Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paul Ryan's personal ads

These just crack me up...

Holding Ryan accountable: 65,000 join Rob Zerban in saying NO to Ryan

Rob Zerban, the Kenosha Democrat running for Paul Ryan's House seat in 2012, visits Ryan's district office to present 65,000 signatures opposing Ryan's disastrous Medicare proposal. Link

Ryan plan hurts women, but House Boys Club makes the decisions

When the Ryan/Republican Budget Club gets together, it's NO GIRLS ALLOWED:

Bloomberg News:

During a recent trip to New York, Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu and Patty Murray lamented one aspect of the U.S. deficit talks that they say may cloud the outcome: No women lawmakers have been at the table.

It’s a concern shared by some female colleagues, who say programs that disproportionately serve women and children are at risk in negotiations over where to cut federal spending. Several of the programs were targeted by Representative Paul Ryan in a budget that passed the U.S. House in April and which he and many other Republicans see as a road map for shrinking the government.
 It's been called Ryan's war on women.  More from Bloomberg:

The budget called for reductions in food stamps, two-thirds of whose adult recipients are women; Pell grants, about two- thirds of which go to female college students; Medicaid, about 70 percent of whose beneficiaries are female, and child care. This month, House Republicans voted to cut nutritional aid to low-income pregnant women by about 12 percent....

The Republican budget also called for reducing Medicaid spending by more than $700 billion over the next decade by converting the program into block grants to the states. Twice as many females as males benefit from the insurance system for low- income Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Medicaid is generally restricted to poor children, pregnant women, parents of dependent children, the disabled and those 65 and older. In 2003, seven of the top 10 hospital services billed to the program were maternity-related, Kaiser says, including cesarean sections, fetal monitoring and labor inductions.

Another $127 billion in savings in the Ryan budget would come from food stamps.

“When women are at the table, the debate changes,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat. “We bring to whatever the discussion is the experiences we’ve had as women, and they’re different than men.”

The House budget would convert Medicare to a voucher program in 2022, when the government would start providing a set amount of funds for purchasing private insurance. Women make up 56 percent of Medicare recipients, and they are more reliant on the program’s system of defined benefits because they have more chronic health conditions and live an average of about five years longer than men, according to the Census Bureau.
Under the Ryan plan, “if there’s a health catastrophe, “you’re on your own,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the Washington-based National Organization for Women. Many women “have no savings, no ability to pay for this.”

Milk Toast Jared Bernstein Exposes and Embarrasses Paul Ryan's Economic Voodoo.

A line that isn't used often enough by critics of Rep. Paul Ryan, but applies most of the time, is "he thinks his sh*t doesn't stink." In a recent Squawk Box appearance with Jared Bernstein, Ryan's smirks and smart asses his way through the debate. This is the real Paul Ryan, letting his guard down in a moment of unfiltered candor and narcissism.

[Bernstein, an economist, is a senior fellow at the  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and previously was  economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.]

While Bernstein is often a little too generic and neoliberal for me, even he sounds like a flaming progressive next to the Randian/Friedmanesque demagoguery of Paul Ryan. I swear, Bernstein was channeling every argument I've ever made against the Republican Party of extremism, proving even Blue Dog Dems are starting to get it. Oddly, Bernstein energized me...while Ryan stuck to his theories.

Ryan doesn't like criticism, or being taken down a peg! In fact, he lashes out at Bernstein with demeaning quotes like: "alright, can I get in here soon," or the surreal put down of the actual function of government, "I just don't think you can sit in Washington and micromanage the US economy." What, with regulations? The nontechnical economic term used my most Americans for Ryan would be; he's dangerously nuts. Ryan seems to be under the bizarre impression the other big economic powers in the world don't have economic regulations or any government controls.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TV SPOT: Paul Ryan. Protecting Big Oil Profits. Lining His Own Pockets

The League of Conservation Voters has launched a tough new television ad in Rep. Paul Ryan's district calling him out for his recently exposed conflict of interest: supporting billions in subsidies for oil companies while he and his family profited from some of the same companies receiving those tax breaks. The television ad will run this week in the Milwaukee media market.

“Congressman Ryan pretends he’s a Boy Scout, but he appears to be using his position in Congress to increase his own personal wealth,” said Navin Nayak, LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns. “Congressman Ryan should stop asking Wisconsin taxpayers to continue funding massive government handouts to the most profitable oil companies, especially when his family stands to benefit from some of those same companies’ earnings.”

At a recent town hall meeting Rep. Ryan claimed to support ending subsidies for oil companies, yet one week later he voted to continue billions in these taxpayer handouts. A recent Newsweek investigation also revealed that Rep. Ryan, his wife and father-in-law have made hundreds of thousands off the oil companies whose tax breaks he continues to support. He has also proposed a 2012 budget that gives oil companies billions more in special tax breaks.

Here's the Newsweek/Daily Beast expose.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Even Big Jim Sensenbrenner backing away from Ryan Medicare plan


Confronted by a 54-year-old constituent at a town meeting in his district on Sunday, all Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner --  the extreme conservative who represents one of the safest districts in the country, which happens to border Paul Ryan's -- wouldn't defend Ryan's Medicare plan.

According to the Brookfiield Patch, the best Sensenbrenner could come up with was:
"I'm not here to say he's (Ryan) right or he's wrong, but at least he's got a plan."
Not exactly a vote of confidence, even though Sensebrenner, like almost every other Republican in the House, voted for Ryan's budget plan which included the Medicare changes.

Sensenbrenner was questioned by 54-year-old Paul Race of Menomonee Falls, who would lose the guaranteed coverage offered by Medicare under Ryan's plan  and instead be required to purchase private insurance with a government voucher -- for considerably less than the government spends on Medicare.

"If it's good enough for the people 54 and younger ... then I think it's good enough for people 55 and older," said Race, a former Marine and a teacher of 25 years.

Huffington Post and FiredogLake have more.

It's Rob Zerban's birthday; a campaign contribution would be a nice gift

Rob Zerban, the Kenosha Democrat who is mounting a serious campaign challenge to Rep. Paul Ryan in 2012, turns 43 today.

Make it a happy birthday with a donation, small or large, to his campaign. Here's the link.

Want to know more? Check out his campaign website.

And here's a Huffington Post piece calling him the first Wisconsin Republican with a chance to beat Paul Ryan. He's the real thing. Help him if you can.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Shine is off Paul Ryan, the anti-hero.

Lawrence O'Donnell pretty much said it all for me in this commentary:

I thought this article laid out the real problem with Medicare, and the entire health care system; it's the overall cost of care in the first place.

The GOP's solution to fixing our health care system is to repeal “Obamacare” and cost-shift the Medicare problem on to the backs of future Medicare recipients. Fixing a fiscal problem should not rely on simply cost-shifting the problem to a subset of the population (e.g. Medicare recipients) or the entire population. Solving that problem should involve removing the underlying causes so that the problem doesn't become some endemic part of our culture. 

Check out past Ryan posts prior to my contributions here, at Democurmudgeon. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Most Unpopular Politician in America Award Goes To -

Drum Roll Please! And the winner is - Wisconsin\'s own Paul Ryan (R-Wall St).

Democrats are winning the messaging war on Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to overhaul Medicare, with a new Bloomberg poll finding 57 percent of Americans believe they would be worse off under his plan.
Only 34 percent said they would be better off if Congress replaced “traditional Medicare” with a program to purchase private insurance with government subsidies, as Ryan has proposed.

The poll also found Ryan is now the nation’s third most disliked Republican, with net unfavorable ratings that trail only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But more than half surveyed said they have no opinion of the Wisconsin Republican.

