Saturday, March 31, 2012

Did Ayn Rand say that...

...yes! Does this jibe with Paul Ryan's economic austerity plan?
It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master. Ayn Rand (ein Rand)
Paul Ryan revealed.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On the Military Budget Cuts, Ryan thinks: "We don't think the generals are giving us their true advice."

So far, Paul Ryan came out today and endorsed Mitt Romney and didn't rule out an interest in the vice presidential spot. But get a load of the following video clip.

According to Ryan, all the generals are lying, or are being coerced into saying something Obama wanted them to say.
Paul Ryan: "We don't think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget."
The "we" is really Paul Ryan.

Ryan repeats "What I believe..." and "I think..." a number of times. What is clear;  it doesn't matter what other people say, because what really matters is only what Paul Ryan believes or thinks.

At least one general wrote back to Ryan and told him what he believes. Here's Rachel Maddow:

Ryan and Romney: 'That's Amore'

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NY Times debate: Is Ryan budget viable policy, or just a political gesture?

The Ryan budget is the subject of an online discussion in the NY Times's "Room for Debate" series. Here's how the Times introduces it:
Representative Paul Ryan’s budget may have as many opponents on the right as on the left. One set of critics sees the proposal as “Robin Hood in reverse,” a way to cut millionaires’ taxes and “take health insurance away from tens of millions of people, while effectively eliminating the federal government except for entitlements and defense spending.” 
The other group faulting the plan considers it weak and vague, an election-year promise to cut taxes and increase defense spending, without a concrete idea of how to do this while lowering the deficit. Is the House Republicans’ budget a viable policy proposal? Or just a political gesture?
Read the discussion among five debaters  here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New round of reviews for Ryan's budget: "Total garbage'

The early reviews of Paul Ryan's 2012 budget plan were dreadful, and the second round isn't any better. A quick roundup:

David Grant, of the Christian Science Monitor, says Ryan learned a few things after his 2011 budget ran into so much flak and frightened Republican candidates:
Ryan 2011 sounded like a graduate thesis on statistical steroids. Ryan 2012 is like an 80-page campaign commercial.
Dean Baker, writing for Huffington Post, says Ryan's budget isn't worthless; it can always serve as a bad example:
By throwing a piece of total garbage on the table and pretending it is a real budget plan, he allowed us to see who in Washington is serious about the budget and who just says things that will push their agenda. 
It is easy to see that Ryan himself could not possibly be serious about the document he put out as a "Path to Prosperity."
And Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post agrees that Ryan's not serious:
There’s no one quite like Paul Ryan out there. All of his budgetary bluff and bluster, which he fails to back up with actual numbers and actual choices, while simultaneously insisting that his proposals be recognized as courageous and unusually serious — no one else dares attempt such a thing.
The amazing thing is that House Republicans will no doubt pass it, safe in knowing it will never become law, then blame the Democrats in the Senate for not passing a budget.

Paul Ryan: Boy genius or big windbag? You decide.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ryan "path to prosperity" actually increases national debt

... and, increases it much more than Obama's own, far less draconian proposals. From, which quotes an analysis by Center for American Progress Tax and Budget Policy Director Michael Linden:

But the House budget’s entire claim to deficit reduction is built on the foundation of those fantasy revenue levels. Without them, the debt goes up, not down. In fact, with all the House budget’s tax cuts properly accounted for, revenue would average just 15.3 percent of GDP from 2013 through 2022, not 18.3 percent. The result: deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.

The national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022. By comparison, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, released in February, would stabilize the debt by 2015, and bring it down to 76 percent by 2022.
As Linden notes, the GOP’s “debt reduction” isn’t just based on fantasy levels of revenue — it’s based on “massive, unrealistic” spending cuts as well...

