Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ryan Challenger Rob Zerban gets Noticed...Big Time!!!

UPDATE: Ryan now says he opposes SOPA

Good news for Rob Zerban, a serious candidate to aggressively challenge and unseat Rep. Paul Ryan, the world is now watching and contributing.
International Business Times: Less than two days ago, Rob Zerban was a relatively unknown Wisconsin Democrat running for Congress with little financial backing ($200,000 or so in campaign cash on hand as of Sept. 30). Now, his odds have at least marginally improved, though how good can the chances of beating one of the most powerful Republicans in the nation get? "Who is Rob Zerban???" An understandable response. The guy is, after all, running as the Democratic alternative to (Ryan).

But the incumbent also faces the ire of an emboldened online community set on using the blunt force of an Election Day loss to change the Congressman's mind on key legislation (SOPA).

Zerban walked into his campaign office on Thursday morning to find emails and phone calls, volunteers and donors coming out of the woodwork. All he did was host a Q&A session on the online aggregating site Reddit. But the hive-like online community can be easily riled, quick to make up its mind. Just look at Rob Zerban. Following OWS, Congress served up two bills that drew an online backlash: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The pushback led to calls for a boycott of GoDaddy to punish its advocacy of SOPA. GoDaddy eventually blinked and withdrew its support … online activists to switch to the political realm … and landed on Ryan.

Reddit took to Ryan like a termite swarm to a rotting log. In less than 24 hours, they managed to: break down Ryan's campaign contributions; dig up a HuffPo post of a man getting arrested after protesting at a Ryan event; request submissions for a logo; have a Q&A session with his opponent; cultivate a list of his donors for possible boycott; and cull together his voting record. They even adopted a name: Operation Pull Ryan (OPR). Ryan's camp scrambled to dispel the notion that the Congressman supports SOPA … Too late. 

To be clear, Ryan does not say one way or the other whether he supports SOPA, which for me means he does. If he didn’t, he would have said so.
Zerban casually responded to a Reddit user's email regarding SOPA. The discussion, and speed with which he responded, led to a surprise bump in interest and suggestions he take a look at Reddit. The candidate hosted an Ask Me Anything (colloquially known as AMA) … Yes, he's against SOPA and parts of NDAA. End the prohibition of marijuana? Yup. He supports publicly-funded elections. Bingo.

Never mind whether or not he actually stood a chance, they'll give him a chance. He went on to join the anti-GoDaddy cause, pulling his own site from the company. For now, Zerban is as much the hero in the story as Ryan is the nemesis … said a Reddit moderator … "Our interest in Rob Zerban is solely this: If Paul Ryan is not ready to agree with us on these issues, we're ready to help him find a new job," the moderator said.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paul Ryan wins well-deserved award: Scam Artist of the Year

Madison's Capital Times does the honors:
Paul Ryan is a hustler. The Republican congressman from Janesville has gotten very good at fooling political and media elites into thinking that his schemes to steer federal money into the accounts of Wall Street speculators (by taking steps to privatize Social Security) and for-profit insurance companies (by turning Medicare and Medicaid into voucher programs) would balance budgets or in some other way improve the circumstances of working families.

But Ryan’s having a harder time fooling Americans who take fiscal matters and the future of the republic seriously.

...The fact is that millions of Americans are actively protesting against the political corruption that floods corporate cash into the campaign accounts of pliable congressmen like Paul Ryan. The American people are furious with the pay-to-play politics that has tipped the balance in Washington away from the best interests of people in communities such as Janesville and toward the special interests on Wall Street.

Paul Ryan embodies this corruption of America’s promise. He may still be able to fool the editors at Time. He may still be able to scam a headline out of the PolitiFact folks. But he is having a harder time fooling the American people. That is some of the best news to come out of 2011. But the even better news could come in 2012 — if Ryan is finally rejected by voters who have tired of being “represented” by a political scam artist who serves Wall Street rather than Main Street.

Read more here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wyden Isn't The Only Democrat Who Wants To Help Paul Ryan Kill Medicare-- Blue Dogs Are Salivating

Last week we saw how Wisconsin Democrat Rob Zerban pushed back against Ron Wyden's harebrained scheme of working with Paul Ryan to destroy Medicare. Obviously Wyden isn't the only bad Democrat in Congress. Many of the worst conservative handmaidens of the 1%-- the Blue Dogs and the New Dems (essentially Blue Dogs without the KKK robes and the anti-gay/anti-Choice fanaticism)-- are quietly lining up behind Wyden and Ryan in the push for a transpartisan death blow against the New Deal and the middle class.

Shamus Cooke guessed Christmas Day would be as good a time as any to expose this unholy alliance.
Politicians are attacking Medicare and Medicaid on all sides--Democrats and Republicans alike. Obama's national health care bill will slash hundreds of billions from Medicare over the next decade, an act supported by so-called "progressive" Democrats. Soon after this "victory" Obama created the Super Committee to balance the budget, which included automatic "triggers"-- if no decision was reached-- that are now slated to cut $600 billion more from Medicare. 

On a state-by-state basis, Medicaid-- a program that provides health care to the poor-- is being cut in virtually every state, where they are using their manufactured budget crises as an excuse. This under-funding of Medicaid has created a lack of doctors for patients, according to USAToday: 

"With a shortage of doctors...[Medicaid] patients have little choice but to use hospital emergency rooms for more routine care." (July 5th, 2011).

But it gets worse. Now, "long term solutions" are being sought. After critically wounding the system with disfiguring cuts, Medicare's plug is about to be pulled. Different privatization plans have been put forth that would instantly kill Medicare. One such plan was recently announced by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, which, if enacted, would deliver a deathblow to Medicare as we know it. Some commentators have wrongly dismissed Wyden as a "crackpot" risking political suicide; in fact, Wyden is a cautious, "pragmatic" politician, i.e. he blindly follows party leaders and their corporate bosses.

The Wyden-Ryan plan has deep roots not only amongst Republicans, but also Blue Dog Democrats and the New Democrat Coalition-- the powerful congressional caucuses that actually run the Democratic Party. These are the people that create the right-wing economic policies that President Obama has been pursuing since his election victory-- thus Obama's ability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the Republican Party. The Wall Street Journal commented on Obama's right-wing health care plan:

“To listen to President Obama and his closest Democratic allies, you’d think John McCain had won the election and their bill had been drafted by Paul Ryan, Tom Coburn and the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute [a right wing think tank].” (February 26, 2010).

By attaching his name to Paul Ryan (the anti-Medicare crusader), Wyden is now revealing the ultra-right, pro-corporate trajectory of the Democratic Party leadership. And although the White House has spoken against the bill, Obama's own health care reform bill created the framework now copied by the Wyden-Paul plan.

Why does the Wyden-Ryan plan amount to privatization? A brief glance at the recent history of Medicare is necessary to explain. 

Medicare was once dominated by the federal government, where, as a result, administrative costs were low and quality was high. In the 1990's Medicare patients were given an option to have their Medicare services performed by private providers, who were now able to profit off Medicare by charging extra fees for extra services, which they added to the basic amount of funds received via Medicare.

The reason that people often chose private providers was that Medicare funding was being cut and consequently, less services were being offered under traditional Medicare. For those who could afford it, private providers became preferred, since people could then purchase the services they needed but were not offered under traditional Medicare. This "option" created the beginning of a two-tier system of Medicare, opening the door for the systems fracturing.

The Wyden-Ryan plan would crack the nut wide open. But instead of saying privatization, a dirty word, "premium support" is used instead, a sterile sounding term with nasty consequences. It essentially means that each Medicare patient will receive a set amount of money for their Medicare that they can use to "shop" for their insurance. This would be the first time that Medicare spending would be capped, and the rate of growth of this capped fund would not match the rate of growth of health care prices. Once you've accepted the cap, the cap can be continually lowered by Congress or not raised to keep pace with inflation.

