Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment