Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Debate: Jason Thigpen vs Paul Ryan

The other day a friend in southeast Wisconsin sent me a reply to a letter he had written to his congressman about Social Security. His congressman is Paul Ryan. It happened just around the time Jason Thigpen had switched parties and decided to run for Congress as a Democrat instead of as a Republican-- primarily because he realized his values weren't compatible with the current bent of the GOP and fit much better with the Democratic Party. Jason's in eastern North Carolina but Ryan is such an icon of what passes for Republican thought on the budget that I asked him if he'd mind responding to Ryan's points. Here then is a former Republican analyzing his old party's basic economic agenda. And below that is Ryan's original letter. If you'd like to help Jason's grassroots campaign, he can use some net roots live here on his ActBlue page.

Fact Over Fiction: Jason Thigpen responds to letter by Paul Ryan addressing constituent concerns over Social Security reform

When first reading Paul Ryan’s response to a constituent inquiry regarding concerns for Social Security reform I felt compelled to respond with more clarity by offering more substance over form. At best I believe more facts are deserved before anyone could render a decision on a matter as important as Social Security.

Like many career politicians, Ryan has offered a slanted perspective on this issue benefiting the special interest groups who continue to support his lifelong campaign efforts against social programs, that he and his fellow multi-millionaire career politician buddies will never use themselves.

So, let’s dispel several myths Congressman Ryan would have you believe:

1.     Social Security is not an entitlement program. Rather, it’s an earned income benefit.
2.     Social Security, according to law, does not contribute to the federal deficit.
3.     Social Security is not in danger. In fact, it has a surplus of over $2.7 Trillion.

Ryan’s proposal to cut Social Security in 2012 was unpopular, where Americans overwhelmingly agreed that making such drastic cuts to programs certain to have dire consequences for all middle and working-class Americans isn’t an acceptable solution. One should ask who is lobbying Congressman Ryan to disregard the needs of his constituents for his own personal and political ambitions. Perhaps the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is assisting him with an onslaught of pre-drafted legislative bills in an attempt to undermine the very process of what representative government should truly be. They can best accomplish this by privatizing Social Security and Medicare, getting rid of minimum wages, the privatization of education, and promote fossil fuel expansion endeavors while destroying environmental regulations.

Trying to leverage such terms as “chained CPI” (chained Consumer Price Index) in hopes of endearing support from folks unaware it’s merely a ploy to reduce what many surmise of the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) as being "too generous." COLAs are the annual increases, based on inflation, recipients of Social Security are supposed to receive even though COLAs have been virtually non-existent in recent years.

Even worse, I find it personally offensive Congressman Ryan would push forth legislation that would not only take away from our seniors, but would also cut the VA benefits from over 3 million veterans. He had no issue voting for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in-site. While he was fighting calories on his P90X workout routine, I was fighting in a war on terror while serving the US Army in Iraq along with nearly 3 million other service-members whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For this career politician to sit here at home pushing an agenda to keep us at war, while also systematically seeking to disparage those who have sacrificed so much to ensure the continued freedoms of our American way of life, is beyond repugnant. It’s shameful. I’d ask him, and any other elected leader sharing his views, to please come with me and truly visit some of the families and service-members who’ve lost so much in order to preserve his freedom to ravage their sorrows with such policies. I’d ask him to explain his proposal to the children of these great men and women.

But there’s no need to worry because there are viable solutions to remedy future concerns for Social Security but it’s not popular to the corporations that have no heartbeat but according to the Supreme Court, are people too.

I believe the three best solutions for resolving concerns over the future solvency of Social Security are:

1.     Congress should keep their hands off Social Security. How about a jobs bill?
2.     Raising the federal minimum wage by a modest amount, whereby more funds are paid into Social Security.
3.     Increase the cap on taxable income for Social Security from 83% to 90%, as it was during President Reagan’s administration, for incomes up to $200,000.

These are practical and reasonable solutions for addressing the future concerns of Social Security. I don't personally believe any cuts to Social Security are acceptable. My sincere hope is that we can work together to ensure Congress addresses the issues and concerns regarding Social Security for all Americans, especially those most affected by it as well as those whom have sacrificed so much for it.

And now the Ryan letter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding efforts to reform Social Security. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your views on this important issue.

You raised some interesting and insightful points regarding Social Security. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, one of my top priorities is to preserve the Social Security safety net and to make sure the program remains solvent for future generations. This critical program provides financial support for more than 54 million beneficiaries. However, the risk to Social Security, driven by demographic changes, is nearer at hand than most acknowledge.

One of the primary looming financial pressures facing Social Security is the aging of the American society. The "Baby Boom" generation has already started to collect their Social Security retirement benefits. As a result, there are fewer workers to support each retiree than when Social Security was created. Increasing life expectancy and the approaching retirement of more "Baby Boomers" continues to put increasing pressure on Social Security each year. Over the next several years, the number of retirees is expected to grow more rapidly than the number of individuals whose taxes will pay for future benefits. Unfortunately, Social Security faces a $9.6 trillion deficit over the next 75 years.

Social Security must be reformed to prevent severe cuts in future benefits. According to the 2013 Social Security Trustees Report, beneficiaries will face a painful 23 percent benefit cut in 2033 when the Trust Funds are exhausted.  At that time, even those who are currently on Social Security-- those now 62 and older-- may experience indiscriminate cuts in benefits at a time when they are increasingly reliant on the program.

There is a bipartisan path forward on Social Security—one that requires all parties first to acknowledge the fiscal realities of this critical program. The budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 that my colleagues on the House Budget Committee and I have put forward,   The Path to   Prosperity , addresses the challenges Social Security is facing and serves as a blueprint for American renewal.

