Tag Archives: Paul Ryan budget

The Uncles

Uncle Sam

We are on the edge of taking the medicine that Paul Ryan has been prescribing for us ever since the “Great Recession” of 2008. This is the austerity budget that Europe is beginning to abandon because it has not helped their economies. This is the budget that has been readjusted so the wealthy can keep even more of their money while supposedly teaching the 47% valuable lessons about self-sufficiency. That should be fun. Let’s see how much more money we can send to the 1%.

Can President Obama veto a budget? Does he have that power? I looked it up; he does. Maybe it would be a good kind of awful to live under this budget until the 2016 election. Perhaps that would convince people that budgets are not moral instruments meant to punish individuals who Republicans theorize have become dependent on “Uncle Sugar” (which is what Evangelical Republicans call Uncle Sam when they want to accuse us of being addicted to living on the government dime).

Uncle Sugar2

A government such as ours has no money of its own. Whatever money our government has comes from us. We all pay our taxes; we paid into Medicare; we paid into Social Security. We, quite foolishly it seems, counted on those we elected to govern for us to design programs that worked so our money would come back to us as we were promised it would. Some of the money in our Federal budget must have come from the very 47% who are accused of malingering.

However, if the Republican budget, the Paul Ryan budget, passes, I am thinking that we will all hate it so much that we will finally understand that we cannot elect a Republican President right now.

The House of Representatives already passed their version of the budget. The Senate will take up their version next. They disagree, we are told, about military spending. Both houses want to increase it, but the Senate wants ‘pay-fors’ and the House has not worried about how we will pay for military budget increases. Will the Republicans finally reach agreement now of all times, just when we wish they wouldn’t. We shall see.

Obviously, I am torn. I am grateful that we have President Obama to veto the budget. If this budget were to pass and to go into effect we might not be able to vacate it easily. We might be stuck with cuts in programs that would be very difficult to reverse. Many Americans will be adversely affected by this budget. That would be bad. Another part of me believes that this budget would be so disastrous, so painful that all Americans would be saying is Uncle, that unnamed uncle that means “we lost”, “we surrender”, “end the pain”. I don’t think we can afford to conduct an experiment to see how much human misery we can generate. So we really only have one option. President Obama needs to kill this budget.

uncle cry2

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

Deals That Are Not Deals

let's deal

It used to be that when a deal was done in Congress each side gave a little so that each side won something and lost something. It was not always pretty. There were terrible arguments. Enemies were made. But compromises were arrived at. The way the Republicans try to do deals lately (whether they have a majority or not) would be laughable if it weren’t so maddening, so impossible, and so sad.

Republicans write legislation with a really bitter pill and a slightly less bitter pill and then they present it as if it were a gift-wrapped package instead of a flaming bag of poo. Or they might attach a poison pill to a bill that has bipartisan appeal and then Democrats have to vote against something they really want in order to avoid something really toxic. The recent bill against human trafficking was a bill that had bipartisan appeal and is the kind of law that usually makes us proud that Americans care about human rights. But the Hyde Amendment got tucked into the human trafficking bill so that Republicans could be sure to remind us that no federal funds can be spent on abortion (which is legal by the way) even for a victim of human trafficking. The bill gave with one hand and took away with the other. Republicans knew all along that the Democrats would not vote for this bill with the Hyde amendment attached. They hoped the Democrats wouldn’t notice.

Admittedly, the Democrats almost didn’t notice. They should have read the bill way before they did. However, we have no clue about when the Hyde Amendment snuck its way into the trafficking bill.  Now Republicans are ticked off. Their ploy did not work. They blame the Democrats, but I think we can all see how the GOP took a calculated risk and lost.

In a snit about not getting their Hyde Amendment past the Democrats they now threaten to, one more time, postpone their approval for Loretta Lynch to take the place of the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, who they don’t even like. They have a hostage and she is their last one so they have to make sure to use her to their best advantage. But Loretta Lynch is very well qualified to be AG and has done nothing to deserve the treatment she has received from the GOP. They are using Loretta Lynch to punish Obama for everything he has ever done or ever will do as President, apparently.

Now that the trafficking bill vote is done, Congress is moving on to the budget. The GOP is offering the exact same Paul Ryan budget (perhaps with minor tweaks) that supposedly balances the U. S. budget in ten years but leaves America with no social safety net. They are very much aware of the fact that Democrats have basic ideological differences with the Ryan budget. They are very much aware that economists feel the Paul Ryan budget numbers offer an austerity that will not provide economic growth in America. Economists tell us that this budget will worsen the economic inequality gap between the wealthy and the rest of us. The only increase in the GOP budget is in the area of defense where experts have said increases are not needed.

Republicans do not plan to abandon the Sequester which is scheduled to continue taking its bite out of the lives of those who are already at the bottom of the economic heap. The Republicans know that Democrats cannot approve this budget. They do not agree that the meanness of this budget is necessary and they do not subscribe to the theory that ending social programs will force people to lift themselves up. Democrats do not believe that government is useless and that private business will provide all the services that our government once provided. We will stop paying as many taxes but will pay private businesses to provide services like health care for seniors and education. We will be like the miners who have to buy everything from the company store owned by our employers. And we want to do that because it worked so well the first time around?

What good will it do to balance the budget in ten years if we do so by cutting everything that makes America a great country for “we the people”. This budget deal is not a deal. The GOP offers only “our way or the highway”. They offer straight up Republican ideology. There is no bargaining room here. Either you accept the beliefs and policies of the GOP or they will take us over another cliff. (Actually we have to wait to find out what threat they’ll use this time.) The only brake we have right now is that the GOP does not want to show how much they favor the wealthy and how much all their plans rely on the supposed (but never real) advantages of “trickle-down economics” before they win the election and get control of all three branches of government in 2016. Once Americas get a load of this budget in action they will never vote for the Republicans.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

Who’s Responsible, Talk Radio or Fox News?

Scott Walker

Why does Paul Ryan’s opinion about the national budget still interest anyone? By the way, how many of you realize that Paul Ryan was born into a wealthy family and has never had to struggle to build a comfortable life.

How could an exceedingly average and rather wimpy guy like Scott Walker end up appealing to anyone? He did not grow up wealthy but he is willing to do the bidding of the plutocratic overlords. He’s the worst kind of enforcer. He is somewhat quiet and workmanlike as he sets about dismantling our Democracy. He can be counted on to carry out the orders of those who pay big bucks to buy elections and who allow this petite bourgeois guy to trample all over the Americans in Wisconsin. He has sedulously applied and continues to push the Republican agenda. He busted the unions. He is planning to implement strict voter ID laws hoping to limit voting to the “right” sorts of people. He is gradually forcing schools to privatize by cutting public education budgets. This is the Republican plan for all of America. It’s the test case. Pay attention. America will be unrecognizable.

It is clear that Scott Walker gets a great deal of pleasure exerting power over others and the more his policies hurt the better. Both Paul Ryan and Scott Walker seem to have a smirk lurking behind the serious and judgmental faces they present in public. Scott Walker is a calmly vicious guy (and he also has a temper).

Scott Walker3

Leaving aside all of the other Republicans who are salivating over being the anointed one who will finally bring the Republican talking points to full and creepy Venus flytrap – like flower, why would we elect Scott Walker? Why do we want to do this to America? It’s like we’re all in that movie Fifty Shades of Grey, which I have heard turned out well for those unusual lovers, but would not, I think, impress us as much if our government decided to go the dominance/submissive route. Guess who would get to be the submissives? They say it is hard to tell if life imitates literature or literature copies life and that would certainly be the case here. However I say that the coexistence of this book and Republican extremism could not be purely coincidental.

I read an article the other day (link below) that gives Fox News all of the credit for turning ordinary Americans into champions of corporations and millionaires. This author downplayed the influence of Talk Radio. And if you take a picture of the propaganda mill at this moment, Fox News is more effective at firing up the troops. They convince your neighbors and mine that they, as white Americans, as true patriots (capital P), are being shafted by people of color and immigrants and poor people who are hogging all the taxes sent to Washington by hardworking (white) people. They are sort of promising people that they will keep these “taker” groups down and that the corporations and the wealthy will look out for white, Christian, English-speaking Americans. I have known these factory workers all of my life and the fact they give these puppets in suits the time of day proves they were demoralized by job losses and then hypnotized by the talkers on the right.

Fox News could never be as blatant in this campaign as Talk Radio once was but they don’t have to be. Talk Radio hosts provided the groundwork. Even before Obama was elected and through much of at least his first term Talk Radio was whispering hateful nonsense and ego-building crap into the minds of all those American men and women who worked so hard for a living. Sadly these folks have been thoroughly brain-washed and now appear to be ready for the likes of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, et al.

