Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policymaker of the year indeed. Why not the decade?

A Dubious Achievement Award would be a better fit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

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

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

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

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

Three other Republicans also voted no.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palin Rips Millionaires In Congress For a Life Of Entrenched Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, at least Sarah Palin knows.

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

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

Ryan's bold new plan: Same old same old

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

Are we surprised?

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

Slog is less kind:

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Ryan's mother was a hamster?'

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

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

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

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

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

Person Of The Year?

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Romney Endorses Radical Ryan Budget

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ryan Keeps Pretending Imaginary Health Care Plan Is Real

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

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

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Just shoot me,' constituent tells Ryan

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote From The Gazette Comment Section...

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


Rock Netroots - Janesville Townhall Report

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