This budget strengthens Social Security by establishing a requirement that policymakers come to the table and enact common-sense reforms to keep the program solvent for current beneficiaries and makes it stronger for future generations. It would build upon President Obama's Fiscal Commission, calling on action to solve the pressing problems Social Security faces by requiring the President to put forward specific ideas on fixing Social Security. It also puts the onus on Congress to offer legislation to ensure the sustainable solvency of this critical program. Both parties must work together to chart a path forward on common-sense reforms, and this budget provides the nation's leaders with the tools to get there.

The problems facing the future of Social Security are real, and the numbers do not lie. We cannot demonize those who offer solutions if we seriously intend to tackle the inevitable solvency of Social Security. Ultimately, we cannot kick the can down the road and let another generation of retirees struggle because Congress failed to act. By addressing these issues now, we can ensure that each individual is given the resources to save for their future in the manor which they see fit. This fiscal crisis is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It is an American problem, and it cannot be solved exclusively using the political ideology of either party. I welcome the long overdue debate regarding how we will leave the next generation with a better America.

I am hopeful that Congress will address the issue of Social Security reform and have a serious discussion on the problems associated with our entitlement programs. If you would like to learn more about the specific reforms proposed by The Path to Prosperity, I would encourage you to visit:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Fake Obamacare Rollout Whiners, A Tom Harkin Snicker

Great retort to the likes of Paul Ryan, from the Iowa Democrat:

Woman at restaurant: The food here is terrible. 
Man at restaurant: And the portions are so small.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Man without Conscience, Paul Ryan, ironically pushing Conscience Clause.

Paul Ryan is at it again.

I've always maintained that the “conscience  clause” is the biggest threat to law and order in this country than most people realize. It leaves a person’s freedoms up to the discretion of another person’s conscience-their belief system, fears and prejudices.

“Laws” passed with a conscience clause neutralizes a meaningful law. It creates a voluntary law, which fits into the conservative view that if it's a law they don’t like, they don’t need to follow it.  

That’s what Paul Ryan is trying to introduce into our society, voluntary laws, allowing others to infringe on the constitutional rights of others. Ryan's conscience clause negates the First Amendment:
MSNBC: There’s been little public talk lately about the so-called “conscience clause” allowing employers to reject birth control coverage for their employees. But according to the Washington Post, Paul Ryan, is still hammering away at it behind closed doors. At the Values Voter Summit, the USCCB’s powerful lobbyist acknowledged that “the only way to get the Senate to deal with” contraception coverage is getting it “attached to must-pass legislation” … When a previous version of the clause, known as the Blunt amendment, died in the Senate in 2012, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski disavowed her vote for the amendment, saying, “Back home, it was being viewed as a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights, on their ability to access contraception.”  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Paul Ryan Government Shutdown!!!

Many articles have been written about the Paul Ryan disappearing act during the government shutdown. It is odd isn't it that he’s nowhere to be seen or heard from. What media bubble has he been able to construct to block reporters out? It’s all so strange.

Ah, but there’s a reason Ryan isn't around; the shutdown was his doing, and he’s tricked the tea party into taking the hit.

Anyone trust this guy to be our president?

A small local Milwaukee publication the Sheppard Express had to make what seems to be an obvious call. Everybody else just got caught up in the media circus:
Americans are rightly outraged that a small group of extreme House Republicans successfully bullied the more rational members of Congress into shutting down the government this week. While we may think these tea partiers are members of the fringe, the sad fact is that one of them is Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan, the powerful chair of the House budget committee.

Ryan voted along party lines to defund and delay Obamacare and shut down the government …
So that's how we got here:
…when the Senate passed its own budget resolution, Politico reported recently that Ryan and the rest of the Republican members of the House refused to negotiate with the Senate. They were waiting for a showdown and a shutdown to get their list of tea party demands written into the budget. Ryan has kept a low profile during all of this mess. He had to vote for the shutdown to retain his tea party credibility, but it’s so wildly unpopular with the general public—and Wall Street, the source of a lot of his campaign dollars—that he doesn’t want to be the face of it in the media. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ryan Opens Townhall Schedule in New Mexico with The Koch Brothers

Fresh with new marching orders from a secret meeting hosted by the Koch brothers in New Mexico, Rep. Paul Ryan returns to our district to host a series of townhall meetings. The schedule for the Rock County area is as follows:

UPDATE: Ryan Town Hall Schedule Posted Below is in Error

Wednesday, August 14

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
The Gathering Place
715 Campus St.

1:45 – 2:30 p.m.
Village Hall
301 Cross St.

3:15 – 4:30 p.m.
City Hall Council Chambers, Room 417
18 North Jackson St. - Paul Ryan's full townhall schedule for August, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole With Paul Ryan And Ayn Rand

Remember when Canter and McCarthy screwed up on the Farm Bill and Boehner had to pull it? It just happened again-- this time with the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development funding bills. The House of Representatives is now officially an out-of-control madhouse. Boehner is just another Member with an agenda, who some Republicans follow and others ignore. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), as far from a "moderate" as you'll find in their crazy caucus, issued the following statement concluding that the conservative sequestration scheme is wrecking the economy and ruining the country and must come to an end.
“The Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development funding bill that was pulled from floor consideration today was the first major attempt by the House to consider and pass an Appropriations bill that funds domestic programs under the austere level delineated under the Budget Control Act and the House budget resolution.

“The bill today reflected the best possible effort, under an open process, to fund programs important to the American people-- including our highway, air and rail systems, housing for our poorest families, and improvements to local communities-- while also making the deep cuts necessary under the current budget cap. In order to abide by sequestration budget levels, this bill cut $4.4 billion below the current, post-sequestration total to a level below what was approved for these programs in 2006-- over seven years ago.