Instead of reducing Medicare costs by going after profit-hungry pharmaceutical corporations, patients will have their services curtailed via the cap.

The "choices" offered under the Wyden-Ryan will fully insert the profit motive into the national health care program: Medicare patients with poor health or chronic conditions would find that most private plans are closed to them, since it's unprofitable to actually offer the necessary, varied treatments for these patients. Thus, Medicare participants in poor health would remain in traditional Medicare, where costs would rise as more chronic patients joined and healthier patients fled to cheaper plans that allowed only healthy people. Richer patients would also flee to private plans for another reason: Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals are being continually lowered, doctors would naturally refuse to take Medicare patients as they now refuse to take Medicaid patients.

The subsequent higher costs of traditional Medicare would then push up premium prices, co-payments, and deductibles, where very soon the "public option" of Medicare would be unrecognizable to its ancestor. The poor and those with chronic conditions would be legally discriminated against, since private companies are allowed to do so; a once proud public program will have been mutilated and rendered unusable, i.e. it will have been privatized. 

Medicare was first hijacked by the health care corporations in the 90's with the introduction of Medicare Part C, the original "option" to have privately run Medicare; and because Part C was privately controlled, it received 14 percent more money in inflated payments than did traditional Medicare patients (so that patients would be pushed into the program while corporations could turn a profit).

Later, Medicare Part D was designed and implemented by these same health care corporations to boost profits (a gift from President Bush Jr.). It thus became common for private companies to have their hand in the Medicare honey jar.

How is profit made in the health care business from Medicare? These companies get a set amount of money from the federal government, and if they provide less health care service than what they are paid, they turn a profit. They also profit by providing additional, unneeded services at inflated costs. The Government Accountability Office reported that in 2006, the private plans earned profits of 6.6 percent while having much higher administrative costs than traditional Medicare. 

By 2030 Medicare is expected to enroll 78 million people. Medicaid already provides health care to over 50 million Americans. The number of uninsured Americans stands at 50 million and is rising fast. Tens of millions of more Americans cannot afford the health care plans they are currently in, and millions more would prefer quality health care plans, not the ones they actually have. 

Hundreds of millions of Americans thus have a common interest in health care, yet the above attacks on health care continue while costs continue to rise.

It makes sense that Americans should unite in a single health care constituency. Medicare cannot be defended by only current Medicare recipients; nor can Medicaid be saved by current benefactors. In order to unite all working Americans into a powerful coalition, Medicare for All should be demanded, so that all Americans will see their interests reflected in the fight. Few issues so directly affect so many people, but to expand the fight still further, a coalition could be formed that demands jobs, peace, and education, the other "big" issues that-- when put together-- directly affect nearly every single working person.

The raw material for such a coalition already exists. If the labor and Occupy Movements unite to organize massive, ongoing demonstrations for these basic demands, the potential for a mass movement will have been realized. The majority of Americans would find common cause with such a movement, and after seeing masses of people in the streets, will believe that the fight can be won.

Like Social Security, Medicare is a self-funding program that can be easily preserved by raising taxes on the richest Americans and corporations. Taxing the rich can also help create a national jobs program, save public education and other vital social services, while also helping to galvanize such a movement.

Politicians are using the national and state budget crises to implement drastic austerity measures-- destroying public jobs and services from libraries and health care to roads and education. In Europe the fight against austerity has aroused the entire working populations of several countries, including Greece, England, Italy and Spain. The working people of the U.S. are facing the same austerity crisis and need to unite in the European fashion.

Want to fight back? You can help retire Paul Ryan here and help make the Blue Dog coalition extinct here; and you can send a message to the Democratic Party here. The DCCC and the Democratic Party establishment is in a quiet but deadly war against actual progressives and fully supporting conservative candidates who buy into the Wyden-Ryan plan. If you're not seeing Democratic candidates vowing to join the Progressive Caucus, you're seeing Democrats unwilling to stand up and fight for the New Deal. This week old-line Democratic establishment hack Walter Mondale endorsed anti-labor, reactionary and corrupt ex-Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez for Congress against progressive state Senator Eric Griego, something we've been warning about since last spring. The DCCC is quietly lining up conservative candidates to run against the best progressives working to represent working families in Congress. Is the DCCC as toxic for America as the Republicans? I'll leave that for you to decide.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stuffing the ballot box fails, but Ryan still buffaloes PolitiFact on "lie of the year"

Paul Ryan's attempt to stuff the PolitiFact ballot box failed; his pet nomination ended up in third place. But PolitiFact changed the rules and picked Ryan's favorite anyway. Go figure.

Adam Serwer at Mother Jones thinks he knows why:

Previously, PolitiFact's system for deciding the "Lie of the Year" was through popular vote, which in all honestly seems like a strange way to decide something like this. Nevertheless, while in 2009 and 2010 the lies of the year reflected choices made by readers, as Steve Benen points out, this year PolitFact decided to go with the third-place choice.

Explaining this decision, PolitiFact's Bill Adair wrote that "We discussed each of the other finalists and concluded that while clearly false, they failed to be as significant as the Medicare claim." So when Republicans were set to come up with a "Lie of the Year" hat trick, the good people at PolitiFact intervened on an entirely arbitrary basis. How exactly is it a "fact" that the Medicare claim is "more significant" than Senator Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) claim that abortion is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," or that "zero jobs" were created by the 2009 stimlus bill? It's not a fact at all. It falls in the realm of "defensible argument," a fact-checking nether region that, as Jonathan Chait points out, at the very least includes the Democrats' claim that privatizing Medicare changes the program so as to effectively "end it."

It seems rather clear that the point here was to avoid another avalanche of conservative criticism that would undermine PolitiFact's credibility as an unbiased source....

Read more here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PolitiFact calls Dems' true claim on Medicare 'lie of the year'

PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times newspaper operation that rates the veracity of political statements, gave Paul Ryan a little boost today when it listed as "the lie of the year" the assertion by numerous Democrats that Ryan's plan kills Medicare. Nope, says Politifact, which came to its conclusion even though a public survey on the question did not win out. That was a survey that Ryan tried to stuff.

Politifact's decision was a call by the national operation, not the Wisconsin Politifact franchise run by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The ruling gives Ryan some wiggle room to reinvigorate his image, if not his proposed legislation. The measure, which won passage in the GOP House, isn't going anywhere in this Congress under this White House, but could come back to haunt Americans after 2012's elections.

Politifact's analysis -- which basically mirrors Ryan's own rhetoric -- is that if you keep calling it Medicare but change most of its functions and greatly privatize it, that doesn't mean it will die. But many experts think otherwise, and when Democrats echo that analysis, Politifact takes them to task. Never mind that Ryan's proposal is specifically designed to give Republicans cover, bending over backwards to assure voters that Medicare will be stronger as a result. But it's just that: political camouflage, and nothing more.

Here's a more detailed analysis of Politifact's misguided ruling on DailyKos.
[And here's Thom Hartmann on the subject. -- Xoff]:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Republicans credit Paul Ryan with George Watts' phrase, 'The right to rise,' then distort its meaning

Paul Ryan, the media darling, is getting a lot of mileage out of a simple phrase he used in a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Ocrober: "All Americans have the right to rise."

Republicans have begun to trumpet the phrase, since Jeb Bush, in an op ed in the Wall Street Journal, credited Ryan as the author, expanded on and twisted the idea. Bush called his piece "Capitalism and the right to rise," and said:
Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: "The right to rise."  
Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect. But we do.
We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
First off, Ryan didn't coin the phrase, although no one seems to be disputing the claim that he did.

I knew I'd heard it before; it had a familiar ring. Was it Jesse Jackson who said it? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

The answer was much closer to home. Milwaukee's George Watts, a moderate Republican businessman who supported the civil rights movement, titled his autobiography, "Insurrection in Milwaukee: The Right to Rise." Watts died in 2005.

