Paul Ryan, Spawn of Newt.

The classic line about Newt Gingrich, the architect of the strategy of rigid partisan obstruction that has rendered problem-solving virtually impossible, was that “He’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart man sounds like.” * Newt, now pasty, blubbery and entirely beholding to a casino owner who could soon be in very deep (and long overdue) trouble for padding his fortune with the help of Chinese gangsters, has finally been dismissed from the public stage. (Not that the Beltway talk shows won’t continue to trumpet an “exclusive” with a guy more familiar with a microphone than a light salad.)

It took over 30 years for America’s political/media culture to work the wisdom of Newt Gingrich through its system. But even before he was properly deposited and disposed of, his replacement has stepped in to the spotlight. I speak of course of Paul Ryan, for whom the famous Gingrich quote applies … in spades.

PX90-trim, jut-jawed, clear-eyed and armed with a cherry-picked “understanding” of Ayn Rand, Ryan is very much Gingrich’s spawn. He is, like Gingrich, a man who sounds informed, serious and authoritative despite the uncomfortable fact that his visionary notions for solving The Big Problems … don’t really make any sense once you put paper, pencil or computer to the numbers and get into even superficial detail about … the details. It’s not quite a lunar colony — which would actually have more of a pump-priming quality job creation benefit — but’s it’s nearly as unrealistic.

But for a party, the modern GOP, that has a kind of “Project Runway” response to candidates who look like the characters they are supposed to be –Mitt Romney, job creating businessman who looks like a Hollywood president and now Paul Ryan, serious student of hard numbers from humble origins with matinée-idol appeal — Ryan is a dream candidate. Or rather a “dreamy” candidate.

Ryan’s various budget ideas will get picked apart like a dead deer on a hot Wisconsin highway in the next few weeks. This may be illuminating for those who have no idea who he is or what he’s been talking about and why the GOP cognoscenti (FoxNews, Michelle Malkin, Limbaugh) has such a crush on him. For others, who know about how the Congressional Budget Office scored his budget (which he insisted they judge based on a vast number of closed tax loopholes and cuts… that he did not specify), it’s enough to keep in mind a few key bits of information that wreak havoc with Ryan’s approved personal narrative.

1: He’s “courageous”. In the same way that perpetually campaigning on “cutting taxes” is the single easiest, least courageous thing any politician could ever do, Ryan’s career to date is built on never proposing or seriously countering any tax or legislative initiative supported by this country’s enfranchised financial elite. An act of “courage” would be to have at some moment, as a “serious” thinker, found something somewhere that might have readjusted the tax burden away from the middle-class and on to those around whom money has pooled like fast-rising flood water since the Bush cuts of 2003.

All of his “serious” talk to town halls in southern Wisconsin involve selling middle-class voters on the idea that times are very tough, and it is their patriotic duty to accept sacrifices … none of which are required from the people who have supported him through the entire adult working life he has spent in Congress, mastering the game of modern politics.

2: He’s a “deficit hawk”. Again, were he a true hawk and not merely a hyper-partisan in the Gingrich mold, he would have leaped at the so-called “grand bargain” in last year’s budget talks … but didn’t because to have voted for something that would have so significantly cleaned up the country’s books — post the Bush-Cheney era where Ryan voted for every budget-busting war and idea that crowd of drunken sailors came up with — would have facilitated Barack Obama’s reelection. There is no “courage” or pragmatic patriotism, or seriousness in capitulating to every act of partisan obstruction required from party leaders … who are essentially nothing more than circus dogs for their heavy-lobbying financial masters.

3: He’s a “rising star”. On this point there is no doubt. Ryan is on the ticket because of his appeal to voters for whom the appearance and sound of “seriousness” is good enough, and certainly better than anything said by a Kenyan Muslim socialist. Who the Tea Party crowd was going to vote for, if not Mitt Romney, I have no idea. But I doubt they needed Paul Ryan to vote against Barack Obama. Still, Ryan, assuming he leaves the ring in November with only character-enhancing scars from his run with Romney, is very much the modern GOP’s answer to Wally Pipp. In fact, in the event of a Romney loss, you can already hear the worst of the hyper-partisan zealots caterwauling that “we had the wrong guy at the top of the ticket”.

What I do like is that Ryan has been in Team Obama’s sights for quite a while. A shrewd read of what today’s GOP regards as a courageous rising star. I doubt they were surprised or unprepared for Ryan, and considering the gift he provides in terms of his re-design of Medicare and Medicaid and the focus he restores on the modern GOP’s concept of an equitable balance of balance to the 1% and everyone else, I suspect they are delighted to see Ryan, spawn of Newt, take that act back on the national trail.

Oh, and BTW, today on the campaign trail, Ryan will give a speech on the economy and all the tough choices middle-class Americans are going to have to make … then stop by the Venetian Hotel and Casino for a meeting with the aforementioned friend of Chinese mobsters, Sheldon Adelson, Newt’s one-man deep pocket and now devoted to bankrolling Mitt Romney.