“I am extremely disappointed with the decision to pull the bill from the House calendar today. The prospects for passing this bill in September are bleak at best, given the vote count on passage that was apparent this afternoon. With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very [Ryan] budget it adopted just three months ago. Thus, I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration-- and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts-- must be brought to an end. And, it is also clear that the higher funding levels advocated by the Senate are also simply not achievable in this Congress.

“This Congress must now deal in a productive way to address the nation’s crippling deficits and debt to put our budget back on a sustainable and responsible path. This means that all government programs-- not just those on the discretionary side of the ledger-- must be reduced. Spending reductions in mandatory and entitlement programs, which are the drivers of our deficits and debt, are the most effective way to enact meaningful change in the trajectory of federal spending. The House, Senate and White House must come together as soon as possible on a comprehensive compromise that repeals sequestration, takes the nation off this lurching path from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, reduces our deficits and debt, and provides a realistic topline discretionary spending level to fund the government in a responsible-- and attainable-- way.”
This was a worse mess than the Farm Bill fiasco. The Republicans, as a party, are incapable and/or unwilling to fund anything other than the Military Industrial Establishment that the last plausible Republican President warned them about. They've followed Paul Ryan down a rabbit hole where there is no Social Security, no Medicare and no Medicaid and where everyone worships Ayn Rand. These people are not in the real world-- and they control, more or less, the House of Representatives... and half the state governments, not just in the crazy, secessionist South, but in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. On the federal level, when the House Republicans try using Ryan's fantasy budget to draft actual budgets for actual functions of the government, they fall flat on their faces and... well impossible situations like what happened on Wednesday happen. It's pure nihilism in the real world and if it isn't stopped by the American people at the ballot box next November, or children and grandchildren will curse us to eternity-- and with good reason.

The House Republicans don't have the political will-- even without taking the House or Senate Democrats into account-- to pass any of this Ryan-ordained Randian garbage. There's no way to fund the rest of the government outside the military while keeping faith with Ryan's crackpot budgetary constraints. Even Hal Rogers understands that now. "Unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts must be brought to an end." He's talking about the whole insane edifice Ryan and his Wall Street pals have imposed on America through blackmail and threats. From the Associated Press report on the mess:
As the House measure faltered, a companion bill in the Senate seemed likely to be killed by a GOP filibuster on Thursday for the opposite reason. It breaks the budget limits of sequestration, the automatic cuts required by Washington's failure to strike a bipartisan budget deal.

The twin developments reflect the broader dysfunction in Washington over the budget. All sides want to reverse the crippling sequestration cuts but a partisan impasse over tax increases sought by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies and cuts to so-called mandatory programs like Medicare and food stamps demanded by Republicans shows no signs of breaking.

Congress leaves Washington this week for a five-week vacation; the battle will be rejoined in the fall.

Cuts in the House transportation measure were made deeper by a Republican move to cut an additional $40 billion-plus from domestic programs and transfer the money to the Pentagon. That left the transportation measure $10 billion, or about 18 percent, below the Senate's bill.

...A spokesman for GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California said the Republican majority's top vote counter was confident he would have been able to round up enough votes to pass the bill if there were more time for debate.

The move comes as companion legislation in the Senate may be filibustered to death on Thursday by Republicans because it exceeds budget levels called for under the automatic budget cuts.

"Voting for appropriations legislation that blatantly violates budget reforms already agreed to by both parties moves our country in exactly, exactly the wrong direction," Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

"The collapse of the partisan transportation and housing bill in the House proves that their sequestration-on-steroids bills are unworkable, and that we are going to need a bipartisan deal to replace sequestration," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chief author of the Senate bill. "And while we work toward that, we should pass the bipartisan Senate transportation and housing bill and show our constituents that we are putting them and their communities above partisanship and political games."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Big Money Invented Paul Ryan To Work For Them, Not For Teabaggers

Palin's not happy with the Republican Party Establishment-- and she claims she may be ready to bolt and start one of her own. No one represents that Establishment better than Paul Ryan. Ryan's a packaged product, courtesy of Wall Street and Madison Avenue. That's all he's ever been and Boehner was more than happy to boost him into the chair of the Budget Committee to please the banksters both serve. Recall, if you will, Ryan's first big effort for the criminal banksters who lifted him out of obscurity.
It's September 2008 and the GOP kleptocrats are winding up their last months in office. They wanted to deliver one more grand giveaway to Wall Street-- Henry Paulsen's bankster bailout. One problem: enough Republicans (133 of 'em) joined with Democrats to defeat it 205-228 when it was first brought up for a vote. Wall Street's best-paid shills, Boehner, Cantor and Paul Ryan, mobilized for battle. At the time Ryan, a relatively junior Member, had already taken $1,704,095 in legalistic bribes from Wall Street (a number that has now risen to $$3,303,872, just slightly more than the $3,283,687 the banksters gave Democratic crook Steve Israel). After the defeat in the House, Wall Street and the banksters went bonkers and pulled all Bush's strings and he and Paulsen easily got the monstrosity passed in the House of Lords and then went back to the House with a no less odious version of the bill that they had rejected a few days before. This time it passed 263-171 with not 65, but 91 Republicans joining in. Among the vote switchers who had had their arms twisted by Boehner, Cantor and Ryan plus the official registered Wall Street lobbyists:
 Gresham Barrett (R-SC- $807,723)
 Judy Biggert (R-IL- $1,675,717)
 Charlie Dent (R-PA- $760,872)
 Mary Fallin (R-OK- $336,576)
 Jim Gerlach (R-PA- $1,670,352)
 Pete Hoekstra (R-MI- $295,830)
 Gary Miller (R-CA- $807,688)
 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL- $928,068)
 Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH- $458,449)
 John Shadegg (R-AZ- $1,218,261)
 Lee Terry (R-NE- $1,246,007)
 Patrick Tiberi (R-OH- $2,438,284)

