Mar 11, 2013

Paul Ryan's War On Oldsters, Poor Families & Children

Background: From Salon: Paul Ryan’s not so nice 

Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu says the top candidate's positions will guide the ticket"

... BUT doesn't specify IN WHAT WAY EXCEPT THAT PEOPLE OVER 55 WILL BE FINE... i.e. if you are 54 you will be screwed and living on the streets (or on somebody's charity) in 6 years. Unless the GOP is able to raise the retirement age. If you are younger than 54 then just do the math to figure out when you will have to move to the streets. It's easy. For example, if you are 50 you have 10 years before you move onto the streets and so on. NOTE: With sequester this process just got fast tracked or at least open to being fast tracked. In the next 3 years every old person could be on a voucher program if the GOP is still in the House and are able to take the Senate. A new age of social chaos will truly begin.

In addition to this they raised retirement age (i.e. you have to work till you're 70 and then you get a "voucher" i.e. it's like saying "Here's your gold watch. Thank you for your years of service. Now get out of my office.")...

GOP: Raise Retirement Age To 70

From BillMoyers.Com: Nuns on the Bus

Video: ‘Nuns on the Bus’ Visits Paul Ryan’s Office

June 20, 2012
A group of nuns led by Sister Simone Campbell is driving from the small towns of the Midwest to the urban centers of the East to protest the House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Yesterday, they brought their message to Ryan’s door, visiting the congressman’s office in his home town of Janesville, Wisconsin. There, Sister Simone spoke with members of Ryan’s staff and greeted supporters gathered outside.


From Mother Jones: The Bishops' War on Women, Nuns, and...Paul Ryan?

When the US Conference of Catholic Bishops declared war on the Obama administration on religious freedom grounds, the GOP was right there with them. Republicans cited the bishops' complaints as they blasted the administration's contraception mandate in health care reform, and gave the bishops a prominent platform on the Hill to air their grievances. When the Obama administration declined to award a new contract to the USCCB to serve clients of human trafficking, as it had been for the past five years, GOP members of Congress came out swinging. 
In September, the bishops lost a $19 million contract to provide services to trafficking victims after refusing to make accommodations so that their clients could have access to a full range of reproductive health services. (Read this story from the latest print issue of Mother Jones for all the particulars.)  The lost contract was just one more piece of evidence the bishops invoked to prove that the Obama administration discriminates against religious groups and follows an "ABC—anybody but Catholics" policy, and House Republicans were happy to parrot that charge as well. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) held a marathon hearing in December in which GOP members took ample time to accuse the administration of being anti-Catholic and to come to the defense of the bishops' organization.
But even as GOPers have been piggybacking on the USCCB's skirmish with the White House, they seem to have forgotten that the Catholic organization is hardly a Republican proxy. Even though they may align with Republicans on contraception, abortion, and gay rights, the bishops have traditionally been much more in sync with the Democrats. The bishops supported the nuclear freeze movement during the Reagan era, have consistently opposed the death penalty, and backed comprehensive immigration reform.
Despite some GOP claims that the Pope himself has said that the national debt is a moral hazard, the party leaders seem to have missed the part where the church has said that debt is bad because it hurts the poor. USCCB has been a leading advocate for debt relief in Third World countries because the bishops believe debt has to be relieved in a way to help the poor, not simply to placate bankers and rich people.
So Republicans seemed a little taken aback, when, in the midst of the USCCB's showdown with the Obama administration (and women, including nuns), the group took aim at the GOP for backing draconian cuts to government programs for the poor. The source of the controversy dates back to a an interview House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) gave to the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this month, in which he suggested that his Catholic faith had inspired him to draft a budget that takes an axe to social welfare programs:
Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good, by not having Big Government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities
Those principles are very, very important, and the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty, out into a life of independence.
In response to these comments, as well the broader Ryan budget, the bishops have sent a series of letters to House GOP leaders criticizing the plan for the dire impact it would have on the poor and disadvantaged. Contrary to Ryan's insistence that the budget is in keeping with Catholic tenets, the bishops insist that many of the budget choices are actually immoral.
Now that the bishops are taking on the House leadership, top GOP lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), have suddenly decided that the USCCB doesn't really represent the church or all its bishops, and thus, they are free to ignore it. "These are not all the Catholic bishops, and we just respectfully disagree," Ryan told Fox News last week. The argument didn't fly so well with the USCCB, which shot back in The Hill that the group does, in fact, represent all the bishops.