The courage is breathtaking.

* Paul Krugman.

76 thoughts on “Paul Ryan, Spawn of Newt.

  1. Newt says:

    Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (Sept 8, 2011):

    “Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing. … He is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion. … The president as you remember, came out with a budget and I don’t think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97 to nothing.”

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Ex-Reagan Budget Director: Paul Ryan’s Budget ‘Is Devoid Of Credible Math Or Hard Policy Choices

      Even conservatives are bashing Paul Ryan’s budget.

      David Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan, derided the budget plan of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick in an op-ed in The New York Times Tuesday.

      “Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to ‘job creators’ (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse,” Stockman wrote in the op-ed, later adding: “Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices.”

      1. Erik says:

        Did you actually read Stockman’s piece in the Times? Much of his criticism is that Ryan isn’t assertive enough in objecting to the current conventional finance wisdom. But current conventional finance wisdom is Obama administration budget, fiscal, and defense policy. Stockman wants real cuts. He’s mosly criticizing Ryan from the right.

        As an Obama sycophant do you actually agree with Stockman, or do you just like that he criticizes Ryan?

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Yes, by all means, please read the entire ripping from the Reagan budget guru. It gets even worse for Ryan than my excerpt suggests:

        Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan
        Published: August 13, 2012

        PAUL D. RYAN is the most articulate and intellectually imposing Republican of the moment, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this earnest congressman from Wisconsin is preaching the same empty conservative sermon.

        Thirty years of Republican apostasy — a once grand party’s embrace of the welfare state, the warfare state and the Wall Street-coddling bailout state — have crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt. Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.

        Mr. Ryan professes to be a defense hawk, though the true conservatives of modern times — Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Robert A. Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, even Gerald R. Ford — would have had no use for the neoconconservative imperialism that the G.O.P. cobbled from policy salons run by Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites three decades ago. These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion “defense” budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global policeman.

        Indeed, adjusted for inflation, today’s national security budget is nearly double Eisenhower’s when he left office in 1961 (about $400 billion in today’s dollars) — a level Ike deemed sufficient to contain the very real Soviet nuclear threat in the era just after Sputnik. By contrast, the Romney-Ryan version of shrinking Big Government is to increase our already outlandish warfare-state budget and risk even more spending by saber-rattling at a benighted but irrelevant Iran.

        Similarly, there can be no hope of a return to vibrant capitalism unless there is a sweeping housecleaning at the Federal Reserve and a thorough renunciation of its interest-rate fixing, bond buying and recurring bailouts of Wall Street speculators. The Greenspan-Bernanke campaigns to repress interest rates have crushed savers, mocked thrift and fueled enormous overconsumption and trade deficits.

        The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking.

        Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade

        A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

        Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

        Likewise, hacking away at the roughly $400 billion domestic discretionary budget (what’s left of the federal budget after defense, Social Security, health and safety-net spending and interest on the national debt) will yield only a rounding error’s worth of savings after popular programs (which Republicans heartily favor) like cancer research, national parks, veterans’ benefits, farm aid, highway subsidies, education grants and small-business loans are accommodated.

        Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. America has some of the highest labor costs in the world, and saddles workers and businesses with $1 trillion per year in job-destroying payroll taxes. We need a national sales tax — a consumption tax, like the dreaded but efficient value-added tax — but Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan don’t have the gumption to support it.

        The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

        In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.


        David A. Stockman, who was the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Great Deformation: How Crony Capitalism Corrupts Free Markets and Democracy.”

      3. Joe: A classic SRC moment. Thnx.

        And now this …

        Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.

        The congressman on Monday denied profiting from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector. His office said he had no control over the trades.

        Public records show that on the same day as the meeting, Ryan sold stock in troubled banks including Wachovia and Citigroup and bought shares in Goldman Sachs, Paulson’s old employer and a bank that had been disclosed to be stronger than many of its rivals. The sale was not illegal at the time. …

        In April the Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Spencer Bachus, Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, of allegations of insider dealing. Critics had charged he had taken advantage of insider information to trade shares on numerous occasions.

        Bachus was present at the meeting that Ryan attended with Bernanke and Paulson. The next day he traded “short” options, betting on a decline in share prices in the financial services sector.

      4. Erik says:

        You’re a day late genius. That’s been debunked, with Matthew Yglessias himself acknowledging it’s a load of shit.

        Horrid Pipp metaphor by the way. You probably misused that worse than you did “show trial”.

      5. Erik says:

        Oh noes! Brad Delong doesn’t buy it either!

        “Did Paul Ryan run from his Paulson-Bernanke briefing to his phone to call his broker and trade on inside information? I doubt it. It is certainly not a potential conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest but rather an actual conflict of interest for a Congressman receiving Fed and Treasury information on the health of banks to be buying and selling individual bank stocks. But late-mid-month–the 16, 17, 18, 20–is a “normal” time for Ryan to be trading (38% of trading days are in that 17% of the month) and for Ryan to switch out of some banks into another (usually Goldman Sachs) was a common thing for him to do: once every two months.”

      6. Erik says:

        Hey Bri? You knows who’s a crook? Jon Corzine and Goldman Sachs. How is it they have escaped prosecution if the Democrats are not corrupt and captive to moneyed interests? Do you just try and keep “low information” on news nuggets like that so it doesn’t upset your worldview?

      7. From Brad DeLong …

        “According to his 2008 financial disclosure report, Paul Ryan made 58 trades in individual stocks in 2008–27 of them in large money-center banks.

        Benjy Sarlin writes:

        Paul Ryan Insider Trading Rumor Quickly Debunked | TPM2012: It had the makings of a scandal: Paul Ryan traded banking stocks during the financial crisis the same day as a meeting with top Treasury Department officials, a Virginia blog wrote Monday…. The Romney campaign said Ryan had nothing to do with the trades in the first place. They were part of a Russell 1000 index fund that automatically traded stocks as part of a pre-set formula. Ryan’s disclosure forms include several similar trade patterns at various points throughout the year.

        Russell Investments says:

        Russell 1000 Index – U.S. Large Cap Index: The Russell 1000 Index measures the performance of the large-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. It is a subset of the Russell 3000® Index and includes approximately 1000 of the largest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership. The Russell 1000 represents approximately 92% of the U.S. market. The Russell 1000 Index is constructed to provide a comprehensive and unbiased barometer for the large-cap segment and is completely reconstituted annually to ensure new and growing equities are reflected.

        There is no way in hell–if you are rebalancing to try to track the Russell 1000 index–you make only 58 trades in a year, that you make 27 of those 58 in large money-center banks, and that 10 of those trades involve shifting your money from Citi to Goldman and back five times.

        No way in hell.

        I don’t know what was going on. But it appears that Ryan’s flacks are–for some reason–simply making s@#& up.

        That is all…

      8. Erik says:

        Wait. Are those last four sentences yours Lambo? I mean, I’m shocked you have any insight at all… but the takeaway is, yes, you don’t know what was going on…. But will (for auto-erotic purposes) reserve the right to hope Ryan was insider trading, even with no good evidence to support it. And this is in defiance of reasonable analysis offered by lefty smarties Yglesias and Delong.

        That’s some faith based reasoning, completely free of qualitative or quantitative analysis.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    From NYT’s FiveThirtyEight Blog.

    A Risky Rationale Behind Romney’s Choice of Ryan

    Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

    By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)

  3. Not that you care, Newt. But … “Wyden fired out a statement Saturday evening that read, in part:

    Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not ‘co-lead a piece of legislation.’ I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don’t protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won’t help promote real bipartisanship.

    The plan Sen. Wyden co-authored with Ryan does bear a striking resemblance to the proposed Medicare changes in Ryan’s latest budget for the House GOP. Both keep traditional Medicare as a kind of public option, in an exchange where it would compete with private plans offering insurance to seniors. The government would give seniors support for purchasing these plans, and that support would be benchmarked to the cost of the second-least expensive plan. The plans would also be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.

    But there are also some key differences between Ryan and Wyden: For one thing, the Wyden-Ryan plan would cap the growth rate of this new version of Medicare at the growth of the economy plus one percent, while Ryan’s budget would cap it at economic growth plus 0.5 percent. And, as Wyden pointed out, their joint plan was a policy proposal — not a piece of actual, sponsored legislation. Paul Ryan himself has admitted the two plans are not the same thing.

    More important, however, is understanding Wyden’s support for these Medicare reforms within the context of his stances on broader health care reform. Wyden voted for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — the health reform bill that used a similar exchange structure to cover all Americans not already ensured by their employers, Medicare, or Medicaid. Before that, Wyden co-authored a bill with Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) which would have extended the exchange-based coverage system to every American not in Medicare or in the military. Meanwhile, the latest House GOP budget — which Wyden pointedly refused to support — repeals the ACA, casting everyone who isn’t a senior back into the country’s prior dysfunctional system, with severe cuts to Medicaid to boot.

  4. barbara says:

    Question: If radical Republicans spoke without rabid invective, i.e., simply said what they hold to be the truth and their verifiable reasons for that, would their party disown them? How else to explain the immediate, knee-jerk poo-flinging on this site from the right? Seriously. I will study the matter of Paul Ryan and get back to you in the fullness of time. Meanwhile, Brian, gird your loins as your assailants steep themselves in saving Ryan’s privates.

    1. No worries, Barbara. In the case of your (very) average right-wing troll the level of hysterical personal invective is almost always inversely proportional to their grasp of facts, logic and an ability to engage in the context at hand. They are a self-indicting crowd.