Watts, who ran unsuccessfully for Milwaukee mayor in 2000, was talking about the rights of minorities to rise from poverty and discrimination and take their rightful places in society.

Ryan, in fact, in his speech, said:

... let's lower the hurdles to upward mobiity ...Throughout human history, the American idea has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed... Here in America, unlike most places on earth, all citizens have the right to rise.
Jeb Bush managed to turn that into a call for an end to regulation, so that millionaires and corporations can rise even higher.
George Watts might be pleased that he's being quoted, although he's probably prefer to have it attributed. But he would undoubtedly be appalled by the way "the right to rise" is being twisted as an argument to deregulate those at the top, when he was trying to help those at the bottom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paul Ryan Runs from his own Medicare Plan, Worried about Challenge from Rob Zerban!!

Rep. Paul Ryan appears to be vulnerable in 2012, and he's showing it. His Democratic challenger Rob Zerban started early and campaigned often. And while Ryan has turned off constituents with fewer and fewer town halls and unwavering support of ending to Medicare, Zerban has moved within 6 points of overtaking Ryan. Get a load of this report from The Hill earlier today:
A prominent Democratic pollster is making the case that the party should invest in a challenge to Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the conservative House budget plan. Pollster Paul Maslin's survey of 405 likely voters "shows that challenger Rob Zerban is well-positioned to give incumbent Paul Ryan the toughest fight of his career, with a very good chance to upset him," Maslin wrote in a memo.

The survey found the district, the Wisconsin First, evenly divided on partisan issues … And, after respondents hear one additional paragraph description linking Ryan to the Republican leadership describing his authorship of the House budget plan, his support falls below 50% and his favorable rating becomes like Obama’s and Walker’s—dead even at 46% positive and 46% negative. And... Rob Zerban trails Ryan by only six points after this very brief exposition of Ryan’s signature idea, 49-43%.
Which has produced an amazing Ryan transformation…COMPROMISE on Medicare? Yes, Ryan is doing this all for the cameras. Paul Ryan is a snake, a sneaky con man willing to sell our seniors so the free market can profit from their medical needs. Ryan’s trying to diffuse his Medicare debacle, taking it out as an issue. But Ryan’s original intent can’t be erased. But he’ll try…:
jsonline: Republican House budget chair Paul Ryan has teamed up with Senate Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon to offer what they're billing as a bipartisan approach to overhauling Medicare … Like the Ryan plan it would shift the fundamental structure of Medicare from a "defined benefit" program to a "defined contribution" program, and those seniors would use the subsidy to purchase health insurance from a menu of government-approved private plans.

But a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan would be among the options seniors can choose from. Private plans would be competing with traditional Medicare to cover seniors, according to the plan.
Yes, its much like the vilified “public option” Democrats wanted to include in the Affordable Care Act, where private plans would have to compete with the lower government rates.
The new proposal also takes a different approach in how it sets the premium subsidies for seniors, and the rate at which those subsidies could grow over time, as medical costs rise. One of the chief criticisms of the Ryan plan … health costs rising much faster than inflation, beneficiaries over time would be forced to pay the difference … the premium subsidy would steadily erode.
Here’s where things get weird, confusing and problematic:
Under the new plan, the size of the premium subsidies would be tied to the costs of the insurance plans being offered to seniors. Increases in the subsidies would be capped at the growth rate of the overall economy plus one percent. And Wyden said that if health care costs grow at a higher rate, beneficiaries wouldn't necessarily be the ones absorbing the costs under their proposal. "We are rejecting that," said Wyden. "If that happens (if costs go up at a higher rate) Congress has to do its job and look at all other options: lower reimbursement (to providers), higher premiums for the wealthy."
Right, like that’ll happen.
Whether this new plan would in theory save as much money is not clear. Ryan said the new plan would also include consumer protections sought by Wyden.
Ryan can try to hide behind the misguided support of Ron Wyden, but he can’t run from his original plan no matter how hard he tries. 

Nightmare of the year: Ryan runnerup for person of the year?

Protesters are Time magazine's people of the year.

But the runnersup include just the sort of person many of them in the US were protesting against -- Paul Ryan, champion of the richest 1%, enemy of the poor and the elderly.

Ryan, again, gets a tremendous amount of credit for accomplishing nothing in the way of policy change.

Go figure.

Zerban poll says he has a shot at beating Ryan

Rob Zerban, (pictured) the Democrat challenging Paul Ryan, has a shot at beating Ryan in November, the first poll done for Zerban's campaign shows.

One of the hurdles for a challenger in a Republican district is to demonstrate that there's a real chance for victory. There is a lot of competition for campaign financing, to put it mildly, and decisions made in Washington, DC about which races to target can turn the contribution spigot on or off.

Zerban's pollster, Paul Maslin, says in a memo that Zerban "is well-positioned to give incumbent Paul Ryan the toughest fight of his career, with a very good chance to upset him."

From Maslin's memo:

Ryan’s favorable rating has declined to 54% positive, his job rating is 55% and his reelect is 54%—all this before the beginning of an active campaign against Ryan. When voters hear positive information about Rob Zerban and Paul Ryan, Ryan’s support weakens further to 52%. Rob Zerban’s description receives a better than 3 to 1 positive reaction.

And, after respondents hear one additional paragraph description linking Ryan to the Republican leadership in Congress and describing his authorship of the House budget plan, his support falls below 50% and his favorable rating becomes like Obama’s and Walker’s—dead even at 46% positive and 46% negative. And... Rob Zerban trails Ryan by only six points after this very brief exposition of Ryan’s signature idea, 49-43%, with undecideds holding nearly unanimously negative views of Congress in general and more than 80% saying they have either a negative or neutral feeling toward Ryan at the end of the poll.

The memo, of course, puts things in the most favorable light for Zerban. The poll doesn't reflect the fact, for example, that Ryan has millions of dollars in the bank, so people will hear his message many more times than Zerban's, unless this race becomes a cause celebre among Dems.

That's the challenge for Zerban's campaign. He's clearly the most serious challenger Ryan has had in years, and Ryan's plan to get rid of Medicare and replace it with a voucher system may make him vulnerable. Then there's the national climate; people are fed up with a do-nothing Congress. Are voters in the 1st Congressional District fed up with Ryan?

This will be a race to watch, and Zerban's doing what he needs to do now to get people to pay attention. It's not too close to call yet, but it is too early to tell.

Politico has more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lyin' Paul Ryan and the end of Medicare

Esquire's politics blog doesn't pull any punches:

Zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is having a tough year. First, he comes out with a plan to "reform" Medicare in the same way that an iceberg once "reformed" the White Star shipping line. Many people including (at the time) Newt Gingrich laughed at his mighty brain. (Why do they all laugh at my mighty brain?) Then bad things happened to some people who thought Paul Ryan had a good idea. Then, everyone in the world who could work an abacus looked at his plan and noticed that, yes, the plan added up to an actual elimination of Medicare even though Ryan planned to spray-paint "Medicare" on an old railroad bridge in Janesville and point to it and say, "See? Medicare is still there."

...Here's the thing, kids. Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare. Period. He has a philosophical objection to it. He doesn't think it's the government's job. However, he can't go for an up-or-down vote on this because he would lose about eleventy-bajillion-to-one. So, he's put together a plan to let Medicare "die on the vine," the strategy proposed by current GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich so pithily back in 1995.

Read more here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

After Criticizing Ryan's Proposals - Gingrich Surges In Polls

Remember when Newt Gingrich let his guard down and called Paul Ryan’s budget proposal and plan to end Medicare exactly what it is - "right-wing social engineering?"

Union Leader Excerpt:
Sununu told reporters that when Gingrich earlier this year called U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's entitlement reform provisions of the Republican budget plan “right-wing social engineering,” it was “an effort of self-aggrandizement” that undercut Ryan and was “the most self-serving, anti-conservative thing one can imagine.”