Saints preserve us! (Isn’t that what people used to say, our Catholic neighbors at least.)  I say let’s make a plea for help to anyone who might listen to those of us who rely on others to hold the reins of power. Don’t the Saints always help the powerless?

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/27/1360483/-An-Open-Letter-To-The-Guys-Who-Run-The-World?detail=email#

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

The Paul Ryan Zombie Budget

Paul Ryanandbudget6

The Paul Ryan budget has not changed much since he ran as the Republican candidate for Vice President in 2012. Along with Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, Paul Ryan lost that 2012 election. Not only did Paul Ryan lose the election, his budget was part of the reason he and his cohorts lost that election. However, it has become clearer and clearer since 2008 that Republicans do not get their agenda from the majority of Americans. Their policies are based on a theory which says that giving people in need some of the things they need destroys their initiative, turns them into deadbeats and that real humanitarians should withdraw any government help from those who live in poverty. The first time I heard this backwards nonsense I thought everyone would see through it. It had that “Emporer’s New Clothes” feeling about it. It was an invisible suit. There is absolutely no proof that this theory is correct and there is lots of proof that societies which don’t have programs that keep people from abject poverty suffer from a rise in crime, disease, and abuse of children and women that prevents the people who live in such a society from having productive and satisfying lives. There will be lots of turning a blind eye and holding a perfumed handkerchief to one’s nose.

Here’s what is in the Paul Ryan budget which we thought we beat in 2012, but which is back and which keeps coming back like an un-killable zombie budget.

  1. Budget cuts of 5.8 trillion from discretionary spending to be enforced by a binding cap. A Christian Science Monitor article that offers a great summary says, “[c]ritics say all other programs labeled “discretionary”, from the FBI to the FDA, would face massive reductions as a result, while Pentagon contractors are shielded.”
  2. Taxes would become 2 flat tax rates, $100,000 and under will pay 10%, over $100,000 will pay 25% with a net result of $4 trillion reduction in taxes over 10 years which will disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Critics say that this plan will require a broader tax base and getting rid of popular deductions.
  3. Medicare would become a “premium support” program for workers under 55 beginning in 2023 with seniors getting a fixed sum every year to buy at the Medicare exchanges. Traditional fee-for-service Medicare would still be an option. Those with lower incomes would get higher supports, and vice versa. This budget will cap Medicare spending after 2023 at .5% of GDP. Again, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “[c]ritics say this is a voucher program that would shift more healthcare costs onto seniors’ backs.”  The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) says “beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health-care costs than they would under the traditional program.”
  4. The Medicaid program would see a change in federal government participation under the Paul Ryan budget to a defined block grant of cash to the states. (We have been to block grant territory before and we know what needy states do with block grants – they start out with the best intentions and then the supports get less and less and the funds get siphoned off to other needs.) The Christian Science Monitor says “[c]ritics say Ryan’s path to reform could heavily damage the program.”
  5. Food stamps, farm supports and government autos are programs that are also drastically changed or drastically cut in the Paul Ryan budget. His budget will turn food stamps into a block grant program also and will require recipients to meet work or job-training requirements (which says nothing about what will happen to disabled or unemployable people who need food stamps). Ryan would eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reduce the federal auto fleet by 20% (not sure how upset we should actually get about that). It will also cut federal farm supports by 30 billion over 10 years.

Paul Ryanandbudget5

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2012/0813/The-Paul-Ryan-budget-your-guide-to-what-s-in-it/Spending

While this may sound quite practical to some because it is, after all, a plan that cuts both the cost and the size of government, we should remember that this asks the 99% to bear the brunt of the budget changes (even though we don’t have anywhere near 99% of the nation’s wealth) and that some of these changes are quite extreme, especially in the areas of health care and poverty programs. There are ways to parse this that would ask the wealthy 1%, who have passed laws which funnel profits into their own pockets, to pay more taxes and give up some of their tax loopholes (capital gains, estate tax exemption, and interest and dividend exceptions.)

Paul Ryanandbudget3

I am pretty certain that the majority of Americans, given a clear grasp of what is in this Paul Ryan budget that will not die, would vote it down again and again, every time it rises from the dead, (as they did in 2012). If it were to pass it would confirm my belief that this American government is no longer the people’s government. This smaller government agenda is becoming our new American reality in spite of the fact that the people keep saying “no”. How can that be?

The only solution I can see that may get across our strong disapproval of both Paul Ryan and his budget is to go to the polls in November and elect Democrats in 2014 and then turn around and do it again in 2016. If you don’t like this budget and you stay away from the polls, you will actually be voting for it.

If you are not in the 1% and you do want to vote for this budget, you have been brainwashed to vote against your own best interests and you will deserve what you get, but I don’t think that will make the rest of us feel any better.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

 

 

Can the Relentless Paul Ryan Budget Machine Be Shut Off?

 

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How much longer do we have to pay heed to this twisted social nonsense that passes for Republican policy? There is nothing; no scientific evidence, no precedent from history to back up their constant claim that poverty is self-perpetuating when there is a social safety net (except a few remarks by Bill Cosby). They insist that poor people will not lift themselves out of poverty unless they experience daily the miseries of that state. The logic goes that given just enough money to keep heads above water the poor will be happy to remain buried up to their necks treading water forever.

Paul Ryan says that there are 100 programs designed to help those Americans who live in poverty and he says that these programs are designed to lift the poor out of poverty. The first claim is true because they do keep people from the worst aspects of poverty; the second goal, to lift these people out of poverty, was never a part of most of these programs, at least not in the short term. He says these programs don’t work and they have become a “poverty trap”. This, we must remember, is Paul Ryan’s theory, not an argument proven by any body of facts. In fact, there are centuries of examples of societies without safety nets and we do not find any marked levels of social fluidity in those societies. Life for the poor in those centuries was harsh and often deadly; life expectancies were very low for the poor in those culture. The poor were relegated to lives of misery before the advent of modern programs designed to keep them above that misery level. We have managed to keep those misery levels low and life expectancies high for even poor Americans. If we have some people locked in poverty it is because we have not done enough or our programs have been incorrectly targeted or we need to be more nimble about changing our social programs to match social needs as they morph and change.

I can’t believe Paul Ryan has the nerve, after meeting the American people in person, to present us with the same budget cuts and the same foundationless rationale for these budget cuts once again. Cutting poor people loose to sink or swim on their own will only send more wealth to those who are already wealthy and make the gap between the rich and the poor even greater. But it will provide the wealthy with that third world work force they dream about – a work force that will accept any pay employers offer no matter how low they go. Providing safety net programs that make it possible for poor people to choose work, such as transportation stipends, child care, family leave time, and on-the-job training, and retiring unsuccessful programs, programs that don’t meet current needs or programs that don’t get results would be far more appropriate than leaving the poor with no safety net. We must have gained wisdom in these matters over the past decades since social programs began and we perhaps could do a better job of applying this wisdom to engineer effective programs in the future.

Of course, the Republicans have brought the United States government to a screeching halt until we have a new election, so we cannot rework any of our social programs, or accomplish anything that is not part of the GOP agenda. Still, I can’t believe that we have to keep speaking to this. Do most Americans agree with Paul Ryan? Do we have data on this? And if they do is it just because they have been programmed to think it by Conservative radio?

And why do we have to hear over and over that married couples fare better economically than single parents. We cannot coerce people to get married. We have tried offering financial incentives to encourage marriage in the past and any positive effects were fairly short-lived. This is like saying that eating ice cream increases in summer and drowning increases in summer so eating ice cream causes drowning. Although marriage looks like it correlates highly with keeping a family out of poverty we have to look for other factors that lead to financial solvency because we can’t force people to get married or punish them for not getting married. We have to accept where our demographics are and find ways to help single people earn a living wage while giving them the supportive services they need to keep jobs.

Can’t we set this social Darwinism aside once and for all? There is no way that anyone can offer satisfactory proof that our safety net is causing entrenched poverty. Find a new way to justify cutting taxes for the wealthy. We are the people and we do not want anyone to get rid of the minimum wage in America, because we know what will happen in that case. We want a safety net that keeps the poor from abject misery, we want a raise in the minimum wage, and we want Paul Ryan and the GOP to find a new tune to sing. This one is interfering with our sleep and our peace of mind.

theamericanpoor4theamericanpoor2theamericanpoor

 

There is one way; elect Democrats in every election for the foreseeable future.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>