Sure he lost out to Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, but they are not really politicians anymore, they are just carnival shrills trying to cash in on their fleeting fame. paul ryan is the most unpopular sitting politician in America. While more than half of America does not know who he is, to know him is to dislike him! Just think, this is the guy who Alberta Darling hails as a hero.

Cross posted at Blogging Blue.

Best answer yet on Ryan Medicare plan: 'Yes and no, but I could be wrong'

OK, that headline's an exaggeration, but not by much. Consider:

“I’m not a U.S. senator. If I were a U.S. senator, yes, I would vote yes or no on it.”
That's George Allen, Virginia Republican candidate for US Senate, evading an answer on whether he supports Paul Ryan's Medicare plan.

The Washington Post reports it is becoming a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates.

More from Politico, source of the Allen quote, here.

Polling Data Poor For Alberta Darling's Hero, Paul Ryan

Recalled River Hills Republican Senator Alberta Darling recently said, "Totally, go Paul Ryan!" like she was coaching him from the sidelines in a losing relay race, but a new poll finds little support for his proposal to privatize and wreck Medicare.

Little wonder: Ryan's favorable poll ratings among respondents who have an opinion about him have descended to weak, Newt ("Tiffany") Gingrich levels, and though Darling seems oblivious to Ryan's toxicity, voters in Darling's district need to be reminded of her gushy support for "Totally, Go" Paul as her recall election approaches.

Links to the poll and video of her Ryan endorsement, here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No matter how you ask it, Ryan Medicare plan tanks in national poll

Fifty-one per cent of the people in a recent national survey were uncertain what they thought of Paul Ryan.  But they certainly knew what they thought of his Medicare plan. 

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post:
Bloomberg’s pollers asked this question in three different ways. First, they asked whether respondents were more worried that Republicans would take Congress and “implement their proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and many other domestic programs” or Democrats would hold onto power and “continue their current spending policies.” Republicans proved scarier by eight points.

Then they asked about whether a proposal “to replace traditional Medicare so that individuals buy their own private insurance with the help of government subsidies” would make you better or worse off. Worse off led by 23 points.

Then they asked whether knowing a Republican candidate “wants to change Medicare to a private pay system with government subsidies” would make him or her more or less attractive. Less attractive took it in a 14-point landslide. So whether you speak about the plan vaguely or specifically, whether you mention its Republican roots or not, it’s very, very unpopular.
Numbers here.

Ryan's Medicaid cuts would be devastating to state's economy

Paul Ryan’s proposed Medicaid cuts could put more than 30,000 Wisconsin jobs at risk, and cost the state $3.4 billion in business activity.

That's a worst case scenario, if Medicaid spending were cut 33% in 2011.  But smaller cuts would also have a big  negative impact on the state's economy.

Implementing a 5 percent cut in Medicaid spending in 2011 would: cost Wisconsin almost $250.8 million in federal Medicaid dollars, and put at risk nearly $519.3 million in business activity and 4,830 jobs;

A 15 percent cut in federal Medicaid spending in 2011 would have cost Wisconsin nearly $752.4 million in federal Medicaid dollars, and put at risk nearly $1.6 billion in business activity and 14,490 jobs;
Those numbers from a new report, Jobs at Risk" by the national health care consumer organization Families USA:

The Republican budget proposal, introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, would subject Medicaid to some of the largest cuts in the history of the program. This proposal would cut federal Medicaid funding significantly—not by reducing underlying health care costs, but simply by shifting those costs to already overburdened state governments. It would do this by converting the program to a block grant that would provide considerably less federal funding with each passing year. The Republican budget proposal would cut federal funding to the states by 5 percent in 2013. In 2014, the cut would be 15 percent. Over the coming years, these funding cuts would get larger and larger, until, at the end of the 10-year period, the cut in federal funds would approximate 33 percent.
The report's conclusion:

As options to reduce the federal deficit are weighed and balanced, the discussion should
include recognition of the powerful economic stimulus that federal spending has on state Medicaid programs. This report quantifies the potential business activity and jobs that would be put at risk if federal Medicaid spending is cut dramatically. Less easily quantified, but equally important, is the impact on the lives of state residents who rely on Medicaid for their health care. Medicaid provides a vital health care safety net in every state. It is a lifeline for children, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and low-income elderly people. It is there to help families that have been hit by job loss or other unexpected economic hardships. And Medicaid is the only source of financial help for millions of families who are struggling to pay for nursing home or other long-term care for parents or family members.

Medicaid is good medicine for state economies and for families as our nation recovers from the recession. This is exactly the wrong time for Congress to cut a program that stimulates the economy while also providing a boost to individuals and families who are facing hard economic times.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Voters split evenly on Ryan Medicare plan -- and that's just Republicans

The Hill reports:

Republican primary voters are evenly split on the Medicare aspects of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan, with 41 percent supporting it and 43 percent opposing it, according to a national telephone poll [Dick Morris] conducted on June 18-19 among 700 likely Republican primary voters...

The survey’s findings suggest that even among the base Republican voters, the Ryan plan is vulnerable to attack on the Medicare issue.
Anything the sleazeball Morris is associated with leaves a bad taste, but his polling has always seemed legit.

If Ryan's plan is in that much trouble with voters in his own party, how is the GOP going to sell it to the rest of America? Morris has one idea:

However, voters strongly supported an alternative to the Ryan plan that would combine its flat fee approach with a safety net feature to protect against catastrophic illness. This additional feature might well provide a way for House Republicans to mute the potential of this issue as a negative in the 2012 elections.

Told that “some say that a better plan would be to use the Ryan model of a flat payment but to include a safety net so that the government would pay all of a senior citizen’s medical costs if the illness was severe and their health insurance coverage would not pay for it,” Republican primary voters approved of the alternative plan by 53-29. Men agreed by 58-28 and women overcame their opposition to the Ryan plan, agreeing with the new proposal by 49-29.
But remember, those are only Republicans. It's going to take quite a sales job to keep the Medicare issue from sinking the GOP next year.

Ryan Was Never Courageous, But Is He A Common Crook, Profiting From His Legislative Agenda?

Most Americans had never heard of a slick Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, when suddenly the corporate-owned media started using the words "serious" and "courageous" in front of his name. Corporate media was already very aware of Ryan, the Member of Congress who has taken more in legalistic corporate bribes than any other politician from his state... ever. Wall Street's darling, Ryan was always pushing their agenda-- whether helping reluctant Republicans to support the TARP bailouts or voting to gut Medicare and Social Security. Other than a precious few local journalists and national bloggers, it was only Paul Krugman who shouted from the rooftops that Ryan was a garden-variety corporate shill with not a single new or worthwhile idea and that he had nothing serious or courageous to add to the national debate.

This week the Daily Beast highlighted the garden-varietyness of Ryan's politics when they pointed out that he and his family personally profited from his financial agenda in Congress. Daniel Stone reported that Ryan "stands to make money from his stakes in four businesses that lease land to energy companies which would benefit from $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in his proposed budget."
When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled the GOP blueprint for cutting government spending, he asked Americans to make sacrifices on everything from Medicare to education, while preserving lucrative tax subsidies for the booming oil, mining and energy industries.

It turns out a constituency within his own personal investments stood to benefit from those tax breaks, Newsweek and the Daily Beast have learned.

The financial disclosure report Ryan filed with Congress last month and made public this week shows he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan's budget plan.