      1. As I read the back-and-forth on here, I’m having a Lambert and Janecek moment. It’s emotional. Love your line “In the case of your (very) average right-wing troll the level of hysterical personal invective is almost always inversely proportional to their grasp of facts, logic and an ability to engage in the context at hand. They are a self-indicting crowd.” Priceless. Clearly your Inner Brian is asking me to give Jay Carney a call. I’m thinking the natural progression for you is Press Secretary. Looking forward to your return to my radio program tomorrow. Ryan, Romney, Congress, Vikings… it’s all on the agenda.

    2. Newt says:

      Barbara is a little light in the specifics department, but this makes it easier for her to smear the opposition.

  5. Erik says:

    Pipp metaphors are a pretty mainstream American linguistic device by now Lambo, so we can’t let an example like yours go without comment.

    “Still, Ryan, assuming he leaves the ring in November with only character-enhancing scars from his run with Romney, is very much the modern GOP’s answer to Wally Pipp.”

    Couple, few things here:

    1. Ugh. You must have thought this was clever. It’s not. It’s completely self-indulgent.

    2. This metaphor is incoherent. Use metaphor to enable understanding. Not inhibit understanding.

    3. This is the most awkward Pipp metaphor ever written. The only way it’s done right really, is to say something such as: “Like Gehrig’s ascendance over Pipp, the GOP probably hopes Ryan usurps Romney after 2012…

    4. You equate Ryan to Pipp. He ain’t ostensibly Pipp. He’s Gehrig.

    5. It’s not an accurate metaphor anyway. The manner of succession is too different. Winning the first base job permanently when the regular goes down isn’t comparable to being the next guy to win the party’s nomination.

    6. You got a problem with Wikipedia? You figure, the roots of any metaphor contain some mythology. If you’re going to assume your readership isn’t familiar with Pipp, your best education for them is not going to be a Snopes link however, where layman are properly disabused of myth. First, they just need to know what the myth is, because the myth is the metaphor.

    I have seen you properly use a Dizzy Deanism in the past, and I appreciated that.

  6. Wow. Brian sure hasn’t put any intellectual weight on since I was last here. A comparison to Newt Gingrich? That’s the best you could do? I would guess Ryan could and will clean Biden’s clock in a debate and is quite capable of exposing Obama for the sloganeer that he is, devoid of much original thinking and ultra thin skinned, to boot. Obama doesn’t command facts so much as liberal dogma and talking points. His policies to date have been lacking in effectiveness… darn if only those obstructionist Republicans could see the light….and agree with his throwing money at anything and everything that moves. I’ll take the collective brainpower of Romney/Ryan over Obama/Biden any day. By the way, Brian, nice reference to P90X. Bet Tony Horton loves it. But trim? Nah, P90X gets you ripped. Jane Fonda tapes will get you trim. I don’t think Ryan has been popping any Jane.

  7. Seriously? Ryan is smart and logical enough to know you can’t make anyheadway on our spiral into the fiscal nosedive we are in by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and cutting some aid to countries here and there and slicing and dicing the military. Obama and liberals aren’t that dumb either. They just refuse to admit that Medicare and other programs need some major reforms. Throwing granny under the bus is easier to recite than serious policy discourse, in which Obama has no interest. Do lower taxes cure all ills? Obviously not, but raising taxes on anyone in anemic economic times is pathetically stupid. Talk about pissing on a forest fire….and that is taken as a serious policy issue to help get us back on the road to recovery?

  8. By the way, Joe, why do I have to log in every time I come to the website. Has there been a security problem. Or did my past drunken tirades get me banned from this fine establishment?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Good question. I have to do the same thing, so don’t take it personally. I’m thinking Austin turned SRC security over to Blackwater.

  9. Oh, and Brian, he was logical enough to do P90X and to realize you have to work hard to get results instead of taking some pill or other gimmicks. Good old fashioned ball busting (or boob busting) hard work. Simple but not easy.

      1. You didn’t get it, Jim. The point was that getting any results takes hard work (including understanding budgets and incentives and coming up with tough solutions). I simply used working out as a metaphor. Do I need to explain what that is, as well?

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        A weakness in the metaphor: 9 of the top 10 most obese states are red states. If red states are where the hard working, budget-studyin’, tough solution embracin’ rugged individualists reside, their hard workedness isn’t translating into fitness. Mississippi, drop and give me 20.

  10. Newt says:

    President Obama in 2009 Pledged to Veto Attempts to Undo Medicare Cuts

    As Democrats attack Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for their proposals regarding Medicare, Obama is hanuted by this clip from a November 9, 2009 interview in which he not only acknowledged that one third of his health care bill was paid for by cuts to Medicare, but that he would veto attempts to undo those cuts.

    TAPPER: One of the concerns about health care and how you pay for it — one third of the funding comes from cuts to Medicare.


    TAPPER: A lot of times, as you know, what happens in Congress is somebody will do something bold and then Congress, close to election season, will undo it.

    OBAMA: Right.

