As you probably heard, Mittens chose the his VP: Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin. I guess the Etch-a-Sketch isn’t going to move to the center after all. Here are a few articles I’ve read about Ryan today.
Jim Messina, the President’s campaign manager, blogged:
What you need to know right now: This election is about values, and today Romney doubled down on his commitment to take our country back to the failed policies of the past.
Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical, The New York Times called it “the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times.” With Mitt Romney’s support, he’d end Medicare as we know it and slash the investments we need to keep our economy growing—all while cutting taxes for those at the very top.
(click here to continue reading Romney’s VP pick — Blog — Barack Obama.)
a few news clips for your amusement: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: Back to the Failed Top-Down Policies
from the NYT article about the announcement, this bumpersticker:
It was the largest stage yet for Mr. Ryan, a native of Janesville, Wis., elected to Congress at age 28, who has spent his adult life working in the federal government of Washington that many conservatives deplore.
(click here to continue reading Romney Adds Ryan to the Republican Ticket – NYTimes.com.)
Charles Pierce has a good description for Mitt Romney’s Vice President choice:
Leave it to Willard Romney, international man of principle, to get himself bullied into being bold and independent.
Make no mistake. In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead. This is unimaginable to those of us who lived here under Romney’s barely perceptible stewardship of the Commonwealth (God save it!). If he’d even hinted that he agreed with a fraction of a smidgen of a portion of the policies on which Ryan has built his career, Romney would have been hanging from the Sacred Cod by the middle of 2005. And it’s hard not to notice that the way the decision got leaked — in the dead of a Friday night, with the Olympics still going on, after two weeks in which Romney and his campaign had demonstrated all the political skills of a handball — fairly dripped with flopsweat.
Romney now has forced the administration itself to confront its own silly attempts to woo Ryan as a serious man of policy back in the day. Granted, they split rather permanently last April, when the president, correctly, referred to Ryan’s “budget” as “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” (Ryan got all sad about how things had deteriorated.) But, prior to that, the president had treated Ryan as though the president were, oh, I don’t know, a CNN anchor or something, specifically wooing him prior to the big health-care summit back in 2010, when everybody was oh-so-reasonable while the howler monkeys were out across the dim horizon, photoshopping bones through the president’s nose. Nonetheless, it can be argued — and I’m fairly sure it will be — that Ryan is the logical end of any Grand Bargain the White House strikes on the economy and on debt reduction. And, if you have committed yourselves to that latter purpose over most others, then it’s harder for you to argue against a guy who’s more committed than you are to your own ultimate goal. I have none of those problems.
Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.
David Frum has the script for a commercial already written, in his head, at least:
A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65—and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”
That ad will draw blood and will—as Henry Kissinger used to say—have the additional merit of being true.
(click here to continue reading The Coming Democratic Attack Barrage – The Daily Beast.)
kind of like this ad:
Liz Ryan’s cover piece on Paul Ryan in the August 6th, 2012 edition of the New Yorker1 is worth a read, it includes a bio, and this bit of hypocrisy from Ryan:
The current Presidential campaign centers on the debate about the government’s role in the economy. Ryan, by forcing Republicans to embrace his budget plan, has helped shape this debate. Obama, on July 13th, told a crowd in Virginia, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He added, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
To Ryan, Obama’s words were anathema. In a conversation three days later with James Pethokoukis, a conservative blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, he had harsh criticisms for the President. “His comments seem to derive from a naïve vision,” Ryan said, that is based on “an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government, not the people.” Obama’s “big-government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth,” he said, and amount to “a statist attack on free communities.”
When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been misunderstood. “Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature,” he said. “As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy.” He added, “Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.” But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan, in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.
(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan’s Influence on the G.O.P. : The New Yorker.)
Victim of Fuzzy Thinking
Charles Pierce snorts, in response:
The fact is that his “budget” will demolish federal spending on those very things, either directly, or by sending the deficit off in the direction of Alpha Centauri. But the quote illustrates something else about Paul Ryan: get him out of his comfort zone of being thought an intellectual by the likes of Louie Gohmert, and of being thought of as a bold thinker by half the buffet-grazers in the Beltway media, and he really is quite the political coward.…Paul Ryan… lives in a house overseen by the National Park Service, which means that he qualifies for a 20-percent investment tax credit for the house he lives in. Of course, his “budget” would largely decimate the NPS, but that would be only those parts of it enjoyed by other people. Yes, Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver, has done very well by the federal government that he seeks to dismantle.
Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect:
[Paul Ryan’s] plan to cut taxes on the rich and gut the welfare state is one of the most unpopular proposals in American politics. Conservatives love Ryan, but seniors, young people, women, nonwhites, veterans, the disabled, and the poor might feel differently about a man who wants to make the federal government an ATM for the wealthy.
In terms of the election, it’s hard to see how Romney gains from this choice. Because of its large population of working-class whites, Wisconsin has the potential to become a swing state, but for now, Obama has a solid lead. Yes, vice presidential nominees provide a home-state boost, but it’s small—on average, two points. Barring a major change in the race, the most Ryan will do is help Romney lose Wisconsin by a somewhat smaller margin than he would have otherwise.
With that said, a vice presidential choice is most important for what it says about the nominee, and Ryan reflects poorly on Mitt Romney. On the first and most crucial qualification—“Can this person govern the country if the president dies or leaves office”—the answer is “no one knows.” Ryan has no executive experience of any kind: no experience leading a large organization, or something just as complex like a presidential campaign. Executive experience isn’t everything, but it does stick out, especially given Romney’s short tenure in public office.
