Nel's New Day

March 15, 2013

Ryan Leads Country to Poverty

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:11 PM
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to simplify taxes by creating only two individual tax rates, 10 percent and 25 percent, while repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and the taxes in Obamacare. The third leg of the budget plan stool is to cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. This program would add $5.7 trillion to the deficit, meaning that he needs to find $5.7 million in spending cuts just to stay even without bringing down the deficit.

The Tax Policy Center ran these numbers and came up with the following figures. The lowest 20 percent of people in the United States would get a tax cut of approximately $40; the top 0.1 percent, those multi-millionaires, would get a tax cut of over $1.2 million per year.

Ryan's budget

After his loss of the election last fall, Mitt Romney explained that poor people voted for President Obama because he gave them “gifts.” Do the Republicans think that they can win the next election with the “gifts” that they give to the top 1 percent?

Another Republican, Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal, has a similar plan to stick it to the poor. His new tax plan is to increase state sales taxes from 4 percent to 5.88 percent, raise cigarette taxes from 36 cents per pack to $1.41, and add sales taxes on a wide range of services not currently taxed on everything from haircuts to veterinarian appointments to photographers. It’s not that he needs this to take care of revenue shortage. These regressive taxes would completely replace income and corporate taxes.

Louisiana is not alone in trying to make the poor poorer so that corporations and the wealthy will be wealthier. In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback wants to make his state a model for sharply cutting taxes and government spending in the hopeless belief that it will help unemployment and the economy. “My focus is to create a red-state model,” said Brownback, gaining his inspiration from the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The Koch brothers each made $9 billion last year.

Other gerrymandered states including Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and North Carolina are considering the same plan. The last state shows the disastrous effect of rigging districts to load the legislature with Republicans. Although votes for the state House was 51 percent Democratic and 49 percent Republican, the election outcome was four Democrats and nine Republicans.

Newly appointed state budget director Art Pope, the state’s discount-store mogul, has improved on the Koch brothers policy of buying political influence by occupying government himself. Now safely ensconced in power, he plans to repeal taxes for himself. More powerful than Pat McCrory, the governor who appointed him, the budget director’s actions have given rise to the term “Pope administration” in what used to be the most progressive state of the South. The plan here is similar to Louisiana: increase the sales tax and eliminate the state’s income taxes.

The “red-state model” follows George W. Bush’s program that led to the severe recession at the end of his second term. Conservatives believe that slashing taxes, cutting wages, and trashing environmental protections will encourage workers to move to states that do this. It follows the GOP policy that making everyone poorer moves the state toward economic security. Yet the only result is trade diversion, not growth: one state’s gain is another state’s loss, at least temporarily until another state thinks that it can further destroy labor. The only people who win this race to the bottom are the top 1 percent.

The blue-state model, as shown in high-income states like Massachusetts, is associated with high levels of state investments in education, transportation, and other public goods. States following this model are connected with economic strength. The red-state model is linked to backwardness, second-rate educational systems, and economic weakness.

Paul Ryan and the other conservatives want to make the entire country a red-state model. We are already bringing jobs back from Third World countries because wages in the United States are so low. Ryan’s plan, if approved, would only make working conditions in this country worse in order to line the coffers of the rich with more gold.

March 12, 2013

When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) ran for U.S. vice-president only a few months ago, he said that a Romney/Ryan win would vindicate their plans to rape raping the country of all resources and shred the entire safety net. Instead, Barack Obama won re-election by more than 50 percent of the popular vote—the first time since FDR in 1944, the Senate netted two additional Democratic seats over 2010, and the House gained a majority of Democratic votes, leaving it in Republican hands only because of state gerrymandering.

Either Ryan has a short memory or he doesn’t believe what he said, because he has proposed another budget, more restrictive and farther to the right than the last one. Its $4.6 trillion cuts during the next decade come mostly from eliminating health care with its subsidized insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansions, turning Medicare into a voucher program with private insurers for anyone under 55, and doing away with Wall Street regulatory plans.