Ryan's father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

Some of these firms would be eligible for portions of the $45 billion in energy tax breaks and subsidies over 10 years protected in the Wisconsin lawmaker’s proposed budget. “Those [energy developing companies] benefit a lot from these subsidies,” explained Russ Harding, an energy policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, when presented with the situation, without reference to Ryan. “Without those, they’re going to be less profitable.”

To ethics watchdogs, Ryan’s effort to extend the tax breaks creates the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

“Sure, senior citizens should have to pay more for health care, but landholders like [Ryan] who lease property to big oil companies, well, their government subsidies must be protected at all costs,” says Melanie Sloan, the director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It smacks of hypocrisy.”

...Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat from Oklahoma who has announced his retirement next year, also owns stakes in three of the four same companies as Ryan. The two lawmakers are related through marriage. Boren is the first cousin of Ryan’s wife.

Boren aligned with his party and voted no on Ryan’s budget. But a month prior, Boren voted with Republicans (and only 12 other Democrats) to oppose an amendment that would have financially constrained major oil companies.

In a written statement, Boren told Newsweek and the Daily Beast, “It should come as no surprise the way I voted because the oil and gas industry is the largest private employer in Oklahoma.”

In addition to the tax breaks, Ryan’s family has benefited in recent years from another form of federal largesse-- farm subsidies. Federal records show his father-in-law and great-aunt have collected more than $50,000 in agriculture subsidies on lands owned by the family.

Ryan’s budget had proposed cutting $30 billion in farm subsidies over the next 10 years, although some conservatives criticized the number for being too low.

Blue America has been urging members to Stop Paul Ryan for some time now. And now that there is a credible Democrat running against him, Rob Zerban, Establishment Democrats in Washington and in Wisconsin are starting to take challenging Ryan seriously. On Tuesday Mike Tate, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman, said "The least Paul Ryan can do is explain why he should personally profit from Big Oil tax breaks while asking Wisconsin's seniors and disabled citizens to pay for it."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Huntsman will run for Pres on Ryan's Road to Ruin

There's always that 2 per cent that didn't get the word, the Marine Corps used to say.

How else to explain Jon Huntsman, who enters the GOP predidential race today as the biggest Ryan budget backer in the field?

Talking Points Memo:

The committed moderate and former Obama administration ambassador to China kicks off his campaign today, and according to previews, he plans to make strong support for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposal to end Medicare as we know it a key component of his kick off speech.

Politico's Mike Allen spilled the beans about Huntsman's Reagan-themed kickoff in Jersey City, NJ.

"Huntsman will lean into his support for the Ryan budget, and will say that defense spending should be on the table, including base closures," Allen reports. He writes the opening week of Huntsman 2012 will include taking on Obama over foreign policy, too, specifically, "his contention that Obama's plan for getting out of Afghanistan is too slow, and that intervening in Libya was not in our national interest."

Huntsman was one of the first to wrap both hands around Ryan budget, telling ABC a couple weeks ago that he'd vote for the Medicare changes contained in it if he got the chance.
He was non-commital about the Ryan plan in May, basically saying, Well, it's an idea," but he has warmed to it considerably since then.

This at the same time a Florida Tea Partier is warning the GOP will lose if they stick with Ryan's plan, and polls show voters are set against it.

Go figure.

"Cleaning out the tax code" for wealthy, wipes out middle class tax deductions.

You’ve heard about the Republican plan to ease the tax burden on the wealthy by reducing their rate from 35 to 25 percent (Pawlenty is going for 15 percent). But that requires doing away with those special “loopholes and tax breaks” in the code that would supposedly put us all on a level the playing field.

It turns out this “revenue neutral” approach is not so neutral, and like I’ve been writing about here, the loopholes effect the middle class more than wealthy income earners. Ezra Klein wrote this about “cleaning out the tax code:”

According to the Tax Policy Center, the largest tax expenditures, in order, are the breaks for employer-provided health care, pension contributions, mortgage interest, depreciation of capital equipment, state and local tax payments, and charitable contributions. We're not talking ethanol credits here, and we're not even talking about tax breaks for special interests. We're talking about tax preferences for the middle class.

So far, the discussion over raising revenues by cleaning out the code has used comfortably vague language about "tax breaks" and "loopholes" and "expenditures." But to see serious money from this effort, these are the sorts of breaks, loopholes and expenditures we'll have to go after.

That’s what Paul Ryan’s Republicans are talking about, lowering the tax bracket from 35 to 25 percent for the wealthy, by eliminating the middle class “tax breaks” and “loopholes.” This revenue neutral scam, now that it's been exposed, is just another unspeakably cruel joke by likes of Paul Ryan and his fellow wealthfare conspirators.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dear Patriots, Ryan Is Killing The TEA Party

"Republicans will lose if they support the Ryan Medicare plan. Americans do not support the Ryan plan." If Democrats make big gains in 2012, Wilkinson's email says, "Expect the GOP to then blame the Tea Party for losses."

Who is Wilkinson, you ask, that he is so willing to bash the Ryan "plan?" Is he some Godless, radical, Socialistist? An elite, effete, university professor? A hidden lefty, fellow-travelling, lamestream medialist?

Nah. He's South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson who is having trouble finding anyone who supports the Roadmap to Nowhere.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ryan takes extreme position, votes to hurt indigent women and children

Ryanwatch reports on HR 2112, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, debated June 15-16:
On nine  separate votes, Ryan was MORE extreme than his Republican colleagues:

Most Extreme: Ryan votes for Broun Amendment (H Amdt 438) to cut funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program by $604 million. (RC 430, Jun 15)
Here's how Joe Conason  frames the vote:

By cutting ... WIC, according to the experts at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the subcommittee will deprive hundreds of thousands of indigent women and children of program services, which include healthy foods, nutrition counseling and referrals to health care providers when necessary. The exact number of victims will depend on how fast food prices go up. But there will surely be many more infants and children who must cope with the ill effects of low birth weight and anemia, and all the other ills arising from bad nutrition in this wealthy and verdant nation.

As usual, the mean impulse to save money by punishing the poor is short-sighted, since the obvious result is a growing population that is either crippled at birth or ruined in youth, requiring expensive hospitalization, special education or, eventually, prison cells.
Republicans reject this extreme budget cutting 64-173. Ryan votes YES.

Much more at Ryanwatch.

Well, isn't that special? Gay marriage foe, Archbishop Dolan, invites Ryan to Mass

Paul Ryan attends Mass at Saint Patricks Cathedral at the invitation of  New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, former Milwaukee archbishop, who called Ryan "my good friend." After Mass, the Ryan family met privately with Dolan at his residence.

Apparently fellow Catholic Maureen Dowd wasn't invited, having devoted Sunday's op ed column in the New York Times to the archcishop, to wit:

The archbishop has been ferocious in fighting against marriage between same-sex couples, painting it as a perversity against nature.

If only his church had been as ferocious in fighting against the true perversity against nature: the unending horror of pedophile priests and the children who trusted them.
And she was just getting warmed up.

Who ya gonna believe on redistricting plan: Paul Ryan or your own lyin' eyes?

"You have a plan that looks to be politically motivated," said [Michael] McDonald, a [redistricting scholar] political scientist at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Democrat Dave Obey calls it "highly manipulative" and "crassly political."

Republican Paul Ryan calls it a "status-quo map" with "clean lines."
What they're talking about is a proposed redistricting plan for Wisconsin's Congressional seats, drawn in secret by Ryan and discussed behind closed doors by GOP members of the Wisconsin delegation.

Oh, that "status quo" map with the "clean lines" Ryan described? See for yourself, with special attention to the 3rd CD, which usesd to follow the Mississippi but now wanders halfway across the state.

