But for all Ryan’s rhetoric on poverty, he’s also the author of a series of budgets that would absolutely wreck programs for the American poor, inflicting massive human suffering on the nation’s most vulnerable residents. It’s never been exactly clear how Ryan would resolve this tension, but his appearance on Face the Nation suggests he’s going to try to make his poverty programs work with his budgets’ which is to say he’s going to argue that taking trillions away from the poor is somehow actually good for them.
It doesn’t help that the first policy statement he makes is an out-and-out lie:
After a 50-year war on poverty and trillions of dollars spent, we still have the same poverty rates.
This sentence suggests that either Paul Ryan has absolutely no clue how poverty rates work, or he does know and is actively deceiving viewers. First of all, the specific claim in question isn’t even technically accurate. The poverty rate was 19 percent in 1964, when the War on Poverty was announced. In 2013, it was 14.5 percent. We do not have the same poverty rates we did then. Ryan is just wrong.
But even that dramatically understates the progress that has been made. The official poverty rate is a travesty of a statistic, and using it at all in this context is irresponsible. It’s literally based on food prices in 1955. But more relevantly for these purposes, it excludes the very anti-poverty programs Ryan is talking about. It excludes in-kind transfers like Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers, as well as tax-based programs like the EITC. Blasting those programs because they don’t show up in the poverty rate is like arguing that Netflix shows have zero viewers by pointing to cable ratings.
One of the most encouraging economic policy developments of the past few years has been Republicans’ newfound love of tax breaks for low-income people. Paul Ryan made an Earned Income Tax Credit expansion the centerpiece of his anti-poverty plan, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has championed a tax reform proposal greatly increasing the Child Tax Credit, which Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has signed onto as well. Together, the EITC and CTC lifted about 10.1 million people out of poverty in 2012.
But these anti-poverty tax breaks are now in danger. Expansions to both credits are set to expire in 2017, and a deal to extend corporate tax breaks worked out by Republican House Ways and Means chair Dave Camp and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t have made the low-income tax breaks permanent. That prompted an Obama administration veto threat.
Paul Ryan has emerged from his long post-election period of repositioning, soul-searching, and secretly but not secretly visiting the poor. He had been caricatured as an Ayn Rand miser and attacked as a social Darwinist, merely for proposing the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history. Ryan has identified the root cause of his difficulties, and it is fiscal arithmetic.
The new Ryan, now fully formed, emerges in an interview with Philip Klein that is revealing precisely for its evasiveness. The overview of Ryan’s new strategy must be pieced together from several elements.
John Dickerson doesn’t go in for the ‘IRS is targeting conservatives!!1’ theories here, and this isn’t some wingnut piece. What this article does do is make clear the IRS has richly earned being raked across the coals due to its overbearing treatment of taxpayers and its seeming “Do as I say not as I do!” behavior regarding record-keeping:
Anyone who has ever kicked a trash can across a room after trying to get the Internal Revenue Service to explain a tax rule, or been through one of its exfoliating audits, gained a champion in Rep. Paul Ryan on Friday. At a Ways and Means Committee hearing investigating how the IRS lost thousands of emails sought by congressional investigators, the Wisconsin congressman lost it. He emptied his frustration and anger over IRS Commissioner John Koskinen like he was flushing a radiator.
“You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an email, or a letter you can turn their lives upside-down. You ask taxpayers to hang on to seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee emails?”
It’s the IRS’ business to be in our business—so Ryan is giving them the business. It’s hard to think of a federal agency that is less forgiving about record keeping. If you are audited, the IRS wants you to move fast. Not only do you have to keep your records for years, as Ryan says, but the IRS wants you to move quick like a bunny. And the entire process has one subliminal message to it: “I don’t believe you.”
That is exactly what Ryan said to the IRS commissioner, who took umbrage. Now he knows how it feels. It’s not Commissioner Koskinen who lost the emails, he’s just on the wrong side of a bad policy that doesn’t require the IRS to be as records-conscious as the citizens it polices. But in the traditional IRS power relationship, it’s usually the subjects of its audits who feel the unfocused and overly harsh attention of a system that assumes they are guilty.