More here

Budget punishes those in poverty, exposes Paul Ryan's phony focus on dignity

Greg Kaufmann of the Nation:
 “Promoting the natural rights and the inherent dignity of the individual must be the central focus of all government.”
That’s what Congressman Paul Ryan wrote earlier this month in an exclusive commentary for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. This week, he revealed exactly where his laser-like focus on dignity would lead this nation... 
Mr. Ryan’s focus on dignity… means a cut in food stamps of $133 billion over ten years, even though 76 percent of participating households include a child, senior or disabled person, nearly half of all recipients are children and 40 percent of single mothers use food stamps to help feed their families.   
Mr. Ryan’s focus on dignity… means the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and attacking Medicaid with his block-granting light saber. The repeal results in at least 33 million people losing their healthcare... 
Mr. Ryan’s focus on dignity… means not only extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy but handing them an additional $3 trillion in tax cuts to boot. If he just extended the Bush tax cuts, but nixed the Don’t Worry Rich People, Ryan Loves You additional tax cuts—that alone would pay for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid cuts, the SNAP cuts and domestic discretionary spending cuts.
All told, Ryan hands out about $4.4 trillion in tax cuts that primarily benefit the very best off, and pays for it with $4.15 trillion in spending cuts to programs that primarily benefit the poor and middle class.
There's lots more. Read it and weep.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

There Is An Alternative To The Ryan-Romney Pauperization Budget

The DCCC, as expected, hasn't taken us up on our challenge to match a $5,000 check to Rob Zerban, the candidate running to defeat Paul Ryan. Blue America has already contributed over $5,000 to Rob's campaign but we agreed to write a $5,000 PAC check if the DCCC put their money where their mouth is-- they're big about talking smack about GOP villains like Ryan, Boehner and Cantor but never support their opponents and try to actually beat them. They just whine. And "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel... no interest in beating Paul Ryan whatsoever. Ryan's his kinda guy-- and they both take money from the same corrupt corporate sources. Paul Krugman, on the other hand, he's still telling the truth about Ryan and his toxic agenda. Friday:
[H]is plan is really about transferring money from the poor to the rich, with no credible deficit reduction at all... But leaving aside the predictable right-wing cheerleaders, it looks as if the emperor’s nakedness is now common knowledge.

The predictable right-wing cheerleaders may be confused about what to do regarding Ryan's "new" budget, but they can make a lot of noise. Romney, the putative head of the party-- let's face it, all these running around is just to make it seem dramatic and exciting and help raise money-- seems vaguely disoriented by Ryan's assertiveness on behalf of the Wall Street titans who finance both their careers. Maybe he's confused but Romney insisted on Wisconsin radio Friday that Ryan's plan "does not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly ... It instead preserves Medicare and preserves Social Security." He's wrong, whether confused or just lying again.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means. This stands a core principle of President Obama's fiscal commission on its head and violates basic principles of fairness.

While giving a massive tax break to the wealthy, the Ryan budget plan Romney is so fond of slashes funding for Medicaid, food stamps, and other for low-income programs, nearly all of which Ryan's plan would eliminate over the next couple of decades.

As the CBPP's Robert Greenstein put it, "[T]he Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation's poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured." He added that Ryan's plan "would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure."

If this doesn't "balance the budget on the backs of the poor," for crying out loud, what exactly would such a budget plan look like?

As for "preserving" Medicare, the Ryan plan that Romney supports would turn Medicare into a voucher program, scrapping the guaranteed benefit altogether; weaken Medicare solvency; and bring back the Medicare Part D prescription drug "donut-hole."

Predictably enough, early on in his brilliant book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About The Economy, Joshua Holland dealt with Romney's dishonest "roadmap," the foundation of the budget Romney was attempting to defend. Holland pointed to an analysis of the Ayn Rand-inspired roadmap by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center: “The Roadmap’s tax provisions would be highly regressive compared with the current tax system.” If the Roadmap were enacted, the bottom 80 percent of the economic ladder would see their after-tax incomes remain about the same, those in the top 1 percent of the economic heap would see theirs shoot up by 26 percent, and the incomes of those in the top tenth of the top 1 percent would increase by 36 percent. The result? According to the Tax Policy Center’s figures, “The share of total taxes paid by the bottom 80 percent would rise from 35 percent to 42 percent,
while the share paid by the top 1 percent would fall by nearly half from 25 percent to 13.5 percent.”

Putting it even more starkly, Holland explains that "Ryan’s proposal would replace the surety of Social Security with privatized accounts held by Wall Street brokerage firms (these firms, in
turn, would gain a fat new stream of fees and have lobbied for the scheme for years)."

A couple of chapters on, Holland is done with Ryan but talking about one of Ryan's favorite topics: so-called "free" markets, something he insists is the basic for a budget that would destroy the middle class and pauperize more than half the families in America.
Perhaps the central and most enduring myth of conservative economics is that there exists an organically functioning “free market.” Conservatives like to portray themselves as self-reliant actors content to brave the cutthroat world of unregulated capitalism and let the chips fall where they may. And they like to portray liberals as timid, looking to the state to be their protective “nanny.”

