Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wi.) is human after all. With the release of his congressional house budget plan, the congressman from Wisconsin has shown to the world that he is not just another typical brainwashed Tea Party Zombie, but an honest to God elitist conservative politician completely out of touch with reality in America.
Ryan’s phony Tea Party Patriotism
Any real Teabagger would have denounced the fiscal cliff compromise that raised taxes on those earning $400,000. Not Ryan. He took the gift of Boehner’s failure to get President Obama to knuckle under conservative rhetorical pressure and incorporated the tax increase into his budget to accelerate his fuzzy math prediction of achieving a balanced budget. Hey, Congressman Ryan, you owe President Obama a big hug and a sloppy wet kiss for the tax increase you are keeping in your budget.
As I read through the House Budget Committee’s The Path To Prosperity A Responsible, Balanced Budget, it was clear that this is not a serious budget proposal. Paul Ryan, the budget’s chief architect, crafted the idealogical plan as a means to burnish his conservative credentials before heading into the weekend festivities at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where he is a featured speaker.
Ryan must think of himself as a political philosopher as he attempts to connect the nation’s federal budget to that inner American yearning to break free of the shackles imposed by an authoritarian Obama Administration:
“It recognizes that people do not find happiness in grim isolation or by government fiat. They find it through friendship—through free, vibrant exchange with the people around them. They find it through achievement. They find it in their families and neighborhoods, their places of worship and youth groups. They find it in a healthy mix of self-fulfillment and belonging.”
Who knew Ryan was into new age “self-fulfillment and belonging” experiences?
The Ryan budget is not so much a blue print for prosperity as it is a huge political advertisement for Paul Ryan’s aspirations. You see, Ryan is operating under the delusion that his selection as Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 running mate actually meant he is presidential material and he is a man of substantial political thought. Just like Sarah Palin before him, Paul Ryan believes the White House is his destiny.
Hate as a Unifier
With so many of the wedge issues being dismissed by the 2012 elections, the only unifying principle accepted by Republicans is their hatred of government. The hot button issues of same-sex marriage, health care reform, immigration, and to a lesser extent, gun control have all been accepted by the larger electorate. Republicans are finding it harder to win races based on social issues that have defined the Republican agenda. Paul Ryan, ignoring mainstream America, hoists the battle flag of rebellion against government spending to rally and unify his fellow Republicans.
Ryan appeals to the Reagan inspired myth of rugged individualism and independence. He couches the budget plan as recommitting “our country to the principles enshrined in the Constitution: liberty, limited government, and equality under the law. And it frees the country from the crushing burden of debt that threatens our future.” Let’s all break out the flags and sing “America the Beautiful” because if you are not for cutting spending you are not American.
Tough Love for Slackers
In Paul Ryan’s world, until we see slums, ghettos and conditions akin to Haiti, the Republican Party will contend we have a bloated federal government oppressing our liberties. The evisceration of social programs is their version of tough love for America on the dole. It’s their belief that folks receiving handouts should go get an honest over-paid government job like the congressman.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence that fiercely-independent, government-hating businessmen can actually withstand the austerity of the Ryan budget. Even the modest government expense trimmings under the sequester have left battle-hardened conservative business owners complaining.
To save money, Yellowstone National Park has decided to let the sun melt the snow rather than pay to have it plowed. Because Mother Nature takes more time to clear the roads the park will delay opening for two weeks. That is two weeks that businessmen sucking at the teat of government economic stimulus, brought to them by Yellowstone National Park, have to make money and they found it an abomination to their bottom line. How dare the socialist government conserve cash at the expense of their capitalist enterprise?
Tax Reform based on Misleading Stats
Paul Ryan throws out astonishingly high, and misleading, tax rate figures to shock and rally his supporters to promote his case for tax reform:
“Furthermore, the top U.S. tax rate on small-business income is 44.6 percent, the top tax rate on individuals’ wages and salaries is 44 percent, and the total tax on investment income (capital gains and dividends) in the United States is 55 percent.”