It's main purpose, according to the Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert, is to boost freshman Republican Sean Duffy's prospects of holding the seat he won last November when Obey retired.

That's the district that changes the most, and it took some creative line-drawing to make it more winnable for Duffy. Gilbert explains:

Duffy's seat needs to grow by a little more than 20,000 people to meet the legal requirement that all eight House seats have the same population. On paper, that could be done by simply expanding Duffy's district a bit southward into Democrat Ron Kind's 3rd District, which needs to lose almost the same number of people.

Instead, the GOP plan shifts about 150,000 of Duffy's current constituents out of the 7th, and replaces them with about 170,000 people who now live in neighboring districts.

These big population swaps affect 13 different counties, and involve one notable example of creative line drawing. The plan carves out of Duffy's district a sizable Democratic chunk of central Wisconsin (Portage County and eastern Wood County) and splices it to Kind's western Wisconsin seat, using Adams County as a connecting corridor.
Redistricting is done by the legislature, not incumbent members of Congress, in theory, and the Ryan plan has not been introduced in the legislature yet. But look for it to be done and rubber-stamped sometime soon, before the recall elections in August which may well cost the GOP their State Senate majority and give Dems a voice in the proceedings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Even Paul Ryan doesn't support his Medicare plan any more

This just in. The Hill:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he is open to reforming Medicare in a way that would leave a traditional fee-for-service system as an option for future seniors.

Ryan, speaking at a policy discussion hosted by The Hill and sponsored by No American Debt, an advocacy group, said that he has consistently been open to an optional version of his controversial Medicare plan, which Democrats have seized upon as a campaign issue.

“I have always said all along all of those ideas are ideas we should be considering when it comes to legislation,” the House Budget Committee chairman said. “When you are down in the details, there should be a fee-for-service option alongside premium support.

“They are all good ideas,” Ryan said.
Really? Even President Obama's?  Even the Democrats' ideas?  Ryan and the GOP majority in the House were in a no-amendment, no-compromise, take-no-prisoners mode when they passed the budget.

The fact is that the House Republicans voted for Ryan's plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system -- although he denies that's what it is, that's what it is. But the GOP has been taking a political beating ever since.

Nancy Pelosi's office got it right:
"Republicans are not fooling anyone. They voted to end Medicare and now they can’t take the heat,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. “The only plan Americans want is called Medicare and we must strengthen it, not weaken it. What you’re hearing now is a lead balloon crashing to the ground.”

Paul Ryan, Mine Owner, Oil and Gas Investor, Benefits From His Budget Plan

His budget plan will add value to already lucrative shares he holds in four family-run mining and land leasing businesses, The Political Environment reports.

Wall Street Cheat Sheet says:
Ryan’s father-in-law runs the companies that are currently leasing land for mining and drilling to Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), Devon (NYSE:DVN), XTO Energy, and a subsidiary of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM). Ryan’s stake in these companies immediately poses a conflict of interest, especially when Ryan is lining his pockets with big oil money while expecting senior citizens, children, and the disabled to endure cuts to already underfunded programs.

Of course, Ryan’s office says he hadn’t even considered his own interests when drawing up the budget plan, overlooking the $117,000 the properties earned him and his wife just last year, as well as the $60,000 from the year before that. According to Ryan’s financial disclosure, he has assets worth somewhere between $590,000 and $2.5 million, and he owns minority stakes in four of his wife’s family companies, including Ava O Limited Company, which holds mining and mineral rights, and Little Land Company, which is an oil and gas corporation.
Of course.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Paul Ryan’s Cheap Parlor Tricks of Last Resort: Bring out the clich├ęs and Stereotypes.

In an avalanche of desperation, Paul Ryan has reduced himself to a fumbling “sky is falling” demagogue. Check out this recent attempt to avoid this one hard question; If your plan saves the government so much money, who’s picking up the difference? 

Newsmax: The political left is “coming unglued a bit,” embattled Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan tells Newsmax … in which he also criticizes a recent CBO analysis of his plan as “deeply flawed.” Ryan also contends that the AARP retiree organization has been “frightening seniors” over his proposals to fix Medicare; “Yes, I think they are, I think they’re frightening seniors. And I think [they] are showing their political stripes a little bit more.

In a down the rabbit hole twist in logic, Ryan’s plan can’t be compared to Medicare benefits because in the future, Medicare won’t exist. Nothing to compare it too. My head is hurting:

Ryan (says the CBO) compares his plan with the level of benefits a recipient would receive under the current Medicare system… “So it’s really sort of a fiscal fantasy to compare any plan against some future that everybody says will not exist.

He’s completely lost his mind.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ryan Medicare plan so toxic GOP are censoring Dem mailings about it

Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare -- and that's what it is, despite all the spin he and the Republicans want to apply -- is so toxic that the GOP is trying to censor newsletters and mailings from House Democrats who call it what it is.

Roll Call reports:

Democratic House Members are lashing out at Republican leadership over rejected mass mailings, saying their messages lambasting the GOP budget plan and its effect on Medicare are being censored...

They say Republicans on the House franking commission, which screens the content of mass mailings paid for with Congressional funds, have become more sensitive since the May 24 special election in New York. Democrat Kathy Hochul made opposition to the plan authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a central element of her successful campaign for the New York seat...

The commission returned a flier to Rep. Gerry Connolly on May 29 over objections to language stating that the GOP budget would “end” Medicare. The commission asked the Virginia Democrat to rephrase the passage to say the plan could “change” or “could privatize portions” of the federal health insurance program for seniors and the disabled.

Connolly called the action “Orwellian in nature.”

“It is the most extreme censorship I have ever encountered,” he told Roll Call. “And it’s all because they have been taking heat on Medicare.”

Similarly, the commission asked Rep. Ed Perlmutter to strike the words “eliminate” and “dismantle” in favor of the word “change” in a flier about the Medicare proposal. The commission also asked the Colorado Democrat to remove references to Ryan, replace “voucher” with “premium support system” and change “privatize” to “revise government program with support from private insurance companies.”

The Maddow Blog says: Paul Ryan's Medicare plan is 'sweetness,' 'light,' 'rainbows' and 'kittens' and offers this video of Congressman John Yarmouth, Democrat of Kentucky, talking about it on the House floor.

Hat tip: Barefoot and Progressive

DC Memo to Paul Ryan: Don't run for President!

Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post says Paul Ryan would be ill-advised to listen to the Republicans who are so enamored with him they think he should enter the presidential cattle call. The Weekly Standard noted that Ryan was mentioned by name ten separate times in the GOP presidential debate by five different people: Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, John King, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain.

The others would turn on him in a minute, if he joined the field, Bernstein says. 

Suddenly, none of the other candidates would be praising him; indeed, it’s not unlikely that candidates currently willing to say nice things about his Medicare and budget ideas without fully endorsing them would get off the fence and actively turn against them.
And guess what?  Ryan has a voting record that no one's looked at yet:

Questionable votes he took in the past (TARP, anyone?) would suddenly be raised just as often as his supposed courageousness is now praised. Serious People outside of the GOP who like him now would shy away once he was forced to spend time on abortion and marriage and the other things that Republican presidential candidates have to talk about (and there’s plenty of ammunition for them on purely budget matters, for whatever that’s worth).
Ryan's not running, from all indications.  It makes you kind of wish he would.

More from Bernstein here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The 7 most awful truths you need to know about Paul Ryan’s war on Medicare

Barry Nolan in Boston Magazine's Daily Boston blog:

Depending on who you listen to these days, the Paul Ryan/GOP plan to change Medicare either: “ends Medicare,” “ends Medicare as we know it” or “saves Medicare for the future.”