But economist Dean Baker, the codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explained why that’s a myth. “What the conservatives have done is they’ve rigged the deck,” he told me. “They’ve made sure that certain people come out ahead, that income flows upward, and that other people are put at a disadvantage-- and these things are built into the rules of the system. And then what they want to do-- in talking about ‘free markets’-- is they want to kick back and say, ‘No, no, no; those are the rules, and we can’t talk about them.’”

According to the dominant narrative, the free market may have some flaws, but it is ultimately such a dynamic force that the meddling of pasty government bureaucrats, no matter how well intentioned, can only throw a wrench in the works and ultimately screw us all.

The kernel of truth behind the mythology is that the free market’s opposite-- the centrally planned economy-- has indeed proved disastrous. It’s pretty clear that economies in which entrepreneurs have the ability to start new businesses, take risks on new ventures, and hopefully come up with a better mousetrap fare significantly better than do those that lack the
relative freedom of liberal capitalism.

From that little nugget of truth, a number of commonly held myths have arisen. First, conservatives conflate the kind of public interest regulations that one finds in all liberal democracies with the central planning that’s helped doom North Koreans to decades of destitution and famine. The reality is that although central planning has been a demonstrable failure, regulation in the public interest is absolutely necessary for markets to work. Greed may be a factor that motivates people to work hard, but unchecked greed-- unconstrained by regulations that protect the public interest-- is a disastrous force. As Robert Pollin, the codirector of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, put it, “It is time to recognize that unregulated financial markets always have, and always will, cause financial crises. There are no historical exceptions to this observation at all. This point has to be grasped.”

Second, listening to the free-marketeers, one might imagine that markets are like mushrooms: organic entities that would grow just fine without the intervention of a human hand. That may have been the case when there were actual physical markets where people came to trade sheep and chickens. But when we speak of the modern “market”-- this complex system for distributing the fruits of a society’s economic output-- we’re talking about an entity created by the government, with rules established by the government.

Goal Thermometer And it’s the rules of the game, much more than some unseen but all-knowing “hidden hand,” that ultimately determine who wins and who loses.

Yes, the law of the Jungle-- which, of course, is very much what Ryan's-- and Romney's-- Wall Street financiers long for... the freedom to exploit everyone else for their own private interests. The alternative isn't the DCCC and their nagging e-mails soliciting donations for Blue Dogs and other conservative hacks and corrupt careerists. The alternative, the one chance we finally have to defeat Paul Ryan and end his political career, is Rob Zerban. Please consider helping his cause by clicking on the thermometer... and doing what you can.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reviews on Ryan 'mystery meat' budget are not kind

The reviews are in on Paul Ryan's 2013 budget. If it were a Broadway play, it would be closing tonight.

A Christian Science Monitor column by Howard Gleckman calls it Ryan's "mystery meat budget" saying he "airily promises both trillions of dollars in tax cuts and a nearly balanced budget within a decade, but never says how he’d get there."

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones says:
Paul Ryan has released the latest Republican budget, and it's a blizzard of numbers, gimmicks, weird comparisons, and obfuscation. It's no more serious than any of Ryan's other budget proposals, no matter how many PowerPoint slides he includes... 
Dana Milbank, in the Washington Post, says Ryan's idea is to help the poor by hurting them:
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.
In an editorial, the Post calls Ryan's plan "dangerous and intentionally vague."

The Post also says Democrats want to know how much taxpayer money was spent to produce those slick videos with Ryan to try to sell his budget.  So far, no one's saying.

No wonder Democrats are celebrating.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dems launch 'Medicare March' to expose madness in Ryan's new budget