(click here to continue reading Lipstick on a Wonk.)
Waiting to be Discovered
One day, some years from now, I’m going to figure out how Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, managed to fool so many people for so long. He’s a garden-variety supply-side faker. His alleged economic “wonkery” consists of a B.A. in economics from Miami of Ohio — which he would not have been able to achieve without my generosity in helping him out with the Social Security survivor’s benefits that got him through high school after his father kicked. (You’re welcome, zombie-eyed granny-starver. Think nothing of it. Really.) Whereupon he went to work in Washington for a variety of conservative congresscritters and think-tanks, thinking unremarkable thoughts for fairly unremarkable people. Once in Congress, however, he has been transformed into an intellectual giant despite the fact that, every time he comes up with another “budget,” actual economists get a look at it and determine, yet again, that between “What We Should Do” and “Great Things That Will Happen When We Do” is a wilderness of dreamy nonsense, wishful thinking, and an asterisk the size of Lake Huron.
(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Is Not a Vice President. Paul Ryan Is a Fake. – Esquire.)
How about his legislative accomplishments?
If you’ve heard of Paul Ryan, you’ve heard of Paul Ryan’s budget. But Ryan has been in the House of Representatives for 14 years and has proposed many, many other bills. Looking through the Library of Congress’s records, I counted 71 bills or amendments that Ryan has sponsored 71 bills or amendments and 971 bills that he has co-sponsored. That’s a lot of legislation, and some of it is pretty interesting. As Ezra noted, Ryan sponsored a Social Security privatization scheme that went so far the George W. Bush administration rejected it. So let’s dig a little deeper in the Ryan archives.
(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan’s non-budget policy record, in one post.)
Ryan is no Green:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, is a virulent denier of climate science, with a voting record to match. A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming.
Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E)
(click here to continue reading Meet Paul Ryan: Climate Denier, Conspiracy Theorist, Koch Acolyte | ThinkProgress.)
Rep. Ryan’s budget maintains his recent path of supporting Big Oil at the expense of the middle class. In 2011 Rep. Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill while cutting funds for education, medical research, and clean-tech investments. His subsequent FY 2012 budget left $40 billion in Big Oil tax breaks untouched, too, though it cut $30 billion from Medicare.
Interestingly, after Rep. Ryan introduced his 2012 budget last year, he told some of his constituents that he would support repeal of Big Oil tax breaks. Think Progress captured this discussion at a Ryan town meeting in Wisconsin.
Q: The subsidy for the oil companies that the federal government gives. They’ve gotta stop.
Q: End the oil company subsidies…
RYAN: I agree.
So why does his FY 2013 proposal leave these Big Oil tax breaks intact? Why would he break his word?
Perhaps it’s because Koch Industries, a large private oil company, is his fifth-largest campaign contributor over his career. And the oil and gas industry as a whole gave him $242,850 in campaign cash. Or maybe he maintained these oil tax breaks because Big Oil gave Republican incumbents and candidates 88 percent of their $20 million in donations so far this election cycle. This is a higher proportion than the 75 percent of $174 million in donations given by Big Oil to Republican congressional candidates beginning in 1990.
As he promotes his new budget, Rep. Ryan will make numerous claims about the urgency of cutting the federal budget deficit to justify cuts in clean energy, health, education, and other priorities essential to the American people. Maintaining $40 billion in tax breaks for rich Big Oil companies profiting from high gasoline prices makes his rhetoric hypocritical at best and a lie at worst.
(click here to continue reading Ryan Budget Pads Big Oil’s Pockets with Senseless Subsidies.)
Matt Taibbi was never fooled by Paul Ryan’s schtick…
Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.
Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.
Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.
The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.
The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.
(click here to continue reading Tax Cuts for the Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class; or, Paul Ryan Has Balls | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone.)
and silly, but…
One small but important part of the announcement: Paul Ryan’s Wikipedia page is about to undergo a wave of edits and revisions. (The page was edited 14 times in the first hour and a half following the Romney campaign’s announcement.)
The first edit:
Removed unnecessary statement from Early Life about prom king or “Brown Noser.” This is not needed in article is not common in such brief survey sections.
The detail, in Ryan’s Wikipedia biography since June 16, comes from an AP report on that date noting that Ryan “was voted prom king and the ‘Biggest Brown-Noser’ of his 1988 high school class before leaving for college in Ohio.”
(click here to continue reading The Paul Ryan Wikipedia edits begin – POLITICO.com.)
Seth and Josh 1986
As an aside – way, way aside but this is one of those anecdotes that has been stewing in my brain, and I have to put it somewhere, eventually– Paul Ryan is basically the same age as me2. I graduated from high school a little earlier because of skipping grades and so forth, but we both played soccer, both have goofily earnest yearbook photos, and so on. And yet our lives diverged quite quickly. Paul Ryan has never been anything other than a creature of Washington, D.C., while my closest brush with politics was when I had the idea to take the State Department’s entrance exam. With a partner, we were going to split up the national newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and scour them for international news, making note cards of the various players and politicians in hot-button countries, and use those cards to study for the exam. This was in the dark ages, before the internet, of course, and thus before things like Wikipedia were available. I was immersed in studying Mandarin Chinese, my friend was studying Japanese. Though, looking back, the plan was only quasi-serious, it was more of an attempt to get into a certain girl’s pants.3 Meanwhile, Paul Ryan was already an intern for Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin and on his way to becoming the sociopath Ayn Rand acolyte he is. Ryan was first elected to office at the tender age of 28.Footnotes: