Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Paul Ryan Cares About the Poor … Kind Of

The fake “intellectual pragmatist” politician among a coterie of fake “intellectual” politicians, Paul Ryan has somehow stayed relevant even as his draconian budgets and reinvention as a non-Randian offer the same old ideas that might well have cost Romney and continue to plunge the U.S. into a renewed gilded age. Ryan wants us to believe that what he offers is the only viable solution to our problems, from his latest budget that included $137 billion in cuts to food stamps (as hunger rises), $732 billion from Medicaid (a cut of 24% as poverty rises), and $125 billion from Pell Grants (if there aren’t that many quality jobs, we might as well keep the poor and working class kids out of college, I suppose). In total, 69% of his cuts go to those at the bottom of the proverbial food chain while millionaires would get an average tax cut of $200,000 (good news for luxury car sellers, high end resorts and the jewelry businesses).

But in case you think Ryan doesn’t care about the poor, he decided to rewrite history on the War on Poverty, with his 204-page report The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later (a report that Krugman bashed back in March). The report essentially reiterates long debunked arguments from Bill Bennett, Charles Murray (of Bell Curve infamy) and Newt Gingrich, arguing that the problem is predominantly cultural: “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.” There is no structural racism, as that nice undergrad from Princeton reminded us and really tough love is the only strategy to solve the problem.

The fact that the U.S. already spends less on its unfortunate than any other country in the world and that poverty only shrunk in this country following the bête noire of conservatives, LBJ’s Great Society is a moot point. The fact that income mobility and poverty are the lowest in the world in the Nordic countries, where taxes are high and the Welfare State still relatively healthy, is of little consequence. The fact that the United States doesn’t even score that high on barometers of happiness and contentment is besides the point. The poor are to blame for their own problems and the rich are the “engines of our economy,” that must be rewarded over and over again, even when they fail and almost destroy the global economy.

Ryan likes to sell himself as a pragmatist who cares about the future of the country, while belittling anyone who disagrees with him, including the new Pope. How much longer must we listen to him? I suppose as long as the mainstream media is bought, paid for and owned by the very corporations that benefit from his rhetoric and policies. Hypercapitalist sociopaths beware, there is a new cowboy in town – with a nice suit and a smile to cloak all of his malevolent intent. 

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