At the time some people wondered if teabaggers and fiscal conservatives would hold a screamingly hypocritical Ryan accountable at all. Yesterday's selection by Romney-- popular with the GOP base-- shows they didn't give a damn. At the time, Ryan was the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. He' had assigned himself the job of spokesperson for fiscal austerity but he had already taken more money from the banksters than any other politician in the history of Wisconsin politics and, as we saw, he voted for the bank bailout not once, but twice. In fact, Ryan was one of the hypocrites exposed in Michael Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story:
In a section of the critically acclaimed examination of how Wall Street insiders diverted hundreds of billions of tax dollars into their accounts, Moore illustrates how the bailout happened. Democratic and Republican members of Congress who do the bidding of the bankers scared their colleagues and the American people into approving a massive bailout of the speculators whose misdeeds created the financial meltdown that shocked the nation in September 2008.

Ryan, the Republican congressman from southeast Wisconsin's hard-pressed 1st District, is shown playing the fear card by telling the House that it had to steer almost $800 million BILLION to Wall Street's sleaziest players.

"If we fail to do the right thing, heaven help us-- if we fail to pass this I fear the worst is yet to come," claimed Ryan.

The statement from the Wisconsin Republican who has positioned himself as a budget specialist in the House played a significant role in securing support for a bailout bill that had not been adequately analyzed and that included few protections against fraud.

Had Ryan used his reputation and his role on key committees to aggressively oppose the bailout, he might have blocked the rush to judgment that economists now say could end up costing American taxpayers trillions of dollars-- and a big chunk of their country's future.

Instead, the GOP establishment's favored point man on fiscal issues claimed-- without benefit of facts, figures or any grounding in economic reality-- that a failure to give the bankers everything they were asking for could bring on a depression.

"This is a Herbert Hoover moment," Ryan told the House, as he reached a fear-mongering crescendo. "(Hoover) made mistakes during the Great Depression-- let's not make those mistakes."

It was a virtuoso performance. Moore was right to highlight it.

The filmmaker has given Wisconsin taxpayers a dramatic illustration of how it came to pass that we are bailing out bankers and billionaires at the same time that auto plants are closing in cities such as Janesville and Kenosha-- both of which are in the 1st District. More importantly, Moore has reminded the voters of southeastern Wisconsin how key members of Congress such as Paul Ryan determined to take care of the speculators on Wall Street rather than working families on Main Street.

Ryan was overjoyed to bail out his bankster/paymasters on Wall Street but when it came to bailing out their victims who, through no fault of their own, were swamped with screwed up mortgages, he changed his tune... drastically. Ryan always stands up for corporations and never stands up for working families.

And Ryan's a gift that keeps on giving. Over the weekend, a far right propaganda website wigged out at the way Ryan's playing Pied Piper to Republican House backbenchers over immigration, just as he did in the TARP battle.
Ryan has been meeting with House conservatives to persuade them that reform of the immigration system, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, is an economic necessity and critical to fixing the nation's fiscal problems.

...Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said the sheer amount of time Ryan has spent talking with House Republicans about budget issues gives him the credibility to court them on immigration reform.

"I would bet you a nickel that he has had more face time with each member than anyone else in the caucus," said Norquist, an influential conservative who also believes immigration reform is vital to the economy.

Republican strategist Whit Ayres calls Ryan "one of the most effective messengers the Republican party has in the House," adding that "If Paul Ryan talks, the House Republicans will listen."

That assessment may be overly optimistic, considering the large number of House Republicans from conservative districts who see legalization of illegal immigrants and offering them a path to eventually become U.S. citizens as an "amnesty."

But Ryan said a Republican-backed amendment to the Senate bill to boost security on the U.S.-Mexico border improves the chances that the House and Senate could ultimately agree on a compromise version of the legislation.

The amendment "brings the Senate bill closer to the House's position and that gives me the belief that we have a better chance at getting this law fixed at the end," he said.

Unlike Republican Senator Marco Rubio, an architect of the Senate immigration bill and a potential rival for Ryan if both seek the presidency, Ryan is not writing legislation or participating in a congressional working group on the issue.

But both Ryan and Rubio face risks from the divisiveness of the immigration issue among Republicans.

Support for immigration reform could cost either man votes with conservatives who will nominate a 2016 Republican candidate. On the other hand, the influence of Hispanic-Americans in U.S. elections could make it harder for any candidate who opposes immigration reform to win the White House.

...In April, Ryan teamed up with his friend, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who is a staunch supporter of immigration reform, to tout the issue at an event in Chicago. He has also co-sponsored immigration reform bills in the past.

Like Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, Ryan talks of the work ethic of immigrants and the high proportion who start businesses. He often tells of his Irish ancestors who fled the potato famine in the 1850s and started a family farm in Wisconsin.

In the interview, he cited future budget deficits as a reason for urgency on immigration reform. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring from the workforce each day, "our economy is going to need more labor in the future," he said.

Ryan said he believes the country needs a system "designed for the economy, to bring workers in to do jobs that people won't do or to bring their high-tech intellectual capital."

The fiscal argument helped fuel momentum for the Senate immigration bill when the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would reduce deficits by $197 billion over a decade because of additional workers paying income and payroll taxes.

If Ryan is worried about a conservative backlash on immigration, he is showing no signs of it.

He has offered to debate anyone who says an "earned" path to citizenship is the equivalent of amnesty.

And the man who has sparred for years with Democrats on budget issues believes he can play a role in getting the two parties to work together. "I think when you get Democrats to listen to Republicans and Republicans to listen to Democrats you can find the common ground," he said.

Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute said Ryan could give other Republicans political cover to support immigration reform. "Nobody is going to question the conservative credentials of Paul Ryan," he said.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Will someone tell Paul Ryan, Government doesn't give us rights, it protects them!!

Rep. Paul Ryan always starts his discussions off with a false premise. Like the one given in this audio clip below; Democrats and liberals think government gives us our rights. The simple truth; Bullshit.

Based on his premise, Ryan wants people to go back to "natural law, natural rights," given to us by God. Ryan clearly thinks government is there to protect and serve business. Natural law would allow corporations to be sued out of existence; Ryan's idea of government is to protect businesses from the risks and consequences under "natural law," creating "access," "opportunity," "upward mobility," and of course great wealth.

The following is just plain scary rhetoric. I don't know how else to describe it. Mr. Full-of-himself "wants to save civil society." Jeeze. Why do I get the feeling our natural rights from God flow exclusively from Ryan policy? And who will retire this ego-maniacal madman? Wisconsin Radio Network:

Ryan says the book will reflect his beliefs in natural law, natural rights, and that the “role of government is to provide a quality of opportunities so that we can make the most of our lives,” something he says Republicans have not done a good enough job of articulating.
Just as bizarre; when asked if his book means a run for president:
He says it’s not right to “cloud my judgment with other personal ambition concerns.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Paul Ryan Goes To Battle For Big Business Again-- This Time Over Immigration

It wasn't a very Tea Party thing for Paul Ryan to do to vote to bail out the Wall Street banksters. In fact, it was even less teabagger-friendly when Ryan joined with Boehner and Cantor between September 29, 2008 and October 3. It was less than a week, but it's the real story of Paul Ryan that Tea Party activists would rather not face.

The long, catastrophic Bush Regime was finally coming to an end and the GOP kleptocrats were winding up their last months in office. They wanted to deliver one more grand giveaway to Wall Street: Henry Paulsen's bankster bailout. One problem: enough Republicans (133 of 'em) joined with Democrats to defeat it 205-228 when it was first brought up for a vote on September 29. Wall Street's best-paid shills, Boehner, Cantor and Ryan, mobilized for battle. At the time Ryan, a relatively junior Member, had already taken $1,704,095 in legalistic bribes from Wall Street (a number that has since then risen to $3,207,247, the most any Wisconsin politicians has ever gotten from Wall Street in history). After the defeat in the House, Wall Street and the banksters went bonkers and pulled all Bush's strings and he and Paulsen easily got the monstrosity passed in the House of Lords and then went back to the House with a no less odious version of the bill that they had rejected a few days before. This time it passed 263-171 with not 65, but 91 Republicans joining in. Among the vote switchers who had had their arms twisted by Boehner, Cantor and Ryan plus the official registered Wall Street lobbyists, not many are still in the House, although all these big bankster bribery recipients are:
Charlie Dent (R-PA- $1,186,979)
Jim Gerlach (R-PA- $2,607,380)
Gary Miller (R-CA- $1,453,324)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL- $1,360,707)
Lee Terry (R-NE- $1,813,883)
Patrick Tiberi (R-OH- $4,100,845)
We all, already know that Wall Street rewards its shill handsomely. This post isn't about that. It's about how Paul Ryan never hesitates to sell out the far right base that idolizes him and sticks its collective head in the sand when presented with the evidence that he's nothing-- and has never been anything-- but a shill for Big Business. That's right-- just a garden variety old timey Republican hack, only younger and not as ugly... on the outside. His latest foray on behalf of his Establishment overlords-- to the dismay of the right-wing base-- is how he's embraced immigration reform, which is popular nationally, hated by the Know Nothing and racists who dominate the Tea Party/GOP activist army... and an absolute must for the big money donors who want the cheap labor.
Call it a marriage of convenience. In the battle to win over the majority of the Republican Party on immigration reform an alliance has been formed between two of the GOP's rising stars. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has endeavored to assist Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in his push to convince the Republican Party to go along with the immigration reform plan proposed by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" group of senators.

Both Rubio and Ryan are widely seen as potential frontrunners for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Although helping the other will boost their profile in the minds of voters, the risks of sitting on the sidelines during this debate are too great to not take action.

Rubio was a member of the Gang of Eight and this immigration reform effort is widely seen as his first major legislative opportunity to build up a profile in the minds of voters toward 2016. After the release of the plan, Rubio has essentially went all in on efforts to convince fellow Republicans to support it, appearing in ads that tout the plans conservative values, especially border security and no social assistance to undocumented immigrants who go through the 13 year process to become legal. Rubio has essentially tied up much of his political capital in this bill and a defeat would be catastrophic for any future higher office ambitions.

But Rubio has faced backlash from fellow Republican legislators, conservative media pundit, and activists over the plan that emerged last week. From being attempted to be linked to the false "ObamaPhone" meme with "MarcoPhones" to dealing with members of his own party making statements that hurt his cause, such as Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) saying that Al Qaeda terrorists, "are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic," Rubio has quite a bit of work ahead of him in convincing his fellow republicans to follow his lead on immigration reform.

Ryan is providing support on the fiscal front. Ryan has acquired a status among the Republican Party as a budget wonk so his involvement will be crucial for a House version of the Senate immigration reform bill to pass. His position on Capitol Hill allows him to vouch for the price tag and economic effects of the bill, providing much needed cover for nervous Republicans who would like his stamp of approval for the vote for the bill.

