Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ryan's constant complaints about no budget exposed as phony

Paul Ryan complains, almost on a daily basis, that it is now more than 1,000 days since the U.S. Senate passed a federal budget. He makes it sound like dereliction of duty, and it plays pretty well with Fox News and other media outlets.

He must have been surprised when the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, covering his recent visit to its city, did some homework and included this in its story by McLean Bennett:

Senate Democrats have contested Ryan's and other Republicans' claims they haven't approved a budget in so long.

"That is just absolutely wrong," Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said in a recent speech, refuting claims the Senate hasn't passed a budget in more than 2½ years. (A video of Conrad's speech is posted to the Senate Budget Committee's website, budget.senate.gov. Conrad chairs that committee.)

In his speech, Conrad noted senators in August approved what was known as the Budget Control Act.

"The Budget Control Act contains the budget for this year and for next year," Conrad said.

Bennett committed an act of journalism, actually doing some reporting instead of just stenography. Perhaps it will inspire others to do likewise.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ryan: If it's legal, whatever corporations do is moral

Crooks and Liars writes:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested on Sunday that anything corporations do is moral as long as they follow the law.
Fox News host Chris Wallace asked the House Budget Committee chairman if Republican presidential candidates should be criticizing each other over the way they made their money and handled their personal finances.

"I don't think so," Ryan replied. "We need to defend the morality of the free enterprise system and upward mobility. We need to defend the morality of a system in American that says you are free to take risks, to make money, to create jobs and to do it however you want to so long as it's legal. That's something we should be proud of."
More, and video, here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fox News + Paul Ryan + Dollar Bill Birthday Cake = Unforgettable Rich Boy Image

My jaw dropped when Chris Wallace presented a cake adorned with a green dollar sign to Rep. Paul Ryan. How unbelievably appropriate, and what a Kodak moment for his Democratic opponent Rob Zerban.

What in gods name were they thinking? Let them eat cake.

Here's another take on it, from Mediaite site: Chris Wallace terrifies Paul Ryan with a birthday cake.

Here's the screen capture for those who want to pass this mind searing image along to others.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ryan, Republicans ready to stake election on Medicare. Yahoo!

More good news for Democrats:

The NY Times reports that Medicare will be a big issue in this fall's Congressional races, and Paul Ryan and House Republicans are ready to pass another budget that ends Medicare as we know it for coming generations.

It is an unpopular idea, despite some tweaks by Ryan in his original plan, but he isn't shying away from it:
..But in an interview, Mr. Ryan said that Republicans would try to push a similar budget plan through the House this spring. Asked if it would include similar changes in Medicare, Mr. Ryan said, “Yes, absolutely.”
“Not one member thinks we should backtrack on these ideas,” Mr. Ryan said after listening to his colleagues at the annual retreat of House Republicans in Baltimore last week.
Democrats see the Ryan plan as a political gift. They relish the opportunity to bash it again on the House floor and at campaign events.
As well they should.

Read the whole story here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Paul Ryan Pushing For Tax Hikes On The Middle-Class

Politiscoop Excerpt: (Sept. 2011)
MADISON-Paul Ryan, author of the plan to end Medicare, went on Fox News this weekend to advocate for tax hikes on the middle class.

Ryan, proponent of tax cuts for billionaires, opposes payroll tax cuts for middle class workers and told his Fox News cheerleaders that it was "class warfare" to suggest his advocacy for only the richest Americans was unfair.

Huff Post Excerpt:
(Sept. 2011)
He also said he opposes the president's proposal to require millionaires to pay the same tax rate as the middle class, known as the Buffett plan. "Class warfare might make for good politics, but it makes for rotten economics," Ryan said.

"If Paul Ryan wants to claim class warfare, we certainly know which class he's signed up to serve." -- Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paul ($350 a bottle) Ryan hosting fundraiser -- at Racine wine shop!

You'd think that Paul Ryan, after being embarrassed last year to be caught drinking $350 bottles of wine in a DC watering hole with a couple of "economists," would stay away from the stuff.

But he's hosting a fundraiser for State Sen. Van Wangaard, who's facing a recall election -- at a Racine wine shop.

Tickets are only $125, which should leave a slight profit if you get four glasses out of a bottle.  Or maybe they won't be serving the good stuff.

Root River Siren has the details.

Paul Ryan Gets one well deserved Cold Shoulder for attending MLK Awards at Gateway College..

The title of the YouTube video read, “Al Levie refuses award from Paul Ryan.