In this clip, Ryan reasonably argues against increasing funding for Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor...

 From Salon: What you need to know about Ryan’s budget

Rep. Paul Ryan is at the top of the GOP. Here's what you need to know about the budget that got him there

Mitt Romney’s pick of Rep. Paul Ryan for his vice-presidential nominee will reopen the debate on the Budget Committee chairman’s all-important budget proposal. Ryan’s budget, a massive 10-year plan that makes fundamental changes to a host of critical government activities, has been twice approved by the Republican-controlled House on party-line votes, while the Democratically controlled Senate has rejected it. Romney has said he will propose his own budget plan, but he has repeatedly praised Ryan’s plan in the past, so it stands to reason that the plans will look similar. Here’s what you need to know about the Ryan budget.
First, and perhaps most important, the budget would drastically change social safety net entitlement programs, shifting them away from the guaranteed benefit programs we know today to voucherized plans. The idea is to give people more flexibility on healthcare and retirement savings, but the effect could be far more severe. For Medicare, Ryan’s plan phases out the single-payer system that currently exists and replaces it with a “premium support system,” which essentially provides seniors with subsidies to purchase their own healthcare. But the vouchers are indexed to the growth of the economy, plus a little bit, while the cost of medical care has historically grown at much faster rates, meaning that over time, the vouchers will fall increasingly short of meeting the medical cost needs of seniors. This will save the government money, but shift costs back to seniors and undermine the original goals of Medicare.
On Social Security, Ryan’s budget is vague, but he released a separate plan that called for a semi-privatized scheme. Ryan, like many Republicans, paints an overly bleak picture of the safety net program’s finances in order to justify massive cuts. But Social Security is not going broke, so it starts from a false premise. Voters rejected a privatization scheme when George W. Bush pushed one because it makes the system far less stable, exposing retirement savings to the volatility of the markets, and can disproportionately help the wealthy.
Secondly, on taxes, Ryan’s budget would likely again disproportionately help the wealthy.  Like Romney’s tax plan, it doesn’t state this outright, but clearly has to have this effect. As Seth Hanlon, a tax policy expert at the liberal Center for American Progress explained, “It’s a matter of simple math. Any tax plan that purports to hold revenues steady while massively cutting taxes for the rich must make up the lost revenue by raising taxes on people who are not rich.” Ryan calls for cutting taxes on the wealthy and others, but doesn’t explain how to make up the difference.
The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that Ryan’s budget would give people that make more than $1 million a year an additional $265,000 tax cut, on average, on top of the $129,000 cut they get from the budget’s extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Ryan does nothing to close the loopholes that could generate some of the revenue to make up for his new revenue losses from tax cuts on the wealthy, such as the roughly $4 billion a year in tax breaks oil companies get.
Because it fails to raise revenues, the Ryan budget would also shift costs to state and municipal governments, which are already struggling after being hammered during the recession. These governments would thus be forced to raise their own taxes to meet the increased demand, effectively laundering tax increases so Ryan doesn’t get blamed for them.
Third, the Ryan budget makes trillions of dollars in cuts over 10 years. These disproportionately hurt poor people. According to analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts come from food stamps, Medicaid and a handful of other programs aimed at helping the most vulnerable in society.
And finally, a significant portion of the rest of his cuts come from education, both K-12 and higher ed. The plan groups education with several related programs into one budget function, which would together be cut by about 20 percent from FY 2012 levels. So we don’t know exactly how much Ryan’s budget would cut from education yet (that would come later in the appropriations process), but it appears significant.
The program would also slash funding for Pell Grants, refocusing the program on “truly needy” students. This would likely deprive a huge swath of students in the middle who are too poor to qualify for grants but not wealthy enough to afford college outright. There are other cuts as well to higher education and financial aid.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Romney has been quick to distance himself from the budget, even while embracing its author. His campaign distributed talking points to reporters today stating, “Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.”

