Posts Tagged ‘The Ryan Plan’

Fact Checking Ryan

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

 

Well, you gotta give it up to Paul Ryan for a great convention speech. Veteran political reporter Howard Fineman said it was the best speech he has seen at any party convention and that’s a lot of conventions. But if Ryan gets an A for delivery, he gets an F for truthfulness.

Johathan Cohn has a good summary of the 5 major misrepresentations in the speech.

1) The plant that he argued Obama was responsible for letting close was shuttered during the last months of the Bush Administration. Not to mention the fact that (whatever you think about the auto bailout) it’s hard to argue that things would have been better for auto workers across the Rust Belt without it.   

2) Ryan attacked Obama on cuts to Medicare in order to fund Obamacare, but neglected to mention that under the two budgets he authored in the House, he maintains Obama’s cuts in Medicare while simultaneously cutting the benefits that were part of the Affordable Care Act. Ironically, if you’re a real budget hawk, keeping Obama’s cuts to Medicare can be seen as the right thing to do, but (contrary to their rhetoric that it’s responsible) Mitt Romney’s fairytale budget restores the cuts while simultaneously giving more tax cuts to the rich and providing no details on the imaginary deductions that he will eliminate in order to pay for all of these budget busters. 

To be sure, Obama and the Congressional Democrats left themselves wide open to this attack by making those cuts, but they were part of a larger deal expanding benefits under Obama:

Obamacare’s cut to Medicare was a reduction in what the plan pays hospitals and insurance companies. And the hospitals said they could live with those cuts, because Obamacare was simultaneously giving more people health insurance, alleviating the financial burden of charity care.

But that paragraph won’t fit on a bumper sticker, so you can see why Romney’s pollster stated that they “won’t let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers

3) Ryan blamed Obama for the downgrade of the US credit rating, but this ignores that there wouldn’t have been a downgrade if the Republican House of Representatives hadn’t politicized the debate about the debt ceiling in an unprecedented way.

4) Ryan blames Obama for the increase in debt, but the short lived stimulus is a paltry addition to our deficit over the next decade while the Bush budgets are a huge part of this problem if they’re allowed to stand. And guess who voted for those budget’s: Paul Ryan.

Still, Ryan should boost his grade with some extra credit for the giant brass balls he displayed last night with his statement that

We have responsibilities, one to another – we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.

Cohen again:

The rhetoric is stirring—and positively galling. Analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that 62 percent of the cuts in Ryan budget would come from programs that serve low-income people. And that’s assuming he keeps the Obamacare Medicare cuts. If he’s serious about putting that money back into Medicare, the cuts to these programs would have to be even bigger.

Paul Ryan’s a slick guy, and he delivered a good speech. But the Democrats get their rebuttal next week, and they’d be foolish not to point out the many falsehoods in Ryan’s speech and the hypocrisy of this candidacy.

Ryan Pick Is Turning Point for The Campaign

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Mitt Romney’s surprise pick of Paul Ryan to be his running mate may prove to be a significant turning point in the presidential campaign. While many Democrats (including myself) are looking forward to a debate on the plan to gut Medicare that Newt Gingrich called “Right Wing Social Engineering,” fiscal conservatives are excited to have an opportunity for a referendum election that would open up the possibility of a real mandate for their plans to dramatically cut the social safety net and re-distribute the tax burden in this country. Aside from the political consequences, it is clear that Ryan’s nomination offers an opportunity to refocus the country on a debate about the fundamental values that we want America to embody in the decades to come.

Steve Benen commented on Saturday that Democrats are practically giddy over the choice of Ryan. As I wrote previously, the key to Obama’s re-election was to shift the campaign away from a referendum on Barack Obama to a choice between two competing alternatives. The Bain attacks were the first part of this strategy, and with the softening up of Romney complete, Obama had already turned away from the focus on Romney’s business career and towards attacking his fiscal plans for the country. While “Romney Hood’s” own plans provided ample targets for Obama, a significant part of the campaign was to eventually be focused on tying Romney to the Republican Congress and Paul Ryan’s Plan to end the guaranteed health care provided by Medicare and transform the program to a voucher program. With the pick of Ryan, Romney has effectively done the Obama campaign’s work for them.