There is nothing worse than a politician who thinks we are dumb. The way Paul Ryan has characterized the accumulated marginal tax rates on individuals and businesses is nothing short of a lie. The tax code is chock full of Republican inspired and enacted credits and deductions ensuring that virtually no one is ever responsible for rates as high as he claims.
Ryan’s plan states it wants a top tier corporate rate of 25% while removing loop holes:
“Here too the tax code is unfair, as some companies are able to use arcane and complex provisions of the tax code to reduce their tax burden compared to their competitors.”
The corporate tax lobbyists already started lining up last year to maintain their coveted tax breaks. Ryan is no match for the corporate lobbying campaign money machine, nor does he have any real interest in trimming business tax loop holes.
Over $65 billion in “qualified private activity bonds” have been issued since 2003 through companies such as Chevron, Archer Daniels Midland and Alcoa. These specialty bonds allow huge corporations to avoid paying sales tax and property taxes; the interest is tax-free to investors and the companies enjoy a lower borrowing interest rate. This is a large government subsidy to regular business activity in the form of lost tax revenue.
It’s all bad except for Guns and Bullets
Unless you are a manufacturer of overpriced military hardware, all businesses that sell to the federal government will see a decrease in revenue because everything gets cut except the Pentagon budget. The Ryan budget plan reads like a Tea Party manifesto. From his prospective, no government program works, they are all broken, government is confiscating our liberties and spending is the problem. That is, unless you are part of the military industrial complex.
“Over the next decade, this budget provides over $6 trillion to fund our nation’s defense. While this is significantly less than the levels in previous budget resolutions passed by the House, it is approximately $500 billion more than will be available absent changes in the Budget Control Act. Our security is the federal government’s top priority.”
If Paul Ryan is really serious about trimming spending and making the military efficient he needs to talk to Senator John McCain (R-Az.) about the over-budget, under-performing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The U.S. is set to purchase 2,400 F-35′s at cost of $397 billion and another $500 billion in maintenance over a 10 year period. And the plane isn’t even in production yet.
Instead of tackling the bloated bureaucracy of the Pentagon and weapon systems promised and not delivered, Paul Ryan finds it easier to delete health care reform expenditures. We all know, love it or hate it, Obamacare isn’t going away. Ryan stripped it out of his budget plan to:
- a) save money and
- b) save face.
If he doesn’t continue to throw stones at the mythical monster under the Tea Party bed, he will be viewed as, well, rational by some but a traitor by the right wing conspiracy nuts that make up his base.
“This budget repeals the President’s onerous health-care law. This budget puts an end to government-run health care and the cronyism and corporate welfare it creates.”
The irony that defense industry corporations are the largest recipients of federal government contracts, some that are no-bid with little oversight, is obviously lost on Ryan.
But why slash an over-priced military system to fight some other country’s war when you can cut Medicaid for your own citizens at home?
“One way to secure the Medicaid benefit is by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into an allotment tailored to meet each state’s needs, indexed for inflation and population growth. Such a reform would end the misguided one-size-fits-all approach that has tied the hands of state governments. Instead, each state would have the freedom and flexibility to tailor a Medicaid program that fits the needs of its population.”
Paul Ryan is under the misguided notion that people are somehow like crops that grow differently in each state. There is no special “need” that any state has when it comes to keeping people healthy. A child with autism in New York is the same as a child with autism in California. When you hand unrestricted block grants to states to administer Medicaid you just open the closet door to discrimination and abuse.
States will set up rules and regulations to restrict access to health care services to reduce expenses and punish populations they don’t like. Literally, there are states that would create rules that would exempt people with substance abuse addictions, people in the LGBT communities or unmarried mothers from getting access to health care. You can see it coming like a freight train. It’s the Republican way of social engineering by denial of service.
Ryan extends this stealth attempt at conservative social engineering as he applies new rules to Medicare and Social Security. The people that most benefit from those programs are those that have made the least amount of money and are the most vulnerable to illness. When you restrict eligibility or reduce payments for Social Security or Medicare you are only subsidizing higher wage earners who tend to be healthier and live longer.
Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity should be a big hit at CPAC where the common denominators are a hatred of government and a love of money.