Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Flip-Flopper & The Flim-Flam Man

As Paul Krugman details, "Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious." But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce."

Krugman elaborates, "The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has, however, stepped into the breach. Its numbers indicate that the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion. And that’s about the same as the budget office’s estimate of the 2020 deficit under the Obama administration’s plans. That is, Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible — which you shouldn’t — the Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich. And I do mean slash. The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population. Finally, let’s talk about those spending cuts. In its first decade, most of the alleged savings in the Ryan plan come from assuming zero dollar growth in domestic discretionary spending, which includes everything from energy policy to education to the court system. This would amount to a 25 percent cut once you adjust for inflation and population growth. How would such a severe cut be achieved? What specific programs would be slashed? Mr. Ryan doesn’t say."

As I wrote back in March 2011, "Paul talks about unsustainable health care and retirement. President Obama's health care reform is predicted to save $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. Yet Republicans are against these reforms. The Republican-favored 401Ks have increased instability in retirement. Plus, the most stable and solvent program, Social Security, is one right-wingers want to privatize. Here again, the supposed seriousness of the Republicans regarding these issues is in question. Ryan even specifically states that whatever we do about anything, we cannot have policies that force citizens to reorganize their lives. Under no circumstances must American citizens be asked to change their behavior. We must not acknowledge the realities of: income inequality, the failure of deregulation and tax cuts, nor climate change. Consume all you can, drive whatever you like, and run-up your credits cards buying unneeded waste. Lead the disposable life because, now, you're the disposable American."

As the Citizens For Tax Justice discovered, "Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP Budget Plan would collect $2 trillion less over a decade and yet require the bottom 90 percent to pay higher taxes."

Krugman declares, "So why have so many in Washington, especially in the news media, been taken in by this flimflam? It’s not just inability to do the math, although that’s part of it. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power — the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes. But they don’t. The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future."

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