The truth is, the Ryan plan would still provide a plan called “Medicare,” but the program would be changed so substantially that it would be like the loveable Medicare you once knew went face first through a plateglass window. It might still be called “Medicare,” but you would hardly recognize it.
Nolan's seven terrible truths about the Ryan/GOP Medicare plan come with links to their sources. As Nolan says, "This is not some stuff I just made up."

Read it here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ryan drafts secret Republican redistricting plan for Wisconsin

There's a secret Congressional redistricting plan for Wisconsin being discussed behind closed doors by Wisconsin's GOP House members -- perhaps in preparation for jamming it through during an "extraordinary session" of the state legislature before Republicans lose control of the State Senate in recalls later this summer.

Who's the author? According to Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel:
GOP House member Paul Ryan took the lead in crafting it, according to sources.
The plan is designed to protect incumbent freshman Republican Sean Duffy, Gilbert says. [UPDATE: The new map would take heavily Dem Portage County out of the 7th CD, helping Duffy.  It also would take part of Chippewa County, possibly moving former State Sen. Pat Krietlow, a Dem who's already launched a campaign against Duffy, out of the district. It's not clear which side of the line he lives on.]

Democrats, assuming the worst, are outraged. State Party Chair Mike Tate:

"Wisconsin's redistricting process has never gone forward under such a dark ethical cloud. Conceived in darkness and obscured from the voters, this heinous redistricting plot now is foisted on Wisconsin as a fait accompli.

Never before in Wisconsin's modern history has the process taken place without local participation and the creation of wards. Never before have the people of this state had so substantial a decision made in such an absence of democratic principle.

Paul Ryan and Scott Walker and his lapdog Legislature have normalized the outrageous. In saner times, any of the many activities undertaken by Ryan, Walker and the Fitzgerald Brothers would be cause for alarm and righteous anger. Now, it's merely Monday."
Stay tuned.

Ryan Wants to Raid Patent Office Funds to Spend Elsewhere, Dramatically Holding Back U.S. Competitiveness and Innovation, Jobs!!!

How phony is the Paul Ryan’s austerity plan for America? Well for starters, he shamelessly lies when he says the Patent office is part of deficit reduction, because the office is self funding. It doesn’t receive one penny of taxpayer money.

But it is a piggy bank for congress to dip into and raid, at the expense of America's next generation of inventions. Now that’s fiscal brilliance.  

jsonline: Inventors and entrepreneurs … would like to see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office keep the fees it collects - rather than have the agency further decimated by congressional raids on its funds … U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has signed a strongly worded letterobjecting to … the patent office retain(ing) those fees and spend them on rebuilding itself after years of underfunding.

Ryan is desperate for the congressional patent office slush fund:

Giving the agency autonomy over its own fees "is a move in exactly the wrong direction, given the new Republican majority's commitment to … reducing the nation's unparalleled deficits and debt," the letter said.

While the country touts its cutting edge innovation and entrepreneurship, Ryan would stop everything:

The congressional raids have been disastrous for the patent office, according to a two-year Journal Sentinel examination, which illustrated how delays and massive backlogs at the understaffed and inadequately equipped agency have impeded U.S. competitiveness and innovation. Garage entrepreneurs and start-ups often suffer the greatest setbacks … The agency is swamped with a backlog of over 1.2 million applications still awaiting a final decision - technologies that cover almost every niche of the economy, areas as diverse as online commerce, medical scanners … many applications wait so long to be considered, the technologies they cover become obsolete. As a result, venture capitalists walk away, start-ups are stunted, and infringers freely steal ideas for lack of protection.

Despite Ryan’s claim oversight is ‘necessary "to ensure American citizens are getting the most from every dollar," he’s flat out lying:

Former patent office director Q. Todd Dickinson … "This masquerades as oversight when it's really about fee diversion," Dickinson said.

"If America wants more innovation, why on earth is it cutting the budget of its patent office," the British newsweekly The Economist wrote in an editorial last month.

Fox guarding the hen house of innovation:

U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations … From 1995 to 2000, chaired the subcommittee that directly handled appropriations for the patent office. During those years, Congress helped itself to the largest annual share of patent office funds, which coincided with the period when the backlog began to increase. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Paul Ryan's Pants Are On Fire... Again

Paul Krugman is such a gentleman! Whenever Ryan gets caught lying his ass off in the pursuit of the goals he and his Wall Street financiers are pushing, Krugman merely says he's "talking nonsense." But Ryan is a practiced liar who lies with a purpose.
Politifact has now updated its work on the claim, universal on the right-- and repeated often by Paul Ryan-- that discretionary non-defense spending is up 80 percent under Obama.

It’s completely false. As anyone who knows how to read federal statistics should have known, the real number-- including the stimulus-- is 26 percent. And it’s now in the process of falling off.
The discretionary spending falsehood is a key part of the claim that Obama has presided over a vast expansion of government; as I’ve tried to explain, the only real area of rapid growth has been in safety net programs that spend more when there is high unemployment.

So, two questions.

First, why wasn’t this obvious to everyone? I mean, where are those huge new government programs?

Second, why did I have to be the one pointing out this falsehood? Doesn’t the White House have any kind of response team? Or are they so eager to be bipartisan that they don’t want to point out that Ryan is talking nonsense?

Earlier today, at DownWithTyranny, we posed a question about whether the good folks of southeast Wisconsin are ready to toss Ryan onto the garbage heap of history, just the way they did in 1940 with another fascist liar they had sent to Congress, Republican Hitlerite John Schafer. From Glen Yeadon's fantastic book, The Nazi Hydra In America:
One fascistic congressman was Republican John Schafer from Wisconsin. His congressional record was one of complete opposition to any defense measure. In speaking with Carlson, an investigative reporter posing as a pro-fascist, Schafer spoke of a revolution against democracy: "The Bloody kind. There will be purges and Roosevelt will be cleaned right off the earth along with the Jews. We’ll have a military dictatorship to save the country."

Oak Creek helped end the disgraceful political career of John Schafer. Is Oak Creek ready to end the disgraceful political career of Paul Ryan? If you'd like to help replace Ryan with progressive Democrat Rob Zerban, please visit Stop Paul Ryan... and do what you can.

Ryan/GOP ransom note: 'Give us Medicare or we crash the economy'

John Nichols in The Capital Times:

... Ryan is a desperate man, as are his partners in crime. Under pressure to deliver for their paymasters in the insurance industry — who have made Ryan one of his party’s prime recipients of corporate campaign cash — they decided to take a hostage.

Faced with a routine request to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, Ryan and the Republicans balked. Even when they were told by business analysts that cutting off America’s credit would wreck the U.S. economy, they held firm, declaring that they would back a debt-ceiling increase only if it was accompanied by massive spending cuts in the form of “entitlement reform.”

Translation: Give us the Medicare money or we tank the economy...

This is serious business. The Republicans are desperate, they’re motivated, and they want Medicare.
Read it here.

Alberta Darling, on video, totally backs Ryan's Medicare plan

State Sen. Alberta Darling, facing a recall for her support of Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting budget, enthusiastically endorses the Paul Ryan Medicare budget, too. This video from a Friday night fundraiser to which Ryan was invited, but didn't attend.  She'll stand with Ryan anywhere, any time.  Excellent.

Friday, June 10, 2011

PolitiFact parses Pasch, Pasch parses PolitiFact

The Journal Sentinel's PolitiFarce has done it again, this time "fact checking" a statement State Rep. Sandy Pasch said about Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan.