In the meantime, the Romney camp’s original assumption was that the economy was the number one issue and that a stalled (or slowly growing) economy would effectively turn the country against Barack Obama, and voters would then turn to Romney as a viable alternative just as they turned to Reagan in the last days of the 1980 race. In recent months it has apparently come to the Obama campaign’s attention that Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney is no Reagan: while Mitt Romney’s negatives continued to climb against the backdrop of the unrelenting attacks on his business experience and refusal to release his taxes, Obama largely maintained his standing and seemed to be widening his lead in a number of polls over the last week.

The fact that the usually conservative Mitt Romney campaign made the decision to go with such a high-risk pick  is in itself a tacit admission that their original strategy wasn’t working. As Ezra Klein notes “You don’t make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals favor your candidate. You make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals don’t favor your candidate.”

More importantly,

Ryan upends Romney’s whole strategy. Until now, Romney’s play has been very simple: Don’t get specific. In picking Ryan, he has yoked himself to each and every one of Ryan’s specifics….

It’s not just that Romney now has to defend Ryan’s budget. To some degree, that was always going to be true. What he will now have to defend is everything else Ryan has proposed. Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it’s Romney’s bill to defend. In Florida.

Klein also argues that “the Romney campaign’s decision to pick Ryan (as opposed to Rob Portman of Ohio) is evidence that they feel they need to change the national dynamic, not just pick off a battleground state.” I agree with this sentiment, but there is still the possibility that the electoral college strategy was part of the calculation for Romney. A Romney win in Wisconsin would make Ohio or Virginia must wins for Obama, and a combination of Wisconsin and smaller states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and/or Colorado could become a winning strategy for the Romney campaign. Still, as Chuck Todd pointed out on Meet the Press today, while the Ryan pick moves Wisconsin from lean Democrat to the pure tossup category, it also opens other opportunities for Obama in states with aging populations like Pennsylvania, Florida and Iowa as the campaign turns to a more traditional Democratic fight to save Medicare from (now very real) Republican assaults.

Like Ryan or not, one thing most people seem to agree on is that this is a ballsy pick for Romney. Ryan Lizza wrote that “Romney has made the most daring decision of his political career” and Alex Castellanos’ article on the pick was entitled “Romney mans up”: 

Sometimes… the smartest political thing to do is not the smartest political thing. It is, simply, the right thing for the country. A lot of Republicans and swing voters, as surprised by the Ryan choice as I was, will be energized that Mitt Romney manned-up, got serious, took a political risk for a purpose higher than himself, and chose a VP, not to help him win an election, but to renew our troubled country.

For that reason Ryan may also be brilliant politics. He is a serious, grown up choice when this country, in crisis, needs one.

This too is part of a re-branding strategy: after a campaign in which Romney was (and continues to be) pushed around by the right, his choice to turn into the Obama camp’s line of fire is an attempt to show political courage for one of the first times in his political life and to change the public’s image of him as weak and ineffectual.

Re-branding aside, the Ryan pick offers an important turning point for this campaign.  Mika Brezinski has called this cycle the Seinfeld election: an election campaign about nothing. Despite the high stakes for the country, we have been more focused on Mitt Romney’s taxes, whether he outsourced jobs at Bain, whether contraception should be covered by health insurance plans and whether Obama thinks business owners didn’t build their own business. These issues have their place, but they are peripheral to the debate about what kind of country we are going to have for decades to come.

The Ryan plan is a serious shift in the way our country percieves its responsibilities to the elderly and the less fortunate among us as well as who bears the tax burden in the country. It rightly deserves to be the focus of a debate. Politically speaking, the good news for Mitt Romney is that we’re not talking about his taxes anymore. The bad news is that we’ll now be talking about whether it makes sense to throw Medicare out the window in order to give more tax cuts to the top 2%. But there are political perils for President Obama as well. As the Ryan Budget increasingly occupies the debate, the President will face pressure to offer a realistic plan of his own (not to mention questions about why he hasn’t so far), which could alienate others in the electorate. Ryan provides risks for both sides, but also a potential upside for Americans hungering for a real debate on where we are headed as a country.

