It was 1968. Many of us may recall presidential candidate Tricky Dick Nixon promising an end to the Viet Nam War. But ‘how’ he would do that was to remain his secret until he had been elected. People fell for his act. He never did tell us. Forty-four years later, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are promising that they can eliminate several trillion dollars from the federal budget–but they won’t tell us how that could possibly happen without, what Newt Gingrich labeled, social engineering from the right. It is impossible to avoid the smell of a rat
Nixon refused to provide any clues and ultimately rescalated the war by bombing Cambodia and invading Laos. Mimicking Tricky Dick’s dishonesty, Romney has released no details of his plan to fix the economy and to create jobs. Almost every economist warns that Romney’s only credible option to make things revenue-neutral is to repeal middle-class tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction.
Ryan is Romney’s hope for enticing Americans to vote for an assault on what remains of the middle class–increased tax cuts for the uber-wealthy and draconian cuts in the social programs average, everyday Americans rely upon.
Ryan-Romney’s piece-by-piece dismantling of the federal budget would happen in the name of lowering the national debt. Independent analysts say that this budget would add to the debt, not reduce it.
In a nutshell, Paul Ryan’s views are as unacceptable as any GOP candidate this time around. Romney likely will move more in Ryan’s direction, than the other way around. That means that the GOP plan will be to privatize almost every program that has benefited Americans since Roosevelt and Johnson–social security and Medicare for starters. It also means they will turn over the gutted programs to the states while cutting allocations that would allow states and localities to administer any program in a fair and meaningful way.
Social Security: Ryan has said poorer seniors should receive “more targeted assistance than those who have had ample opportunity to save for retirement” as part of the solution to the program’s long-term insolvency. He’s spoken favorably of proposals to grow benefits for wealthier retirees more slowly than for others. Ryan has also backed the idea, popular with Republican lawmakers, to let future retirees invest a portion of their Social Security contributions privately.
His bill would allow people under the age of fifty-five to divert approximately half of their payroll taxes away from the traditional Social Security program and into a private account “owned” by the individual but managed by Social Security which would, in turn, invest the diverted money in stocks and bonds. It has been determined that the Ryan overhaul would result in such an astronomical price tag that the Bush administration called it “irresponsible.” And this from a president who passed a major pharmaceutical bill without paying for it!
Medicare: He wants a plan more like a 401(K) that steers future retirees into private insurance plans with fixed payments from government that may or may not cover as much of their costs as does the current program. We see how well the 401Ks did during the recession. Retirement accounts were decimated, leaving little if any time for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s to replenish their savings. Take a step back. 401Ks (defined contribution plans)were introduced as supplements for defined benefit retirement plans. Gone were the guarantees for a decent lifestyle upon retirement. Do that to Medicare and you kill a super-successful safety-net that will mean life and death to tens of millions of Americans.
Ryan has proposed ending the guaranteed benefit; instead giving individuals vouchers to pay for private insurance. To make this seem palatable, Ryan refers to his approach as “premium support.” What does that mean? By reducing the amount of money that Medicare would pay out over time, the plan reduces its long-term costs in an effort to become solvent without raising taxes or lowering health care costs.
In any case the Ryan plan would leave seniors on the hook for retirement income because costs will rise faster than the value of the vouchers.
Ryan would also gradually raise the eligibility age from the current 65 to 67. Not so bad if you work at a bank. Not so good if you work construction or as a coal miner. People are living longer than they did in Roosevelt’s time. But how healthfully they live longer is a different question.
Medicaid: Ryan would turn Medicaid over to the states. But if allocations to the states were meager, and states had to struggle to balance budgets–as they are now–how would Mecicaid meet people’s needs?
Women’s Rights: Ryan is vigorously against abortion rights. He supports several anti-abortion groups. He has voted every time against appropriations for Planned Parenthood. He co-sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act and Right to Life Act, which would give fetuses full personhood rights from the moment of fertilization. This bill, which Ryan co-sponsored, was even rejected by voters in the socially conservative state of Mississippi! He has backed bans on so-called partial birth abortion that made an exception for the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest. He has supported a highly controversial bill that Democrats nicknamed the Let Women Die Act,which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency abortion care, even if her life is on the line.
Despite Romney’s efforts to court women voters ahead of November, he chose a running mate who is far outside the mainstream on women’s health issues. Ryan has casted votes to defund programs–all of which disproportionately aid and employ women. He even has gone so far as to vote several times to prevent women in the military from using their own money to pay for abortions at military hospitals.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has stated that Ryan has earned a zero percent rating on its women’s health voting scorecard. Other women’s rights groups have expressed similar alarm. Ryan’s strictly ideological assault would result in more women losing access to necessary and basic health care. One in five American women have used Planned Parenthood health services.
Nutrition: Ryan’s budget plan would cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program grants by 18%. SNAP, also known as food stamps, has kept 3.9 million Americans–including 1.7 million children–out of poverty, allowing them to keep their families from going hungry. This plan also would have drastically cut jobs, leaving 174,000 people out of work.
Gay rights: Ryan has voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and against allowing same-sex couples to adopt. He opposes, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces. He has voted against hate crimes protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Immigration: Ryan’s sole response to America’s immigration issue has been deportation. He opposed DREAM Act legislation. He rejects any version of comprehensive reform that includes a path toward legal residency for the country’s 11 million undocumented residents. He wants tighter border controls, voting in favor of building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and also voted for a bill that supported Minutemen civilian border patrol groups. On the other hand, Ryan supported budget cuts of $600 million from border security and immigration enforcement. Go figure.
Guns: Ryan loves being an outdoorsman. Good for him. What has that got to do with the right of non-military. non-police to own an AK-47? What this has to do with is that Ryan gets a perfect rating from gun-rights groups. He voted to protect gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits stemming from misuse of the guns. He also voted to shorten gun-purchase waiting period from three days to one.
It is my sense that it is this mix of Ayn Randian responses to real problems that resulted in Ryan’s ‘less than positive response’ in an initial TODAY/Gallup polls of registered voters. Only Bush partner Dan Quayle has polled less positively than Ryan immediately following being named as a vice-presidential candidate.Guns: Ryan loves being an outdoorsman. Good for him. What has that got to do with the right of non-military. non-police to own an AK-47? What this has to do with is that Ryan gets a perfect rating from gun-rights groups. He voted to protect gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits stemming from misuse of the guns. He also voted to shorten gun-purchase waiting period from three days to one.
For a full accounting of Paul Ryan’s positions on social issues, see Paul Ryan: On the Issues