    TAPPER: You saw that with the ‘doc fix.

    OBAMA: Right.

    TAPPER: Are you willing to pledge that whatever cuts in Medicare are being made to fund health insurance, one third of it, that you will veto anything that tries to undo that?

    OBAMA: Yes. I actually have said that it is important for us to make sure this thing is deficit neutral, without tricks. I said I wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t meet that criteria.

    1. Newt: I hate to burst your bubble, but the above quotes only support the Kenyan Muslim socialist’s actual plan, which is best understood as re-direction of revenues — for purposes of cost control, reducing fraud and better consumer service — than the “cuts” Mittens is flapping his jowls about. You are of course free to believe whatever you see in a 30 second ad, but if you’re interested in the bona fides …

    2. Joe Loveland says:

      My conservative friends here continually demand that Medicare costs be cut. They say Medicare is unsustainable, even though Medicare has proven to be the most efficient (much lower administrative costs than private plans) and popular health plan in the nation.

      Then when Medicare costs are cut, by reducing payments to providers, you bellow. At the same time, you embrace a Ryan plan that would reduce the amount of benefits available to the average senior by, according to the non-partisan CBO, a breathtaking $6500 per senior per year.

      I’m trying very hard to follow the logic here. It feels like you want to cut costs only if it reduces benefits, not if it trims government payments to corporate medicine and wealthy doctors. Is that it?

      1. Erik says:

        Delivery of services might be very efficient, and it may very well buy value in general. But It’s got a dedicated funding source that can’t pay for it. Raising the top income tax rate from 36% to 39.6% isn’t enough.

        That’s the proper definition of its sustainability. Outlays have to be cut. It’s an imperative. Doesn’t really matter how much people like the program. Working people aren’t going to put up with the tax burden it takes to pay for this.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Okay, I agree with you that an adjustment in Medicare is needed, as is continually the case with insurance products/programs, either public or private. The fact that it needs an adjustment is not a sign of a fatal disease that necessitates Ryan-style euthanasia, it’s a routine fact-of-life for every health insurance plan that has ever existed. As demographics and cost trends shift, operational and financial shifts become necessary.

        But I disagree with those who say that you therefore must slash benefits or eliminate the popular and efficient defined benefits model completely. That’s just not necessary.

        My preferred approach:

        1) Means test it, so wealthy seniors pay more.
        2) Allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.
        3) Reduce payments to doctors and corporate medicine (Before you cry for them, consider this from Slate: “The gap between doctors’ incomes and those of professionals is far bigger in the United States than elsewhere. In the 1990s, the ratio of the average American doctor’s income to the average American employee’s income was about 5.5. In Germany, it was 3.4; Canada, 3.2; Australia, 2.2; Switzerland, 2.1; France, 1.9; Sweden, 1.5; the United Kingdom, 1.4.)

        or, better yet

        4) Allow Medicare For All, where any American can buy into Medicare, and just set a rate for non-senior buy-ins that stabilizes the program over the long haul. After all, why not just expand the most efficient and popular form of health coverage we have in America, and use the increased purchasing power to bargain down costs?

        This notion that the only way to save Medicare is to radically slash seniors’ benefits by $6500 per person per year is simple-minded, not “serious.” Slashing benefits should be a last resort, not the first resort.

      3. Erik says:

        Because of the enormous demographic problem, I have somewhat informed doubts that there’s enough money in anything you describe. But that’s largely immaterial. The thing is, the Democrats tie the Medicare argument into their basic tax argument about the wealthy. And there certainly isn’t enough money to be had there to fortify Medicare. So if I have to choose between Ryan and a bunch of insipid, irrelevant populist gobbledy gook, it’s a pretty easy choice.

        Seriousness is relative, and not measured by degree or increment. Ryan’s plan is serious compared to the alternatives.

      4. Erik says:

        Geeeeze. Physicians actually work for a living, don’t take it out on them. I don’t know what they earn. I figured a GP earned about $250k. But what I know is a $250k job isn’t appealing at $150k.

        Thing is, rather than affirm any of Ryan’s points you assert that docking Doc pay is not a benefit cut. It is, in fact, a benefit cut. There will be less benefit delivered if the deliverers are to earn less money for delivering.

      5. Joe Loveland says:

        1) I wouldn’t squeeze the GPs. I’d focus on specialists, many of whom make around a half million dollars per year. Cost-cutting is needed, and wealthy specialists can absorb the burden more easily than grandmas can.

        2) Even with reductions, U.S. specialists would still be paid more than physicians in other developed nations in the west. As those stats show, the gap between us and the rest of the world is enormous, so a little belt tightening is not even going to force them out of their mansions into mere McMansions.

        3) In other western nations where specialists are paid much less than they are in the U.S. the doomsday predictions have not come true. People still go into the profession and live very comfortable lives. And their patients have better overall health outcomes at a lower cost than Americans have.

