Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney Ryan: Wrong for America

Hardly America's version of the "Bold and the Beautiful", Romney's selection of Paul Ryan, that groody, little evil man from my neighboring state should put shivers up and down the spines of all Americans.  Ryan's Budget proposals as chairman of the House Budget Committee over the past several years would spell disaster for seniors and the middle class, let alone the fragile state of the U.S. economy.

 "An arrogant little prick" is how those closest to him describe Ryan.  Ryan is the poster child for the breakdown of functionality that has been the hallmark of the do nothing Congress, more specifically the extremist House of Representatives.  The broad based coalition of progressive organizations called Strengthen Our Social Security put out these quick facts about the Ryan Budget when it was first proposed:

Facts about Congressman Ryan’s Budget

(Click here for a pdf of this fact sheet.)
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget attacks Social Security on numerous levels.
  • It is based completely on misinformation that enemies of Social Security have been pushing for years. Contrary to what people like Representative Paul Ryan say, Social Security is not broken, and it is fully sustainable. When people like Paul Ryan say otherwise, it is not only factually wrong – it is damaging, irresponsible, and a disservice to all Americans who have paid into this program through a lifetime of hard work. We do not need to cut benefits to make sure that Social Security will be there for future generations – and it would be wrong to do so when there are better, more popular options.
  • Congressman Ryan wants to cut the Social Security benefits that the American people have earned – and he is trying to hide it. His budget endorses the cuts, though not the revenue increases, included in the proposal of the co-chairs of the Bowles-Simpson commission – but fails to mention that they proposed cutting the Cost of Living Adjustment of all current beneficiaries, raising the retirement age of people born after 1960 and slashing the benefits of younger working and middle class families earning $38,000 or more.
  • Congressman Ryan wants to use an unaccountable fast-track process to make those cuts. Fast-track processes, secret negotiations, and unaccountable commissions are the wrong way to make changes to Social Security. These processes just make it easier for politicians to cut benefits and use Social Security as an ATM for deficit reduction without having to face the citizens who have earned these benefits.
  • The Ryan Budget also makes totally irresponsible cuts to funding for the Social Security Administration – cuts which would make it hard for Americans to access the benefits they have earned and the services they have paid for. The funding for the Social Security Administration comes out of the contributions that hard-working Americans have already made to Social Security – and it is wrong to deprive them of the services they have already paid for. This is just another attempt to undermine the program.
  • Congressman Ryan would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 over 12 years beginning in 2023 for people born in 1958 – devastating new generations of seniors. This would increase out-of-pocket health care costs for everyone, and force more people near retirement to live without even basic health insurance. It would represent an indirect Social Security cut of as much as 45 percent.
  • The Ryan Budget once again ends Medicare as we know it and replaces it with a voucher system. This system will increase out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors – directly taking money out of their pockets. As the health care costs exceed the value of the vouchers over time, seniors who are not wealthy will be forced to forego the care they need – and the dignity that they deserve.
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget would break the promise of Medicare by shifting costs onto beneficiaries, increasing overall health care costs, and undermining seniors’ access to health care.
  • The Ryan Budget would drive up health care costs for everybody. Medicare has been successful in keeping costs down because it has considerable bargaining power – but by fragmenting that bargaining power, health care costs will rise even faster.
  • Low-income seniors would be hit the hardest. While the Ryan Budget promises that low-income seniors would receive accounts to help them with premiums and cost-sharing, Congressman Ryan’s budget last year left these seniors about $4,700 short – about one-third of their income.
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget would expand tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, while pulling away critical Medicare and Social Security protections from the middle class.
  • By ending Medicare “as we know it,” Congressman Ryan’s plan would increase health care costs and undermine the economic security of seniors.
  • Social Security should not be part of any budget deliberations, and should only be changed through legislation that goes through “regular order,” that is, the full congressional review and debate as has been the case since 1935. The law makes Social Security separate from the budget – and Social Security is projected to have a $100 billion surplus in 2013. Including it in the budget is wrong. When it is reformed through regular order, Congress should follow the will of those they are elected to represent, who overwhelmingly oppose all benefit cuts and overwhelmingly support requiring the wealthiest to pay their fair share.
 The contrast between the reckless, reactionary budget plans of Congressman Ryan and his fellow House Republicans and those of the President and the Democrats, which call for a balanced approach to deficit reduction with a focus on smart government spending focused on needed capital and public works spending with tax breaks focused on the middle class, could not be starker.  The choice is clear America, we can go back to the Reagan and Bush era trickle down economics that resulted in disaster and economic collapse (except for the very wealthiest) or we can focus on the middle class like every other post war administration has done. 

President Clinton, whose administration presided over the most prosperous economic times in recent history, had this to say about President Obama's accomplishments:

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