GOP Wake Up Call

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Thank You Paul Ryan!

Kathy Hochul waves to the crowd in Williamsville, N.Y. after winning the race in the 26th district. | AP Photo

His plan to end Medicare (which the House Republicans embraced as orthodoxy as they marched off the cliff like lemmings) has been nothing but trouble.

The latest: Republicans lose a special election in the reddest of the New York state House seats.

NY’s 26th District has been a reliable Republican seat for years. In 2008, it went for John McCain while the rest of the state shifted decisively to Barack Obama, and in some recent elections, Republicans have garnered almost 70% of the vote.

Not this year. Kathy Hochul knocked off her Republican opponent in a race that centered on one thing: the Republican’s support for Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare.

This could make for an interesting 2012.

Senate to Vote on Ryan Plan

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Here’s Steve Benen on the Harry Reid’s plan to put the Ryan plan to a vote in the Senate.

Brilliant.

As Jonathan Alter said, if the Democrats can’t hang Ryan’s plan to abolish Medicare around the neck of the Republican party, then they should go into a new business.

Barely anyone is paying attention to the intricacies of the budget debate, and Ryan plan has no chance to pass in the Senate, but the closer it gets to passage, the more people are going to start to pay attention. The Democrats should agree not filibuster this plan, so that it actually gets to the floor and we can have a full debate about whether the Senate wants to ratify the plan the House passed and send the bill to abolish Medicare to the President for his first veto.

Bevan muses about whether conservative Democrats would support it and whether moderate Republicans would. He puts the over/under at five but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see mass defections from Republicans on this bill.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out last week, as one of his first acts in office, Dean Heller, the newly appointed Senator from Nevada will become the only person to vote for the Ryan Plan in both the House and the Senate…Unless he decides to vote against killing Medicare after he voted for it.

What a way to start a re-election campaign in a swing state with a large population of seniors. 

 This should be fun.

Jon Stewart Explains the Ryan Plan

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The Daily Show – Ryan’s Private Savings – Path to Prosperity
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

If you have more than a few minutes, here is the intro.

“Starve The Beast” Unmasked

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Here’s Lawrence O’ Donnell with analysis on Obama’s Wednesday speech.


The real analysis starts at the 2:30 point. O’ Donnell explains how the Republican strategy of “Starve the Beast” got us to the point we are at today. As Reagan said:

You know, we can lecture our children about extravagance until we run out of voice and breath, or we can cure their extravagance by simply reducing their allowance.

O’Donnell continues:

Reducing their allowance. If you’re a conservative republican you can reduce the government’s allowance by cutting taxes, and then sit by and try to watch the democrats preserve their spending programs when they don’t have the money to do it…

“Starve the Beast”…Starve it, cut taxes, don’t collect the money the government needs to run its programs and those programs will then have to be cut. This has been the republican strategy since Reagan. It is the Republican strategy now. If you don’t understand that it is the republican strategy, then you do not understand what you’re up against.

With a nod to Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine,” this is basically an argument that the Republican theories and policies (along with Democratic enabling) basically created this crisis knowing that it would bankrupt the country. Now that the bill for endless tax cuts with no accompanying spending cuts has come due, they tell us that we have no other choice but to dismantle the social programs that Americans have worked decades to build up and maintain.

O’ Donnell, again:

That plan, the Reagan plan, the Starve the Beast plan, controls our governing dialogue today. This is not an accidental legacy of Reagan’s. This was his plan. This didn’t happen because George W. Bush lost his way and forgot to pay for things, it was because George W. Bush faithfully executed the plan.

This is why the Ryan Plan and Obama’s response to it represent a turning point in the debate, and indeed in America’s history.

The Republicans just spent all last year arguing that tax cuts for the richest 2% had to be preserved. They filibustered benefits for 9-11 responders so that they could preserve these tax cuts. Now that they’ve seized the House, they turn around and say: we have no choice as Americans. We now have to dismantle the safety net that has been in place for over 40 years.  

Bullshit.

The Republicans will tell you that we are “broke.” Don’t believe that for a second.