Ryan has already started taking heat for his position on immigration. Conservative radio host Mark Levin blasted Ryan on his program, saying, "he's creating a record here for himself that makes it very, very hard, in my view, if he chooses to run for president, to vote for him."
Listen to a radical right-wing nutjob Mark Levin, a virulent racist on whom it's beginning to dawn that Ryan is no friend of the right-wing base:

Ryan works, first and foremost, for Big Business. They invented him. They dragged him out of obscurity (or a gym), cleaned him up, taught him how to speak politically, taught him how to convince dumb DC pundits that he knows something about economics, got Boehner to make him Budget Chair and Romney to give him the VP nomination... and they're still investing in making him a governor or senator or president or something where he can further their agenda.

And there is nothing higher on the Big Business agenda, prioritized more highly than low taxes on the rich and low wages for the poor. Low wages for the poor means lots of immigrants. That's always been the irony of the GOP base opposing immigration and the GOP Establishment always trying to move it along. Bush certainly did and today Boehner, Rubio and Ryan are. Obviously, they want to do as much damage as they can to any bill that advocates anything smacking of humanitarian values-- like keeping families together and access to public services-- but the corporations who finance their cushy careers want cheap labor and they expect this guys to deliver-- regardless of what loudmouthed bigots like Mark Levin have to say.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The End of Paul Ryan, Economic Policy Wonk!

I heard The Nation's John Nichols on Sly's afternoon radio show on 93.7 FM yesterday extolling a new study that completely destroys Paul Ryan's argument that because of our troublesome debt to GDP ratio, the country could fall at any time. Fear mongering much?

Nichols thought it was a shame this important story came out at a time when so many huge stories were breaking, because this essentially reverses and changes the nations economic equation. After contributing $15 to save The Nation, I purged the guilt I would normally feel posting so much of Nichols article. You can always read the whole article with the link above:
Paul Ryan’s numbers are wrong. Really wrong. As in: his most urgent argument on behalf of painful cuts to federal programs and the denial of new funding for job creation, education, healthcare and infrastructure repair is based on a coding error.

The paper the House Budget Committee chairman has used as the intellectual and statistical underpinning for his austerity agenda has been significantly discredited by the revelation that essential data was excluded from the study, leading "to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and growth."

The Harvard professors who produced the paper—which Ryan cited as recently as last month—haveacknowledged their mathematical error.

Now, the question is whether Ryan and conservative proponents of austerity will acknowledge that they have built their arguments on a false premise. Ryan positioned himself as an economic "Paul Revere," warning that public debt was stalling out the US economy. This notion was always questioned by savvy economists, such as Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker. But Ryan went all in … preaching an economic gospel based on his absolute certainty that when a country’s debt level tops 90 percent of its gross domestic product, it’s economy will decline and crisis will ensue … how the US economy was heading toward a apocalyptic "tipping point." Ryan has argued that any “pain” suffered by working Americans—in the form of restructurings of Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, post office closures and cuts to state and local aid—was necessary in order to avoid an economic meltdown.

But the 90 percent threshold is a false precipice based on a false premise. In a new paper, "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff," Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst successfully replicate the results … they reached out to Reinhart and Rogoff … to see how Reinhart and Rogoff's data was constructed … First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries.

When they included all the data from all the years and all the countries, the average growth rate of nations with a 90 per cent debt load does not decline by 0.1 percent … Rather, the growth rate is a positive 2.2 per cent. Reinhart acknowledged to the CBC News business reporting team that “Herndon, Ash and Pollin have written a useful paper, finding a significant mistake in one of our figures.”

Ryan must either alter course or confirm the darkest assessments from his critics: that he cribs data from academics not with an eye for accuracy but with a determination to advance his austerity agenda at any cost. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Prince Of Pain

I'm retired now. All the work I do is volunteer work. And the sun never rises before I'm up and working. Before I retired I was the president of TimeWarner's Reprise Records, home of Green Day, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Depeche Mode, Wilco, Fleetwood Mac, Morrissey, Lou Reed, Frank Sinatra, Barenaked Ladies, Cher, Enya, Josh Groban, Erasure, Rickie Lee Jones, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan, and dozens of other artists. I didn't work any harder then than I do now. And before that I started my own independent record company, 415 Records, which I eventually sold to CBS.

I've written a lot about what I did before my days in the record industry. I have a whole blog devoted to my travels around the world and before I started 415 Records I was tamping around Europe, Asia and Africa for nearly seven years, right out of college. I spent time in Essaouira with Jimi Hendrix, smuggled kif out of the Rif Mountains into Spain so I could finance a trip to India, a trip that brought me to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and every corner of India. And eventually settled down in Amsterdam to work in a meditation center. I learned more-- and more useful stuff-- on that sojourn than in my 4 years at university. That trip, in fact, eventually, led to me winding up as president of Reprise, a job that paid 7 figures. But when I washed up in San Francisco in the late '70s my net worth was barely seven dollars.

Maybe I would have found food some other way-- scavenging? a life of crime?-- but without food stamps I would never have been able to start 415 Records and launch my career in the music business. That I know for sure. I've literally paid well over a million dollars in federal income taxes since then. A pretty good investment for the federal government.

Thursday, just after it passed the House by a surprisingly narrow margin, we looked at why the American Catholic Bishops have decried Paul Ryan's heartless budget as anathema to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It's a budget premised on the kind of pain conservatives feel compelled to inflict on poor people "for their own good." In Paul Ryan's world-- a world of grubby inheritance and corporate indulgence and sell-out-- pain will forge "them" into better citizens. In Ryan's world "the social safety net represents a moral threat to Americans’ character, as well as a fiscal threat to their country’s budget."
He’s incessantly warned of luring “able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency” and depriving them “of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” In his latest budget, he introduced his cuts to Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and other support programs for low-income Americans with a warning that the safety net “can create a powerful disincentive to get ahead.”

