Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is Paul Ryan Not Merely A Flimflam Man, But A Fraud As Well?

What the DCCC should have run

Over at DownWithTyranny we've been castigating the DCCC for campaigning against Paul Ryan everywhere in the country-- except WI-1, his own congressional district. Now, for the first time in a decade-- yes, first time in 5 congressional races (even though Obama won the district)-- they've finally put up on medium sized billboard (which doesn't mention Rob Zerban's name and isn't in a place that will be seen by anyone and, in fact, is smack in the middle of Democratic territory anyway). But at least they're not actively sabotaging Rob-- unless you count when DCCC Chair and "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel whispers to major donors not to contribute to his campaign. Anyway, besides the DCCC, DSCC and DNC all attacking Paul Ryan and his dystopic plans for America, half the Democratic candidates running for office are also attacking him. Sunday night, for example, we ran a great OpEd by Carol Shea-Porter, tying Ryan to her own opponent, teabag-idiot Frank Guinta.

I decided to ask some of the Blue America candidates if they'd consider contributing some of their own campaign funds to Rob Zerban. Alan Grayson, who has been raising money like mad for Democratic candidates all over the country, was very straightforward: "The most effective way to beat the Ryan Budget is to beat Paul Ryan in November." I don't want to spoil any surprises though.

The next guy I asked was Dr. Lee Rogers since we were on the phone discussing his call for a single-payer health care system to replace the flawed conservative individual mandate. He informed me that he had already sent Rob a pretty hefty contribution out of his personal funds a couple months ago and that he and Rob have been communicating directly!
Rob Zerban is fighting a difficult fight and truly it's a battle for all of us. I personally contributed to his campaign for that reason. Here I am, a Democratic candidate in California speaking about the Ryan/GOP budget every day to voters and the effect it will have for Americans on Medicare or even veterans. I felt obligated to help Rob in his battle against the author of the "Reverse-Robin Hood" budget. Because if Rob can beat Paul Ryan, I know it will have a national impact.

This kind of thing is right up central Florida candidate Nick Ruiz's alley and he thinks about forging a strong progressive alliance inside and outside Congress all the time:
Liberal and progressive Democrats have a vital lesson to learn about getting things done. Up until now, we've practiced the unproductive rigamarole of "every man for himself." Hence we've appeared to the world like an unorganized morass of jellyfish washing up on the beach, stinging here and there, but accomplishing nothing of recent gravity and import.

This has to change. We have to school like dolphins. One for all and all for one. Each and every one us is important to this movement, and has something vital to contribute to it. But most importantly, we need the numbers. We have to reach a critical mass in the Congress.

Pass a Budget4All? Defend the social safety net? Create jobs? Raise wages and benefits? Tether Wall St. to Main St.? We need new political minds and we need the votes to make this happen. Minds to create legislation and votes to pass that legislation into law. We have little of this at the moment. You know why? Because too many of us refuse to help one another. Whether it's out of fear of retribution by the Democratic establishment, or personal vendettas, or straight-up selfishness. Who knows? In any case, forget about them. Liberal and progressive Democrats need only stick together, and we'll have the power and numbers to get things done, but only if we are willing to let go of the fear that keeps us complicit.

If we play the game by the political establishment's rules-- I guarantee you liberals and progressive Democrats will lose. You'll get the wrong people elected every time. We have to hold each other up. It is the only way we can win-- and if we do this, we will prevail.

Nick's leadership PAC has endorsed Zerban. Yesterday Steve Benen over at Rachel Maddow's blog gave Ryan a little schooling on what the word "misspoke" means-- and how a verbal slip is different from an attempt to deceive or slander.
On Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, insisted that he, not America's military leadership, should be trusted when it comes to Pentagon spending levels. Ryan went on to say that he believes Pentagon leaders may be deliberately misleading Congress about spending cuts that they've requested, but which Ryan does not want to make. A day later, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not at all pleased with the congressman's public comments.

Frightened of getting into a public spat with the Pentagon when his district-- Les Aspin's old district, mind you-- is already turning against him, he backed down and whined that, "like, dude, I totally misspoke, dude." Benen ran a video of Ryan again playing politics with national security and again calling the Pentagon budget "dishonest and dangerous."
Yesterday, Ryan used the identical language. How can someone claim he "totally misspoke" and then say the same thing again?

Ryan still thinks military leaders lied to Congress; he still thinks he knows better than the Pentagon what spending levels are necessary to keep America safe; and he still thinks Congress should give the Defense Department money the Pentagon doesn't want.

The only difference between Thursday and Sunday is that Ryan has stopped attacking U.S. military leaders and started attacking the president. But since it's the same attack, and this is a distinction without a difference, it's laughable for Ryan to say he "misspoke."

And misspeaking is about the only thing Paul Krugman has never accused Ryan of. Krugman may find Ryan a serious threat to America but he doesn't find him a serious intellect, just a lightweight shill for the Wall Street and Insurance Industry interests which have paid for his political career. Yesterday Krugman liked his vision to Pink Slime Economics, an apt analogy. He explains why the Ryan budget is "surely the most fraudulent budget in American history."
And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit-- but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.

And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

So what are we to make of this proposal? Mr. Gleckman calls it a “mystery meat budget,” but he’s being unfair to mystery meat. The truth is that the filler modern food manufacturers add to their products may be disgusting-- think pink slime-- but it nonetheless has nutritional value. Mr. Ryan’s empty promises don’t. You should think of those promises, instead, as a kind of throwback to the 19th century, when unregulated corporations bulked out their bread with plaster of paris and flavored their beer with sulfuric acid.

Come to think of it, that’s precisely the policy era Mr. Ryan and his colleagues are trying to bring back.

So the Ryan budget is a fraud; Mr. Ryan talks loudly about the evils of debt and deficits, but his plan would actually make the deficit bigger even as it inflicted huge pain in the name of deficit reduction. But is his budget really the most fraudulent in American history? Yes, it is.

...What’s going on here? The answer, presumably, is that this is what happens when extremists gain complete control of a party’s discourse: all the rules get thrown out the window. Indeed, the hard right’s grip on the G.O.P. is now so strong that the party is sticking with Mr. Ryan even though it’s paying a significant political price for his assault on Medicare.

Now, the House Republican budget isn’t about to become law as long as President Obama is sitting in the White House. But it has been endorsed by Mr. Romney. And even if Mr. Obama is reelected, the fraudulence of this budget has important implications for future political negotiations.

Bear in mind that the Obama administration spent much of 2011 trying to negotiate a so-called Grand Bargain with Republicans, a bipartisan plan for deficit reduction over the long term. Those negotiations ended up breaking down, and a minor journalistic industry has emerged as reporters try to figure out how the breakdown occurred and who was responsible.

Goal Thermometer But what we learn from the latest Republican budget is that the whole pursuit of a Grand Bargain was a waste of time and political capital. For a lasting budget deal can only work if both parties can be counted on to be both responsible and honest-- and House Republicans have just demonstrated, as clearly as anyone could wish, that they are neither.

Last week Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to blast Ryan and his Wall Street anti-family budget as flying in the face of centuries Judeo-Christian civilization-- which is exactly what Ryan's mentor, Ayn Rand, had in mind for her disciples. "Why does your budget resolution take away the Medicare guarantee?" and quoted Leviticus 19:32, "You shall give due honor and respect to the elderly." Going back to what Alan Grayson said earlier-- and what the DCCC doesn't seem to want to understand, if you're serious about getting rid of the Ryan budget, defeat Paul Ryan in November. And the way to do that is by electing Rob Zerban to represent Wisconsin's first congressional district. You can help accomplish that here.

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