That's funny. Against all odds since then, Gingrich has been slowly gaining on the other so-called conservatives running for the gold in the GOP presidential primary. Actually, Gingrich is now considered the front-running candidate among the pack of ghouls that speak in favor of Ryan's frontal attack on seniors, even pulling way ahead of Mitt Romney.

Union Leader Excerpt:
Sununu said, “What he did to Paul Ryan is just the latest in a pattern of anti-principled actions that really irritated his own leadership and produced 88 percent of the Republicans voting for his reprimand” in 1997.

The above statements from the bombastic Sununu says it all. Why should Newt Gingrich or any presidential candidate care a rat's ass about Paul Ryan? Think about it. Who is Ryan? Second and even more telling, how could criticizing Ryan's proposal be self-aggrandizement if it's so good?

The truth is, they all know Ryan's budget proposals are fictional, unworkable, radical and vicious - you have to be a goose-stepping single-file Randroid to believe in them. You have to be trained and "principled." They're sympathetic to Ryan and defend him because he was the only one evil enough to propose such a dastardly plan. They wouldn't dare propose the same so they translate Ryan's ideologically engineered insanity as courage. I'm guessing here that Gingrich isn't one of them.

Union LeaderExcerpt:
He said Gingrich's occasional “off-the-cuff” comments are “a reflection of the off-the-cuff thinking that he goes through to deal with the issues and that is not what you want in the commander-in-chief.”

People want to hear the truth and they know the truth when they hear it. Gingrich spoke the truth when he called Ryan's proposals "right-wing social engineering." Everyone knows that. When a politician like Sununu thinks telling the truth is not what people want in a commander-in-chief, I highly doubt it. But that statement should give pause and further thought about the truthfulness of the GOP candidates Sununu did not direct that statement at. Sununu should back-fire in their faces.

The best part is Romney, Sununu and rest of the cast of Ryan defenders don't know what to do next. They were going to bombard Gingrich with more garbage and venom aimed at drawing a greater contrast between themselves and the former House Speaker. But the
latest report
out of Politico shows somebody may have connected Newt's surge to his criticism of Ryan so Romney skipped several chances to attack Newt Gingrich on Friday — an abrupt change to his campaign’s aggressive approach to draw that contrast.

But this is funny. They’re trying to undermine Newt Gingrich, not that I care, but the fact that Gingrich has surged past Romney seems to have gotten their underwear all bunched up. THEY were the ones preparing to aggrandize themselves by resurrecting Paul Ryan's proposals, but now they're not so sure. Yet, they accuse Newt of self-aggrandizement because he derided Ryan's proposals.

In the meantime, Gingrich surges ahead. Beauuutiful.

Sidenote: The Janesville Gazette, Ryan's hometown newspaper, published a mainstream media version of this story in the local section of the print copy. As of this posting, they have not opened the article to the Web for open commenting. Are they worried about self-aggrandizing constituents or protecting their political endorsement?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ryan tries to stuff ballot box for PolitiFact 'lie of the year'

Paul Ryan is trying to stuff the online ballot boxes in the national PolitiFact "lie of the year" voting, which ends Friday, Dec. 9.

One of the finalists is a claim by Democrats that Ryan's budget plan ends Medicare. the claim is 100% true. Think Progress explains:
Here is why: Ryan’s plan ends traditional fee-for-service program and forces seniors to ultimately enroll in private coverage. Under his proposal, beginning in 2022, people turning 65 will receive a pre-determined “premium support” payment to purchase private coverage. The insurers will offer a basic package of benefits, but traditional Medicare — the program that President Lyndon Johnson enacted in 1965 — will literally stop enrolling new beneficiaries.  
Rather than paying health care providers directly — and using its market clout to secure better bargains and other efficiencies for enrollees — the government would now pay multiple private health insurers pre-determined amounts per beneficiary to act as middle men between patients and providers. It will no longer guarantee seniors a defined package of benefits, but will instead only offer a defined contribution towards their health care costs.  
As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Ryan’s proposal explains, “the payment for 65-year-olds in 2022 is specified to be $8,000, on average, which is approximately the same dollar amount as projected net federal spending per capita for 65-year-olds in traditional Medicare.” However every subsequent year, as health care costs increase, the government’s contribution “would grow at a slower rate,” inflation, and the age of the enrollee. By 2030, under the proposal, the premium support would “only cover 32 percent of a typical 65-year-old’s total health care spending” and would decrease every subsequent year. PolitiFact concedes that this is, in fact, “a huge change to the current program.”  
But it’s more than that. Capping costs to beneficiaries, closing the traditional fee-for-service program, and forcing seniors to enroll in new private coverage, ends Medicare by eliminating everything that has defined the program for the last 46 years.
America Blog tells of Ryan's efforts to stuff the online ballot box:
It's pretty atrocious that Politifact is even letting people vote on this. Online votes aren't real votes. And for an organization that supposedly puts facts above whim, how can they honestly choose the "lie of the year" based on whether Dems or Republicans are able to get in more votes?... Here's GOP Congressman Paul Ryan's attempt to rig the vote, with an email to his PAC supporters:
From: Paul Ryan
Date: December 7, 2011   
To: xxx   
Subject: Vote now - "Lie of the Year" 
Reply-To: Paul Ryan
Dear xxxxx -  
I need your vote. Politifact, a non-partisan, fact-checking website, is now taking votes for the 2011 “Lie of the Year,” and one of the nominees is the Democrats’ “Pants on Fire” lie about Republicans voting to “end Medicare.”  
Click here to vote now and ensure the Democrats’ lies about the Path to Prosperity are exposed. Remember, our budget is the only plan that actually saves Medicare. We know the stakes are high in 2012 – it’s a chance to take our country back and get us back on a path to prosperity. We can’t let lies by Democrats about our conservative solutions go unchecked. 
Help me fight the lies, falsehoods, and attacks of the Left by casting a vote to show the Democrat’s lie that Republicans voted to “end Medicare” is the worst political lie of 2011. Click here to cast your vote now at Politifact.   
Thanks, Congressman Paul Ryan

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Newt Was Right About One Thing: Paul Ryan's Plan Is Right Wing Social Engineering

The big Ryan news today might have been how he's running around the country endorsing right-wing candidates who back his plan to end Medicare and make the tax system even more skewered towards the wealthy. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) got the kiss of death against teabagger Clark Durant in the GOP primary this morning. But in terms of real importance, the video above, ultimately, will mean far more.

Have you ever visited Stop Paul Ryan? It's the page Blue America uses to try appeal for contributions to help defeat the most dangerous Member of Congress. We just switched out an old Blue America ad with the video above. That video was released by Rob Zerban's campaign yesterday-- Rob the first plausible candidate to have ever run against Ryan since he was first elected in 1998. The DCCC has given Ryan a free pass-- more than a free pass; they have consistently sabotaged every good candidate who has tried to run against him, fixing the primary process so that Ryan would wind up with absurd primary opponents like John Heckenlively who was unable to raise any money against Ryan's massive Wall Street warchest-- and wound up with 30% of the vote.

Oh, so it must be a deep red district, useless to even try in, right? That's what the DCCC has tried very hard to help Ryan get across. But it's anything but a deep red district. It's a true swing district and, in fact, Obama beat McCain there in 2008 51-48%. (And that was while Ryan was racking up a 64% win without breaking a sweat.) Last year Ryan raised $3,922,760, while the candidate the DCCC installed-- and then never helped at all-- raised $12,066.

This year, all that is changing. Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban has the very energized Wisconsin Democratic Party behind him and he's running a real grassroots campaign-- and a very effective one. Zerban sums it up pretty simply himself: "The Republican Party, led by Paul Ryan, is on a destructive mission to destroy the middle class. The sad truth is, Ryan's ideas have led Congress and our economy nowhere. Unlike Paul Ryan, I have real business experience and do not believe in trickle down economics." Please watch that video up top again. And then keep this in mind-- the spread between Ryan's 68% of the vote last year and Heckenlively's 30% was 38 points. The new poll that is being released tomorrow shows that the spread between Ryan and Zerban is 6 points. Think about that for a second. And then help us close that gap.

Ryan policymaker of the year? Scott Walker public employee of the year?

As noted here earlier, Paul Ryan will be honored by Politico as the health care policymaker of the year for 2011, despite not making one iota of policy in 2011, and almost none in 13 years in the House.

Ari Berman of The Nation writes:

Blogger Digby jokes that “To honor [Ryan] for his work on healthcare policy is akin to honoring Governor Scott Walker as Public Employee of the year.”

The Politico award is reminiscent of a similarly ridiculous “fiscal responsibility” honor bestowed upon Ryan earlier this year by three leading deficit hawk groups.

Details here.

Video: The truth about Paul Ryan

New video from Ryan's challenger, Rob Zerban, has a few zingers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ryan to endorse consevatives in primaries; What's that mean for Tommy Thompson?

 The Daily Caller reports:
Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says he’s on a mission to help elect “more conservatives in Congress to save the country” and plans to endorse in congressional races where there are “clear cut cases between reformers and career people.”
“We’re going to try to get behind people who are coming here to save the country and fight for limited government and economic freedom,” Ryan said in an interview with The Daily Caller about his political action committee, Prosperity PAC.
In a memo obtained by TheDC, the Wisconsin congressman plans to ask supporters to donate to his Prosperity PAC to help elect members of Congress “who aren’t afraid to make the tough, but necessary, decisions to secure our fiscal future, and, when necessary.”
In Wisconsin, what will that mean for Tommy G. Thompson, the career politician who is the most moderate candidate in a Republican U.S. Senate primary that includes Mark Neumann and Jeff Fitzgerald, both well to the right of Thompson. Fitzgerald's announcement used Ryan's template and the same buzz words:
"In Wisconsin I led the Assembly to a balanced budget in face of fierce opposition from the status quo," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "I would be honored to lead a new reform movement in Washington."
Thompson already has drawn fire -- and negative television commercials -- from the national right wing Club for Growth organization, which finds him far too liberal. Will Ryan join the right wingers trashing Tommy? Or will he duck an endorsement, as he's doing in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, saying his fund-raising role for the party keeps him from expressing his opinion?

That's not what a courageous conservative would do, is it?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another Unholy Alliance With Paul Ryan. When Will Some Democrats Learn?

 Down With Tyranny graphic

Rock Netroots blog :
Another Unholy Alliance With Paul Ryan. When Will Some Democrats Learn?
This time it's Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) teaming up with Ryan on a proposed line item veto.

In the past, even Russ Feingold has taken the bait and stood with Ryan on the same issue.

Rock Netroots, based in Janesville, hometown of both Ryan and Feingold, thinks Feingold got snookered, too.    More here.

Down With Tyranny blog also blasts Van Hollen, but has some kind words for Rob Zerban, Ryan's opponent, who opposes the line item veto.  (Among other problems, the Supreme Court found it was unconstitutional in 1998.)

If you want to make believe the Republicans in Congress aren't fighting a vicious and concerted class war against working families on behalf of Big Business, Wall Street and the 1%, you can work with them towards bipartisan solutions. But then you'd have to be an idiot since, through words and deeds, the Republicans in Congress have shown, indisputably shown, that "bipartisan" always means the same thing for them: support the dogmatic right-wing approach/strategy. Former DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen ought to know better; maybe he does.
Read the rest of  DWT's commentary  here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ryan Projects the Propaganda by taking the "Moral High Ground."

Paul Ryan’s fear campaign continues unabated, obscured by the usual “I know you are but what am I” tact, and a whole lot of conservative projection. In fact projection is the GOP’s primary offensive weapon; “where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people.”

While Ryan accuses the Democrats of fear mongering his cost shifting health care reform plan for Medicare, where care is controlled by insurance companies and the free market, he actually does them one better by warning typically paranoid conservatives we’re about to “lose our country.”
Big Government:“We can be like Republicans in the past–trim the edges, slow things down, make things more affordable, buy time. Or we can do what is necessary to save our country. We’ve got to understand that there are core principles involved here–that if we compromise too far, we can win but we will still lose the country.”

Scared yet? Thank god we have Ryan to ease our worries and to take the "moral high ground." He'll talk some sense into us…via propaganda. Or as Ryan puts it, “educate” the public with corporate Prosperity PAC money.
Rep. Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, also leads the Prosperity PAC, a political action committee … Prosperity Action is trying to change the premise of the debate about spending, to help educate the country, to educate grassroots activists … if we win that kind of an election, then we will have the moral authority to make the changes needed. I believe that President Obama is going to campaign on the idea that he offers the country a kind of security, that the Republicans will feed Americans to the wolves to help their rich friends. He’s going to use resentment, fear, and envy.

Ryan convincingly denies the truth by portraying the wealth disparity as resentment, fear, and envy, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Projection? Sure. The funny thing is, Ryan ignores or denies legitimate criticisms of his “free market” plan of self-rationing. The insane notion that insurance companies and hospitals will lower rates and cut their profit margins, while taking Ryan’s taxpayer premium support money in a supposed free market, is pure lunacy. To add insult to injury, Ryan also wants insurers to dump those with pre-existing conditions into a costly taxpayer supported high risk pool. Ryan socializes the risk, and privatizes the profits.

Besides appealing to conservative’s willingness to play the picked on victim of their misunderstood ideology, Ryan positions himself as one of the few wonkish numbers crunchers the party is willing to tolerate. That’s why the following string of big words sounds so impressive to Republican voters:
We must reject that substantively–statistically and quantitatively, but also seizing the moral high ground.

And when you seize the moral high ground, like Scott Walker has, you can do anything you want.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Donald Trump: Ryan's 'a lousy poker player'

The Blaze blog:
In his new book “Time to get Tough,” (Regnery Publishing) America’s favorite game show host Donald Trump (pictured, on a bad hair day) says for America to get better, Republicans need to get smarter. He uses Rep. Paul Ryan as an example and not in a good way. From the book:
I’m sure Congressman Paul Ryan is a nice guy, but I can tell you this much: he is one lousy poker player. In an effort to talk about how he would balance the budget and rein in Washington’s spending addiction, he came out with his plan to overhaul Medicare. It was an absolutely unbelievable blunder… I’m talking about his total lack of negotiating skills.
Trumps book is set for release Monday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ryan, 'policymaker of the year,' made zero policy

Politico announces that Paul Ryan is one of four "policymakers of the year" to be honored at an upcoming event.

Looking at the list of winners, it's sort of like the old "Which one of these doesn't belong?" game.

The three other winners actually made some policy. All Ryan made was noise.

The others winners are Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, for energy, who "has been a forceful advocate on environmental issues and has held the line against intense Republican attacks on her agency," Politico says.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, are the policymakers of the year in technology. The lawmakers' America Invents Act became the only major piece of tech legislation signed into law in 2011 — a rare instance in which a bipartisan effort bore fruit.

And Ryan? He's credited with changing the debate on health care with his Road to Ruin proposal, which the GOP House rubber-stamped, but it then died a predictable death.

Typical of Ryan, who has not passed a single significant piece of legislation since he's been in Congress. He has two minor bills to his "credit" in 13 years.

Policymaker of the year indeed. Why not the decade?

A Dubious Achievement Award would be a better fit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A voucher by any other name is still a voucher, Mr. Ryan

There is a campaign underway to rewrite recent history -- and Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher plan -- and pretend Ryan propose something called "premium support," which, we're told, is now attracting some Democratic support.

Ryan was right after all, the story line goes. One conservative even thinks that progressives owes Ryan an apology for dumping on his plan.

