Sunday, 12 August 2012
Introduction: Skeleton summary of plan from Fox News...
With Rep. Paul Ryan selected as Mitt Romney's running mate, voters will be hearing a lot about the so-called "Ryan" plan.
So what is it?
Though each party has strong feelings about what Ryan's controversial budget proposal entails, here are a few highlights. Just the facts:
- The latest full-scale version of the plan, unveiled in March, vows to cut spending by $5 trillion over the next decade, compared against President Obama's plan.
- The plan would, a decade from now, give seniors the option of taking a government payment to purchase health insurance. That payment could be used to buy a private insurance plan, or go toward the traditional Medicare plan. The plan calls for extra assistance to help low-income beneficiaries and those with "greater health risks."
- The plan would overhaul Medicaid by turning it into a block grant system for states.
- The plan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. It would implement two individual income tax brackets -- 10 percent and 25 percent.
- The plan would head off the scheduled automatic defense cuts, first by diverting the planned $55 million defense cut in 2013 by implementing those cuts elsewhere.
- The plan vows to bring the size of government to 20 percent of GDP by 2015.
Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu says the top candidate's positions will guide the ticket"... BUT doesn't specify IN WHAT WAY EXCEPT THAT PEOPLE OVER 55 WILL BE FINE... i.e. if you are 54 you will be screwed and living on the streets (or on somebody's charity) in 6 years. Unless the GOP is able to raise the retirement age. If you are younger than 54 then just do the math to figure out when you will have to move to the streets. It's easy. For example, if you are 50 you have 10 years before you move onto the streets and so on.
In addition to this they raised retirement age (i.e. you have to work till you're 70 and then you get a "voucher" i.e. it's like saying "Here's your gold watch. Thank you for your years of service. Now get out of my office.")...
Rep. Paul Ryan is at the top of the GOP. Here's what you need to know about the budget that got him there
Mitt Romney’s pick of Rep. Paul Ryan for his vice-presidential nominee will reopen the debate on the Budget Committee chairman’s all-important budget proposal. Ryan’s budget, a massive 10-year plan that makes fundamental changes to a host of critical government activities, has been twice approved by the Republican-controlled House on party-line votes, while the Democratically controlled Senate has rejected it. Romney has said he will propose his own budget plan, but he has repeatedly praised Ryan’s plan in the past, so it stands to reason that the plans will look similar. Here’s what you need to know about the Ryan budget.
First, and perhaps most important, the budget would drastically change social safety net entitlement programs, shifting them away from the guaranteed benefit programs we know today to voucherized plans. The idea is to give people more flexibility on healthcare and retirement savings, but the effect could be far more severe. For Medicare, Ryan’s plan phases out the single-payer system that currently exists and replaces it with a “premium support system,” which essentially provides seniors with subsidies to purchase their own healthcare. But the vouchers are indexed to the growth of the economy, plus a little bit, while the cost of medical care has historically grown at much faster rates, meaning that over time, the vouchers will fall increasingly short of meeting the medical cost needs of seniors. This will save the government money, but shift costs back to seniors and undermine the original goals of Medicare.
On Social Security, Ryan’s budget is vague, but he released a separate plan that called for a semi-privatized scheme. Ryan, like many Republicans, paints an overly bleak picture of the safety net program’s finances in order to justify massive cuts. But Social Security is not going broke, so it starts from a false premise. Voters rejected a privatization scheme when George W. Bush pushed one because it makes the system far less stable, exposing retirement savings to the volatility of the markets, and can disproportionately help the wealthy.
Secondly, on taxes, Ryan’s budget would likely again disproportionately help the wealthy. Like Romney’s tax plan, it doesn’t state this outright, but clearly has to have this effect. As Seth Hanlon, a tax policy expert at the liberal Center for American Progress explained, “It’s a matter of simple math. Any tax plan that purports to hold revenues steady while massively cutting taxes for the rich must make up the lost revenue by raising taxes on people who are not rich.” Ryan calls for cutting taxes on the wealthy and others, but doesn’t explain how to make up the difference.
The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that Ryan’s budget would give people that make more than $1 million a year an additional $265,000 tax cut, on average, on top of the $129,000 cut they get from the budget’s extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Ryan does nothing to close the loopholes that could generate some of the revenue to make up for his new revenue losses from tax cuts on the wealthy, such as the roughly $4 billion a year in tax breaks oil companies get.
Because it fails to raise revenues, the Ryan budget would also shift costs to state and municipal governments, which are already struggling after being hammered during the recession. These governments would thus be forced to raise their own taxes to meet the increased demand, effectively laundering tax increases so Ryan doesn’t get blamed for them.
Third, the Ryan budget makes trillions of dollars in cuts over 10 years. These disproportionately hurt poor people. According to analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts come from food stamps, Medicaid and a handful of other programs aimed at helping the most vulnerable in society.