Al Levie walked away from Paul Ryan. Levie refused to go along with Ryan's hypocritical side show on stage, after he received the MLK Humanitarian Award.
Al Levie is one of three recipients of Gateway Technical College's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards bestowed Monday and made these remarks in his acceptance speech. Levie is a social studies teacher at Horlick High School and is on the state executive board of Voces de la Frontera and the Racine chapter of the NAACP. He is an advisor to the student youth group Youth Empowered in the Struggle.

Here's a part of Levie's speech:
Lincoln saw the rights of workers superseding the rights of capital. He said labor is prior to, and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

The struggle for equality is not only a civil rights struggle; it is an economic justice struggle. There is no wealth problem in this country only a distribution problem. Our society needs to reorder its priorities and meet human need instead of fostering individual human greed.

As a recipient of Gateway Technical College's Humanitarian Award, I pledge to redouble my efforts in the struggle for social and economic justice. Concretely, that means fighting to roll back the power of the corporate elite in our society, making the ultra-rich pay their fair share in taxes, fighting for adequate funding for our public schools, restoring collective bargaining for public employees, fair and humane immigration reform, and restoring the voting rights for all people living within our state and country. That is what democracy looks like.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ryan And Boehner Want A Second Shot At Destroying Medicare And Medicaid

Not a day goes by on Twitter when the GOP noise machine doesn't puke out something like this (these are all from yesterday morning):

The biggest problem with passing the budget, of course, is that the GOP is using it to push forward their dangerous and radical right-wing social agenda (as even Newt Gingrich readily admitted, calling Ryan's budget "right-wing social engineering"; see video above). The Republicans seem convinced this is a winning issue for them-- ending Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, Boehner and Ryan are threatening to insert it into this year's budget again. Boehner was on Fox News Sunday citing how Ryan and Democrat Ron Wyden have a "bipartisan" idea of how to push forward the Republican Party's dangerous right-wing social agenda.

At a GOP strategy session on Friday, Ryan told the Republican House Members, many of whom are scared to death that trying to destroy Medicare may not prove to be a good idea in an election year, “We’re not backing off on the kinds of reforms that we’ve advocated, but we have to write it... We’ve done more to normalize the idea of premium support than anything at all. We’re confident that these are the right policies. There’s an emerging bipartisan consensus that’s occurring on doing premium support reform to Medicare is the best way to save Medicare." By bipartisan he means Wyden and a motley crew of reactionary and despised Blue Dogs.

Rob Zerban, Ryan's Democratic opponent, is far more in touch with what the American people are looking for than Ron Wyden and the mangy Blue Dogs. "Paul Ryan just announced he is taking a second swing at Medicare," writes Zerban. "His 'new' plan is devastating to Medicare as we know it, but the big difference is that he found one Democrat to help him!"
Here is what has been happening-- Paul Ryan has introduced a new plan to start the privatization of Medicare. He convinced a "Democrat," Ron Wyden, to join in this effort. Ron Wyden, like Paul Ryan, has raked in an alarming amount of lobbyist money from the health insurance industry.

Make no mistake-- this is no bipartisan effort! Almost all Democrats, including President Obama, are strongly opposed to this plan.

Here is what the White House Communications Director had to say: [this scheme could] "cause the traditional Medicare program to "wither on the vine" because it would raise premiums, forcing many seniors to leave traditional Medicare and join private plans. It would shift costs from the government to seniors. At the end of the day, this plan would end Medicare as we know if for millions of seniors."

It is clear what this plan is designed to do. Both Paul Ryan and Wyden admit that it will likely not save anyone any money! The only upside is a big giveaway to private insurance companies at the expense of our seniors. This is sham bipartisanship and the voters of Wisconsin are not fooled!

Ryan has to be stopped. Wall Street has every intention of making him president someday. The DCCC has studiously ignored him-- if not protected him-- for a decade. Rob Zerban is taking him on with zero help from "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel, the chair of the DCCC. Zerban just forced Ryan to switch his position and back away from supporting SOPA. He deserves our help, and you can give him some right here at the ActBlue Stop Paul Ryan page. (I should add that Ryan has probably taken more sleazy, corporate cash than any other Member of the House and currently has $4.6 million sitting in his campaign warchest, virtually all of it from corporate special interests.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ryan chided for watching idly as Newt makes gains

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post's Right Turn blog writes to Paul Ryan and other prominent Republicans who have been watching the presidential race from the sidelines. She can understand them not running she says; that's hard to do and likely to fail, since only one person can win.

...And endorsing? Why that requires an expenditure of political capital, some risk taking. Your guy could lose, and there where would you be?
But here’s the thing: The voters in their infinite wisdom have just given a huge boost to perhaps the only GOP candidate who could shift the spotlight from President Obama to himself, alienate virtually all independent voters, lose more than 40 states and put the House majority in jeopardy...   
It seems, gentlemen, it’s time to get off your . . . er . . . time to get off the bench and into the game
It's especially hard to understand Ryan not speaking up about Gingrich (who is, of course, the candidate she was talking about, since it was the Newtster who trashed Ryan's pet plan to end Medicare, calling it "right-wing social engineering" before being forced to recant.

Read the rest of Rubin's letter here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Good news for Dems: Ryan, GOP sticking with unpopular Medicare plan

Democrats should be happy to hear that House Republicans, led by Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, are committed to trying to end Medicare as we know it again in their 2012 budget.  ABC News:
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says Republicans have no plans to shy away from controversial efforts to reform entitlements when the House GOP drafts its budget this year, including transforming Medicare into a premium-support system.
“We’re not backing off on the kinds of reforms that we’ve advocated, but we have to write it,” Paul said during a break at the GOP’s issues conference in Baltimore today. “We’ve done more to normalize the idea of premium support than anything at all. We’re confident that these are the right policies. There’s an emerging bipartisan consensus that’s occurring on doing premium support reform to Medicare is the best way to save Medicare.”
There is, of course, no such emerging consensus. Ryan got one Democrat to fall for his latest version of the plan and co-sponsor it with him. But Democrats would be nuts to support Ryan's plan, which is political poison.

More from Reuters:
Ryan said he wanted his budget plan to offer voters an alternative vision to the "cradle-to-grave welfare state" that he says Democratic President Barack Obama is promoting.
The House Republican budget resolution will contain reforms to Medicare, the healthcare program for Americans 62 and over, such as providing subsidies to help recipients pay for private insurance, based on their wealth and medical needs.
 "We haven't written it yet, but we're not backing off on the kinds of reforms we've advocated," Ryan told reporters at a retreat for House Republicans in Baltimore.
The Obama White House must be celebrating.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Romney co-signs Ryan's suicide note'

David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, on The Daily Beast:

President Obama would dearly like to do it again [accuse Republicans of wanting to get rid of Medicare] in 2012. But this time, Republicans made it easy for him. Obama does not have to accuse them of having a secret plan to eliminate Medicare. In 2011, all but four House Republicans and all but five Senate Republicans voted for a very public plan to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from Americans younger than age 55.
The Paul Ryan plan would instead offer future retirees support to buy a private insurance plan—with the amount of the support rising at the rate of general inflation. If health care costs continue to rise during the next three decades at the same pace as in the past three decades, then—under this proposal—today’s 30-somethings would receive support sufficient to cover about 25 percent of their Medicare costs, leaving them to find the other 75 percent themselves. The money saved would be applied to balance the budget and finance a big tax cut, reducing the top income-tax rate to 28 percent from the otherwise scheduled 39.6 percent.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer at the time expressed worry that the Ryan plan might prove a “suicide note.
And at first Mitt Romney shrewdly kept his distance. “I appreciate what Paul Ryan has done,” Romney said on May 27, 2011, and cautiously added, “I’m going to have my own plan.” Asked whether he’d sign the plan, Romney demurred: “That’s the kind of speculation that is getting the cart ahead of the horse.
A week later, Romney’s resistance was weakening. Asked June 2, 2011, whether he would sign the Ryan plan if it comes to him, he said yes, but added again, “I’m going to have my own plan.”
Voters don’t care if politicians are rich. What they want to know is, what will this rich politician do for me? Or to me?
Through the fall, Romney yielded more and more ground to pressure from congressional Republicans entranced by Ryan’s vision.
In November, Romney did at last release that Medicare plan of his own. Structurally, the Romney plan resembled Ryan’s. But it remained vague on the key feature: how much premium support would future seniors get?
Then Gingrich began to rise in the polls, the first adversary to seriously worry the Romney campaign. To protect his right flank, Romney in December for the first time expressed unequivocal support for the Ryan plan—and the end of the Medicare guarantee for those now under 55.
Would a President Romney do such a thing? Would Congress really ultimately go along with it? Probably not and certainly not. But can President Obama credibly allege that a President Romney might do it? And will those allegations exact an electoral cost?
If the answers to those questions prove to be “yes,” conservative critics will blame Romney for his “weakness” as a candidate. But the real weakness will be that Romney acceded to those conservatives’ pressure to co-sign Paul Ryan’s suicide note.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

'The Bloodying of PolitiFact' -- and the facts

Trudy Lieberman, in a piece entitled, "The Bloodying of PolitiFact" on the Columbia Journalism Review website, looks at the controversy over PolitiFact's decision to make Democrats claims that Paul Ryan's plan would end Medicare as the "lie of the year."

Let's cut to the chase. Lieberman writes:

The fact is Republicans by supporting Ryan’s voucher plan did essentially vote to end Medicare.
You can read the analysis here.

She also has a bad word for "snarky little blog posts" on the subject, so we'll leave it at that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who loves ya more, Paulie? Romney or Santorum?

Mitt Romney worships Paul Ryan. Can Rick Santorum possibly love Ryan more?

Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:
Santorum,  the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has, for months now, aggressively backed the Medicare changes that House budget chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R) rolled out in April. That would be the plan that proposed privatizing the program and giving qualified recipients federal money to purchase health coverage. The plan was a political flop. Polls found that voters weren’t exactly keen to scrap the entitlement program as it exists now.
 Most Republican candidates approached the Ryan plan with caution, if not outright criticism. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t mince words when he described it as right-wing social engineering.” Mitt Romney, while praising the principles of the Ryan plan, ultimately proposed another version of Medicare reform, which would have a government-run plan compete against private options. And that looks a lot like the plan that Ryan, partnered with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), rolled out last month.

But all along, Santorum has stood out in the GOP field as the Ryan plan’s biggest cheerleader. The day after Ryan rolled out his original plan, Santorum praised the House budget chairman’s ideas.
“I commend Chairman Ryan’s long-term budget proposal that tackles entitlement programs, particularly his proposed reforms of the Medicaid program,” Santorum said in a statement. “I also believe the Republicans’ approach to reforming Medicare is right on target to streamline the program, reduce waste and allow future Medicare beneficiaries to have more of a say in the needs of their benefits with a market driven approach.” 
Santorum has endorsed the Ryan-Wyden plan, too. But he has also argued against the exact policy feature that makes the plan politically palatable: the guarantee that the government-run Medicare of today will still be around tomorrow. The day before the Iowa caucus, Santorum criticized the idea of public option in the Medicare program during a town hall speech. “I have a problem with the public option part that Ron Wyden has insisted on,” Santorum told Iowa voters. 
Democrats can only hope that a Ryan lover is the nominee. In fact, Ryan himself in the second spot on the ticket would really spotlight his discredited plan. Dems would be happy to hear him explain it for a couple of months next fall.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

' Romney Worships 2011's False Idol: Paul Ryan'

John Nichols in The Nation:

Paul Ryan’s ideas reached their sell-by date in 2011, as tens of millions of Americans recognized that his proposals would permanently damage and ultimate destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The centerpiece of Mitt Romney’s advertising in Iowa (and New Hampshire) is an attempt to associate the candidate’s economic agenda with House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future.” (AP Photos) But as the year came to a close and his rancid schemes were starting to putrefy, Ryan suddenly found a new buyer: Mitt Romney.

Read more here.

Paul Ryan-- A Career Built On A Tissue Of Lies By And For The One Percent

Let them eat cake pops

I'm not sure if it was Abby Melamed or Bonnie Simmons, but one of them told me when I was working at KSAN that the reason for playlists is because on the very day that a dj got completely sick of hearing a song he had played a gazillion times... well, on that day, the audience was hearing it for the very first time. The Republicans "get" that much better than the Democrats and they repeat their mindless and simplistic talking points ad nauseum, while progressives would rather debate complex, lofty principles... that don't fit on bumper stickers. We've been writing about the danger of Paul Ryan for 4 long years. Yesterday, though, Paul Rosenberg, did a searing essay on the role of lies in Ryan's career that every DWT reader should take a look at. Like any competent look at Ryan, it starts with the premise that he's a robotic pawn of the one percent and that without an ability to manipulate a lazy media with almost no ability for critical thought he would have no career. Rosenberg writes that "Last week, in an act of profound deception, the American 'fact-checking' organisation, PolitiFact, chose a true statement as its 'Lie of the Year.'" He goes on to show how misguided PolitFact is with this assertion that "Ryan's plan 'is necessary because of the programme's soaring costs.' In fact, the problem isn't Medicare per se, it's the entire cost structure of American medicine as a whole, which is roughly twice the per capita cost of healthcare spending in other advanced countries-- even those that have 50 per cent more people aged 65+ than the US has." 
Indeed, as Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson explained just over a year ago, in their paper "A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession," all of the US long-term federal debt is due to just three oligopoly sectors: the military-industrial complex (the backbone of empire, with bases all around the world and almost half the world's military spending), the medical-industrial complex (with twice the per capita costs of other systems), and the financial sector (which has recently cost trillions of dollars in lost wealth and economic activity).