Pasch, a candidate running in a recall against State Sen. Alberta Darling -- who invited the darling Ryan as a special guest at her Milwaukee fundraiser --  sets the record straight on her campaign website:
No matter what you read in today's paper, here is the real fact: the Paul Ryan plan ends the promise of guaranteed health care for seniors who rely on Medicare for health care.
46 million Americans rely on Medicare for health care, and about half of those live on incomes of less than $30,000/yr. For these seniors, Medicare is relied upon and is essential for health care, which is incredibly expensive, is getting more expensive, and which is even more expensive for seniors.
Read Pasch's well-documented response here.


What Would The Archbishop Of Canterbury Have To Say To Paul Ryan About His Treatment Of The Poor?

Wall Street's monster is off the ranch

Stunned and bitter after his carefully crafted image as a "serious" public servant has been shattered, Paul Ryan has been flailing angrily. This week he's even flip-flopped on his previous opposition to driving the government into default by calling for a NO vote on the debt ceiling. Now the angry young man is turning on everyone and wanting to see the whole temple collapse around him.
Ryan has changed his tune regarding the debt ceiling significantly over the last several months. Back in January, Ryan admitted that failing to raise the debt ceiling was “unworkable.” “Yes, you can’t not raise the debt ceiling. Default is the unworkable solution,” he said during an appearance at the National Press Club. Earlier this month, he began to take a more radical line, saying that the ceiling wouldn’t be raised without concessions from Democrats. “It won’t happen, I’m serious about this,” he said. Now it seems he’s gone full-in with the fringe of his party in actually inviting a default.

So what's up with the bee in Ryan's bonnet? He's flipping out that the narrative about the profoundly
anti-Jesus foundations of his budget-- remember, what he calls his "cause"-- is starting to take hold. And sincere Christians are starting to question whether or not his God is Mammon-- or, worse yet, Ayn Rand. People are watching this video, including people in Racine, Kenosha and Janesville:

And the right-wing jihad against the middle-class, led by Ryan-Republicans in the U.S., which seeks to assign blame for the failings, avarice and turpitude of the ruling elites, is not unique to America. And the response from Christians isn't only a problem for Paul Ryan and John Boehner. This week Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, took a hard look at the Conservative agenda in the U.K. and warned that it is forcing through "radical policies for which no one voted."
Williams says the "anxiety and anger" felt by voters is a result of the coalition's failure to expose its policies to "proper public argument."

He writes: "Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present."

...The archbishop challenges the government's approach to welfare reform, complaining of a "quiet resurgence of the seductive language of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor."

In comments directed at the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, Williams criticises "the steady pressure" to increase "punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system."

It sounds a lot like what serious American clergymen are saying about the Republican Party war against the poor and, particularly, Paul Ryan's extremist budget.

A New Low Bar For GOP Budget Plans

A new free-the-rich budget proposal tossed from the far right into the GOP presidential policy stew gets the lowest grade imaginable: worse than Paul Ryan's.

Darling buddies up to Ryan, steps into 'Medicare trap'

Whether he shows up or not, Rep. Paul Ryan's invitation to a fundraiser for embattled State Sen. Alberta Darling Friday night in Milwaukee is going to give Darling a big Medicare headache in her recall campaign.

Talking Points Memo says Darling has fallen into a "Medicare trap" by inviting Ryan.

You can bet that Democrats will make it an issue and tie Darling to Ryan's unpopular (that's an understatement) budget plan to eliminate Medicare as we know it and replace it with what amounts to a voucher system.

A bad decision on Darling's part. Any sparkle or extra cash she might pick up by advertising Ryan's possible attendance will be more than offset by the negatives she picks up from associating with him.

Ryan was advertised as a guest at a fundraiser for another Republican state senator facing a recall, Dan Kapanke, but was a no-show and claimed he had never agreed to attend in the first place.

Darling's campaign says Ryan's coming. He might as well; the damage is already done.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ryan vows to continue Kevorkian's work

The Borowitz Report:

In a somber Congressional ceremony, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) eulogized the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian today, vowing to “honor his legacy by continuing his good work.”

“Dr. Kevorkian tried to ease the transition of seniors into the great beyond,” an emotional Rep. Ryan told his colleagues in the House of Representatives. “Here in Congress, we have the opportunity – one might even say the obligation – to continue Kevorkian’s work on a grander scale.”

As a first step to memorialize the work of Dr. Kevorkian, Rep. Ryan said that his new budget plan would replace Medicare with a system of so-called “Kevouchers” that could be redeemed for cyanide pills, nooses and bullets.

Ryan says it's OK for US to default on paying its bills

Rep. Paul Ryan, in a change of heart, says it's OK for the United States government to welsh on its bills for awhile. The official term is default. No big deal, Paulie says:

If a bondholder misses a payment for a day or two or three or four — what is more important is you are putting the government in a materially better position to better pay its bills going forward.
To put it into context, it may simply be a hard-line negotiating position being taken by more Republicans as we approach Aug. 2, the date on which Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner estimates the U.S. will begin to default on some obligations unless Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling.

There could be all sorts of bad consequences for the economy if the ceiling isn't raised and default occurs -- Rep. John Boehner has said it would be irresponsible.

But the bottom line is that it is not in the GOP's best interests to have the economy improve. They did everything they could to stand in the way of stimulus programs and were repaid with electoral victory in 2010, so it's understandable why they might want to play chicken -- if they think they can avoid blame for what happens. And that's a big if.

In any event, Paul Ryan every day looks less like a white knight standing on principle and a lot more like the professional politician he is.

Think Progress has more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

VIDEO: Rep. Paul Ryan avoids questions, refuses a bible

After speaking at the 2011 Faith and Freedom Conference, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan refused to answer questions regarding why he based his 2012 federal budget proposal on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand, rather than the Biblical principles of economic justice. What's more, Rep. Ryan then flees the Bible offered to him by the 7000 members of Faithful America who signed a petition asking Rep. Ryan the same question the young man in this video asked him.

Here's the video:

I think it's abundantly clear by now that Paul Ryan - who by the way won't ever have to worry about his health care when he retires, thanks to his sweet Congressional pension and health care benefits upon retirement - doesn't care about the struggles average American seniors will face when given a voucher that only covers a portion of the health insurance premiums they're forced to haggle over with insurance companies that are more concerned with healthy financial bottom lines than they are with the well-being of their customers.

Shame on Paul Ryan.

H/T to The Other Side of My Mouth.

Sean Duffy roasted at town meeting for supporting Ryan budget

Rep. Sean Duffy, one of the Wisconsin freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan's Medicare-ending budget plan, found himself in hot water at a town meeting in Superior.

Fox 21 News reports:
Tensions rose as Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy held an open town hall meeting in Superior on Monday. With several outbursts, the debate over Medicare took the spotlight.Duffy, along with other Republican Representatives, are under attack for their support of a plan essentially eliminating the Medicare system.
Duffy never mentions Ryan in the video footage, but it's the Ryan plan that has people riled up. Duffy and Reid Ribble, who also won a House seat in a GOP landslide in November, will have to come up with some much better answers if they expect to keep those seats.

Lou Kaye has more, and more video footage of Duffy under fire from constituents:

Duffy is just another shifty empty suit in a long line of shifty Republican empty suits who are now running as far away as they can from their "Care Killing" budget vote in the House. It's like it never happened.
Here's the clincher. Some of Duffy's "repeal Obamacare" constituents seemed to have no idea that Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" was actually a deal resolution that would eventually terminate their Medicare in exchange for repealing Obamacare. One couldn't happen without the other. What a deal - eh?! Things were bad enough as it stood so Duffy wasn't going to tell them the truth about it. Instead he says republican leadership offered nothing for repeal and replace and lunatic constituents call him a liar for it. He got off easy

'Why I will defeat Paul Ryan' -- Rob Zerban

Rob Zerban, the Kenosha County supervisor running as a Democrat against Paul Ryan in 2012, gets some exposure on the Huffington Post Chicago link.  Bottom line:
I decided to run for Congress because I believe Ryan needs to take his "Hands off My Grandma." I'm choosing to run because I believe we should save and strengthen Medicare. I believe Ryan must be stopped. His plan to end Medicare to pay for tax cuts for the very rich on the backs of our seniors and our most vulnerable is just plain wrong. The people of Wisconsin deserve a representative who has spent time in the working world and whose values mirror their own.
Zerban got a warm reception from Wisconsin Democrats at their weekend convention in Milwaukee, which drew a huge turnout of delegates fired up by the fight to take back Wisconsin.

"My opponent not only endorses the plan to end Medicare. He wrote the plan. If you elect me, I will not look you in the eyes and tell you I'm reducing the deficit while sliding tax breaks under the table to millionaires and billionaires," Zerban told the enthusiastic crowd. "If you elect me to Congress I will never privatize Medicare. Privatizing Medicare essentially eliminates it."

Zerban announced early and is campaigning aggressively. He knows it is an uphill struggle against Ryan, who hasn't had a serious challenge for years and has been able to amass a $3-million warchest from special interest contributions. But Ryan's plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system has already cost the GOP one House seat, and Dems are hopeful the author of the controversial program is vulnerable, too.

The Racine Journal Times reported on the convention and the race, and asked Ryan for a comment, but he didn't return calls.

"Congressman Ryan's focus right now is on doing his job representing his employers in Congress and preventing a national debt crisis, not on campaigning for the next election," Susan Jacobson, Ryan's campaign manager, said in a statement.
Seventeen months out and Ryan has a campaign manager? He clearly is taking Zerban very seriously, too.

Daft Duffy Shifts Blame After Voting To Repeal and Replace Medicare...oops, Obamacare

It should come as no secret that Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" Medicare-killing-class-war manifesto was built on the premise that if passed, it would not only repeal President Obama's Affordable Health Care Reform Act but that it would be the privatization framework Republicans would use to replace it with.

Think Progress Excerpt:
Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) promised during his campaign that he would only repeal health reform after finding a solution to replace it. However, he told a town hall meeting in his district this week that GOP leaders had convinced him to vote for repeal first, ensuring him that a replacement would be on its way. GOP leaders, Duffy said, told him that a replacement bill would be ready by the Spring. The fact that nothing has been proposed or debated all year has Duffy “very concerned”

Wait a second!! Paul Ryan's budget proposal Path to Prosperity was made ready for public consumption during the first week of April. That's spring! No? And, Ryan's "Path" contained four highlighted pages dedicated to terminating President Obama’s Affordable Heath Care Act and lists defunding, repealing and replacing as one the plan's key objectives.

Path to Prosperity excerpt:


PATIENT-CENTERED HEALTH CARE: Repeals and defunds the President’s health care law, advancing instead common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs, expanding access and protecting the doctor-patient relationship.
[underline highlights added]

Ryan's privatization and deceptively described "patient centered" proposal was the GOP's replacement plan and according to all definitions, form and function, it cannot co-exist with Obama's Affordable Health Care Act. In fact it can be said that Ryan's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution IS the Republican's defunding, repealing and replacing "Obamacare" all in one act. Duffy should know. He voted for it.

Think Progress Excerpt:
Duffy’s frustration is understandable. As Jared Bernstein has noted in March, Republicans still had not brought up a bill outline or even begun the steps in the relevant committees to propose a comprehensive health bill.

I totally disagree with that statement. The Ezra Klein article referenced by TP from March was three weeks before Ryan presented his budget proposal and no one at the time, no one, would have thought Ryan's anticipated annual budget would contain language repealing and replacing the Affordable Health Care Act. But it did. Duffy's "frustration" now is phony.

Duffy is just another shifty empty suit in a long line of shifty Republican empty suits who are now running as far away as they can from their "Care Killing" budget vote in the House. It's like it never happened.

Here's the clincher. Some of Duffy's "repeal Obamacare" constituents seemed to have no idea that Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" was actually a deal resolution that would eventually terminate their Medicare in exchange for repealing Obamacare. One couldn't happen without the other. What a deal - eh?! Things were bad enough as it stood so Duffy wasn't going to tell them the truth about it. Instead he says republican leadership offered nothing for repeal and replace and lunatic constituents call him a liar for it. He got off easy.

Watch it:

Duffy Says Republican Leadership Misled Him

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ryan's budget: Another front in the war on women

The budget proposal put forth by Paul Ryan is a vicious and cruel all-out attack on everyone under the age of 55, but the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that the Ryan plan proposes would be felt acutely by women, who make up more than half of the beneficiaries of both programs, and women retire closer to the poverty line than men do. Women who are alone, who either never married or who are divorced or widowed and never remarried would be particularly vulnerable....

Here is the bottom line: Ryan's plan would amount to transfering the entire monthly Social Security benefit for female seniors to private health insurance companies.

The Medicare part of Ryan's plan is even worse for women, who comprise about 70% of all Medicaid clients. 

Tammy Booth, who wrote this as part of a series she's writing as a blogging fellow for the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of more than 270 national and state organizations dedicated to preserving and strengthening Social Security, has much more.

Read it here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"He Ain't So Tough."

Putative Presidential candidate Rick "Google" Santorum (R-In His Dreams) has said that Paul "No Bibles For Me, Thanks" Ryan (R-Way over in the right-hand corner) just wasn't randy, er Randian enough.

Santorum not only says that Ryan doesn't go after cuts in Social Security. He adds that Ryan seems unwilling to personally kick individual widows and orphans when they're down, although the defeated Senator does admit that Ryan's plan may be best for keeping crutches out of the hands of the lame and the halt.


Vouchercare is not Medicare, and a pizza is not the Marines

Paul Krugman, who must be Paul Ryan's worst nightmare, writes about the Ryan Road to Ruin again, in a column headlined, "Vouchercare is not Medicare." Highlights:

For some reason, many commentators seem to believe that accurately describing what the G.O.P. is actually proposing amounts to demagoguery. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth.

Start with the claim that the G.O.P. plan simply reforms Medicare rather than ending it. I’ll just quote the blogger Duncan Black, who summarizes this as saying that “when we replace the Marines with a pizza, we’ll call the pizza the Marines.” The point is that you can name the new program Medicare, but it’s an entirely different program — call it Vouchercare — that would offer nothing like the coverage that the elderly now receive. (Republicans get huffy when you call their plan a voucher scheme, but that’s exactly what it is.)
Read it here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

'This won't hurt a bit' -- Comedian Will Durst dissects Ryan plan

"Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future ... utilizes a rusty chain saw to perform major surgery on Medicare without benefit of anesthetic. And don't even think of staying overnight: this is an outpatient procedure." -- Comedian Will Durst tees off on Ryan and the Republicans.
And he's just getting warmed up.  Good stuff. Read more.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Paul Ryan And The Bible-- It Must Be A Different Bible Than The Rest of Us Read

Even though it's an extreme right-wing front group for the Republican Party, it's still odd that the Faith and Freedom Conference would invite Ayn Rand die-hard Paul Ryan to speak at their DC conclave. Odder still that he decided to talk-- with a straight face-- about his cause (as he calls his budget proposal). As TPM reported yesterday, Ryan "was chased by a protester waving a giant Bible and decrying libertarian author Ayn Rand" as he left the meeting.
"Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?" the blond, 20-something male asked. He said he wanted to "present" Ryan with a Bible to teach him how to help the "most vulnerable."