From Mother Jones: "If Paul Ryan Knew What Poverty Was, He Wouldn't Be Giving This Speech"

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, knew some Catholics were spoiling for a fight with him Thursday when he was scheduled to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution. Nearly 90 faculty members and administrators sent him a letter expressing concerns with his recent comments that his proposed budget, which includes massive spending cuts to programs for the poor but not a single tax increase, was inspired by his Catholic faith.
"I am afraid that Chairman Ryan's budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Father Thomas Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, in a press release Tuesday. "Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love."
The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand, who believed altruism is evil, brushing off his well-documented obsession with her as a teenage romance. Ryan told the National Review's Robert Costa: "I reject her philosophy. It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. Don't give me Ayn Rand."
During his speech, though, Ryan didn't back away from any of his budget proposals, which would dramatically reduce the number of people on food stamps and radically scale back Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. Instead, he championed such proposals as a means to liberate the poor. Calling the budget "hardly draconian," he said:
Our budget builds on the historic welfare reforms of the 1990s—reforms proven to work. We aim to empower state and local governments, communities, and individuals—those closest to the problem. And we aim to promote opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job training programs, to help those who have fallen on hard times. My mentor, Jack Kemp, used to say, "You can't help America's poor by making America poor."
During the Q&A session that followed, where Ryan fielded questions submitted by students, he insisted that welfare reform had brought down child poverty rates. The claim is false, especially in Ryan's home state. According to the most recent data, the child poverty rate in Wisconsin jumped 42 percent between 2000 and 2010. The suffering would have been more significant but for the large increases in federal food assistance that Ryan wants to scale back. Welfare reform is more likely a contributing factor to child poverty, not a solution to it, making it a dubious model for for combating poverty "at its roots," as Ryan said he wants to do.
That's why Catholics at Georgetown, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other Catholic organizations were so outraged when Ryan told a Christian TV show earlier this month that his budget was wholly in keeping with Catholic teachings and practically endorsed by the Pope himself, whom Ryan told the students Thursday was down on debt. His speech was protested on Thursday by Catholics who are in the trenches with the people who would suffer from his budget proposal. They were folks who work at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other social-service agencies run by Catholic organizations, who see first hand the complexities and needs of the poor. 
On hand to emphasize that point after the speech was the "GOP Je$us," who read from the "Me-Attitudes," to parody Ryan's so-called Catholic-inspired budget.
He proclaimed:
Blessed are the rich, the reign of this world is ours. The rich rule the world, and the rest suffer and die, often in misery. Do not let this be you my brothers! Easier to use your riches to genetically engineer very small camels that can fit through the needle's eye…
Blessed are the violent and the invincible, the proud and the powerful, the domineering and oppressive. We can have it all! And let our status of power be the proof that we are deserving of the fruits of the labor of the middle class and poor…
Blessed are those who show no mercy. No mercy to the poor, to women and children, the elderly and the homeless, victims, outcasts, enemies, refugees, the hungry, the undocumented, the unborn, those on death row, those who are different, those we don’t like. And of course, those who happen to be in the way of what we want…
Blessed are the warmakers. Yea I say unto you, if we were not making war, we could not be said to be making much. That is what China is for! Lo, the Lord looked at China and said "Let it be the worlds factory floor," and it was good…
James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which organized one of the protests outside the hall where Ryan was speaking, told gathered reporters that his group was there because "the dignity of the poor should be at the forefront of our minds." Taking a dig at Ryan's attempts to cast his budget as a boon for poor people, Salt noted, "If Paul Ryan knew what poverty was, he wouldn't be giving this speech."


Paul Ryan Hates Obamacare, But Loves Obamacare's Taxes

Paul Ryan is, inevitably, in the news again. Every year around this time he releases his new budget roadmap, and every year it's roughly the same as ever but with just a few changes for everyone to chew over endlessly. This year, the chattering classes are chattering over the startling news that his budget only gets to balance by repealing Obamacare, but Ezra Klein says that's not news. In fact, it's not even true. It's worse than that:
Every Ryan budget since the passage of Obamacare has assumed the repeal of Obamacare. Kinda. Ryan's version of repeal means getting rid of all the parts that spend money to give people health insurance but keeping the tax increases and the Medicare cuts that pays for that health insurance, as without those policies, it is very, very difficult for Ryan to hit his deficit-reduction targets.
Last year's budget also kept Obamacare's tax increases and Medicare cuts. Then Ryan became a VP candidate, and this was a big problem. So he switched to opposing Obamacare with no exceptions. Now he's once again just a plain old congressman who needs to balance the budget, so we're back to Ryan 1.0.
Will it last? Who knows. Ryan's voucher premium support plan has morphed a bit from year to year, so it will be interesting to see which way it morphs this year. Unlike some people, though, I don't think Ryan will abandon his usual pledge not to change Medicare for anyone over age 55. That risks pissing off actual Republican voters who only want Medicare to get stingier for the young folks. Deficit apocalypse or not, they certainly don't want it to change for them.

This pretty much explains all of politics, by the way.

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