We’re the richest country in the world. We’re fighting two wars, one in Asia and one in the Middle East. We’re supporting an air campaign against another dictator in North Africa and running a covert drone based bombing campaign in a fourth country.  We have 12 aircraft carriers that allow us to project force anywhere in the world on short notice. We have hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in countries where we fought wars over sixty years ago. We’re the strongest economy in the world and we have more billionaires than any other country in the world by a mile.

We also have one of the lowest tax rates of any industrialized country and our taxes are the lowest they have been in fifty years. 

To be sure, there will need to be decreases in spending across the board and entitlements need to be a part of that. But Americans need to make some tough decisions about what kind of a country we want to be. Medicare is the 2nd most popular social program in the country and the Republicans just voted to dismantle it because they say that we’re broke. But we’re apparently not so broke that we couldn’t afford to pass even more tax cuts for the rich as part of the same budget.

The time for maintaining  high levels of defense spending, moderate levels of social spending and low taxes is over. Americans now need to decide whether we would rather deny poor, disabled and the elderly the health care that they need, or whether we should cut back out military commitments around the world. We need to decide if it’s more of a priority to have low taxes for the top 2% or if we can go back to the tax levels of the Clinton years (when the economy created 23 million new jobs) and cushion the cuts to the social programs that most Americans now view as a right. 

I honestly cannot believe that the Republican House actually passed the Ryan budget yesterday. If their vision of America is one where the safety net is no longer guaranteed and seniors no longer have their medical bills paid so that the rich can get more tax cuts, then you’ve got to give them credit for standing up for their beliefs. But I think they’ll soon find that what they believe differs significantly from what the American people believe in.

Finally: Obama Comes Out Swinging

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I have to admit that the president’s performance during the budget negotiations was disheartening. It’s not so much that I care if $38 billion is cut from the very small pie of non-defense discretionary spending, but that Obama and Senate negotiators gave so much away in the face of Republican threats to shut down the government.  The negotiations made me question what would be left of the social safety net that so many American generations fought for after the president finished compromising. 

The speech he made yesterday could be a turning point. It was a strong statement that he realizes how important this moment in our history is and is ready to fight for the principles that liberals have fought for and the programs that are under attack from the Radical Republicans. Not only was it a shrewd statement politically, it was probably the most specific and eloquent defense of liberalism that I’ve heard in some time. 

If you missed it, I highly recommend watching or reading it but here are my highlights:

Obama gave a nod to the idea of an America of “rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.” But also spoke of “another thread running throughout our history”:

A belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result.

Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.

Without naming the Ryan Plan specifically, he savaged it.

He savaged it in soaring rhetoric when he explained how much we could accomplish if we invested in our country:

It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them. Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the United States of America – the greatest nation on Earth – can’t afford any of this.

Then he savaged it with specifics:

It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that ten years from now, if you’re a 65 year old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy insurance, tough luck – you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.

He drew attention to the fact that the Ryan budget proposes to dismantle the health care systems for the poor, the disabled and the elderly and plows that savings into even more tax cuts for the wealthy. Along the way, he pointed to the rising inequality that accompanied the tax cutting spree of the Bush years:

Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can’t afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes?

They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs?

That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.

When I watched the section above, I had to rewind the Tivo once or twice to understand the math he was explaining: giving one person a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut and financing it by asking thirty three old people to pay six thousand dollars more in health care costs. This is the Republican’s plan for the future.

Just as he did in his Libya speech, Obama consistently drew on the ideals of American Exceptionalism that Republicans have unfairly knocked him for not honoring:

The America I know is generous and compassionate; a land of opportunity and optimism. We take responsibility for ourselves and each other; for the country we want and the future we share. We are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives.

This is who we are. This is the America I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.

Finally the fight is joined. For years, the Republicans have engaged in a “Starve the Beast” strategy which consistently cut taxes and then blamed the shortfalls that ensued on runnaway social spending.

But the Ryan plan is a bridge too far. It shows the real vision that the Republicans have for the country, and the argument that we need to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare and provide even more tax cuts for the rich just isn’t going to fly.

Yesterday, the President provided an alternative to that vision and indicated that he is willing to fight for it. How much he is willing to fight remains to be seen, but I’m feeling better than I did a few days ago.