Included in those cuts is a massive reduction in spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities took a look at the employment situation of Americans who rely on the program, and the reality belies Ryan’s rhetoric:

Among households with children that include an adult who isn’t elderly or disabled, 87 percent of the households receiving SNAP in a given month include an individual who worked in the prior year or will work in the following year.

Ryan actually has an ongoing problem when it comes to honestly representing the SNAP program. Last year, he claimed it was “growing at unsustainable rates”-- a notion that fails to account for the effects of the recession, that fails to differentiate spending in raw dollars from spending as a share of the economy, and which utterly ignores the program’s projected path over the next decade.

Ryan’s budget would cut SNAP spending by $135 billion between now and 2023-- requiring either 12 to 13 million of the 44.7 million people currently on the program to be kicked off, or a reduction in benefits of $190 a month for the poorest of American families by 2019. Nor did the 1996 welfare reform law-- on which Ryan models his current budget proposals-- turn out to be the success he presents it as. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, welfare’s case load grew only 16 percent, even as the numbers of the unemployed increased by 88 percent; an utter failure to keep up with the needs of impoverished Americans.

As for the safety net as a whole, CBPP cites research from the National Bureau of Economic Research that one of every seven Americans would be poor without the safety net, but are above the poverty line because of it-- a total of over 40 million people.
But Ryan and the Republican Party do not believe in investing in the American people. They believing in protecting the gains of the wealthy few-- even though Ryan himself-- like his idol, Ayn Rand-- personally subsisted on government aid for many years when they needed it to scrape by.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Paul Ryan Launches New Budget/Austerity Plan-- Rob Zerban Launches Exploratory Committee

Yesterday, Jerry Nadler (D-NY) was one of several Democrats on the House floor raging against Ryan's extremely ideological Law of the Jungle budget-- what he referred to as "merely a repackaging of the same extreme agenda that the American people rejected last fall."
“The House Republicans’ budget would again try to end Medicare as we know it by replacing the guarantee of health coverage with a private voucher program that would reduce benefits. This throws seniors back onto the mercy of the private insurance market, while every year giving them less and less of the health benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

"The Republican budget would not only make permanent the arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts known as ‘sequestration,’ it would go further-- making even more savage cuts to domestic programs. Critical social services like food stamps, college assistance for low-income families, Section 8 housing, home heating assistance, and Medicaid-- all would face drastic cuts. Under the Republican proposal, our transportation investments would be cut by 20% over the next 10 years, exacerbating the challenges posed by our outdated roads, bridges, and airports. The bill also completely eliminates support for PBS, NPR, AmeriCorps, and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

"The Republican budget makes all of these cuts while refusing to cut a dime of military spending. What’s worse, the Republican plan actually reverses planned reductions to military spending by increasing cuts to vital social programs-- a callously unfair proposal that will have terrible consequences for millions of American families.

"To add insult to injury, the bill before us today would make sweeping, regressive changes to the tax code which would raise taxes on middle class families by up to $3,000. Millionaires, however, would actually see a tax cut that averages $245,000 a year. This is just wrong. Working families should never have to pay more just so the rich can pay less, which is just one more reason why we must defeat this bill.

"According to the Economic Policy Institute, the net effect of all of these policies would decrease GDP by 1.7%, resulting in 2 million jobs lost in 2014 alone. If budgets are truly a reflection of our values, then what does it say about the priorities of House Republicans when their budget increases health care costs for seniors, cuts 2 million jobs, and hits middle class families with a tax increase in order to subsidize another tax cut for the rich?"
And just as Ryan was introducing his toxic Austerity Agenda, Cyprus' new right-wing government was verging on the brink of social collapse for adopting their own version of the Ryan Roadmap and... better news... Ryan's 2012 opponent, Rob Zerban announced the formation of an exploratory committee. (In other words... he's running against Ryan again, hopefully, this time with the support of the DCCC, which stood in implacable opposition to anyone taking on Ryan in 2012.) Last year, even with DCCC hostility, Zerban gave Ryan the closest challenge of his Congressional career-- and shaved nearly 20 points off Ryan's average victory margin, even while Ryan was on the national news almost everyday as part of the Romney presidential ticket. It was the closest 2012 Congressional election in Wisconsin and caused Paul Ryan to lose his home ward, his home town, and his home county. Rob:
"Since the election, I have been inundated with phone calls and emails from people all over the First District urging me to come forward again to give the people of Southeast Wisconsin a viable alternative to Paul Ryan. I've been listening to people from Janesville to Racine talk about their need for jobs and economic security, good schools and fair pay, and a strong social safety net for the hardships life sometimes throws our way. The formation of this exploratory committee is simply a formalizing of that process of listening to my friends and neighbors.

"My hope is that, over the next few months, we will begin to have a conversation about what the people of the Wisconsin's First District really want: a secure future, not federal austerity."
A poll released Monday by the very pro-Republican Rasmussen bunch shows Ryan's approval rating sinking like a stone. What a difference a day makes! Last August fully half the voters had a favorable impression of Ryan and less than a third was through him. Now only 35% of likely voters said they had a favorable impression of him, while 54% said they viewed him negatively. Even Republicans-- who once thought Ryan could do no wrong and backed him with a stunning 83% approval-- are not nearly as sold on the bill of good he's peddling. Only a slim majority (52%) of Republican voters approve.

Ryan's toxic budget passed this morning 221-207. Even more interesting than every single Democrat voting NO-- even the worst right-wing shills in the party (like Kirkpatrick, Matheson, Barrow, Negrete McLeod, Schrader and McIntyre)-- is that 10 Republicans voted against it. The Republicans were a mixture of Libertarians, mainstream conservatives and insane neo-fascists who found Ryan "too moderate" (like the 2 crackpot psychopaths competing for the open Georgia Senate seat, Broun and Gingrey). Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, obviously both voted against it. They issued a joint statement: "Budgets are about choices, and the Back to Work Budget chooses investing in America’s working families. The Republican Ryan budget ignores the results of the 2012 elections and protects the world’s biggest corporations at working families’ expense. The country needs jobs right now, not a budget that takes away health care and gives massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires."

