Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ryan parrots Walker lies about state budget and reasons for recalls

Paul Ryan has done a fundraising letter for State Sen. Alberta Darling, one of six Republicans facing recall elections for their support of Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting, anti-worker, anti-family, anti-senior state budget.

We don't know what direct mail lists Ryan's letter is going to, but he must hope it is a group of people who have not followed the news for the last six months -- or have incredibly short memories.

Here's what Ryan falsely claims the Darling recall is all about:

With the future of Wisconsin on the line, Senator Darling insisted that state government workers pay a modest portion of their pension and health care benefits and in doing so, she’s incurred the wrath of the Left who have vowed to make an example out of her.
That, of course, has nothing to do with the battle going on in Wisconsin. The public employee unions agreed to pay the added health care and pension costs that Walker asked for. But that wasn't enough.

Walker refused to accept that -- refused to even meet with the unions or engage in any negotiations. Instead, he and the Republican leadership rammed through a bill that essentially killed public employee bargaining in the state. Its clear intent is to kill off the unions once and for all.

That -- not the demand that public workers pay more of the tab for health care and pensions -- is what light the prairie fire, sparked massive demonstrations in Madison for months, and ignited the recall effort.

Alberta Darling, as a co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, has her bloody fingerprints all over the union-busting bill and the state budget that does so much damage to working people and their families, with massive cuts to education, health care, and more.

Darling, once seen as a moderate Republican, has backed Wallker's right-wing agenda right down the line.

Ryan knows that, of course.

And so, we hope, do the voters.

His hope -- and Darling's -- is that the gullible people who get his lying piece of mail don't know the truth and pull out their checkbooks.

The fat cats and corporate special interests already know what's going on and have given record amounts of money to Darling. Ryan hopes to con some small donors into giving, too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ryan voted for $3.4-trillion in debt GOP blames on Obama

Paul Ryan and the other Republicans talk a good game now about the need for fiscal responsibility and reining in spending.  But they have been a big part of the problem, Lisa Lerer writes on Bloomberg:

... [Speaker John Boehner], House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.

Together, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion.
Since 2001, the debt has grown from $5.8 trillion to $14.3-trillion. Republicans controlled the White House eight of the last 10 years and had control of the entire government for four of those years.

More here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big talker Ryan has a long record of non-achievement after 12 years in House

Paul Ryan, the new right-wing fiscal hero, is a smooth talker who's been a total failure as a doer in Congress.

Elected in 1998, here's what he has to show for his first six terms -- 12 years! -- in Congress. Two bills he authored have become law. Count 'em, two.

One named the post office in Janesville after the late congressman Les Aspin, the Democrat who represented Ryan's district and went on to serve as Secretary of Defense. (HR 4241, introduced 4/11/2000; Public Law 106-242)

Getting Congress to agree to name a post office for one of its former members doesn't require a legislative genius at the helm.

The other was to modify the tax code regarding arrow components
(HR 5394, introduced 11/19/2004; Public Law 108-493. Yes, arrow components. Research might turn up his rationale or reasons for his interest (a company in his district, a campaign donor, whatever), but hardly seems worth the effort.

OK, to be fair, he's also had four amendments passed to bills that became law. None of them were earth-shaking. One of his big successes, in 2007:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide additional rotating pastel lights, zero-gravity chairs, or dry-heat saunas for its fitness center.

That was so non-controversial it passed on a voice vote.

Yes, he's the author of the Republican budget that passed the House this year, but that was dead before arrival in the Senate and there was never any chance it would become law. It was simply an exercise to show what Republicans stood for. And in adopting Ryan's plan, the GOP became the party that stands for ending Medicare as we know it and replacing it with a voucher program of sorts that would cost seniors a lot more money.

It's true that the GOP hasn't been in total control of the government during Ryan's tenure. But for six years, with George W. Bush in the White House andn the GOP in control of Congress, Ryan didn't fare any better. In fact, in two of the three sessions with the Rs in charge, Ryan passed nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So after 12 years in the House he has passed two more bills than his Democratic opponent, Rob Zerban, who has never served.

One question for 1st District voters next year might be whether they are satisfied being represented by a big talker, a pretty face who's become a media darling, or whether they'd prefer someone who might actually do what it takes to get something accomplished.

(Research was done by John Heckenlively at Ryanwatch. There's a recap of his votes every week. Check it out.

What are the chances Dems could knock off Ryan in 2012? An analysis

Paul Ryan's new national notoriety has made him a target in 2012.

Craig Gilbert, pictured, the Journal Sentinel's DC bureau chief and top political reporter, offers a thoughtful assessment of the Ryan race and whether the Democrats actually have any hopes of unseating him.

His conclusion is a pretty safe one: This race won't be as easy for Ryan as his last six have been, but it would be a major upset if he loses.

But it's filled with facts, insights and analysis -- a rarity these days -- and well worth a read.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be Sure To Answer Your Phone

After Boehner broke off negotiations on the debt ceiling, the DCCC decided to run robocalls in southeast Wisconsin mand in several other shaky districts with right-wing obstructionist Republicans facing tough reelection prospects next year. Here's the text:
“Hi, this is Travis calling on behalf of the DCCC. Congressman Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner would rather our economy default just to protect tax breaks for Big Oil companies and billionaire jet-owners. Republicans quit negotiating with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling. 

“This is serious. Ryan’s billionaire buddies will be ok. But we will pay the price if government can’t pay its bills. Our Social Security and Medicare benefits are at risk. Interest rates would spike for our credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Our 401(k) retirement accounts would drop. And, gas and food prices would skyrocket. 

“Enough is enough. Call Congressman Paul Ryan... and tell him not to gamble our future to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires.

If you'd like to make an impact on the race, please consider making a contribution to Rob Zerban at StopPaulRyan.

There's More Than One Representative Ryan In Congress

Congressmen Ryan-- one for the banksters, one for American working families

Wisconsin arch-villain Paul Ryan has become something of a household name this year, as he's worked diligently to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in his new position as Chairman of the House Budget Committee. That Ryan, since being elected in 1998, has taken $2,412,522 in direct "contributions" from Wall Street and Big Insurance, more than any other politician in Wisconsin history, including senators and Members of Congress who were already serving when he was barely out of diapers. In return, he has been a steadfast champion for Big Business, Big Insurance and Wall Street, trampling the legitimate aspirations of his own constituents. He was key to the passage of Bush's TARP bailout and key to the passage of a budget that seeks to end Medicare and severely cut back on Social Security benefits. This week he helped pass legislation that sought to protect consumers from the greed and avarice of criminal banksters, the same criminal banksters who have financed Paul Ryan's political career.

Tim Ryan represents a blue collar district in northeast Ohio which was carried by Gore, Kerry and Obama with over 60% of the vote. Even in the middle of the Great Shellacking last year, Tim's GOP opponent only managed to win 30% of the vote. In a more normal year, like 2008, Tim won with 78%-- and with 80% in 2006. Wall Street and Big Finance hasn't shelled out for him the way they have for Paul Ryan. Not even close. And the statement he made after voting against the GOP's legislation to gut Dodd-Frank and put consumers back into jeopardy explains why the same banksters who love Paul Ryan, feel very differently about Tim Ryan.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of Wall Street Reform, Republicans are holding votes on a measure to gut consumer protections put in place to protect against another “Great Recession.”

Millions of Americans lost their homes, jobs, savings, and economic security because of the recklessness of Wall Street and other financial institutions. Instead of embracing efforts to avoid another economic collapse, House Republicans have done everything they can to defund, delay, and destroy implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the cornerstones of Wall Street Reform.

Less than a week ago, President Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to serve as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today’s measure to alter Wall Street reforms would slash his position from the CFPB.

“The Republicans are hell-bent on deregulating Wall Street and returning it to the Wild West style of banking that led to the complete collapse of our economy," said Congressman Ryan. "We are still dealing with the fallout of their recklessness. As Democrats attempt to put more cops on the financial market beat, the Republicans are content with burying their heads in the sand and hoping the modern day robber barons will behave themselves. None of the criminals that caused the collapse went to prison. And now, these measures to defund, delay, and destroy implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would undermine oversight for mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other financial transactions.

As we recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, House Republicans have once again demonstrated how out of touch they are by attacking the very safeguards put in place to protect against an economic collapse in the future. They might be comfortable leaving their constituents without these essential measures, but the people of my district and across Ohio have suffered enough. They deserve some peace of mind as they try to recover from the financial hardships they’ve faced.”

Yesterday Tim told me why he was eager to sign onto the Grijalva-Ellison letter to Speaker Pelosi to protect the Big Three. “Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are essential to making sure people are having their most fundamental needs met. Working families have been hit the hardest by the economic difficulties we’re facing-- cutting programs that make sure they can cover basic living and medical expenses while we continue to protect tax cuts for the top 1% is unthinkable. We must continue to stand up for working people-- the Republicans’ definition of “shared sacrifice” continues to only fall on those who have sacrificed too much already.” Ryan on Ryan... on the floor:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Paul Ryan exposes himself

Made you look! Made you look!

That headline is from The New Republic,where Jonathan Chait writes:

One little-noticed effect of the debt ceiling impasse is that Paul Ryan, that Paul Revere of fiscal calamity, darling of the anti-deficit lobby, has been exposed as a fraud. Technically, I guess he hasn't been exposed if nobody pays attention to it, in the same sense that a person walking naked down a deserted street might as well be at home in the bedroom. But if you care to pay close attention, Ryan's fraudulence is perfectly clear.
Ryan's opposition to the so-called Gang of Six proposal, which does what he claims to want, proves, Chait says, that:

Ryan doesn't really care if nominal tax rates are lower and that all the savings come from closing tax expenditures. He just wants rich people to pay less money to the government, and whether that lower tax bill comes in the form of lower rates or bigger loopholes is the secondary consideration.

More here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ryan's tweets on budget show him up as a twit

To hear Paul Ryan tell it, it is a terrible thing that the Democratic-controlled US Senate hasn't "passed a budget" since Fido was a pup.

Ryan's a regular tweeter about just how long it is since the Dems passed a budget. For example:

RepPaulRyan Paul Ryan
7/8/11: Unemployment hits 9.2% on 800th day since Senate Dems last thought govt needed a budget. Public Debt: $9.75T.
19 Jul
Shocking! Scandalous! Those Democrats just don't care if we ever have a budget!  (It is a biennial budget, so you'd only pass it every 730 days or so anyway, of course.)

But here's the little secret Ryan's not telling anyone: It doesn't make one whit of difference.

Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post:

Remember, the budget resolution — that’s the thing that Senate Dems haven’t done yet, and may not do — isn’t a law. It doesn’t actually do anything, except to give instructions from Congress to Congress. Passing a budget doesn’t have any relation to whether Congress passes spending bills, which it must do in the end.
So who cares how many days it has been?  Paul Ryan pretends he does.  But he clearly knows better.

Paul Ryan and the art of whiny resentment

By Jonathan Bernstein on Salon:
I don't think that Paul Ryan is running for president; I really don't think he'll ever run for president. But if he does, he sure has the resentment thing down cold...
Bernstein goes after Ryan for his comments in a National Review Online interview, in which he said, among other things, of President Obama:
 "This is, unfortunately, the way he operates," Ryan says. "This is his pattern of behavior, this is his personality. For the next 18 months, it will probably be like this. It’ll be in-your-face class warfare, with bitter appeals to envy, fear, and anxiety, plus the demonization of the other side’s motives."
To which Bernstein replies:

This is whiny, crybaby, thin-skinned crap. "In-your-face class warfare"? Never happened. "Demonization of the other side's motives"? Find me a quotation, in context; it had better be at least as good as Ryan's claim that Obama is deliberately willing to inflict harm on the nation in service of "ideology." "Bitter appeals to envy, fear, and anxiety"? In Looking-Glass Land, only -- the one where inventing a "looming debt crisis" doesn't count as a scare tactic, but discussing the obvious consequences of not raising the debt ceiling does. Or, in which voting to transform Medicare into a voucher program constitutes supporting Medicare, while not doing that counts as destroying it.
There's more at Salon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ryan looks for cover on his secret redistricting plan

Paul Ryan, having written a Congressional redistricting plan in secret that protects Republlican incumbents, including himself, went looking recently for a little bipartisan cover. But it didn't work out so well.

Buried in a Politico story about the Paul Ryan-Rob Zerban race:

Ryan recently called Democratic Rep. Ron Kind to his office and floated the idea of both congressmen throwing their support to a redistricting proposal that would strengthen their districts while also providing support to the northern Wisconsin district held by vulnerable freshman GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the exchange.

Kind returned with a counteroffer, according to one of the sources, proposing a map that would leave both congressmen safer but that wouldn’t shore up Duffy.

Ryan’s response: thanks, but no thanks.

Read more here.

GOP in denial, but 2012 may be the year the voters retire Paul Ryan

Rob Zerban gives Paul Ryan run for his money -- Politico headline.

Two respected national pollsters, based in Madison, agree:

“I’m not saying it’s a likely upset, but you can say that it’s not a safe seat and that Ryan is going to be put to the test in a way that he hasn’t before,” said Paul Maslin, a prominent Wisconsin-based pollster who is working for Zerban, a Kenosha County supervisor.
Maslin works for Zerban. Nathan Henry, of The Mellman Group, doesn't.

“There’s no doubt that Paul Ryan is a formidable candidate. In a normal year, it would be a tough race. But we’re in a different environment now,” said Nathan Henry, a Madison-based Democratic pollster. “I think you’ll see Paul Ryan in a vulnerable position for the first time in a long time.”
Republicans, meanwhile, claim there is no race -- a dangerous position even for spinmeisters to take, lest it lull Ryan's base to sleep:

Republicans scoff at the idea that Ryan — who some supporters and party leaders have encouraged to run for Senate or president — could lose his seat to an opponent who has never run for federal office, let alone challenged one of the most prominent figures in the GOP.

“What race?” said Bill McCoshen, a veteran Wisconsin-based GOP consultant. “Paul Ryan doesn’t have a real race.”

“Every year, the guy wins in a landslide,” said Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Stephan Thompson
Well, every year so far (actually every other year; terms are two years). But he hasn't had a serious challenge since he won the seat in 1998. This year could be different, whether the Rs want to admit it or not.  Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher system that would cost seniors more money out of their pockets than many can afford has changed the political landscape, nationally and in Wisconsin's 1st District. 

Read more here.

Today House Republicans Try To Sneak Through Ryan's Kill Medicare Plan Again

This time they've got some new wrapping paper for the thoroughly discredited Ryan budget: Cut, Cap & Balance in the House and a Balanced Budget Amendment in the Senate. And both are actually even worse than Ryan's budget! So while Republican Party hostage takers and terrorists continue to threaten to crash the economy again if they don't get their way on whatever they want this week-- and with a new poll showing that 71% of Americans have no confidence in how Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and their House cronies are handling the debt crisis-- the latest right-wing gimmick will be voted on later today... before disappearing just as Ryan's ridiculous budget did. One measure would seek to limit federal spending at 18% of gross domestic product and the other at 22%. As the Center for American Progress points out, "the last time federal spending dipped under 18% of GDP was 1966, nearly half a century ago. Things have changed quote a but since then." Please click on their infographic to enlarge it:

Like Ryan's rejected and disdained budget, this "plan," would basically gut Medicare, Medicaid and threaten the existence of Social Security and public education. Of course those are all long-cherished goals of the far right. It would virtually guarantee the country's rapid and probably irreversible decent into the ranks of the Third World. Remember Grover Norquist's raging nonsense about drowning the federal government in a bathtub? They're trying it again.

The White House pointed out that the House plan “would undercut the Federal Government’s ability to meet its core commitments to seniors, middle-class families and the most vulnerable, while reducing our ability to invest in our future,” while imposing “unrealistic spending caps that could result in significant cuts to education, research and development, and other programs critical to growing our economy and winning the future.” It would “lead to severe cuts in Medicare and Social Security” and said the Balanced Budget Amendment “will likely leave the nation unable to meet its core commitment of ensuring dignity in retirement.”

You can read the rest of this post at DownWithTyranny, although there are no more photos of Ryan there.

InsurCorps Pouring Money Into Ryan's Campaign

According to this article, Rob Zerban, Democratic primary candidate for the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, has raised more money this quarter than any of Ryan's previous challengers since Ryan was elected. Zerban stated that the average contribution to his campaign is $42.

You can donate to Zerban's campaign to defeat Paul Ryan here.

Paul Ryan's campaign war chest on the other hand, more now than ever before, is gorging itself like a vampire squid wrapped around the face of Wall Street. Around this same period (July 2009) for his 2010 campaign, Ryan reported $1.28 million with 82 percent of his donors giving $100 or less. This year, Ryan reports $3.8 million cash on hand to date with 77 percent giving $100 or less.

Ryan’s campaign said 77 percent of the individual contributions since the beginning of 2011 year were $100 or less.

During each of the last three congressional elections, I've spent hours paging through Paul Ryan's campaign reports and this is what I've found. I found when you're dealing with statements from Ryan's campaign you have to think like you're dealing with the crooked'est used car dealer in the city. They don't mean 77 percent of the $3.8 million came from individuals giving $100 or less. No-no, not at all. What they really mean by 77 percent is about 4000 individuals (apprx.) contributed around $240,000 to his campaign while the rest, $3,560,000 of the $3.8 million reported, came from about 1,300 contributions (23%) funneled from 100 Big Corps entities.

Just like dealing with a slick-shady used car salesman, it's never ever what you thought you've heard at first from Paul Ryan. It's always that initial doubt that you curse yourself for by being duped, but only after you're left stranded in the road holding an empty bag.


Paul Ryan's Plan Popular - with Insurance Industry

Ryan Well Compensated By Special Interests (2009)

Crony Capital Pouring Into Ryan's campaign (2009)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ryan's Medicare plan brings him big bucks from the insurance industry

Why, Madison's Capital Times asks, does Paul Ryan call for radical changes in Medicare and Medicaid when it would not balance the federal budget?

Because the insurance industry wants to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher programs that force retirees and low-income families to buy insurance coverage from private firms. That would steer federal money away from providing health care to those who need it and toward padding the profits of some of the most powerful and politically connected corporations in America...
The public opposes the plan, but Ryan hasn't backed off. Why? It's a huge money maker for Ryan.

Among all businesses, the top source of campaign money for Ryan over the course of his political career has been the insurance industry - more than $720,000 so far.

And in the current report? The industries providing the largest donations are finance and ... insurance.

Read more here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shhhhhh! Ryan never mentions Medicare, health care in fundraising appeal

The Republican National Committee has sent out a fundraising email featuring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who chairs the House budget committee.

In this fundraising email, which was signed by Ryan, guess which words do not appear even once?

"Medicare," "Medicaid," and "health care."

Mother Jones has more.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ryan Still Selling Medicare Advantage that's truly bankrupting the program. Sebelius stands ground.

I told my friend that Medicare Part D costs 14 percent more than the standard plan.

“Just another liberal talking point,” my gun toting conservative pal said.

He didn't believe me when I told him that Democrats, like me, don’t have a list of talking points. But to conservatives, fact are just talking points.

I was explaining the video below, where Rep. Paul Ryan is still trying to sell Medicare Advantage, the costly, unfunded mandated he voted for with borrowed money. The Ryan ploy is to brag that Medicare Advantage saved more money than predicted. Yes, the program cost less than someones guess at the time, but it's still more expensive than the drug plan in Medicare. So being cheaper than a prediction, an estimate, isn't the same as costing less money than the regular Medicare plan. It's 14 percent more expensive.  

Ryan thought he could get HHS’s Kathleen Sebelius to see the error of her ways, but that didn’t happen.  

Here's a perfectly clear explanation: 

Medadvocacy: According to non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, equalizing payments between Medicare Advantage programs and the traditional Medicare programs will generate $170 billion in savings over the next ten years. Under the current reimbursement system, Medicare Advantage plans are reimbursed on average 14 percent more than traditional Medicare plans.

"The Trustees of Medicare have warned the country that overpayment to the Medicare Advantage program is one of the major cost drivers pushing Medicare to its 2017 negative cash flow. Following MedPAC's recommendations will extend the solvency of Medicare for all seniors and can be done in a way to allow Medicare Advantage to continue to be a choice ... "Commission has consistently supported the concept of financial neutrality between payment rates for the fee-for-service program and private plans."  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Zerban fundraising laps previous candidates, but still has a steep hill to climb

Rob Zerban's first campaign finance report, filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, shows he raised more money and has more cash on hand than any previous Ryan challenger had for the entire election cycle.  The 2012 election is 16 months away.

Zerban (pictured) raised about $220,000 and has about $205,000 cash-on-hand. Only one previous Ryan challenger raised more than $100,000 total.  . Last year's candidate raised only $12,000.  Ninety-two percent of  Zerban's contributions came from individuals. 

Good news, but here's the rub:  Ryan raised almost $900,000 in the last quarter and has $3.8-million on hand, since he's been steadily amassing it and has had to spend little in previous campaigns. Here's Ryan's latest report. Zerban's is not available online yet at the FEC. [UPDATE: The total Zerban raised includes $120,000 loan from the candidate.]

That included $149,000 in the second quarter from special interest political action committees, bringing his total for this election cycle to $298,000. The special interests love the chair of the House Budget Committee, and why wouldn't they, as he watches out for them at the expense of seniors and working families.  Bankers, Wall Street, the health care industry, insurance,  oil companies -- they're all there. 

Since he first ran for Congress in 1998, Ryan has raised more than $5-million from special interest PACS -- 38% of all the money he's raised, according to Open Secrets.

"Paul Ryan is a favorite of Washington's entrenched special interests, so he will have no problem summoning their mountains of cash," said Zerban, a small businessman and Kenosha County supervisor. "But because of his disastrous campaign to end Medicare, my campaign will be able to raise the resources to educate the public about his assault on the middle class - and to march to victory in 2012."

Money isn't everything in politics, they say, but it's way ahead of whatever is in second place. If Zerban, who's off to a good start, is going to have a real chance against Ryan, he doesn't need to match him dollar for dollar, but he does need to raise enough to get his message out on television and to be competitive.

Want to help? Here's where to start.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ryan's take on budget agreement rates a Pinocchio in fact check

The Washington Post's Fact Checker gives Paul Ryan a Pinocchio rating:

“The last time there was a bipartisan budget agreement, it balanced the budget by cutting spending and cutting taxes. The 1997 bipartisan budget agreement between President Clinton and a Republican Congress balanced the budget by bringing spending down to 18.2% of gross domestic product.”  — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in a memo to Republican members of the House Budget Committee, July 11, 2011

We are frequently amazed at how politicians appear to forget why those bills passed, how they were crafted and what they were intended to accomplish.