Kevin Drum sets the record straight in his Mother Jones post:
It's a free country and Paul Ryan can call his plan anything he wants. But that doesn't make it so. The fact is that liberal wonks didn't object to Ryan's plan because it included premium support, they objected to it because it's not premium support. It's a voucher with a very slow rate of growth that (a) does very little to actually rein in healthcare costs and (b) within a couple of decades would leave seniors paying enormous out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. It was that stingy rate of growth and unwillingness to tackle cost growth that turned off liberal wonks from the start. There are still plenty of us willing to support variations on genuine premium support plans that genuinely try to rein in medical costs and insure that seniors can continue to receive reasonable care at a reasonable price.
So I think I'll hold off on any apologies for now. Paul Ryan's plan was never either serious or courageous. It was a meat axe designed to get him applause from true believers and headlines as a "bold" thinker. But if he ever does get serious, I imagine he'll find plenty of support from liberals. We've been there for a while.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's A Bigger Wisconsin Problem-- Scott Walker Or Paul Ryan?

Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny:
Something over 100,000 signatures have been counted on the recall petitions for Wisconsin Koched-up fascist Scott Walker... in just 4 days. No doubt that's why right wing thugs have taken to threats of violence to protect their gains against the forces of democracy. The fight to recall Walker and the battle to keep retiring Senator Herb Kohl's seat blue-- by electing Tammy Baldwin-- are taking up all the oxygen in the room.

But we can't lose track of how crucial it is, not just for Wisconsin, but for all of America to stop Paul Ryan. More than anyone else, he is the political spokesperson for the 1% and Wall Street has every intention of seeing him all the way to the White House. There can't be anything in American politics more important that ending Ryan's career.
Read it here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

'Don't put me in coach' said Monday morning quarterback Ryan on debt

Paul Ryan says it's frustrating that the Congressional supercommittee couldn't agree on a solution to reducing national debt. “It's another missed, wasted opportunity,” he said in Oklahoma, where he was raising money for a GOP candidate.

Ryan, the high profile chairman of the House Budget Committee, surely could have been a member of the supercommittee if he had wanted to be. But he said he had asked Speaker John Boehner not to appoint him. Why? There are several theories, including that Ryan knew from the start the group was doomed to fail.

Ryan offered his own spin on the committee's failure to the Oklahoman newspaper:

The problem was the Democrats could never agree with each other as to what they would agree to, so they kept trying to negotiate with each other. And that was just tough negotiating with people who are still negotiating with each other.
Actually, there were reports that one of the Republicans was ready to agree to a Democratic proposal but backed off at the end, The New York Times reported.

Whatever the reasons Ryan decided not to serve on the committee, his comments now certainly smell of Monday morning quarterbacking by a guy who asked the coach not to put him in the game.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sensenbrenner says Ryan 'burying head in sand' or 'trying to score political points' on balanced budget amendment

Big Jim Sensenbrenner (pictured), the Congressman from Wisconsin's reddest district, had this to say in a recent column on Brookfield Patch:
The House considered a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber of Congress to pass. With opposition from the tax-and-spend left, the amendment did not pass.
This Balanced Budget Amendment closely mirrors the same one that passed the House in 1995 — with broad bipartisan support — and failed by only one vote in the Senate. Since then, our debt has nearly quadrupled.

My colleagues ... who voted against this amendment are either burying their heads in the sand or trying to misrepresent this effort to score political points. But ignoring our debt crisis won’t make it go away.
The ellipsis replaced the words "across the aisle," since Sensenbrenner was using the column to attack Democrats.

Thing is -- and this has got to be somewhat embarrassing for Big Jim -- one of the "no" votes was from his side of the aisle. A guy from Wisconsin. A buddy of his. A guy named Paul Ryan.

Three other Republicans also voted no.

On the other hand, Rep. Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, voted yes. Go figure.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Will Happen To Paul Ryan If The GOP Really Does Provoke A Revolution?

This post comes from a much longer one at DownWithTyranny today. And, among other things, it deals with an assertion by Paul Ryan ally Jim Jordan (R-OH) that “It would be difficult” to win passage of a supercommittee plan that includes more taxes. “If it’s a net tax increase, this is the most fundamental principle within the Republican Party,” Jordan said. “This is a sacred trust I think we as Republicans have with voters.”

Sacred? Really? Sacred? Can you even be a Republican these days without absolutely loathing the message of Jesus Christ? I can't see how it would be possible to embrace Jesus and the GOP message. Their actual object of worship-- Ayn Rand and her adolescent philosophy of selfishness and greed-- is the basis of the religion of Republicanism and... Christianity it's not. Paul Ryan, more than most, has been willing it publicly embrace it-- and it's reflected in his hate-the-poor legislative agenda.

In yesterday's Washington Post moderate Ezra Klein examined Ryan's latest thrust against ordinary working families on behalf of those who have financed his political career and have promised to make him president. Klein views Ryan's "Inequality Report" charitably and treats it as a serious policy statement-- even finds some worthwhile points.
But more broadly, Ryan’s paper tries to create a false choice between reducing income inequality, encouraging economic mobility and accelerating growth. Toward the end, Ryan actually says the debate over inequality breaks down into two groups:

1. Is the problem simply that some households make more than others, in which case policymakers should be focused on closing this income gap by any means at their disposal, indifferent as to whether government policies aimed to close relative inequality result in lower absolute levels of income?

2. Or is the problem that incomes for households in the middle- and lower-quintiles are not rising fast enough, in which case policymakers should focus first and foremost on creating the conditions for income growth and job creation?

If there actually is anyone out there who believes we should be focused on closing the income gap no matter the cost to growth, I’ve never met them. Conversely, there actually are people who focus on what they think to be pro-growth policies without heed to the income gap. People like, say, Paul Ryan.

In 2010, the Tax Policy Center released a detailed analysis of the tax provisions in Ryan’s Roadmap for America. If you were in the top 1 percent, they found, Ryan’s plan would save you $350,000 a year. If you were in the middle of the income distribution, it would cost you $152 a year. And if you were in the bottom 20 percent, it would cost you $393 a year. That would undoubtedly increase inequality.

And there’s good evidence that increasing inequality is, ultimately, bad for growth. Over at the International Monetary Fund, Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry recently published a paper looking at the relationship between inequality and growth across the world. In a sense, they were testing Ryan’s proposition exactly. “Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth-- arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats,” they write.

Berg and Ostry found that “high ‘growth spells’ were much more likely to end in countries with less equal income distributions.” Moreover, “the effect is large .?.?. closing, say, half the inequality gap between Latin America and emerging Asia would more than double the expected duration of a ‘growth spell.’?” And it was robust: “Inequality seemed to make a big difference almost no matter what other variables were in the model or exactly how we defined a ‘growth spell.’?”

Ryan also plumps for his Medicare reforms as a solution to inequality. As you’ll remember, his budget proposes converting Medicare into a voucher system where seniors would be given a check and sent into a regulated private market to purchase insurance. The plan saves money because the check would grow at the rate of inflation, while health-care costs often increase three times faster than inflation, so, quite quickly, the check would cover only a small portion of an individual senior’s costs.

For rich seniors, this wouldn’t much matter. They could easily afford the cost of private insurance. For middle-income seniors, or lower-income seniors, it would be a disaster. Ryan offers them some subsidies, but not nearly enough. The cost of coverage would quickly outpace the resources many of them have to pay for it.

I mention this because Ryan’s paper emphasizes the difference between “absolute” and “relative” inequality. “A century ago,” Ryan writes, “the average American lived a life that was dramatically different, in terms of what he or she could experience and obtain, from an elite like Rockefeller. In many important respects, the difference between ultra-elites and average Americans is less pronounced today.”