Although Ryan's detractors include many on the lunatic fringe-- like the aforementioned lunatics from Georgia-- the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was horrified by Ryan's jihad against the poor. Although Ryan makes a show of trying to portray himself as a good Catholic, he long ago tossed Jesus' message aside for the admittedly anti-Christian greed-and-selfishness preachings of his favorite childhood story teller, Ayn Rand. Watch:

In twin letters sent to the House and Senate, the bishops said they “support the goal of reducing future unsustainable deficits, but insist that this worthy goal be pursued in ways that protect poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad.”

The bishops blasted the Ryan budget as failing to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs like food stamps that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

...The bishops said the revamped plan would “drastically cut” spending by $800 billion over 10 years.

“This figure is very concerning, since 70 percent of the spending in this budget category goes for programs to help poor and vulnerable people,” they wrote.

The bishops warned the Ryan budget would likely slash safety net programs likes Pell Grants, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.

Ryan first drew the ire of the bishops last year when he said his Catholic faith helped shape his budget plan.

He said that by accelerating the debt crisis, President Obama’s policies will be more damaging to the poor. Ryan also said the USCCB doesn’t represent the views of all Catholic bishops.

The USCCB shot back, saying the officials who penned the congressional letters were elected to represent the bishops on policy matters at the national level.
After you watch Rand trying to whitewash the Robber Barons during her 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, take a look at the clip below from the History Channel:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Holy Crap Paul Ryan would like to have a Closed Door, Big Government Authority.

Damn those public debates. Conservative voters apparently don’t need to know how and why laws were passed, they just need to agree with them. There, that was easy.

Defending policy and answering questions from voters is so messy, time consuming and way too pubic for Paul Ryan. People might actually learn something, and who knows, change their mind. From CNN:
Rep. Paul Ryan: "Now that the president is implementing his agenda, we'll see that the benefits are far less than advertised." He urged party members to take their disagreements behind closed doors and "challenge the left, not each other." "A healthy debate is a good and needed thing. We can deliberate in private without fighting in public," Ryan said.
So behind closed door fights, debates and disagreements is what the founding fathers envisioned as a representative government? I kind of missed the part were the voters had a say in their decisions.

But in the market place of idea's, the public should have a chance to determine which side they feel more comfortable with. It may also run counter to Ryan's goal of top down control, by eliminating healthy and moderating fights with each other, even questioning a politicians motives when necessary...but as Ryan points out, "We can't let that happen." 
jsonline: Ryan said conservatives should not be baited into “playing the villain” against Obama in the president's second term, or driven to distraction by him. "We can’t get rattled,” he said. "He’ll try to get us to fight with each other – to question each other’s motives – so we don’t challenge him … We can’t let that happen. We have to be smart."
UPDATE: I just found this interesting conflict: The conference where Ryan made many of these comments featured a panel discussion that basically whined and complained about the very things Ryan offered up. Yikes, did anybody else notice this?
jsonline: A conference on the future of conservatism: During panel discussions at the event, some conservative analysts faulted their side for "choking off debate" within the GOP and demanding too much ideological conformity. Some faulted the party for failing to more aggressively court voters outside the party's base. Some urged the party to speak more directly to bread-and-butter, populist concerns such as the cost of education and health care, and chastised the GOP for using harsh and unfriendly rhetoric on issues such as immigration. Some complained that with a few exceptions, Republican members of Congress wasn't generating new policy ideas. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ryan's Country Club appearance says a lot, too bad his Mysterious detailed Plan for Medicare and Taxes doesn't.

Thank god, we’re finally blessed with the presence of Paul Ryan again. He’s been away you know, licking his wounds from a tough, brutal presidential campaign. Can you image how exhausted he must have felt? Ryan’s recuperation, from November to January 13, ended when he mustered up enough strength to appear before his constituents at a town hall…I’m sorry, a country club to rub shoulders with the average working stiffs who can't seem to get enough of his anti-government rhetoric.
Journal Times: Despite voting for the contentious fiscal cliff package that raised tax rates, it was clear Sunday that Ryan’s status among his TEA Party supporters hadn't diminished. 
Because to rabid low information tea party voters, Republican fiscal policy plays second fiddle to power, guns and hating liberals. They're still not asking for a detailed plan on health care reform:
Ryan lambasted the Affordable Care Act’s complexity and effectiveness, and predicted that it would eventually fail. “I think this thing is going to collapse under its own weight because it’s not sustainable. It’s sickly, and it cannot survive because it’s such a poorly drafted law.”
Of course Ryan failed to mention the wrench thrown into the system by uncooperative Governors and Republican state legislatures who refuse to obey federal law passed by congress.
Ryan said he favors a consumer-directed health care system driven by free-market competition.
What Ryan never mentions is we already have a free market system, that’s why we’re getting crushed by the massive increases in cost. Ryan’s plan goes one step further though by removing the basic requirements of health care providers, meaning Americans will essentially be buying junk policies filled with legalese that pretty much exempts everything. Now that's competition. 

But Ryan saved the biggest load of BS for last; the promise of a detailed plan:
He has similar plans to “show ... in legislative detail” alternatives on income tax reform and Medicare reform.
Here’s my challenge; let’s see the plan, and the CBO analysis. That’s all. How easy is that? But low information tea party voters can’t be bothered with such wonkish details, after all, they’re already too busy planning their new American revolution against a tyrannical U.S. government.