Read the whole thing. Constructive comments welcome, but please don’t comment just to flame Paul Ryan.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday suggested that men in “inner cities” who refused to work were one of the main causes of poverty in the United States.
In an interview with conservative radio host Bill Bennett that was first noticed by Igor Volsky at Think Progress, Ryan reflected on his controversial poverty discussion at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
“We call it a poverty trap,” he explained. “There are incentives not to work, and to stay where you are.”
Ryan also pointed to the work of Charles Murray, a white nationalist, who has used “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
You would think it impossible for the man whose name, when followed by the word “budget” means “viciously regressive, cut taxes for the rich, cut entitlements for the poor” to have penned this essay in USA Today. But here it is, in full:
President’s pitch to cut corporate tax rates leaves families and small businesses behind.
Today, in a speech in Chattanooga, Tenn, President Obama said he’s interested in tax reform for corporations — but not for families or small businesses. Once again, the president is playing favorites.
It isn’t the first time. He wants to give some businesses relief from ObamaCare. But he refuses to give the same relief to families. He wants to funnel money to his green-energy cronies. But he refuses to let us develop our energy resources and create good-paying jobs. He wants to give big banks a backstop — and a leg up on community banks.
The president claims his economic agenda is for the middle class. But it’s actually for the well-connected. There’s no doubt that it works well for them. But for the rest of us, it’s not working at all. Today we have record poverty and high unemployment. For too many families, the American Dream is out of reach.
What the president is really offering is to replace government by the people with government by the experts. So he might call his plan a grand bargain. But I call it a raw deal.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
I do get that there are various other dog whistles in here. But excuse me, wasn’t “cutting taxes on ‘job creators’ to aid America’s workers” supposed to be the REPUBLICAN mantra? I know they’re against anything Obama is for, but is he leaving them anything at all to be in favor of? Are they really against tax cuts now?
In an interview with NBC News, Rep. Paul Ryan claimed that Obama’s policies are the reason why people in poverty are poor. Ryan tried to convince the poor to blame Obama, not Republicans for their struggles.
Rep. Ryan spoke in his usual Ayn Rand code when asked by NBC News to talk about poverty. Ryan blamed Obama’s policies for creating more poverty, “This top down big government approach that the president has taken, I think the evidence is very clear has been proven not to help people out of poverty, but more importantly to trap people in poverty. He’s pushing the same old ideas that have been proven to fail. He’s pushing polarization. He’s pushing big government regulations, and taxes, and spending that actually make it harder to create jobs. That make it harder to get jobs and get out of poverty. Everybody cares that we get people out of poverty, but unfortunately, these strategies have failed miserably to the point where we have the highest poverty rates in a generation.”
Ryan said that he thought it was insensitive to not have work requirements in food stamps, “I think it’s insensitive to not have a work requirement for food stamps, and what I mean when I say that is: our goal in these programs is not to make poverty easier to handle and tolerate and live with, our goal in these program ought to be to give people a temporary hand so that they can get out of poverty.”
Paul Ryan was absolutely and comprehensively lying about what the president has done. Obama hasn’t pushed big government and taxes. In fact, the president is the biggest tax cutter in American history. The regulations that he was mentioned was Randian code for Obamacare. Obama hasn’t pushed polarization. It is Ryan and his fellow House Republicans who have repeatedly tried to cut food and medical aid for the poor while giving the wealthy huge tax cuts. Ryan’s own budget guts or privatizes programs for the needy, while giving millionaires an additional $265,000 a year on top of the Bush tax cuts
When Paul Ryan mentioned a work requirement for food stamps, what he really meant was the Soultherland Amendment, which is anything but your standard work requirement. According to the CBPP, “It would allow states to end benefits for most adults who receive or apply for SNAP — including parents with young children and many people with disabilities — if they are not working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. The amendment provides no jobs and no funds for work or training programs, and it does not require states to make any work opportunities available. People who want to work and are looking for a job but haven’t found one could be cut off.”.