The voucher system defense by the Ryan Plan author is a semantic maze. On Fox News, Ryan told Chris Wallace: “[I]t’s not a voucher. It’s premium support. Those are very different. A voucher is you go to your mailbox, you get a check and you go buy something. That’s not what we are saying.” In fact, seniors would get a government subsidy instead of a guaranteed Medicare benefit. Ryan coined the word “voucher” for his plan before pollsters told him not to use that term. He also told Wallace that the GOP won the right to do this because it won the senior vote.

At the same time, the GOP plan cuts the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent. This 14.6 percent cut is over double Romney’s proposed 7 percent cut, that wiped out $5 trillion of revenue. The only way to cover these losses is to increase taxes for the bottom 99 percent of the nation’s population.

Big Oil’s donations to Paul Ryan to get him re-elected have paid off. The budget plan retains the tax breaks for these companies ranked as the most profitable companies in 2012. Tax breaks haven’t increased jobs: four of the Big Five dumped 15,200 jobs between 2006 and 2011. It won’t increase oil production: they produced 3 percent less oil in 2012 compared to 2011. They aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Three of the companies averaged a 16-percent tax rate in 2011. Their revenues bought back their own stock to enrich top executives, boards of directors, and biggest.

Although Ryan claims that his plan will help the economy and the unemployment rate, Ezra Klein said:

“Ryan’s budget … won’t create jobs this year and will likely cost jobs in the years to come by putting the economy on a steep austerity ramp. There’s no housing policy for the millions of families in foreclosure and no way to read Ryan’s budget without assuming massive cuts to student-loans programs. As for medical costs, fully 59 percent of Ryan’s savings come from new cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare or other health-care programs–and that omits the $800 billion in Medicare cuts he keeps from Obamacare. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that cuts on the order of what Ryan is proposing will mean around 35 million people lose their health-care coverage.”

Ryan’s goal isn’t actually to reduce deficits and debt. If it were, he would not eradicate revenue. As Klein said,

“The problem is that these ideas are not, on their own, popular. In fact, they’re deeply unpopular, and considered quite radical. That’s why Newt Gingrich rejected Ryan’s initial budget as “right-wing social engineering” — it is, in a very serious sense, an effort to use policy reform re-engineer the relationship individuals have with their governments, their communities, and their families. But presented on their own, Ryan’s plans scare people.”

In addition to the full repeal of President Obama’s health care law, it asks for limits on medical malpractice liabilities, transfers safety net programs—including food stamps—to states, and lowers the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. The big five oil companies–BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell–made a combined record profit of $118 billion in 2012 on top of a record profit of $137 billion in 2011. These companies also have a total of nearly $72 billion in cash reserves. Ryan’s tax cut would give the companies an additional $2.3 billion annually.

The House budget plan also authorizes the 1,700-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline, estimating that it will create 20,000 new jobs. In reality, TransCanada projects that the construction will create a maximum of 3,900 jobs, only 10 percent hired locally, and only 35 jobs existing after two years.

In arguing that he is concerned about “the well-being of the American people,” Ryan ignored the fact that the oil provided by Keystone XL is already in the U.S., mostly in the Midwest. Redirecting it will raise prices in the Midwest. In addition, the oil from Keystone XL isn’t for the U.S.: the pipeline lets Canadian oil producers export the crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, saving their own country the environmental risks. The crude will be refined in Port Arthur and then shipped out of the country at great—and tax-free—profit for oil companies.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law that they approve a budget by the April deadline. If they fail, their salaries will be held in escrow until a budget is passed or the current Congress ends at the beginning of 2015. Fortunately for them, the two chambers don’t have to agree in order for Congressional members to get their wages: each chamber can pass its own budget plan without the other one agreeing.

Ryan’s plan does increase spending in one area—defense. And he does have a novel way of making money for the country: he wants to sell off public lands because ”too much public land” is a serious problem.

Derek Thompson wrote: 

“Paul Ryan’s new budget is quite long, but its thesis can be stated briefly. If you cut spending on the poor to the bone and radically change the U.S. government’s promises to help needy people pay for health care, it is remarkably easy to balance the budget.”

The GOP’s plan is based on “massive, unrealistic” spending cuts, according to Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at Center for American Progress. Medicaid would face $1 trillion cuts in the first decade, while education and workforce training programs would get cut in half and transportation funding would be reduced by nearly 25 percent. The plan would also require deep cuts in other vital domestic programs.

Instead of trying to help the people in the United States through building the economy and decreasing the unemployment rate, Paul Ryan has one goal, and he has admitted it when he introduced his budget plan:

“This to us is something that we’re not going to give up on, because we’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people.”

He should have added that he won’t give up until he destroys the United States.

August 12, 2012

Ryan’s Policies Hurt People

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:45 PM
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The most important fact to know about Paul Ryan’s budget plan is that it doesn’t help the deficit.

Who benefits from Ryan’s budget plan?

Big Oil: Ryan supports $40 billion in subsidies for big oil while eliminating billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies to serve as substitutes for oil–$3 billion in 2013 alone. He has a practical approach toward this policy: with his wife, Ryan owns stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the energy companies that benefit from the oil subsidies. Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, runs these families.

The Defense Budget: Ryan wanted so desperately to increase the DoD budget that he accused generals of lying about their support for Obama’s $487 billion cuts in the military budget for the next ten years.  His proposed increases give extravagant benefits to military contractors.

Paul Ryan and His Family: Ryan and his wife own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the energy companies that benefit from the oil subsidies. Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, runs these families. As a millionaire, Ryan will also benefit in decreased taxes from his budget plan.

Mitt Romney: Using his 2010 tax return—the only year that has been made public—in which Romney paid 13.9 percent, Ryan’s plan would drop Romney’s tax rate to approximately 0.82 percent. Most of Romney’s income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends which wouldn’t be taxed under Ryan’s vision for America. The elimination of the estate tax by Ryan’s plan would also give Romney’s heirs extra tens of millions of dollars.

And All the Other People in the Top 1 Percent!

Who loses with Paul Ryan?

The Bottom 98 Percent: Ryan plans to raise taxes on the middle class and cut them for millionaires, reducing federal tax collections by about $4.5 trillion during the next decade. If he balances the budget by matching the loss with cuts in programs, 62 percent of the savings would come from programs that benefit lower- and middle-classes—the same people who are already getting a tax increase.

Children: Ryan proposes cutting $1.1 billion from early childhood education, supports cuts to education funding, and tries to slash Title I grants (especially special education). He also approves of massive teacher layoffs.

Women: Ryan co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, declaring any zygote a “person,” an amendment that would eliminate in vitro fertilization and popular forms of contraception as well as any abortions, no matter what the need. As a Catholic he believes that all religious institutions should have the right to keep their private insurance programs from providing contraception. Ryan has cast 59 anti-choice votes and repeatedly co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Abortion Ban, a law that criminalizes some abortion services, endangers women’s health, and carries a two-year prison sentence for doctors. Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act,” allowing women to sue for gender discrimination in the workplace when they learn about the inequity.

The Poor: Paul Ryan’s budget cuts SNAP grants by 18%. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) grants, also known as food stamps, has kept 3.9 million Americans (equivalent to the entire population of Oregon), including 1.7 million children, out of poverty and allowed them to keep their families from going hungry. This plan drastically cuts jobs, leaving 174,000 people out of work. The plan removes two to three million people  from food assistance and 280,000 low-income children from receiving free school meals. More than three-fifths of Ryan’s proposed cuts attack poor people in SNAP, welfare, Medicaid, job training, etc.

Veterans: Ryan doesn’t mention the word “veteran” in his 100-page-plus plan, but he calls for across the board spending freezes and cuts, cutting $11 billion from veterans spending at a time when 45 percent of the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are returning with multiple health issues, more than double the percentage of those who came back from the Gulf War in the early 1990s.

People Paying into Medicare and Social Security: Ryan plans to make Medicare a voucher system that would pay less and less to seniors for their private insurance as the years go on. He also wants to raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67. Ryan views Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and advocates for privatizing the retirement benefit by investing it in stocks and bonds. (Think about the affect on the elderly who invested in the stock market after  the loss of trillions of dollars in the economic crisis of 2008.)

People Looking for Jobs: Ryan’s budget would result in 4.1 million lost jobs in 2 years. Ryan’s budget calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”

LGBT People: Ryan voted in 1999 in favor of banning same-sex couples from adopting in the District of Columbia and voted against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011. In 2003, Ryan voted in favor of the Marriage Protection Act, which would have prevented federal courts from considering and possibly overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Ryan also voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that passed the House in 2009. More recently, he supported an initiative in Wisconsin to ban marriage equality.