 Ryan’s citation of the 1997 balanced budget deal — explaining why he thinks that a bipartisan deal on the debt ceiling cannot have tax increases — is an example of this.
Politicians love to cite the lessons of history. But sometimes the wrong lessons are learned — or remembered...
Read it here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rutgers prof who blew whistle on Ryan's $700 wine tells why she did it

Susan Feinberg, the woman who confronted Paul Ryan and his friends when she saw them drinking $700 worth of wine in a posh DC bistro, explains herself in a column in the Newark Star Ledger:
To clear $700 in a week, a person would have to earn close to $50,000 a year, an amount greater than the income of nearly half of American households. Households earning below $50,000 per year are being asked to shoulder most of the sacrifices in the Ryan budget. Millions of seniors and middle-income Americans will see their standard of living decline significantly if the parameters of the Ryan budget become part of the negotiated spending cuts in the debt ceiling debate.

Ryan and his companions had every right to drink $700 worth of wine. However, to blithely enjoy such extravagance while preparing to inflict so much pain on so many Americans seemed terribly wrong, particularly when one considers that those who can easily afford an evening out with a $700 bar tab will benefit from the sacrifices Ryan’s budget heaps upon average Americans.

Read it here.

Business Run By One Of Ryan's Dinner/Wine Group Is Also Major Donor

Turns out that Cliff Asness's financial firm is a recent cycle $20,000+ source of Ryan campaign funds.

More details, here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paul Ryan: ex-fitness trainer, turkey bacon salesman, and policy wonk?

Forbes blog by Eric Johnson examines Ryan's background and tries to anwer the question: What does it tell us about what he knows and what he might do?

I’ve often watched Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, talking away on these fiscal ideas on TV while standing in front of Congress and wondered: “who is this guy, really?”

It seems sometimes like these politicians are dropped by the stork at 40 years of ago into the Congress or Senate. But they’ve all had a life that’s shaped them.

There’s an interesting bio of Ryan from two years ago in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 41 year old was 1 of 9 kids in his Irish Catholic conservative family. The Dad was a big fan of Reagan.

The bio says Paul wen to college at Miami of Ohio and studied economics. He cites Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek as his biggest intellectual influences.

In the bio, Ryan says he dreamed of going on to grad school at the University of Chicago (which would have fit his intellectual views) but “I just kept getting really interesting jobs.”

I’m not sure I buy that.

After college, his first job was working in the mailroom in Washington DC for Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten, then later moving up to other admin roles. Ryan was only in the job for a few months when Kasten lost an election.

His later jobs included:

- Waiting tables at a restaurant called Tortilla Coast

- Fitness trainer at Washington Sport and Health Club

- Oscar Mayer salesman in Minnesota selling turkey bacon and “Lunchables” to supermarkets

- Speech writing

- Analyst at Empower America started by supply-sider Jack Kemp

I think I would have opted for going to Chicago over the Oscar Meyer or Fitness trainer jobs.

Ryan was first elected to congress in 1999.

Now, all of us have had unglamorous jobs. I flipped pizzas in high school. But what does this background of all these post-college jobs and education say about Ryan and — more importantly — about his plan?

- He’s studied a little bit of economics which is better than if he’d studied none but he’s got a pretty modest academic training in this area

- He’s a policy guy more than a real-world guy. Everyone’s got their intellectual biases and that’s fine (I like Ayn Rand, although I don’t like the people who say they like her but can’t pronounce her name). But I worry a little bit about politicians who’ve only ever done policy and never had to work a job in the real world, learning about getting things done which sometimes involve trade-offs

- He’s never really had a job post-college working outside of DC. I don’t have anything against DC but, if you’re a policy wonk, and you’ve only ever worked in DC, you’re going to be even more of an Ivory Tower guy. No one with that background should sell themselves as a Beltway outsider
Read the whole thing.

(Pinhead graphic by Rock Netroots)

That Was One Powerful Wall Streeter With Ryan At Bistro Bis, By The Way

Cliff Asness isn't the broker who lives down the street.

Google him, or check my blog posting.

Would It Be News If Someone Told You The Mafia Opposes Laws That Punish Criminal Behavior?

Predators DuPont & Ryan, cut from the same cloth

Something about Ryan's tempest in a Echezeaux Grand Cru bottle that most got to me was how-- like many over-privileged, self-entitled millionaires-- he and his 2 reactionary buddies were sitting around grousing about how normal people don't like millionaires and how unfair it is. Poor babies! But they have it all wrong. It's selfish predators-- not always the same thing-- that normal people don't like.

Now, there is some sense of unfairness that a good-for-nothing clod like Ryan, who's never accomplished a thing in his life and has never had a real job or done anything to merit his great wealth could be sitting around bitching and swilling French wine with 2 sleazy and avaricious hedge fund managers while [t]wo years after the Great Recession officially ended, job prospects for young Americans remain historically grim, primarily due to the policies being pushed by Ryan and his cronies. "More than 17 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds who are looking for work can’t find a job, a rate that is close to a 30-year high. The employment-to-population ratio for that demographic-- the percentage of young people who are working-- has plunged to 45 percent. That’s the lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948. No double pops of Echezeaux Grand Cru for them!

But that kind of natural envy isn't the real problem, of course-- for as much as Ryan and his sleazy pals want to whine about it in their wine. Wall Street's billion dollar unending campaign against regulations are why normal people hate millionaires. It's their relentless activities in rigging the system, activities that include the buying of weak and self-serving political hacks like Paul Ryan. Let's remember what "free enterprise" evangelist and notorious American fascist Lammont DuPont told the National Manufacturers Association in 1942: "We will win the war by reducing taxes on corporations, high income brackets, and increasing taxes on lower incomes, by removing unions from any power to tell industry how to produce, how to deal with their employees or anything else, by destroying any and all government agencies that stand in the way of free enterprise." Free as in free to exploit and cheat everyone else. Yesterday Josh Boak poked around into how Wall Street is continuing DuPont's work today.
Wall Street’s epic battle over financial reforms didn’t end when the Dodd-Frank law was enacted a year ago. It simply shifted from Capitol Hill to the regulatory agencies, with banks claiming the new rules will cripple a hurting economy.