  Politico reports: 
Pegged to the release of Paul Ryan's new budget this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will launch a new paid and grassroots campaign today called "Medicare March" in 41 Republican districts. The message is that the new Republican budget puts "Millionaires over Medicare." The first phase will use automated phone calls to patch voters through to their congressman's office so they can try pressuring them to vote against the budget. A new microsite gives info on upcoming town hall meeting locations to get Democrats to go and talk about Medicare. At the "Medicare Action Center," voters can do "Medicare March Madness" brackets: [If you haven't been following, Jake Sherman takes a look this morning at the GOP thinking behind pushing another politically-risky budget:]
SAMPLE SCRIPT - THE PATCH-THROUGH PHONE CALL: "Hi, this is Anne from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Charlie Bass and House Republicans' newest scheme to end Medicare. Republicans in Washington have a new budget that chooses millionaires over Medicare. One independent analysis found that the plan would 'shift substantial costs to beneficiaries' and 'lead to the demise of traditional Medicare.' Congressman Charlie Bass has the wrong priorities...We all agree Washington needs to cut spending, but it should be done the right way, not on the backs of seniors. Press 1 to be connected to Congressman Bass's office and tell him to protect Medicare for seniors, not tax breaks for Millionaires." 
Members being targeted with calls include three Wisconsin Republicans -- Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble, and Paul Ryan himself.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A challenge to DCCC to actually help Rob Zerban defeat Paul Ryan

Howie Klein, of the Down With Tyranny blog and Blue America PAC, calls out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for failing to help Rob Zerban in his underdog campaign to defeat Paul Ryan:
The DCCC loves using Republican cartoonish arch-villains as whipping boys. They're always sending out press releases and even putting together ads attacking the worst GOP figures, particularly Cantor, Boehner and Ryan. But they don't actually do anything about defeating any of them at the polls.... 
And this year, when Ryan finally does have a serious opponent, Rob Zerban, what does the DCCC do? Kick back and issue press releases about how awful Paul Ryan's Medicare-killing plans are-- to the media everywhere in America. But take on Ryan directly? Or even help Zerban go after Ryan? Don't be silly....  
I challenge the DCCC to help Rob Zerban actually beat Paul Ryan and put an end to the gravest threat facing the American middle class. If the DCCC writes a check to Zerban's campaign this week for $5,000, Blue America will match it, dollar for dollar. Come on, big shots. What about you, Israel? Crowley? Wasserman Schultz? Let's see a DCCC check for Rob Zerban's campaign to actually put an end to Ryan's career instead of all the bullshit sending petitions to Republicans so they have something to laugh about.
Tough talk. How about it, DCCC?

Read it all here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Penny-pinching Ryan spends your tax money on self-promotional budget video

Penny-pinching Paul Ryan is so worried about government spending that he's spent some of your hard-earned money on this political video to push the Republican agenda and attack President Obama and the Democrats.

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post calls it, "heavy on theatrics, light on specifics."

When they come, we won't like the specifics, which are tailored to please the most conservative members of the House GOP caucus, and which will renege on budget agreements Ryan and the GOP made last year, slashing spending by as much as $19-billion.

Thursday night, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted Ryan for reportedly planning once again to propose changes to Medicare and for using “a taxpayer funded self-promotional video” to criticize Democrats for the nation’s fiscal woes.

“Ryan and House Republicans are responsible for getting our country into this debt crisis and now want seniors to be the first to sacrifice to get us out,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement Thursday night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Poor Paul Ryan: First $350 wine, and now $4 gasoline

Poor Paul Ryan. He has to pay $350 a bottle for wine, and now it costs more than $75 to fill up his gas-guzzler. What next?

By the way, his story of not being able to fill his tank on a credit card sounds vaguely familiar. Is this recycled from an earlier year?

Paul Mulshine in the New Jersey Star Ledger says Ryan doesn't seem to understand how the free market works.

But what does Rycan care, as long as he and his GOP cronies can blame it all on President Obama?

Here's Mulshine:
...[I]magine that the U.S. really did have a goal of achieving energy independence. Say goodbye to that big SUV, congressman. You won't be able to afford it on your salary. Gas prices would have to double because of the massive taxes imposed to discourage consumption. That's what the British did, and it worked like a charm - assuming of course you don't mind $8-a-gallon gas and small, fuel-efficient vehicles.
But it's one or the other. If you want to drive a big vehicle, then just tell the voters there's nothing particularly bad about importing oil. We import a lot of other products as well. 

But if you want to drive a big SUV on ski trips, don't whine when the world price for oil rises. You're going to have to import a lot of it to keep that gas-guzzler on the road.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

May 25, 2011-- Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan And The Conservative Consensus

I can't find that old video of President Obama referring to Paul Ryan as "serious" and giving Village credibility to his corporate-written harebrained schemes to reverse the New Deal, destroy Medicare and privatize Social Security. It was one of the first indications I had after the 2008 election that Obama was in way over his head. Paul Krugman's 2010 columns on Ryan's ignorance and unseriousness helped put the lie to Obama's foolish-- and presumably now regretted-- assertion. Krugman's classic Flimflam Man OpEd:
One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans. You might have thought, given past experience, that D.C. insiders would be on their guard against conservatives with grandiose plans. But no: as long as someone on the right claims to have bold new proposals, he’s hailed as an innovative thinker. And nobody checks his arithmetic.

Which brings me to the innovative thinker du jour: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, the Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.

...So why have so many in Washington, especially in the news media, been taken in by this flimflam? It’s not just inability to do the math, although that’s part of it. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power-- the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes.

But they don’t. The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.

Has Bill Clinton been taken in too? Or is he part of the scam? Last week we saw Clinton endorsing one of the most corrupt conservatives running for Congress anywhere, Maryland multimillionaire loan shark, John Delaney. Want to feel sick to your stomach? Just watch this video on Clinton offering to help Ryan with his plans to kill Medicare the day after Democrats won a Republican seat in upstate New York based almost entirely on opposing Ryan's Medicare plans:

It's less than a minute long, caught surreptitiously on someone's cell phone... but it speaks volumes about the corporate money-driven conservative consensus that rules Washington, a consensus that allowed Clinton and Rahm Emanuel to succeed in passing George H.W. Bush's tragic NAFTA legislation and that allowed Obama to continue George W. Bush's policy of bailing out criminal banksters-- instead of jailing them. That's why Blue America is a progressive PAC, not a Democratic Party PAC and it's why you'll see us fighting against corrupt conservatives regardless of political party. Aside from Ryan, our primary targets right now, are a Republican corporate whore in California, Buck McKeon, and a Democratic corporate whore in Pennsylvania, Blue Dog Tim Holden. Corrupt members of DC's conservative consensus are frantic to save both their necks. Their constituents are having second thoughts. And as for the Flimflam Man himself... he has his very own Blue America page, Stop Paul Ryan. Have you visited it lately?

You can read the rest of this post at DownWithTyranny but, let me warn you, there are no more goofy pictures of Ryan there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Ryan ready to renege on budget agreement, risk government shutdown, to satisfy extremists?

Is Paul Ryan ready to cave in to the extremists in his caucus (even more extreme than he!) and renege on a budget deal the House Republicans agreed to last summer, even if it means shutting down the government?
That's an unanswered question so far, but it's beginning to look more likely that the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs and the GOP controls, will back out of the agreement.

Talking Points Memo reports:
The House GOP faces a trying dilemma. Leaders want to stick by federal spending levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act — better known to most as the debt-limit deal. But they’re having a hard time corralling conservative members, who want to cut much deeper into domestic programs. Passing a budget with lower spending caps would risk binding their appropriators to those levels — an outcome Senate Democrats will reject, and which could easily lead to an election-season government shutdown fight this September. The third option is to not pass a budget at all, which would be an embarrassment for House Republicans who have bashed Dems consistently for months for not passing a taxing-and-spending plan of their own...
Republican leaders have been chewing this over with their members behind closed doors. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Tuesday that there’s a deep-seated desire for “fiscal sanity” in his caucus, while Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted he doesn’t know where the GOP will ultimately come down on the spending caps, according to Roll Call.
One reason to cave in committee, one GOP staffer told Roll Call, is to save Ryan some embarrassment:
“It doesn’t get passed if there’s absolutely no concessions to conservatives,” said an aide to a RSC member. “There will be at least some deal to get it out of committee ... [and] save them the embarrassment of Paul Ryan being defeated in committee.”
That's leadership, Paul Ryan style.

Monday, March 5, 2012

'Zombie-eyed granny starver' Ryan doesn't want to discuss social issues

Charles Pierce of The Politics Blog:

Pity poor zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan. There he was, being a serious man of ideas and being all policy intellectualish, and dying to lay out a precise plan for two decades of granny-starving, and suddenly, all anybody wanted to talk about [on CBS This Morning] was lady parts and what should be done about them...

But, in respect to Paul Ryan, let's talk again about his budget, the one that the CBO laughed at, the one that will burn Medicare down to the ground and paint "Medicare" on the urn holding its ashes, the one that was partly responsible for at least one lost GOP House seat, the one that had his fellow Republicans running for cover back home, and the one that dropped his approval rating back home like a stone dropped into a well. Personally, I think they might rather talk about birth control.