Students: Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more than 1 million students. He claims that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” Ryan’s father died when Ryan was 16; he used his Social Security funds for school costs. He doesn’t want young people to have the advantages that he did. He also voted in favor of deceptive marketing by for-profit colleges, the focus of a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation.

Immigrants: Ryan buys into the myth of the grotesquely-named “anchor babies” accusing women of coming to the United States to get citizenship for their newborns. The myth has already been debunked because undocumented men far outnumber undocumented women and most women don’t get pregnant until they are already in the United States for at least a year. Yet Ryan felt that this was an appropriate discussion for a Town Hall meeting in Wisconsin.

People Who Believe in Freedom from Fundamentalist Religion: Ryan made the following statement in his determination to abolish the health care plan: “We disagree with the notion that our rights come from government, that the government can now grant us and define our rights. Those are ours, they come from nature and God, according to the Declaration of Independence.”

People Who Need the Planet to Continue to Exist: Ryan has accused scientists a conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change” and argued that snow invalidates global warming. He hopes to Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, eliminate White House climate advisers, block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and eradicate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). His budget also threatens national security because it cut the funding for the agency that works to keep loose nuclear material out of enemies. Ryan voted to eliminate light bulb efficiency standards and voted to expedite the approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

How much compassion does Ryan have for his constituents? When they annoy him, he has them arrested. Last fall at one of Ryan’s “Pay to Play” town hall meetings, a 71-year-old man complained about Ryan taking away money that he had paid into programs. Police dragged the man out of the meeting, shouting, “On the ground, on the ground.” Ryan turned to the crowd and joked, “I hope he’s taken his blood-pressure medication.”

Religious groups are frustrated with Ryan’s plan. Leaders of a coalition of nuns in the United States described his budget as “immoral” and “unpatriotic,” and Sister Simone Campbell said, “[The Ryan Budget] rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That’s wrong.”

Catholic bishops even agree with the nuns. A few months ago, 60 Catholic social justice leaders, theologians and clergy released this statement: “This [Ryan] budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good.” Ryan claimed that his Catholic faith inspired the budget, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fired back that the GOP measure “fails to meet these moral criteria.”

Comedian Andy Borowitz said about Ryan, ”The man of the hour used his brief remarks to lay out his vision of America, saying that billions of dollars could be saved by eliminating food, clothing, and shelter.” This is close to the truth of Ryan’s plan.

Paul Ryan may have difficulty in connecting his budget plan to the philosophy of his beloved Ayn Rand. While her books focus on the belief that people who produce things should receive the financial benefit, only two of the wealthiest people in the United States, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, actually produce something to earn their wealth. The rest operate as middlemen for financial transactions, made their money through margin, earn profits from other people’s labor through capital ownership (think Bain Capital), or inherit their money. The vast majority of the top 1 percent of the wealthy in this country fit into this category.

Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress, summarizes the issues surrounding Romney’s pick for VP: “Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters.” The choice reveals Romney to be “unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle.”

Republicans joined her in reacting negatively to Romney’s selection of Ryan. Republican strategist and former Romney adviser Mike Murphy said, “Paul Ryan is a star. I hope one day I will get to vote for him for President. But right now, in this election, he’s the wrong choice for VP.” Yesterday, the conservative blog The Fiscal Times published a column explaining why Romney will not select Ryan for VP and pointing out many of the disadvantages listed above—and this from the conservatives.

Romney is already trying to distance himself from the Ryan plan by saying that he already has a plan. Yet the far right is praising the Ryan plan and will be disappointed if Romney rejects it. Independents are not as enchanted with the Romney plan.

Murphy’s concern is that a debate about cutting entitlements isn’t the path to GOP victory. I hope so!

One more thing: the Ryan Plan doesn’t reduce the deficit!

 

 

April 5, 2012

Ryan Incorporates Rand Philosophy in Budget Plan

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:43 PM
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Just in time for April Fool’s Day, the House Republicans passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, designed to destroy the country and kill off people. These are the highlights of this bill:

Boost the Defense Budget: The defense spending increase to $554 billion  is $8 billion more than the bipartisan Congressional vote last August.