In the first quarter of this year, a record number of companies were lobbying the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The financial sector shows no sign of retreat, even after suffering a blow last month when Congress refused to delay new limits on “swipe fees” that banks charge to merchants for debit card transactions. That defeat may be less about Wall Street’s weakened political muscle than about the strength of its foes on the issue-- such as Wal-Mart and the National Retail Federation.

“If you want to go after Godzilla, you need to have King Kong,” said Nick Nyhart, president of Public Campaign, a nonprofit that tracks special interest money.

But the banking industry isn’t taking chances. It’s bulking up to take on regulators tasked with enforcing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The 848-page law approved in response to the financial meltdown mandates a sweeping set of changes-- from stronger consumer protections to new rules on trading derivatives.

...“I think if you listen carefully, the large banks are complaining much louder,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently told the House Small Business Committee. “They’re spending a huge amount of money trying to undo, shift the burden and delay the reforms that are targeted at them and their risk taking. They’re spending a huge amount of money trying to block, delay, erode, weaken and walk back.”

Ryan, although a relative newcomer to politics has taken more money from the finance sector than any other politician in the history of Wisconsin. This year, so far, he's added $715,052 in legalistic bribes from the very people he's supposed to be protecting us from. In all, he's taken $2,349,822 in direct cash from banksters, insurance companies and the real estate industry. Is it any wonder that he slavishly serves their agenda even if it means shafting his own constituents in Kenosha, Racine, Janesville and Muskego?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ryan's $700 wine drinking companions identified

Who were those fuys drinking $350 bottles of wine with Paul Ryan in a DC bistro?

One is a hedge fund manager and the other a University of Chicago economist, both known as hard-core free market types opposed to any government bailouts. Neither is a lobbyist, but Ryan paid for one of the bottles of wine himself "just to be safe," after he was outed by someone who saw the trio at the bistro. (Congress members are forbidden to accept gifts valued at more than $100.)

But this story is not about ethics violations. It is about lifestyle and judgment, and Ryan's ability to relate to regular people as he proposes draconian budget cuts that will affet their lives. Remember the $400 John Edwards haircut?

more here.

Paul Ryan-- Not Just A Self Server, But An Ignorant Self Server

...Lining his own pockets-- dining at one of the sleaziest lobbyist joints in DC (Bistro Bis) and swilling some fancypants $350 bottles of Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru (the most expensive wine on the restaurant's rip-off menu). He claims the two unidentified lobbyists he was drinking the $700 worth of wine with are "economists" but he refuses to give their names and he quickly paid for one of the pricey bottles when he was confronted by someone who recognized him. Says he won't do it again... But, of course, this is the same Paul Ryan who told constituents subsidies for oil companies should be ended just a few days before voting against ending them. Is he a pathological liar? His voting record, going back over a decade certainly attests to that.

Perhaps what Ryan and the two lobbyists "economists" [one has now been identified as one of the most predatory and ruthless hedge fund managers anywhere] were toasting was the gargantuan haul his reelection campaign had just taken in from special interests eager to express their thanks for his willingness to toss middle class Wisconsin working families under the bus to benefit... well, his own wealthy campaign contributors, the kinds of people who drink a couple bottles of Echezeaux Grand Cru with dinner. Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party isn't one of those people. And he wasn't celebrating Ryan's latest haul either.
"With Paul Ryan having already taken more health insurance money than any politician in Wisconsin history and already in the pocket of Wall Street bankers, we now see massive fundraising totals coming for the 7-term Washington insider. But all the money in the world can't and won't redeem his immoral plan to end Medicare. When 2012 comes around, the seniors and working families of southeastern Wisconsin will pour to the polls and vote not on the size of Ryan's bank roll-but on a rotten agenda that asks seniors to give up the historic guarantee of health care so that millionaires and billionaires can cravenly share less in the burdens that keep America strong."

I'd like to think he's right but Republicans in the southern Milwaukee suburbs and especially in southern Waukesha County have been electing outright fascists and reactionary bums like Joe McCarthy, Scott Walker, John Schafer, Ron Johnson and, of course, Ryan. Replacing Paul Ryan with Democrat Rob Zerban is something we should all think about contributing to-- except those of us who don't find it appalling that Ryan continues to support massive taxpayer subsidies for some of the world’s most profitable companies-- as well as the biggest polluters-- while so many middle-class American families are hurting in this down economy.

Paul Krugman doesn't suffer Ryan gladly and early on pointed out that he has absolutely nothing of any value to offer in any debates about the economy or about fiscal policy. In fact we're coming up on the one year anniversary of Krugman letting NY Times readers know that "the Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future." Yesterday he got down into the fiscal weeds on a topic Ryan's been doing a lot of spouting on-- ignorant, misleading spouting, as it turns out: interest rates.
The Very Serious position has been that government borrowing will drive up rates, crowd out private investment, and impede recovery. A Keynes-Hicks analysis, by contrast, says that when you’re in a liquidity trap, even large government borrowing won’t drive up rates — and hence won’t crowd out private investment. In fact, it will promote private investment by raising capacity utilization and giving firms more reason to expand.

What we usually get in response to this seemingly decisive data are a series of excuses-- most recently, that rates were low because the Fed was buying all the bonds. Well, that program has ended, and interest rates are still low.

But wait: the crowding out types have another answer, namely, to just ignore the facts.

