Happy Paul Ryan Day! Oh, didn't you hear? Inspired in part by a pair of profiles at The New York Times and New York Magazine, the Internet was abuzz yesterday with analysis of this mysterious young "gym rat" who "strolls the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds" and "noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats."
He's also the reigning king of the Republican party. But don't take our word for it. Says Republican Rep. Tom Cole: "Paul Ryan effectively captured the republican presidential candidates." (His radical budget proposal offers candidates little wiggle room.) And here's Grover Norquist, another right-wing ideologue with a stranglehold on the GOP, elevating Ryan's status above that of Mitt Romney: "We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff." (Again, the implication here suggests that Romney's qualifications are irrelevant; all he need do is sign the Ryan plan into law, which he's promised to do, if elected, as soon as possible.)
So, what does Ryan want? And what, therefore, do we get if we elect a Republican into the presidency? Let's put it this way: You'd do well to get upwardly mobile relatively quickly.
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"The choice before us could not be more clear," Ryan said this past Thursday. "Continuing down the path we are on would mean becoming the first generation to break faith with the American legacy of leaving the next generation with more prosperity and greater opportunities than our parents left us."
And how does Ryan propose to uphold that great American faith? To start, he'll cut taxes for the rich. In addition, military spending will go up. To pay for all this, he -- or his Romney surrogate -- will repeal Obamacare and take a big chunk out of Medicare, removing tens of millions from the ranks of the insured. Medicaid and other low-income programs will also get severely axed. In other words, in order to ensure the historic American legacy of opportunity, Ryan would give the wealthiest among us a huge windfall and take a torch to programs for the poor.
Asked by Times reporter Jonathan Weisman whether his policies reflect a "cold, heartless" disregard for America's most unfortunate, Ryan brushed the criticism aside: "I'm so used to that by now," Paul replied. We bet you are, sir. We bet you are.
"We're trying to preempt austerity," Ryan continued. "We want to prevent that bitter kind of European austerity mode, which is what we'll have if we have a debt crisis. I believe that the seeds of a bipartisan compromise are there. But I think we're going to clearly need new leadership in the Senate and the White House to realize that."
What Ryan pointedly fails to mention is that we had a bipartisan compromise in the Obama-appointed Bowles-Simpson commission. Ryan was on that commission; he voted against it. Despite the massive spending cuts it proposed, Ryan opposed any tax increase on the wealthy. He then accused President Obama of ignoring the committee's recommendations.
There's also this: Ryan wants to prevent austerity by forcing austerity. (Look it up: Austerity: "A policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided.") Maybe some new leadership can clear this up.
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