And finally, a significant portion of the rest of his cuts come from education, both K-12 and higher ed. The plan groups education with several related programs into one budget function, which would together be cut by about 20 percent from FY 2012 levels. So we don’t know exactly how much Ryan’s budget would cut from education yet (that would come later in the appropriations process), but it appears significant.
The program would also slash funding for Pell Grants, refocusing the program on “truly needy” students. This would likely deprive a huge swath of students in the middle who are too poor to qualify for grants but not wealthy enough to afford college outright. There are other cuts as well to higher education and financial aid.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Romney has been quick to distance himself from the budget, even while embracing its author. His campaign distributed talking points to reporters today stating, “Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.”
(You can learn about Mitt Romney's plan from the links below)
From Mother Jones: "If Paul Ryan Knew What Poverty Was, He Wouldn't Be Giving This Speech"
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, knew some Catholics were spoiling for a fight with him Thursday when he was scheduled to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution. Nearly 90 faculty members and administrators sent him a letter expressing concerns with his recent comments that his proposed budget, which includes massive spending cuts to programs for the poor but not a single tax increase, was inspired by his Catholic faith.
"I am afraid that Chairman Ryan's budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Father Thomas Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, in a press release Tuesday. "Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love."
The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand, who believed altruism is evil, brushing off his well-documented obsession with her as a teenage romance. Ryan told the National Review's Robert Costa: "I reject her philosophy. It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. Don't give me Ayn Rand."
During his speech, though, Ryan didn't back away from any of his budget proposals, which would dramatically reduce the number of people on food stamps and radically scale back Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. Instead, he championed such proposals as a means to liberate the poor. Calling the budget "hardly draconian," he said:
Our budget builds on the historic welfare reforms of the 1990s—reforms proven to work. We aim to empower state and local governments, communities, and individuals—those closest to the problem. And we aim to promote opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job training programs, to help those who have fallen on hard times. My mentor, Jack Kemp, used to say, "You can't help America's poor by making America poor."
During the Q&A session that followed, where Ryan fielded questions submitted by students, he insisted that welfare reform had brought down child poverty rates. The claim is false, especially in Ryan's home state. According to the most recent data, the child poverty rate in Wisconsin jumped 42 percent between 2000 and 2010. The suffering would have been more significant but for the large increases in federal food assistance that Ryan wants to scale back. Welfare reform is more likely a contributing factor to child poverty, not a solution to it, making it a dubious model for for combating poverty "at its roots," as Ryan said he wants to do.
That's why Catholics at Georgetown, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other Catholic organizations were so outraged when Ryan told a Christian TV show earlier this month that his budget was wholly in keeping with Catholic teachings and practically endorsed by the Pope himself, whom Ryan told the students Thursday was down on debt. His speech was protested on Thursday by Catholics who are in the trenches with the people who would suffer from his budget proposal. They were folks who work at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other social-service agencies run by Catholic organizations, who see first hand the complexities and needs of the poor.
On hand to emphasize that point after the speech was the "GOP Je$us," who read from the "Me-Attitudes," to parody Ryan's so-called Catholic-inspired budget.
Blessed are the rich, the reign of this world is ours. The rich rule the world, and the rest suffer and die, often in misery. Do not let this be you my brothers! Easier to use your riches to genetically engineer very small camels that can fit through the needle's eye…
Blessed are the violent and the invincible, the proud and the powerful, the domineering and oppressive. We can have it all! And let our status of power be the proof that we are deserving of the fruits of the labor of the middle class and poor…
Blessed are those who show no mercy. No mercy to the poor, to women and children, the elderly and the homeless, victims, outcasts, enemies, refugees, the hungry, the undocumented, the unborn, those on death row, those who are different, those we don’t like. And of course, those who happen to be in the way of what we want…
Blessed are the warmakers. Yea I say unto you, if we were not making war, we could not be said to be making much. That is what China is for! Lo, the Lord looked at China and said "Let it be the worlds factory floor," and it was good…
James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which organized one of the protests outside the hall where Ryan was speaking, told gathered reporters that his group was there because "the dignity of the poor should be at the forefront of our minds." Taking a dig at Ryan's attempts to cast his budget as a boon for poor people, Salt noted, "If Paul Ryan knew what poverty was, he wouldn't be giving this speech."
Paul Ryan deploys a nice guy demeanor to advance a hard-right agenda
Before Mitt Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination, conservative commentator Mona Charen, suggested why Paul Ryan would be a strong candidate: “They will call him cruel, they will say he’s an extremist and so on. But then voters will see his open expression, his calm demeanor, his reassuring intelligence and his altar boy smile, and say, ‘Nah, he’s a good guy.”
Few national politicians get compared to altar boys; Ryan does repeatedly. In his rise to the national ticket, his earnest, wonky persona has perhaps been as much of an asset as his head for figures. In a party that can be aggressively confrontational and anti-intellectual, Ryan’s bookishness and unthreatening good looks have helped to mask his far right views and sand the edges of his ambition.