All three of these are enormous cash cows for the one per cent, and equally enormous cost-centres for the 99 per cent. Without the costs imposed by lack of competition, regulation and accountability in these sectors, the US would have no long-term debt problem. We would be paying it down, rather than running it up.

This connects with yet another Paul Ryan "pants on fire" lie: that his budget plan is what it claims to be-- a deficit reduction plan. It's not. In the next decade-- the maximum time-frame in which budget projections are normally done-- the Ryan Plan produces just $55bn in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, according to an analysis from the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities. This is because $4.2tn in tax cuts (heavily tilted toward the rich) almost entirely offsets $4.3tn in spending cuts (largely targeting low- and middle-income Americans). 

Reductions in healthcare spending from ending Medicare kick in just after that, and-- as Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted on his blog last April, "spending on everything other than healthcare and Social Security… is projected to fall in half as a share of GDP in just 10 years, and eventually to fall to levels comparable to those during the Coolidge administration-- even as the US presumably maintains a post-isolationism-level military force."

In short, the Ryan Plan is really an extreme (and extremely unrealistic) government-slashing plan. That is its goal and purpose. Calling it a deficit-reduction plan is a pants-on-fire lie, which PolitiFact would surely recognise as such, if it were actually in the fact-checking business, as it misleadingly claims to be. In sharp contrast, it should be noted, the Congressional Progressive Caucus "People's Budget" plan would balance the budget by 2022, with a $31bn surplus. But there's a bipartisan one per cent consensus to utterly ignore it, as if it did not even exist as a possibility, much less a publicly offered plan.

Instead of Ferguson and Johnson's realistic analysis of special interest waste, the bipartisan one per cent conventional wisdom in Washington is exactly the opposite: the problem is "wasteful government spending" on programmes that benefit the vast majority of the American people: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, not to mention investments in infrastructure, education, developing green energy, etc. This basic obfuscation and inversion of the politics of public debt is best thought of not as a lie-- a discrete, isolated speech act-- but as a fraud-- a continuous, ongoing practice to deceive, which is all about misleading people with half-truths, rather than outright lying to them. After all, outright lies can attract unwanted, sharply-focused negative attention. Far better to keep things far blurrier, with half-truths that take forever to analyse and argue.

PolitiFact's "lie of the year" this year is just one more part of that fraud. Drastic cuts to Medicare are not needed. A drastic expansion, to include all Americans of all ages, would be far more cost-effective for bringing the US' healthcare costs in line with the rest of the advanced industrial world. But that's the last thing that the one per cent special interests in Washington want. They don't even want you to consider that possibility. And PolitiFact is here to help them with that, presenting broadly-shared one per cent opinions as if they were facts, and not even realising what it is doing in the process.

...If Americans cannot cast off lies that directly steal money from their own pockets, and steal their children's future from them, what chance is there confronting lies that only harm them indirectly? What chance is there with lies told in their name? With lies purportedly told in their interest? Lies told for their own benefit? What chance is there to stop being, at bottom, a people of the lie? What chance to once more become a people of the dream?

Welcome to Paul Ryan's crabbed little world-- a world he wants to impose on your children, whose role is serfdom or indentured servitude. It's Mitt Romney's world as well, of course. A lot needs to be done to stop that-- starting this year with replacing Ryan with Rob Zerban. You can help do that by contributing $5 or $10 to Zerban's campaign at that link. To read the rest of this post-- it's pretty long-- go to the original at DownWithTyranny.

Another award for Ryan: Most discredited budget plan of the year

Paul Ryan continues to rack up the awards for worst of 2011. On the heels of Scam Artist of the Year,  the latest, from credit.com on the most discredited ideas of the year:

Most disCredited Budget Reform Plan

Paul Ryan’s budget takes the cake in this category, and eats it too. “We need to get rid of all these accounting tricks, all these budget gimmicks, and we’ve got to attack the drivers of our debt,” said Ryan very earnestly, reminiscent of Our Gang’s Alfalfa without the cowlick. However, upon a not very close examination it became completely obvious that Ryan’s budget was itself filled with accounting tricks and budget gimmicks, some supplied by the conservative Heritage Foundation and others resulting from blatant mischaracterization of Congressional Budget Office assessments.

Worse, instead of attacking the drivers of the debt, it seemed to mostly attack drivers of postal trucks, by more or less eliminating Social Security and Medicare, as they have been understood for generations, for people who are today under 55 years of age. Ryan’s budget became laughable, like the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (which purported to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy), only faster. Even Newt Gingrich, in a rare burst of candor, referred to it as “right-wing social engineering.” In any case by the end of the year, the Ryan being talked about most was an NFL quarterback, not a congressman from Wisconsin.

More here.