Which, brings us, as it so often does, right to Janesville dunce, Paul Ryan. As usual, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about and as usual, the House Budget Committee chairman's got it all ass backwards: "Stop corny crony capitalism in the regulatory state, get spending under control to show that we’re getting our borrowing under control so we take pressure off the interest rates, reform the taxes. And our budget says, through base boarding, getting rid of loopholes in exchange for lowering rates, have a top tax rate of 25 percent so we’re more globally competitive, a tutorial system on corporations and sound money, sound monetary policy so our dollar maintains its reliable store of value. Those four foundations, real sensible regulatory system, spending cuts and controls to get our debt under control, sound money and tax reform, those are the things I think we need to do, the foundations for economic growth. There’s no excuse to do something else or there’s no substitute for it. This Keynesian borrow, spend and tax isn’t working and it won’t work." Wrong, wrong, wrong... and you can use those three words to sum up most of what Ryan has had to say about the economy and about fiscal policy since the small town p.r. hack who never had an honest job in his entire life declared himself an economic expert.

Don't forget... laughing at Ryan-- or even hating him-- isn't going to defeat him and it isn't going to elect Rob Zerban. Can you help?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Defense of Paul Ryan's Morally Repugnant Life Style of $350 Bottled Wines. is an extremist mix of right wing whining and regurgitated propaganda.

So it should come as no surprise then that they would throw their two cents into defending Paul Ryan’s wining and dining extravaganza, where he casually paid for a $350 bottle of wine. 

The following conservative Townhall screed dredges up a long list of childish excuses; he didn't know, where do you draw the line, it’ll hurt the producers of expensive wine, and it’ll dictate ethical standards for those living the high life but who also want to force austere economic living standards on everyone else.

But even more bizarre; the articles writer Erika Johnsen actually compares Ryan’s bad behavior with billionaire liberals espousing the idea of spreading the wealth, while living rich. Uh, but they’re willing to give more of their money to everyone else vs. keeping all their money and screw everyone else.  

Johnsen has a token defense of Scott Walker’s grand opening mistake as governor that exposed his win-at-all-costs one party take over of the state, paid for by big corporate money.

“Remember last February, when some guy posing as a Koch brother prank called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a pathetic, lowly attempt to discredit him? Well, this is kind of like that, only dumber.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Wednesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis.

So, according to this 'exposé,' it is morally inappropriate for a Congressman proposing entitlement reform to drink expensive wine - well, where the heck do you draw that line? Should he only consume bread and water for the rest of his life? Should he sew his own suits out of burlap? And for that matter, who can, in good taste, drink expensive wine? Do the producers (often small business owners) of expensive wine deserve to be put out of business for producing such a frivolous product? Trying to dictate an ethical standard for how people can and cannot spend their own private disposable income is a very slippery socialist slope.

Ryan decided it would behoove him not to allow his friends to pick up the entire tab. I won't go into the long list of millionaire-liberals who spout the ideals of wealth redistribution while keeping servants and wearing high-end jewelry - it's too discouraging.

This article was cheap, vulgar, and just plain stupid…”

The wealthy conservative elite should be free to do anything they want with their accumulated wealth, that's true. But that doesn't mean they have one stitch of morel or ethical responsibility to their country or fellow Americans. After all, isn't that the reason why we have churches, charities, neighborhood car washes to help pay someones medical care and philanthropists? 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ryan Lives It Up Being Seen In DC Power Bistro

Budget-hawk, but free-spender Ryan and his buddies downed two, $350 bottles of wine at a swanky French restaurant near Capitol Hill - - so it sure does sound like he and the locale are a long way from home in blue-collar Janesville.

I put the details over at my blog.  A tidbit:
An award-winning destination restaurant in Downtown Washington, DC, Bistro Bis is the place to savor and be seen - where Capitol Hill powerbrokers and politicians enjoy innovative interpretations of classic French bistro cuisine.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ryan toasts Medicare cuts with $350 bottles of wine

Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Wednesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis.

Anybody recognize these two economists? They ordered two bottles at $350 a pop, probably while complaining about the cost of your Grandma's Medicare.

More here.

Saving Medicare and Medicaid: Ryan missing in action

The Capital Times editorial, in brief:
Paul Ryan says he wants to "save" Medicare and Medicaid.

But the House Budget Committee chairman can't even be bothered to sign on with his fellow Republicans to save Medicare and Medicaid for his home state of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Health Care Association put together a bipartisan letter voicing concern to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about a proposal that would cut reimbursement to skilled nursing facilities immediately by 12.8 percent for Fiscal Year 2012. Tom Moore, WHCA's executive director, says the proposal could devastate "Wisconsin's nursing facilities, the quality of care they provide, and the number of jobs they contribute could make the difference in finding a more measured approach to their Medicare payment system."

And Wisconsin's congressional representatives, from both parties, have stepped up to challenge the proposal.

Signing the letter were Democratic House members Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind and Republicans Sean Duffy, Tom Petri and Reid Ribble.
Not signing were Republican Reps. James Sensenbrenner -- and Paul Ryan.
Read the editorial.

Forget Roger Clemens, Let's Put Paul Ryan on Trial!

Paul Ryan (R- Wall St.) likes to tell anyone who will listen that we have the highest (or second highest) corporate tax rate in the world.

H/T Bob Cesca:

The United States actually has the second LOWEST corporate tax rate in the world.

Ryan may actually be telling the truth, if it weren’t for the countless number of loopholes corporations use to avoid paying the majority of their taxes or, in some cases, pay no taxes at all. The only way people like America's account Paul Ryan says they will agree to closing some of those loopholes is if they are offset by tax-cuts in other areas. This is what he calls being \"revenue neutral\".

So the question I have is when Paul Ryan goes on TV and says what he says is he lying or just has not done the research to find out the truth. If he is lying, will he end up with the same fate as Anthony Weiner or Roger Clemens?

Cross posted at Blogging Blue

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Is Paul Ryan drinking his own bath water?