      6. Erik says:

        That’s quite capricious and unfair to them, and liberals seem to miss that in their zeal for technocratic detail.

      7. Joe Loveland says:

        Non-partisan Politifact finds Romney’s claim that Obama robbed from $700 million Medicare to fund Obamacare to the detriment of seniors as “mostly false.” Excerpt:

        First things first: Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget.

        Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years.

        What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

        Now, to address the word “robbed.” We know the civility is at a low ebb these days, but we think it’s worth pointing out that the money was not robbed in any literal sense of the word.

        Congress passed the law through its normal process, and the proposal was debated out in the open during the many weeks that the final law was being negotiated.

        At the time the health care law was being finalized and passed, Democrats said it was important to them that the new law not add to the deficit. So the reductions in Medicare spending were counted against the health care law’s new spending. That spending is primarily to cover the uninsured, by giving them tax credits to buy private insurance. But some new spending increases Medicare coverage for prescription drugs for seniors.

        Finally, Romney said Obama is the “only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare.” In reality, several presidents have reduced Medicare spending.

        • President Ronald Reagan cut Medicare by reducing payments to hospitals, and he cut benefits by raising deductibles.

        • President George H.W. Bush cut benefits by repealing a law that would have expanded coverage for drugs and catastrophic illness.

        • President Bill Clinton cut Medicare by changing payments to doctors and other providers, which could be considered to have an indirect effect on beneficiaries.

        Our ruling

        Romney said, “There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare.”

        The only element of truth here is that the health care law seeks to reduce future Medicare spending, and the tally of those cost reductions over the next 10 years is $716 billion. The money wasn’t “robbed,” however, and other presidents have made similar reductions to the Medicare program.

        We rate this statement Mostly False.

      8. Joe: I see even Soledad O’Brien on CNN (a.k.a The Clinton News Network) is making essentially the same dissection of this particular piece of bullshit/lying … or as the more genteel media prefers “misleading statement”. That’s interesting because I suspect the willingness to fact-check Big Lies might have ticked up a bit, certainly since ’04, when most of the press took that attitude that it was Kerry’s job to set the record straight on whether he was in/fought in Vietnam.

        Mittens is taking a beating on this that strikes me as unusual. But the calculation is always that it’ll work with enough “persuadables” to turn the election.

        I both admire and appreciate your willingness to rebut the transparently bogus with our cast of parrots.

        I’ll buy at a happy hour of your choosing.

      9. Joe Loveland says:

        My pleasure. Good clean democratic fun. I look upon being called an obsequious douche bag several times per week as my patriotic duty.

    3. Newt says:

      Go ahead. Ignore the words that came out of Obama’s mouth, or Wyden’s word processor. They don’t need to be nuanced or “revised and extended” by themselves or political operatives. The world knows what they said and what they meant.

      The toothpaste is out of the tube, liberals.

  11. Let’s stop calling this trust-fund baby and millionaire through inherited wealth a man of humble origins.
    Why is it so often the wealthy who got their money the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it, who know best how to free poorer people from the burden of government help that, as in Ryan’s case, helped them make their millions?

    1. Erik says:

      He didn’t grow up poor, but I’ve not heard he was the beneficiary of a trust, much less a multi-million dollar one. Source please. Either I’m wrong, or you’re wrong and blithely dog-whistling.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        From Esquire:

        “…both partnerships were formed by Mr. Ryan and other family members to manage assets left by his grandparents and an aunt. Mrs. Ryan has reported receiving a trust after her mother died in 2010 that is valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to a letter Mr. Ryan filed with his latest financial disclosure. Mrs. Ryan also has longstanding interests in several mining and oil exploration investments in Oklahoma and Texas managed by her father, Dan Little, a lawyer in Oklahoma whose clients include oil and gas companies. Those investments generated as much as $150,000 in income last year.”

        How did the family business make their money? Building government-funded rural roads. Government-stimulated job creation. You can’t make this stuff up.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        And Salon reports:

        According to the Web site of Ryan Incorporated Central, the company was “founded in 1884 with a single team of mules building railroad embankments in Southern Wisconsin.” And in the 1800s, railroad construction was subsidized by the federal government. Mid-century, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law, providing taxpayer dollars to fund the construction of a transcontinental railway. All railroads thereafter connected to, and benefited from, that public investment.

        At the turn of the century, Ryan Inc. turned to road building. A subsidiary family corporation, Ryan Incorporated Southern, states on its Web site, “The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later [and] was mostly Highway construction.” The $119 billion spent by the federal government on the Interstate Highway System was, by one account, “the largest public works program since the Pyramids.”

        And, according to the Ryan Inc. Web site, the company completed “some of the original work at what would become O’Hare Airport” in Chicago. Originally, O’Hare Airport was a manufacturing base for World War II transport planes. In other words, it’s likely that construction project, too, was paid for by tax dollars. A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996 , including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million.

        When President Obama said that we succeed in America “because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together,” he was actually speaking in more general terms — about manufacturing companies that ship their goods on our railways and highways and thus indirectly benefit from that public infrastructure. With a net worth of up to $3.2 million and ranking as the 124th richest member of Congress, Paul Ryan very directly and very significantly benefited from the federal spending he now rails against.

      3. Erik says:

        Yea, I suppose he does. Although it seems kind of oblique. His stake in Ryan Co. isn’t relatively large.

        I get it though. It’s supposed to be hypocrisy.

        But it’s not. He’s not a doctrinaire Randian. He’s not a libertarian. He’s a Republican, a conservative. His ideology allows for the existence of private companies taking contracts to build public assets. The alternative would be a department of road building or private toll roads, and he supports neither of those. Look, he’s probably as much a Randian as the president is a socialist, right?

        Kind of obsequious, but more generally just insipid straw-manism. In order to get that hypocrisy induced auto-erotic pants creaming, you have to ascribe beliefs to him he’s never espoused.

      4. Erik says:

        Joe, you’re not a douchebag. You’re not smug, obnoxious, dim, and bigoted, so far as I can tell.

        You have this earnest thing going on. Unfortunately that doesn’t really get all the way there to diminishing your obsequiousness, which tends to get especially acute when you carry water for the gross absurdities of contemporary liberalism. Your adoration of Politifact is one example among a few that could be noted.

        All hope is not lost though. With the news cycle as fast as it is, we can probably test the reliability of your obsequiousness every day. We’ll develop a metric. By building and observing this data, you can probably make some changes and enhance your credibility pretty quickly.

        Here’s today’s timely nuggets for you to provide some perspective on.

        A – Joe Biden’s “chain” remarks done in African-American dialect: Was he race baiting, or is the correct explanation that he was talking about possible repeal of Dodd-Frank?

        B – The Soptic ad: Did the Obama Administration coordinate this through their Super Pac, or was it all a coincidence?

      5. Joe Loveland says:

        Forget the Rand stuff. I don’t care about how much Paul Ryan does or or does not follow pure Randism. Yawn.

        What I care about is Paul Ryan building his whole political career around the allegation that government spending can’t possibly create jobs and stimulate the economy, when he has watched government spending do exactly that his entire lifetime, and benefited enormously from it.

        Or his ridiculous ranting at the President for saying that businesses need government to succeed, when his family business couldn’t have succeeded without government funding.

        He knows the truth. He is just playing silly political games. The guy is a total fraud. He has deltoids that make me feel like a girly man, but he is a total fraud.

      6. Erik says:

        When Ryan Co was building roads and railroads in the 19th and 20th century, those contracts were not a manifestation of Keynesian policy. Those contracts were the manifestation of a desire and a need to have roads and railroads.

        Keynesian policy maybe, maybe existed for a brief flicker in the 30’s and then with the Obama stimulus. Cept the Obama stimulus was the equivalent of taking a big pile of money and lighting it afire. Beyond the theoretical, there’s not a good example of stimulative spending out there anyone can hang their hat on.

      7. Joe Loveland says:

        You’re playing some pretty silly word games.

        It doesn’t matter if the government funding came to the Ryans wrapped up in a package clearly labeled “Keynesian Policy.” Who cares what they called it upon arrival?

        Regardless of how the government funding was labeled, it is hypocritical for Congressman Ryan to so obviously benefit economically from that government funding, while maintaining that government funding can’t create jobs or stimulate the economy.

      8. Erik says:

        It’s a bit more nuanced than that. You’ve still I think reduced it to a strawman.

        The big thing about the Rand / Ryan / Hayek etc critique of govt spending is the money and assets this represents already exists and is working in the private market. To tax or bond it out of the private market and direct it (inefficiently by comparison) through various political pipelines does not create anything new. It just replaces private market activity. And obviously, if you are not a doctrinaire libertarian you acknowledge that taxation, redistribution, and bonding has to go on to a point. But there’s a bias against it, and this bias is conservatism or Republicanism.

        You’re glomming on to a fallacy. Ryan isn’t any more hypocritical than say, you, who is one of these “happy to pay more” guys who can’t actually bring himself to willfully do it without a sufficiently encompassing new tax statute.

      9. Joe Loveland says:

        Re: Erik’s assertion that stimulus spending”…does not create anything new. It just replaces private market activity.”

        This argument does not hold up.

        The private market has no interest in financing most roads, transit and other public goods, so if government doesn’t fund it, it doesn’t come into existence or get maintained. Thus, when govenrment funds such public goods, it creates something new, and it is something new that creates broad direct and indirect economic benefits. That’s why the President’s Recovery Act funded billions in transportation and other types of public goods.

