly the same thing when it came to the claim that Mitt Romney's newly chosen Veep pick, Paul Ryan, is a "fiscal conservative."

To borrow from CNN's Soledad O'Brien yesterday, "I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again" --- in this case by the Beltway Media --- but "you can't just repeat it and make it true."

As I pointed out above, Ryan makes the claim that cuts in Government spending will offset the huge windfall he proposes to give to the rich, but of course, just like Romney, he refuses to specify what these cuts will be.  He makes it clear, however, that it won't be from our bloated military budget.  What does that leave?  Here's Dean Baker:

"Does Paul Ryan know what's in his budget?  If the news media had to work for a living, this is what they would all be asking right now. The reason is simple. The projections the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) made for Representative Ryan's budget imply that he literally wants to shut down the federal government.

His budget implies that after three decades the federal government will have no money to spend on health research, education, highways, airports, and other infrastructure, the Food and Drug Administration and most other activities that we associate with the federal government. His budget has money for Social Security, Medicare and other health programs and the Defense Department. That's it."

The great Republican dream- to make government small enough that they can drown it in a bathtub.

So there is a taste of the real Paul Ryan:  vast tax giveaways to the Republicans' rich contributors, through out of control military spending, and through massive tax cuts for the wealthy, funded by slashing and destroying what everyone else expects from the government; utterly bogus claims to cut the budget deficit, while actually ballooning it so that, in the future, even more sacrifice can be demanded of the non-rich, and all of it, delivered to you by the mainstream press wrapped in ecstasy  about how brilliant and brave it all is.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Rather than being a great thinker, all Paul Ryan has to offer is the same Republican economic garbage that they have rammed down our throats for a hundred years, at the cost of two depressions and God knows how much money wasted in corrupt giveaways to their backers, a financial system in ruins and a future filled with anxiety.  Ryan- meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Jerry Critter said...

The republican plan is to have all government spending going to corporations, not to people.

Green Eagle said...

But corporations ARE people- rich people.

the yellow fringe said...

Yes everyone should have all their retirement savings, and their insurance money in the stock market, and a lobotomy. Lots of stories about making it rich in the market. Fact is most end up losing most of their investment, or at best with no real gain, like making it to the NBA, the chance is slim for 99%. The average person does not understand it, or does not have the will to stay in and not sell at the bottom or fall prey to churning. Few can do it.