That's an intriguing question, asked by Richard K. Barry on The Reaction blog:
I used to work with a very experienced campaign manager, who had a colorful term to describe the phenomenon of politicians or their surrogates actually believing the spin they put on things. This isn't about making a case for something you truly think would be good policy, despite the fact that most don't agree with you.
It's about taking a position that has limited support and believing that the majority must be with you simply because you've fallen in love with your own reasoning or, perhaps, because those in closest proximity are always telling you how right you are.

He used to say, "let's be careful not to drink our own bath water."

I thought of this when I read Greg Sargent's post recently about Paul Ryan being in total denial about how unpopular his Medicare plan is.
More here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Washington Post column says Ryan in "Total Denial" about his plan's unpopularity

Old news to us Wisconsinites, but glad to see a Post columnist matching up Ryan's love for his Medicare plan with multiple polls showing the public's rejection of same - - so finding Ryan guilty of a politiflub.

Here's what Greg Sargent says:
If Paul Ryan really believes what he said about his Medicare plan in this interview with a local Wisconsin TV station, then he is in total denial about how unpopular his proposal really is — and how much of a jam it created for his fellow Republicans:
“Those polls don’t describe it very well. When the plan is described accurately, it actually polls very well,” Ryan claims.
Hmm, or maybe this is just false. [Then Sargent runs through the evidence.]
I put it up on my blog.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Paul Ryan's "It's not just a budget, it's a cause" is a lousy Christian Value.

The Paul Ryan budgets cuts drew a lot of criticism from religious leaders and citizens, who were stunned by the targeted recipients; the poor and middle class. The "look, our books are balanced" dystopian future has awakened many conservative religious voters as well, who don't like what they're seeing.

The fact that the unemployed, poor and middle class, who didn't get us into this mess, are the ones asked to sacrifice everything now has outraged many Christian followers. They find this agenda antithetical to the teachings of their religion. From Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:

Sister Simone Campbell: "It's so chilly to us to watch what's going on in congress about the budget. It's the very safety net that the current budget fight is targeting. And to me this is wrong, it quite frankly is immoral."

Ryan's response, tax cuts encourage investors to create new jobs:

Sister Simone Campbell: "That's just wrong. The wealthy have recovered to pre-recession levels, are they investing in jobs, no."

Paul Ryan's admiration of Ayn Rand is starting, and only starting, to open the religious communities eyes, even those libertarians and small government conservatives. Her anti-religion message, "I'm against God," "yes, I am the creator," everyone for themselves rugged individualism has called into question the end game envisioned by Ryan. Will it be enough to prevent the private takeover of the America? At this point, it's not looking good.

Ryan's New Hope? You believe Obama's actually ending Medicare, Obama lost 6 million jobs, debt ceiling threat not blackmail!!!

Rep. Paul Ryan's in trouble, and he knows it. His wonkish arrogance has turned into hyper demagoguery. This genius not only has no clothes, he's indecently exposing himself as a mind swirling spinmeister and liar. Democratic challenger Rob Zeban has just been offered another gift that keeps on giving.

In a recent interview on Upfront with Mike Gousha, Ryan dared to attribute the recent GOP deceptions about the Affordable Care Act, to the current criticism of his own plan to end Medicare as we know it. Truth verses rationing and death panels.

Since the public has soundly rejected his plan, he is now resorting to the desperate claim Obama is actually ending Medicare, by cutting off the health care industry's subsidized bribes to cover seniors in the Advantage plan.

More, with video links, at Democurmudgeon.

Video: Ryan Facebook protest

More than 700 posts on Paul Ryan's Facebook page during two hour flashmob protest.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Craiglist ads ridicule Ryan, who's desperate for company in July 4 parade

Pssssst -- know anybody willing to be seen with Paul Ryan on the 4th of July in working-class Kenosha?  The Ryan campaign sounds desperate.

Talking Points Memo  reported  that the Ryan campaign is refusing to answer questions about a pathetic email from his campaign, which begged people to “show Paul and the people of Kenosha that he is supported" by walking with him in the parade.

Ryan's desperation is being mocked in Craigslist postings like this one, which Politico reported here.
Third most unpopular Republican politician in the country desperately seeks ANYONE who will stand by him in local Fourth of July Parade. Walking with Congressman Ryan does not guarantee your support of his plan to end Medicare. It is merely the start of the conversation.

Small flags will be provided! Please note that under Ryan's plan for this Sunday's Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade, the flags will not be rationed. They will be distributed through a premium support system.

Parade walkers are also encouraged to start P90X training for the route.
"No matter how much Paul Ryan brags about his own "courage" and "boldness," the fact is he is fundamentally weak and that is because he wrote a budget with Washington lobbyists that ends the guarantee of health care for seniors at the same time he hands over the economy to Wall Street," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Friday. "If I was Paul Ryan, I'd be afraid to show my face in Wisconsin, too."

Bow Before our "leader" President Ryan.

Sure he's a guy that loses his cool pretty easy, and doesn't tolerate fools who disagree with him, but Paul Ryan may be thinking of applying those same father figure qualities as our disciplinarian and chief, President Ryan. Ryan's overused declaration that the people want to follow someone who "leads," may have been a subtle hint he's thinking about it, at least for the past few weeks anyway:

According to the Examiner:
"I can make a little news," said, Steve Hayes, Wednesday night on Fox News Special Report, and then he dropped the bombshell that Paul Ryan "is actively considering a run for the presidency."

" I talked with somebody who is close to Paul Ryan today who had had discussions with him in the past week and a half. He is actively considering a run for the presidency. He's got the same issues that he had before. He likes his place in Congress ... He's worried about running for president and potentially serving as president with young children. Having lost his father at a very young age, it's not a trivial concern.

But before Mitch Daniels said he was not going to run, Paul Ryan was serious when he said, 'I'm not looking at it - I don't want to run for president.' And he was sorta walking away from that kind of decision. Since Mitch Daniels said that he wasn't going to run, I think Paul Ryan has taken a second look."