SOS! Eyewash bottles needed NOW!Posted: August 15, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign | Tags: Romney/Ryan, Ryan budget 77 Comments
I’m going to wax prosaically or rant poetically or maybe just do some wondering out loud.
I’m watching a disturbing phenomenon from supposed liberals and former Hillary supporters. A small, vocal, angry ol’ bunch of them are trying to bend themselves into pretzels of moral self-justification to support what is undoubtedly the most radical right presidential duo the republicans have ever stuck up for consideration. It was easy for me to originally see folks falling for the Romney pitch abut 6 months ago because, well, he seemed so normal and moderate as a Massachusetts governor. A lot of research later and I’m completely disabused of this notion. There are now several sites I can’t visit without wanting to take a lemon zester to my eyes. It’s like a whole bunch of them just went full metal teabagger from anger poisoning. Unfortunately, some of them troll us and our trash gets nasty too.
Those of us here–and places like Reclusive Leftist, Cannonfire, Tennessee Guerrilla Women and the Widdershins— have been watching things closely enough to see that Romney’s made such a rush to the right wing of the party that there’s no denying this must be where he actually feels most comfortable. The stories of his “lying for the lord” to get near the Massachusetts governorship must’ve been more than just fleeting rumors. By now, almost any politically informed person knows that Romney owes whatever soul he has to the radical right and the big money donors funding his campaign and his superpacs. Additionally, to not know that Paul Ryan is one of the worst of the worst in Congress is inexcusable to any one that considers themselves a political junkie. I’ve sat through two budget terms with him and I’ve frankly never seen anything worse in terms of acceptability and reality for the majority of the American Electorate. Any one trying to white wash this guy must be one very confused and wrongly motivated voter. It would be easy for me to pull up all the research by Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, Brad Delong, Mark Thoma or the CBO or more neutral economists and provide information on the hocus pocus right wing scheme that is the complete hoax called the Ryan Budget. David Stockman–budget director to Ronnie Raygun–did it beautifully yesterday from a view point that should even give Republicans the willies about voting for deadly duo. He referred to it as the “Fairy-Tale Budget Plan” and the obsession with inconsequential regulation.
The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking.
Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.
A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.
Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.
Likewise, hacking away at the roughly $400 billion domestic discretionary budget (what’s left of the federal budget after defense, Social Security, health and safety-net spending and interest on the national debt) will yield only a rounding error’s worth of savings after popular programs (which Republicans heartily favor) like cancer research, national parks, veterans’ benefits, farm aid, highway subsidies, education grants and small-business loans are accommodated.
Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. America has some of the highest labor costs in the world, and saddles workers and businesses with $1 trillion per year in job-destroying payroll taxes. We need a national sales tax — a consumption tax, like the dreaded but efficient value-added tax — but Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan don’t have the gumption to support it.
The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.
In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.
Indeed, we saw a group of GOP anonymous strategists tell Politic0 that the Ryan Choice was likely a concession to not winning come November. This many Republicans don’t usually come out of the woodwork to eat their own when they really hate the sitting president.
In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.
It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.
(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan hearts charts)
And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.
Let’s get to the caveats: No one is asserting that Washington operatives in either party are oracles or seers. What’s more, it is not as if there is anything like unanimity in GOP circles about the merits of the Ryan pick, though the mood of anxiety and skepticism is overwhelming.
Most of all, if you are one of those people who thinks if someone has something negative to say, they should have the guts to put their name on it, you won’t find much to impress you in this article. Nearly all the Republican professionals interviewed for this story said they would share their unfiltered views only “on background” rules of attribution.
But Washington political chatter is a pervasive reality even when the chatterers prefer not to risk personal relationships or professional prospects by publicly second-guessing their party’s nominee. For Romney, even if he ultimately proves the doubters wrong, the skepticism among capital insiders is an obstacle as he seeks to frame a general election argument.
And that skepticism about Ryan among GOP strategists is striking.
Ryan’s Budget plan is anathema to any one that relies or will rely on Social Security and Medicare. This basically means every one that’s not extremely wealthy. In fact, the choice of Ryan is so stark that Romney “sees no immediate bounce” from his choice. Unlike the unknown Palin who no one knew and who originally got the benefit of the doubt ,every one knows Ryan. Only the most hard core right wingers like him. He basically oozes the Koch Brothers agenda. He scores zero on Gay Rights and Reproductive Choice. He’s gone out of his way to push for right wing social agendas as well as destruction of safety net and entitlement programs. He’s not a reformer. He’s Shiva on steroids.
Interestingly enough, it’s possible that the choice of Ryan has already hurt the Republicans in a key areas and demographics. This is from the Jewish Week and speaks directly to a primary result in Florida yesterday where Republicans took down some one who was very much a Ryan supporter. Similar analysis can be found at the Jewish Journal.
But the damage may already be done. The budget pushed by Ryan as the Tea Party-leaning chair of the House Budget Committee in April of 2011 proposed privatizing Social Security and replacing Medicare with a voucher plan. This year, he proposed the creation of a Medicare exchange that would have the program paying for or subsidizing payments to private plans.
Those who depend on government benefits tend to get uneasy when politicians talk about radical changes in them — which some call entitlement reform — and polls show that Jewish voters are among the biggest boosters of public safety nets. The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — the two leading umbrella groups addressing economic issues — wrote letters to Congress opposing less government control of Medicare in response to Ryan’s plan.
So despite what polls show as diminished Jewish support for President Barack Obama since his estimated 78 percent share in 2008 — largely attributed to his posture toward Israel — analysts say Romney’s ability to exploit that weakness as Republican operatives and donors make a major play for Jewish votes could be offset by his choice of running mate.
“On the domestic policy side, [the choice of Ryan] presents significant problems for anybody who supports Medicare and any of the safety-net social programs, which in general is the Jewish vote,” said Ester Fuchs, a professor of public affairs and political science at Columbia University.
“I don’t see this as anything that positively affects Romney’s standing within the Jewish community,” Fuchs continued. “In fact, I think it will put some of the fence-sitters into the Obama camp, particularly seniors in New York and Florida.”
The Jewish Daily Forward had this analysis of the Florida Race.
Paul Ryan’s arrival on the Republican presidential ticket is changing the subject among Florida Jews — and that could be good news for President Obama.
For months, Republicans have worked to win Jews in the key swing state with their critique of Obama’s perceived less-than-robust support of Israel. But Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan turns the focus to the GOP rising star’s proposed cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly on which many Florida Jews rely.
A pitched battle over Medicare in Florida is one that Democrats think they can win hands down, especially among Jewish voters.
“Romney has made my job much easier,” said former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who plans to campaign for Obama among Florida Jews this fall. “Israel is no longer the issue…. It has now shifted, and Romney shifted it.”
So, given all this information that is readily available on Paul Ryan’s Randian Dystopian future for America, given that Romney has absolutely no articulated plans on anything other than more tax cuts, and given his embrace of the Ryan Budget, WTF are former Hillary voters thinking when they try to justify voting for these two? I’m not suggesting any one go out and vote for Obama. There’s other options out there. Dr. Jill Stein comes to my mind. How could you look past all this information that’s already out there on Ryan, confabulate some narrative that makes all this information just lies and conspiracy, and still consider yourself in step with Hillary Clinton’s vision for America?