        In the form of tax cuts, unemployment payments, and state and local government aid, the Recovery Act also put billions of dollars of new money in the pockets of consumers who were most likely to spend it immediately, at a time when businesses were not investing and consumers were not spending…and therefore the economy was melting down. Putting this money in consumers’ pockets was generating a modest amount of consumer demand that otherwise would not have been present at the depth of the Bush economic meltdown. That’s why the Bush job loss trend reversed post-Recovery Act, as shown in the famous “bikini graphs.”

      10. Erik says:

        Roads, bridges, and transit is the foremost caveat that differentiates conservatism from libertarianism. There is no conservative figure that objects to taxes funding road construction. Nor does any conservative dispute that government spending literally benefits someone, somewhere, and is literally responsible for the existence of some jobs.

        So the stimulus’ impact was probably measurable. But it was weak and inept, because you’d be hard pressed to do it larger without destroying the currency and the countries credit rating. Same you’d be hard pressed to do it repeatedly without destroying the currency and the countries credit rating. So what’s the point? The argument is that pro-growth policies would be much more effective than stimulus. And its fair to say the Obama administration and Democrats are not pro-growth.

      11. Joe Loveland says:

        If the stimulus didn’t have any effect, why the reversal of job loss trend seen in the bikini graph? Total coincidence?

        If the stimulus reversed the job loss trend, as the graph shows, but didn’t reverse it enough, why don’t you conclude that the stimulus was too small (Krugman), rather than no stimulus is preferable to any stimulus (GOP)?

      12. Erik says:

        Yeah, actually. By the time stimulus kicked in, the mortgage, remodeling, and automotive industries had laid off just about everyone they could. That’s the definition of coincidence.
        The stimulus was measurable, but it failed, your charts with the hope logos notwithstanding.

    2. Bruce, more often than not, the wealthy don’t inherit their money. Books like the Millionaire Next Door and others dispell this goofy liberal myth. A majority of wealthy have earned their own way…by the way, define wealthy, an income of $200,000 or more? Just asking.

      1. Erik says:

        What’s the meaningful observation in your link, Jim?

        Inherited wealth isn’t new. Here locally, Target, General Mills, and 3M were founded in the gilded age. Descendants of the original founding families still have stakes in those companies, they now being worth tens of millions or more. This is just off the top of my head. I could go on.

        Slow growth measured at the macro level notwithstanding, there’s nothing stopping someone from starting an enterprise and becoming a billionaire. It’s gonna keep happening. In recent months I was marveled by the chick who invented the nylon girdle thing and became a billionaire.

        You posted a big ball of nuthin. I’m less annoyed at you for linking it than Robert Frank for writing it.

  12. Interesting, but that article talks about the top 1 percent maybe less of wealthy people in the country, as defined by liberals. Well…..which is it. Are you saying only 400 people are wealthy? Then you are right. Of course you won’t engage me in defining wealth.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      I merely posted a blog that suggests that the trend may be shifting toward more wealth being inherited than created.

      But Bruce’s point was mainly that Ryan is no boot strapper. He’s been chiefly a government employee his entire adult working life, whose never had so much as a lemonade stand and owes most of his wealth to lineage and his wife’s lineage.

      According to Romney, that makes him unqualified.

      1. Erik says:

        No, it does not make Ryan unqualified according to Romney.

        You’re not engaging in big league rhetoric today old man.

      2. Erik says:

        I’m at work, so I’m not going to watch it. But I don’t care. What made you start obsessing over trivialities Jim?

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        The back and forth between Bruce and Mike. I would’ve thought that was obvious. But you’re working.

      4. Erik says:

        Interview from a couple days ago on the Hugh Hewitt show:

        HH: And what was your first job?

        PR: Well, you can get a job as a very young kid in Wisconsin in detasseling corn. So for people not in the Midwest, what that means is you walk down a corn row, and you snap the tassels off the corn to help pollinate the corn. I had a lot of landscaping jobs, a lot of lawn mowing jobs. I worked at McDonald’s, waited tables, was a fitness trainer, sold meat for Oscar Meyer, I had a lot…I painted houses, lots of different jobs.

        HH: You worked at McDonald’s?

        PR: Yeah, I was, you know, a funny story is the manager said I didn’t have the social skills to work the front, so he put me on the quarter pounder grill.

        I wouldn’t call growing up in an affluent exurban bedroom community “boot strapping”. But he isn’t lazy, and he did work… though you’re perhaps right. He may not have had a lemonade stand. Do landscaping and lawnmowing jobs equate?

        His wife ostensibly inherited a few bucks a couple years ago. So that’s another bastardized detail made strawman. And really, who cares? You people are supposed to be the smart ones that ponder consequential things…

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Yes, I’m sure you’re right, Erik, those sorts of responsibility-free summer jobs were just what Romney was referencing. Touche.

      6. Erik says:

        Alright, I read the Romney transcript.

        It’s (kinda dumb) hyperbole Jim. Think Progress is one thing. But you’ve got a doctoral / masters level understanding of the English language. Whats the deal? You think THIS is Romney / Ryan hypocrisy? You think THIS is important?

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