There’s Already a Big Gap Between Trump’s Promises to the Middle Class and His Policies

Now that more plans and potential cabinet appointments are coming into focus, it looks worse than many of us thought even before the election.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Josh Bivens/Economic Policy Institute

Emphasis Mine

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised that he would take the side of American workers against economic elites when evaluating policy. Yet, the policy proposals he put forth during the campaign had nothing in them that would actually help working- and middle-class Americans. Now that more plans and potential cabinet appointments are coming into focus, it looks worse than many of us thought even before the election. Across a broad range of crucial issues, the incoming Trump administration appears likely to betray the promises he made to the American middle class. Here’s a rough sketch of how.


Trump’s tax policy proposals are crystal clear about who will benefit the most—and it’s not working- or middle-class families. Despite crowing during the campaign about raising taxes on “hedge fund guys,” the tax plan Trump released raises one small tax on hedge fund guys (eliminating the so-called carried interest loophole), and then gives them a hundred times more back in the form of lower taxes everywhere else. The top 1 percent will get 47 percent of the total benefits in the Trump tax plan, while the bottom 60 percent will get just 10 percent. Worse, large numbers of working-class taxpayers will see tax increases under Trump. Yes, increases. Because that money is needed to make sure that private equity managers can see their top tax rates moved down to 15 percent.

House Speaker Paul Ryan—who many (not least Speaker Ryan himself) think will end up crafting most of the actual policy to come out of the Trump administration—has a competing tax proposal. Apparently, he thinks it’s important to give an even higher share of tax cuts to the top. The Ryan plan lavishes 76 percent of its total tax benefits onto the top 1 percent of households (the top 0.1 percent, or the top 1/1000th of households, gets more than 47 percent). In the Ryan plan, the bottom 60 percent get less than 5 percent of the total benefits.

A very large tax cut that delivers an enormous share of the benefits to the richest Americans—with an average cut of at least $1,100,000 to the richest 0.1 percent—will be one of the top priorities of both Trump and the incoming Congress. This should raise a clear red flag about just how much Trump actually cares about the bottom 90 percent.

People really can’t claim they didn’t see this coming. In the town hall debate with Hillary Clinton, an audience member asked how the candidates would ensure that the richest Americans paid their fair share. Trump’s response? He said he would cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 15 percent. Given that the corporate income tax is one of the most progressive parts of our tax code, cutting it absolutely does not hurt rich households.

Wall Street

Trump has also promised to end crony capitalism and “drain the swamp,” which might sound to most Americans like he wants to take on Wall Street. If by “take on” you mean “give them everything they want,” then this sounds about right. He has been forthright about repealing Dodd-Frank, which as passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to rein in the risk of big banks and prevent the need for future bailouts. There are criticisms to be made of Dodd-Frank, but the Trump criticism is that it’s just too tough on banks.

This view is shared by the men mentioned as potential Treasury secretaries in the Trump administration. One name is Jamie Dimon, whose investment bank JPMorgan Chase received a 2008 bailout. In recent years JPMorgan traders have been found guilty of rigging foreign exchange markets. And yet Dimon claims that “banks are under assault” by regulators and that such oversight is essentially un-American.

Another name that’s been floated for Treasury secretary is Anthony Scaramucci, who thinks that there has been an “irrational demonization of Wall Street over the past 8 years,” and that Wall Street is “filled with integrity.” As for the financial crash of 2008, Scaramucci is clear who is to blame—mostly not Wall Street. The culprit who needs more blame cast upon them, he says, is “frankly, Main Street. Many people overreached in their homes because there was easy money and easy credit.” He hopes the “nonsense” that Wall Street bears primary responsibility for the 2008 financial crash ends with the Trump administration. And he makes it clear that his personal opinion is that Dodd-Frank restricts banking risk excessively (making banking “too, too safe”) and should be repealed.