Cut Taxes $3 Billion for Corporations and the Wealthy: The bill would lower the top income tax rate to 25 percent and allow corporations to return overseas profits at no cost. Those with yearly incomes over $1 million would receive an average 12.5 percent tax cut, six times higher than the 1.9 percent cut for middle-income people.

Charge Seniors More for Health Care: The guaranteed Medicare benefit would be transformed into a “premium support” system in 2023 with no way to keep Medicare costs from skyrocketing. The budget also has a per capita cost cap of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent with no explanation of how this would be enforced. According to CBO, new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. Eligibility age would also be increased to 67.

Take Medicaid Coverage from Elderly and Disabled: Instead of the existing matching-grant financing structure of Medicaid, states would receive block grants that fail to keep up with actual health spending. States are already suffering budget disasters; they would be forced to “reduce eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP, coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost sharing by beneficiaries—all of which would reduce access to care.” Block grants would reduce Medicaid spending by $810 billion over 10 years, decreasing Medicaid spending by more than 35 percent over the decade requiring enrollment reduction by almost 20 percent.

Repeal Obamacare’s Mandated Health Insurance: With this repeal comes the loss of health insurance exchanges and subsidies for lower-income Americans, expansion of the Medicaid program, and tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance. The result would be more than 30 million people losing coverage. The budget would also eliminate the health care act’s consumer protection.

Cut $134 Billion in SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program

Cut at least $463 Billion in Mandatory Programs such as Farm Programs and Federal Employee Retirement 

Cut at least $291 Billion in Low-Income Discretionary Programs such as Head Start, Child Care, K-12 Education, Job Training, Pell Grants, and Services for the Elderly

Michael Linden lists the six most important failures of the new House budget plan.

  • Undermine the middle class: the plan ends the Medicare guarantee of decent health insurance in retirement; slashes critical middle-class investments, such as education and infrastructure by 45 percent and 24 percent, respectively; provides not a single new measure to help the nearly 13 million unemployed get back into a decent job; and requires the middle class to pay higher taxes.
  • Rig the system even more heavily in favor of the richest 1 percent: the plan protects existing tax breaks for those at the top of the income spectrum while giving them huge new tax cuts.
  • End the Medicare guarantee and raise health care costs for seniors: the plan would provides a “death spiral” for Medicare that means higher costs for seniors.
  • Undercut the economic recovery: the plan not only fails to propose not even a single new idea for spurring job creation but also forces an immediate swerve into severe austerity which, as shown by Europe’s recent debacle, will badly hurt the economy.
  • Deviate dramatically from a balanced approach to deficit reduction: the entire burden of deficit reduction lands on the middle class and the poor while giving the rich additional tax breaks at the same time, and the numbers don’t even add up to real deficit reduction. (Ryan didn’t allow the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the budget’s actual policy proposals.)
  • Renege on last year’s bipartisan budget agreement: last summer’s Budget Control Act, passed by Congress with wide bipartisan majorities, included an agreement on overall “discretionary” spending levels—the money that Congress appropriates each year—for the coming fiscal year. Ryan reneged on that agreement whereas President Obama adhered to the enacted law when he presented his proposed budget for FY 2013 earlier this year.

Even the Republicans doubt the validity of the budget bill. Juan Williams pointed out that Ryan claims his budget offsets the tax dollars lost to the tax cuts for upper-income Americans by eliminating tax loopholes, tax shelters, and many tax deductions estimated at an incredible $4.6 trillion over 10 years. By lowering the tax brackets, Ryan will have to find a stunning $4 trillion in cuts to loopholes and deductions to avoid adding to deficit spending. But he did not identify one such cut. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, a family earning more than $1 million before taxes receives an average of $447,259 from tax breaks. But a family earning $10,000 or less gets an average of only $427.

One no-voter, Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), explained the situation, “Congress needs to actually negotiate a deal that can be passed by both chambers, rather than follow the same path that has led to the stalemate for the past year.”

Meanwhile Ryan, on the short-list for Republican presidential vice-president nominee, and the vast majority of House Republicans  follow the Ayn Rand philosophy: reward the rich and kill off the lower class.

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