A Romney win just got scarier -- he'd have a mandate and a partner determined to repeal the New Deal
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his nominee for vice president achieved something remarkable in the modern history of U.S. presidential elections. He made both sides ecstatic. Conservatives are in a state of euphoria — Ryan, despite his many deficit-expanding votes during the Bush administration, is a true believer’s true believer. Every doubt that conservatives have about Romney is matched by the faith that they place in Ryan. Romney, amazingly, just made himself the Potemkin figurehead of his own administration.
But liberals likewise profess themselves enthused. Medicare is back on the menu, boys! Now there’s just no way Romney will be able to run away and hide from the draconian, social welfare-slashing Ryan budget. A million senior-scaring attack ads are likely already in production; Florida has a brand-new boogeyman. Some pundits are boldly calling the choice a Hail Mary act of desperation; only someone watching the election slip away would hand such a golden opportunity to his opponents.
But before liberals start cheering too hard, they might want to think this through. If the Romney-Ryan team wins, a future in which Paul Ryan eventually becomes president of the United States becomes more likely than not. That’s a future in which the New Deal is repealed. So be careful what you wish for.
You know who the real winners are? Wonks! Back in 2008, wonks had a field day comparing the merits of Obama’s (no mandate) and Hillary Clinton’s (yes mandate) healthcare plans. But ever since Romney secured the Republican nomination, it’s been a wonk nightmare. There’s no there there in his policy proposals, no numbers to crunch, no planks in his platform. But now we’ve got the Ryan plan to crank on. We’ve got details! Sure, they might be details that poll horribly when explained to the average voter, but they invite serious engagement nonetheless. Get used to it — because we’re all going to be getting up to speed on the cost-benefit analysis of Medicare vouchers lickety-split.
Because, crazily, that’s what this “choice” election just became about. Voucher math. Rising healthcare costs are the real budget buster. Say what you will about how the math of the Ryan budget seems peculiar (lower taxes, raise defense spending, slash the most popular government safety net programs — really?) but the Wisconsin representative does strive to address this fundamental driver of our burgeoning national debt. Instead of having the government tackle the challenge of lowering healthcare costs directly, Ryan wants to outsource that responsibility to the users.
The notion is attractive to libertarians and depends on an efficiently working free market. Instead of having Medicare or Medicaid simply pay your bills, you’ll get a voucher that you can spend yourself. The theory is that if we are spending our “own” money we’ll be more careful in picking and choosing the healthcare services we need. Similarly, the providers of those services will be forced to compete for our precious dollars, so they’ll have to lower their prices or deliver them more efficiently. The invisible hand will, so the theory goes, bring down the cost of getting that MRI. Hey, it works for fast food delivery and private car hire service in Brooklyn, so why not for healthcare?
Of course, before massively reworking a program that millions of Americans depend on, it would be nice if Ryan could point to an example where vouchers have been tested on a large scale. Unfortunately, no other rich developed country has tried anything like Ryan’s system. And there’s a pretty good reason for that — healthcare is not like other markets. When you’re dying of cancer, you don’t look for that low-cost solution to your medical needs; you want the solution that gives you the best chance of survival, or any chance of survival. You want that extra CAT scan. And if you are the person responsible for making medical decisions for your loved one, you’re not inclined to scrimp and save.
The providers of healthcare services have us over the barrel in situations where we or our loved ones are in life-threatening medical circumstances. When the alternative to not paying is death, we will pay. And if we don’t have enough to cover the costs, those costs aren’t guaranteed to come down. So people will die.
Civilized countries find this repugnant. Civilized countries also understand that the government has huge leverage to force lower costs, should it choose to use its power. The most disgusting part of the Medicare Part D drug prescription benefit (which Paul Ryan voted for, by the way) was not that there was no funding mechanism included with it, but that the federal government was explicitly forbidden from using its immense buying power to negotiate lower prices from the drug companies.
A boring campaign just became really interesting. Red states may well get even redder for Romney as a result of the Ryan pick. The base loves the notion of itself as “anti-nanny state.” But in states like Florida, seniors are going to take a long hard look at voucher math. If they don’t like what they see, Florida may well move directly into Obama’s win column, and that, in turn, could easily decide the election.
Reason for liberals to be excited, for sure. Except if Romney wins, because then it will be very difficult to argue that the nation didn’t make a meaningful choice.
Republicans, Leukemia Team Up To Repeal Health Care Law: "If anyone's angrier than Republicans that children can't be denied for having preexisting conditions, it's leukemia."
Here's a tribute to a few Republican senators who find comfort and advantage in invoking the heroes of 9/11 but refuse to give them health care.
Republicans Block 9/11 Health Care Bill: Republican senators refuse to vote on the 9/11 health care bill until wealthy Americans receive an engraved notification that their taxes won't go up.
The Paul Ryan EXOPOSOTHON Link Ring...