Most Americans fail to recall when the elderly, poor, and unemployed Americans blew up the nation’s debt and deficit with two unfunded and unnecessary wars, huge tax cuts for the rich, and Wall Street greed that contributed to crashing the economy, killing millions of Americans’ jobs, and ushering in the Great Recession of 2008. For some curious reason, only Republicans remember that it was the poor, public sector workforce, and retirees who created the country’s economic malaise, and subsequently they are duty-bound to make them pay restitution with Draconian measures to enrich the insurance industry, satisfy Wall Street’s lust for the Social Security Trust, as well as provide the wealthy with a new round of tax cuts. To see their punitive measures through to fruition, Republicans are preparing a laundry list of their most coveted programs to eliminate for President Obama to choose from in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit to repay the GOP’s debt and deficit they put on the nation’s credit card from 2001-2009 (the 2009 budget was George Bush’s).
As Republicans anticipate holding the nation’s creditworthiness hostage again in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, they fundamentally picked the most Draconian measures in Paul Ryan’s Heritage Foundation budget and will demand the President choose which demographic is going to suffer the most or force the nation into its first credit default in history. Republicans are big on historical firsts, and it was in 2011 that after 50 years of automatically raising the debt limit that they first demanded offsetting spending cuts for every dollar the debt limit was increased creating America’s first credit downgrade. For historical perspective, and to demonstrate the GOP’s criminal, and unconstitutional, economic hostage taking, Republicans raised the debt limit for George W. Bush seven times without slashing one penny from the budget. They did, however, specifically raise the debt limit in May 2003 to pay for $350 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and it is that type of debt Republicans are now insisting the elderly, poor, and infirm repay through loss of benefits they paid for during their working lives.
One of the most outrageous components of the Farm Bill is that millionaire Rep. Paul Ryan wants to deny people food stamps if they own adequate transportation.
Beyond the $20 billion in cuts that will throw an estimated two million children, elderly, and disabled Americans off food stamps, millionaire Rep. Paul Ryan is pushing an amendment that would close the door to assistance for the vast majority of Americans. Ryan and Rep. Frank Lucas are proposing that categorical eligibility be eliminated and replaced with an asset limit. If an individual has $2,000 in savings, or a car worth more than $5,000, they will not be eligible for food stamps.
The CBO found that the impact of the move to an asset limit would throw 1.8 million people off of the program. The Hill reported that, “In 2011, only 2 percent of all SNAP households had gross monthly incomes above the poverty line. Most of those were low-income single mothers whose disposable income was actually below the poverty level when childcare expenses were factored in. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 1.8 million people would lose food assistance if categorical eligibility is eliminated. Most of these would be low-income seniors and working families with children. These families typically live paycheck to paycheck. Denying them the ability to save for emergencies, such as fixing a car, or unexpected expenses, such as buying a uniform for a new job, only makes them more dependent on government resources, not less.”
What Reps. Ryan and Lucas are really looking for are criteria that will allow them to throw as many poor people off of the program as possible. Essentially, Ryan and Lucas are trying to deny poor people food because they have a car. The $5,000 limit for automotive value is ridiculous. A car that is worth less than $5,000 is unlikely to be a reliable vehicle. For elderly, disabled, or working poor people, a car is often their only way to look for a job, get to work, or get to the doctor.
It is the ultimate hypocrisy for millionaires like Paul Ryan to be telling a poor person that they have no right to own reliable transportation.
Here’s a poll from Gallup that nicely encapsulates why the Republican party is so screwed: Among Republicans, Paul Ryan is the top choice out of five prospective candidates to lose the presidency to Hillary in 2016 (the others were, in order, Rubio, that amateur dentist fellow, a known Canadian anchor baby, and Chris Christie), but among “adults,” Ryan comes third. The adults like Chris Christie best because he is “real,” probably, and also “bipartisanship,” which in this case means he was not a huge dick to a man he was about to hit up for several billion dollars. We’ll take it, we guess.
The big question, of course, is: Will Republican primary voters look past Christie’s flaws, like how he was nice to that Kenyan imposter, and how he maybe thinks evolution is real, and realize he’s pretty much the only person with an “R” after their name that stands a snowball’s chance in the Senate of getting elected?