I've been waiting for a Christian-right kind of guy to confront Ryan with his hypocrisy. It should happen everywhere he goes, since-- like Rand said explicitly (watch the video above)-- his budget says implicitly that Jesus had it all wrong and that the least among us and most downtrodden actually don't deserve any help, just a swift kick in the balls. And all that stuff about camels getting through eyes of needles... with the tax breaks Ryan is giving the rich, they can breed miniature flying camels.

This morning Think Progress reported on mainstream religious leaders worrying aloud about how Ryan's Randian budget unfairly targets those most beloved by Jesus.
Four members affiliated with the religious group Faith In Public Life held a brief press conference during FFC’s afternoon intermission to denounce the GOP’s adherence to the philosophies of anti-government, anti-religion author Ayn Rand. The leaders-- Rev. Jennifer Butler, Jim Wallis, Rev. Derrick Harkins, and Father Clete Kiley-- asserted that the GOP efforts to cut funding from many anti-poverty programs while balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest Americans were not in line with Christian values:

"...[P]oor and low income people are not the ones to make hurt more when you’re making tough decisions. … They don’t bear the brunt of our fiscal irresponsibility because they didn’t cause it. We did not get into fiscal trouble because of poor people. … The poor didn’t cause this. Let’s not make them pay for it."

What we’re saying in the faith community, across the spectrum, is that a nation is judged-- our Bible says-- by how we treat the poorest and most vulnerable. Period. That’s what God says to us. That’s God’s instruction to us. To be faithful to God, we have to protect poor people.

Wallis and Butler repeatedly asserted that political leaders could not adhere to the teachings of both Rand and the church. “This budget has more to do with the teaching of Ayn Rand than the etchings of Jesus Christ,” Butler said. “I read [Rand] in high school, and she said, ‘You have to choose me or Jesus,’” Wallis added. “And so I did. She lost.”

Religious leaders have recently spoken out to House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)-- both of whom are practicing Catholics-- telling them that the cuts in their budget disproportionately target poor Americans and are thus out of line with Christian and Catholic teaching. Early in May, a group of Catholic bishops sent Boehner a letter denouncing the budget cuts. Ryan, meanwhile, has attempted to persuade Catholic bishops that his budget is in line with religious teaching. Kiley was skeptical today, however, saying Ryan handpicked phrases from Catholic teaching in attempts to justify his budget cuts, largely ignoring the majority of Catholic teaching.

Of course Ryan and Boehner worked out a scheme to pacify seniors by promising them that the kill Medicare budget would only impact future generations and that they're safe. Seniors have overwhelming rejected that sociopathic attitude anyway but now, as Tim Fernholz at the National Journal revealed, even that's a lie! Ryan even threw the seniors he's expecting to reelect him under the bus! But why should the William Edward Hickman of politics honor the elderly?
Republicans are convinced that burnishing the public’s view of their unpopular proposal to overhaul Medicare depends on assuring today’s seniors that they won’t be affected.

“The retirees are going to be taken care of; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” House Speaker John Boehner vowed in an interview with CBS last month. The plan’s architect, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has said time and again that the changes wouldn’t affect anybody getting close to retirement. “We propose to not change the benefits for people above the age of 55,” Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, insisted last week.

There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not true.

The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the traditional benefit program.

Exploiting the fear of change is a constant in health care politics, so nearly every reformer tries to play down the dislocation inherent in plans to make the system fiscally sustainable. During his own reform push, President Obama promised citizens they could keep their existing health insurance plans if they liked them. That was not exactly true: Although the new law doesn’t eliminate the current insurance system, it does put in place new incentives that experts predict will significantly change individuals’ health care options.

Republicans capitalized on the fear of those potential changes, as well as of hundreds of billions in genuine cuts to Medicare spending that were part of last year’s law, and they won heavily in November’s midterm elections. The president’s party lost seniors by more than 20 percentage points after splitting their vote 50-50 with the GOP in the prior midterm election. This year, however, it is the Republicans’ turn to be nervous, as opinion polls and their surprising loss in a special election in upstate New York revealed voter anxiety about their plan.

In response, the GOP is doubling down on the idea that today’s seniors won’t be affected. That’s partly true. Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare into a limited insurance subsidy, the most controversial aspect of the budget, wouldn’t take effect until 2022.

But the proposal would also repeal last year’s health care law, which means reopening a coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription-drug benefit that the statute closed. The gap, commonly called the “doughnut hole,” requires seniors to pay 100 percent of any prescription costs after the annual total reaches $2,840 and until it hits $4,550. Those who spend more or less have at least three-quarters of the costs covered. Under the 2010 health law, Medicare will pay 7 percent of the cost of generic drugs and 50 percent on name-brand pharmaceuticals; by 2020, the doughnut hole will be closed.

If Congress were to pass Ryan’s plan and repeal the law, as House Republicans want, the 3 million to 4 million seniors left in the doughnut hole each year would immediately face significant out-of-pocket costs. They and all other Medicare beneficiaries would also lose access to a host of preventative-care benefits in the health care law, including free wellness visits to physicians, mammograms, colonoscopies, and programs to help smokers quit.

Perhaps more jolting, the Republican budget would cut spending on Medicaid-- health care for the poor-- much of which goes to long-term care for the elderly. Some 9 million seniors qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and about two-thirds of all nursing-home residents are covered by Medicaid. The GOP budget proposes cutting some $744 billion from Medicaid over 10 years by turning the system into block grants that limit federal contributions and give states more choice in structuring benefits. No one knows exactly which Medicaid services states would choose to cut back, but senior citizens account for a disproportionate share of Medicaid outlays and would almost certainly bear some of the burden.

“We know that two-thirds of the dollars in Medicaid go to people who are disabled or over 65, so this is the big funder of long-term care in this country,” said David Certner, AARP’s legislative-policy director. “We also know this could have an impact on home- and community-based care, which is the kind of care individuals prefer the most [and] often the ones that will be cut first.”

The plan to grandfather traditional Medicare for those older than 55 could also have negative consequences for current seniors: In 2022, when the limited-subsidy program would be introduced, seniors who qualified for traditional Medicare would be allowed to switch to the new program. If healthier or younger beneficiaries make the change to lower their out-of-pocket costs, those still participating in Medicare would be part of an insurance pool that is less healthy and more expensive. To cover those higher per-person costs, Medicare might well be forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers-- which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients.

Republicans say that comparing their plan with the projected costs of unsustainable programs is an exercise in magical thinking. They have a point. But the idea of cutting benefits deeply without affecting anyone over 55 is almost as fantastic.

If Christians stop taking Ryan seriously-- serious Christians I mean, not right-wing fanatics making believe they're Christians-- at least he'll still have the punditocracy on his side, as Krugman opined yesterday. "[M]any of the pundits who gushed over the Ryan plan, after being rocked back a bit when the plan was exposed as the nonsense it is, have decided to double down. In particular, they are insisting that anyone who describes a plan to dismantle Medicare as a plan to dismantle Medicare is somehow engaged in disreputable scare tactics."

You can read the rest of the post here and you can donate to Rob Zerban's campaign to retire Ryan from Congress here