But that difference is less pronounced in large part because of programs like Medicare, which ensure that poor and middle-class seniors have access to health care of similar quality to that of richer seniors. So where Ryan’s analysis suggests the need to means-test Medicare and control health-care costs to ease inequality, the core of his health-care plan, the very plan he touts in the conclusion to his paper, would dramatically increase absolute health-care inequality for seniors.

So it’s good that Ryan has started thinking hard about inequality. But it would be better if he thought harder about what policy could do to address it, or at least to avoid making it dramatically worse.

As for the rest of us, it's time-- past time-- to start thinking seriously how we're going to stop this dangerous threat to America and to social harmony in our country. Replacing him with Rob Zerban one year from now is the most obvious-- and least stressful-- way.

Palin Rips Millionaires In Congress For a Life Of Entrenched Corruption

Mail Online News Excerpt:
Nearly half of Congress are millionaires - a status shared by only one per cent of Americans. According to a new study, at least 249 out of Congress’ 535 members are millionaires.

The analysis — released by the Center for Responsive Politics — is based on the average value of each lawmaker’s assets and liabilities, which members are required by law to report every year.

Granted, some members of Congress were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Others were millionaires in their own right before they were elected. But in a recent op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Palin took exception to those elected officials who arrived under modest means and now find themselves to be in the 1 percent. That is a select group.

NewsMax Excerpt:
“How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires?” Palin asks in her column. “How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us? How do politicians’ stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge fund managers?”

Palin’s answer: “Politicians derive power from the authority of their office and their access to our tax dollars, and they use that power to enrich and shield themselves.”

Who pray tell would fit that description? Why none other than our very own Paul Ryan.

No question, when Paul Ryan arrived in Washington, D.C., he was considered a young man of modest means from a solid middle-class family from Janesville, Wisconsin. His earlier story at the time was that his mom was worried he would be a lifetime beach bum. Until age 18, he collected Social Security survivor's benefits, which he put away for college. Later, he started out working as a restaurant waiter and with insider connections, moved up to office staffer for politicians such as Sen. Sam Brownback before being elected in 1998. In 2004, Ryan pointed out that since entering Congress he has had no ties to a cousin's firm, Ryan Central Inc., a construction and earth-moving company headquartered in Janesville.

Yet according to the latest report on wealth in Congress from the Center For Responsive Politics, Paul Ryan is listed in the millionaires club with an average net worth of $2,068,050.

So how did Paul Ryan become a millionaire while collecting a government paycheck?

Well, at least Sarah Palin knows.

Center For Responsive Politics - Members of Congress Enjoy Robust Financial Status, Despite Nation's Sluggish Economic Recovery

Download the full list of disclosed wealth on all current members of Congress here.

Ryan's bold new plan: Same old same old

Paul Ryan’s solution to inequality helps the rich, does nothing for poor, says Greg Sargent at Washington Post.

Are we surprised?

Ryan's still offering the same old trickle down solution to the incredib le disparity in the distribution of wealth in this country.

Slog is less kind:

Unsurprisingly, it's full of the same old Republican talking points, gussied up with a few more misleading smarty-pants graphs. It's the same shit sandwich, though: Trickle-down economics, lowered taxes for everyone, and fixing the loopholes in the tax code.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Ryan's mother was a hamster?'

"Criticism of policy proposals is not the same thing as an ad hominem attack.

"If I say that Paul Ryan’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries, that’s ad hominem. If I say that his plan would hurt millions of people and that he’s not being honest about the numbers, that’s harsh, but not ad hominem." 
-- Paul Krugman has more on Truthout. 
And Ryan's mother wears combat boots.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ryan Almost Last In Time's Person Of The Year Voting

The editors still make the choice, but in the magazine's beauty contest balloting, Ryan is almost dead last.

Behind Charlie Sheen and even Kim Kardashian, and here's what's really gotta hurt: tens of thousands fewer votes than the current people's pick, the 99%.

Person Of The Year?

Time is looking for the 2011 Person of the Year. They asked their readers to help them pick one. Who could imagine that Paul Ryan would get any votes? But he did. Wall Street's own Wisconsin congressman, got 261 votes. And 3,771 people went to the trouble of voting against him. That was smart of them. Wall Street is determined to make him president someday. Ending his career sooner rather than later would help avert an existential threat to the American people. Ryan is far worse than just being the mouthpiece for the move to end Medicare. Please consider helping Rob Zerban beat him at the polls in 51 weeks. You can do that right here

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Romney Endorses Radical Ryan Budget

Ari Berman in The Nation:
When Paul Ryan introduced his radical budget plan this year—which would turn Medicare into a voucher system, privatize Social Security and massively redistribute income upward by drastically cutting taxes for the wealthiest one percent while severely slashing programs for low-income Americans—Mitt Romney heartily applauded.

“I applaud Rep. Paul Ryan for recognizing the looming financial crisis that faces our nation and for the creative and bold thinking that he brings to the debate,” Romney said in April 2011. “He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control. Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page.”

Now Romney has gone a step further, actively incorporating Ryan’s ideas into his own plan to reduce the social safety net, which he outlined at the Koch Brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity convention on Friday. Romney would raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, cut $100 billion from Medicaid and allow seniors to pay for health coverage through vouchers for private insurance (a shrewd way to undermine the immensely popular government-run Medicare program).

After the speech, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that Romney “has found his inner Paul Ryan.” Ryan, in turn, told Rubin that Romney’s plan was “a great development…. This tracks perfectly with the House budget.” The Wisconsin congressman gushed to National Review: “It shows we’re all singing from the same hymnal.”

Given the unpopularity of the Ryan budget, Romney may come to regret this endorsement. It may help him win the votes of Tea Party conservatives in the GOP primary, but it will almost certainly become a liability in a general election campaign against President Obama.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ryan Keeps Pretending Imaginary Health Care Plan Is Real

New York magazine:
At a recent town hall meeting, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan was confronted by a 53-year-old man with end-stage renal failure, who pointedly told him that, under Ryan’s plan, he will die ...

Ryan’s response was to reassure the man that he would be taken care of...

Contrary to the impression he left at the town hall, Ryan knows full well that his budget plan does nothing for the uninsured.
Read it here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Just shoot me,' constituent tells Ryan

Poor Paul Ryan just can't win for losing.  After dodging constituents all summer, he breaks down and holds some town hall meetings, and what do they do?  Criticize his Grand Plan.
Think Progress reports:
Kenosha resident David Drath, 53, told Ryan he is a kidney transplant patient who relies on support from Medicare and Social Security. “I could not survive on the proposals in your policy,” Drath said. “If they’re put in place, you might as well put a gun to my head.”
Balloon Juice blog piles on:   
Paul Ryan was booed (again) at a town hall meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week, after one of his constituents pressed him about the GOP budget. As you may recall, Paul Ryan’s Very Serious Budget would turn Medicare into a voucher program, and amounts to little more than a decimation of the programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) on which the elderly and poor rely on to… you know… not die.
Maybe he'll get a better reception on Nov. 9 when he meets with the Tea Party at a Racine country club.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Townhall Report Pt.2: Provocative Congressman Earns 30 Police Officers At Townhall

I've been to plenty of Paul Ryan's so-called "listening sessions" in hometown Janesville over the years and knowing that those in attendance were mostly his committed supporters (hundreds of cousins) sprinkled with a few free thinkers like myself, the crowd reactions were often enthusiastic. But something was very different at his most recent listening session held at the Pontiac Center in Janesville.

When I arrived at the event, there were several police officers directing vehicles in the parking lot while there appeared to be two more watching the dozen protesters carrying signs on the nearby public sidewalk of the facility. After talking to a friend in the lot for a few minutes, I entered the facility a few minutes late passing a couple more plainclothes police officers in the lobby. Unfortunately, I missed the very beginning of the session where, according to the Janesville Gazette, a Janesville police official took the stage and gave district constituents a verbal warning that anyone speaking out of turn or ignoring their warning would be escorted out.

That explains why I felt constituents seemed to be raising their hands sheepishly like small children do in school after they have been scolded by a paddle waving teacher. Even the GOP's south-central propaganda machine and one of Ryan's most powerful media enablers in the district seemed surprised that there were no angry outbursts and only "smatterings" of polite applause, both for and against. These subdued and shackled reactions coming soon after Ryan proposed the starvation and eventual dismantlement of Medicare and Social security and his connections to hedge fund managers on Wall Street did not seem right, even from a typical Ryan majority Townhall. As reported in the Gazette, it turns out somebody deemed it necessary to assign 30 police officers for the event and also had a "wagon" bus ready to hold multiple arrests. That explains everything.

When people feel like they might be targeted by the local police if they utter a boo, move or say something they may not like or agree with at a Townhall - something is desperately wrong with our democracy. Clearly, many law-abiding citizens and peaceful protesters felt extra-conscious and unnerved by the heavy police presence. On the other hand, the Janesville police must know the obnoxious congressman provokes outrage. Why else would they think they needed 30 officers assigned to this event? For the twelve protesters peacefully assembled outside the door? Oh please.

Ironically, the penny-pinching conservatives at the Janesville Gazette made no mention about who will foot the bill for the estimated 60 man-hours of police security for the townhall meeting hosted by Ryan, who often detaches himself from local issues by referring to himself as a federal guy.

Unfortunately, if squelching dissent and natural public discourse was their goal, they've accomplished it in aces. However, this is no way to hold a townhall meeting where constituents attend and attempt to speak their minds freely without being in fear of being arrested. This will not likely change until Paul Ryan is removed from occupying our congressional district office.

Quote From The Gazette Comment Section...

YKM - "If only Paul Ryan would not have spent the last twelve years in Congress sponsoring and voting for tax exemptions, credits, loopholes, subsidies and tax shelters, he would not be here today under heavy police guard blaming government for leveraging winners over the losers with tax exemptions, credits, loopholes, subsidies and tax shelters."


Rock Netroots - Janesville Townhall Report

The Paul Ryan Watch - Elkhorn Townhall Report by Dave, Down With Tyranny

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Does Paul Ryan Tell The Folks In southeast ScottWalkerstan?

Last week, Paul Ryan, Wall Street's very own Wisconsin cat's paw, sent out a fundraising letter on behalf of the RNC but instead of the usual adolescent Ayn Rand gibberish he wows his speaking audiences with, he took on the mantle of the protecter of, of all things, the 99%:
America is at a tipping point. 14 million Americans are unemployed and 9.3 million are underemployed. Our debt has grown over $4 trillion in less than three years and will be above $16 trillion before the end of 2012. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams and no one in Washington seems to care.

No one seems to care? So Paul Ryan, author of the GOP plan to end Medicare, a congressman who helped force through Bush's T.A.R.P. Wall Street bankster bailout while consistently voting to dismember Social Security... he cares?

Unfortunately for Ryan, major media these days does more fact checking than his carefullu woven web of lies can stand up to. Like this little whopper be squawked out Oct 27 on CNBC's Squawk Box: "You have 219 new regulations coming out, costing over $100 million each.” 
the source of the [219] figure-- Susan E. Dudley, director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center-- decided to do a deeper examination of the data. She found that the number of pending regulations that met the $100 million threshold in the database she examined was actually 158. There were also limitations in the database.

It is also worth noting that Bloomberg News this week reported that “Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father.”

Paul Ryan needs to get his talking points updated. He gets Three Pinocchios.

You can't blame anyone from watching Ryan from K Street and Wall Street perspectives. They are, after all, his world. However, DWT has a secret weapon in southeast Wisconsin, our man Dave, and we agreed that it was time to see what line of bullshit Ryan is feeding his constituents these days. So Dave decided to brave a very restricted town hall meeting.

Observations from a Ryan Town Hall meeting

-by Dave

I attended Ryan's Elkhorn, WI listening session Friday. Right after his big speech at the AEI. I hoped to get the chance to ask a question or two and get a feel for the level of support of attendees. Sadly, I was not called on to ask a question (no surprise, it appeared he only called on people he knew, or may have been screened). 

Let me paint a picture. White older to middle aged audience, no minority's to be seen. No young people (other than his pages). More people than I ever saw at one of his meetings in Elkhorn, standing room only (about 200). Mostly huge supporters, true believers. Plenty of security, the sheriff and a half dozen deputies and the local police. No signs were allowed in the room (dumb rule here; they would have been supporters signs). 

The last time I attended one of these it was after Ryan's solution to the Social Security and Medicare "crisis" was proposed. There were half as many people and a few of us carried signs demanding no cuts to these programs. The event went down about the same. Ryan opens with a power point presentation describing the imminent collapse of our country because of the uncontrolled costs of social programs. He goes on to explain the only problem is spending and we need to make drastic cuts to save the free society we live in. Lots of references to that. What kind of country do you want to live in? Europe? Because those people are not free. Government  takes all their money and makes all the decisions. No American dream there.

He has brainwashed these followers to believe that the freedom to be homeless is a good thing, the freedom to die from lack of health care is a good thing, and the ability to be screwed by mega corporation out of your money is also a good thing. American freedoms we should protect and treasure. 

These are not by and large wealthy people. I'm sure some of the farmers are and a few others too. But they have bought into the idea they are. To arrogant or ignorant to realize they are one major health problem or  job loss away from living in their cars. That kind of thing only happens to other people they don't care about; undocumented aliens, people of color (other than white), trailer park trash. Why help them? Oblivious to the fact bad luck is any equal opportunity destroyer of lives.

Back in the session a local banker Ryan knows asks about killing the Dodd Frank bill, says it is hurting small banks. Ryan agrees, say it needs to go because it picks winners and losers ( Huh? I thought he did that by bailing out the big banks.) Goes on later to say he is all in for drill baby, drill in response to another softball question. Then on to endorse the amazing new drilling technology that is safe and opening up vast new gas reserves in this country (fracking). 

Any question asked is replied to with a talking point. Regulation is killing this country, and all these government programs are taking away our freedom. Obama is a divider because he (accurately) describes repukes as anti environment and anti women and against everything-- which is just not true! We must repeal Obamacare (his words), because it forces private insurers to meet minimum requirements for coverage and mandates its purchase. Doesn't mention we will all still be buying insurance from private insurers, but won't be able to be screwed by them. Not one question about jobs. Crazy.

A postman came prepared and asked if Ryan would support a number of bills to bail out the post office by changing the 75 year pension funding requirement. Ryan says that this is commonly done???? And actuarialy sound. He will not discuss specific bills claiming ignorance and says he will know more once the bills are marked up. He goes on further to say he is confident Rep. Issa is going to put together a good piece of legislation. The topic is changed and the postman is left out to dry. No sounds of support from the crowd for him.

In fact a lot of silence. Passive silence. A lot like church services, with Ryan as the preacher. Until one gentleman asked why hasn't Obama been impeached yet. The crowd roars. Ryan politely says until Obama commits a high crime or misdemeanor they can't impeach him.

The meeting was wrapping up so I slipped out the back thinking our best chance of defeating him, Ron Zerban will never win over these (ignorant or nasty?) lemmings. His only hope is huge majorities in the hurting bigger cities and with young people.  The voter suppression laws passed in WI are going to be a problem for Ron. He will need to get out the vote and produce some hard hitting TV ads showing what a shameless corporate/wall street shill Ryan is. Take off the gloves and go medieval on his ass.

I don't think Ryan has anything to brag about in his record. The economy? Landmark pieces of legislation? His budget? Wanting to gut Social Security and Medicare? Bailing out the Wall street banks? Slashing spending and not willing to raise taxes on millionaires? I don't see any winners there. And he's been there long enough to be considered part of the problem with Congress.

He does have those Eddie Munster good looks though...