Finally, the frontrunner for Treasury seems to be Steve Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alum who distinguished himself during the financial crash by buying up the crashed California bank IndyMac, renaming it, and then being found by regulators to have run “unsafe” and “unsound” foreclosure practices as he seized people’s homes.

If you want an administration where apologists for Wall Street behavior are in charge of regulating banks, then the next four years looks great. If you were hoping for an administration that would be on your side against the banks, then less so. And if you doubt my analysis of how Wall Street-friendly a Trump administration is likely to be, just check out the reaction of banks’ stock prices following the Trump win.

Medicare and Medicaid

Americans value Medicare and Medicaid very highly, and rightly so. Millions rely on these programs for health care during tough times (Medicaid) and in retirement (Medicare), and about 40 percent of long-term care in the country is provided by Medicaid. During the campaign, Trump made clear promises to protect these programs from budget cuts. The question going forward, however, is did we elect President Donald Trump or President Paul Ryan?

Ryan has wanted to voucherize Medicare and radically cut Medicaid for years. He tries to dress up his plans in technocratic language and frame them as “reforms,” but, they’re cuts, period. One would think that the more than 60 times the House has voted to repeal the Medicaid expansions that are part of the Affordable Care Act would provide sufficient proof of this.

It may be that Trump really does not want to cut these programs. But the question is whether or not he’s attentive and shrewd enough to stop congressional Republicans from doing so.

The president-elect recently claimed (through a tweet, of course) that he personally convinced Ford to keep one of its production facilities in the United States. This boast has been debunked. But compared to the rest of his trade policy, the efficacy of picking up the phone and calling his CEO friends actually doesn’t look so bad.

We at EPI have been consistent for years in opposing corporate-driven trade agreements. But Trump’s agenda on trade agreements is nothing more than a vague claim he’ll be able to negotiate “better” trade agreements. His other proposals indicate strongly that he won’t, because he doesn’t know how.

He might slap large, arbitrary tariffs on imports from countries he doesn’t seem to much like, but this will do little to improve American competitiveness. In fact, if such tariffs encourage foreign producers to set up facilities in the United States to avoid tariffs, create economic weakness in our trading partners, and/or encourage retaliatory tariffs, they will increase America’s trade deficit. A prediction: presuming the economy does not enter recession in the next four years (and there’s no reason it should, absent a huge fumble by the Trump policymaking team), the American trade deficit will be larger, not smaller by 2020.

The overall economy

Finally, I should note that Trump is once again in his life inheriting an extraordinarily valuable gift. This time it’s a stable economy that has been sailing steadily towards full employment for years. The unemployment rate has been halved since its post-Great Recession peak. The labor force participation rate stopped falling and has actually nudged up in the past year even as natural demographic changes (retiring Baby Boomers) have been pulling it down. The last year has also seen some evidence of an uptick in wage growth.

No, we’re not at full employment today—largely because Republicans in Congress and in statehouses around the country have starved the economy of normal levels of spending during the recovery. Without this austerity, we would have reached full employment years ago. But even with no help at all from tax cuts or spending increases, the economy is projected to reach 4.6 percent unemployment or lower by the end of 2017.

And now that Republicans are in charge, the austerity they forced on the American people will undoubtedly stop. A huge tax cut will add to purchasing power and demand growth in the economy. It will do so incredibly inefficiently, creating about one job for every four that could be created if this money was spent more intelligently. But job creation has to take a back seat as a goal to maximizing the take of the top 1 percent, so, tax cuts for rich households it is. Inefficient stimulus, but lots of it.

A possible infrastructure plan would also boost growth, so long as its effectiveness was not compromised by the crony capitalism and poor targeting that would result from the Trump proposal’s very odd structure of giving tax credits to private investors, rather than just having state and local governments direct and finance projects. For those hoping that the Trump infrastructure plan would be aimed at helping struggling areas, it is worth noting that a key source of efficiency gains hoped for by the plan’s authors is that private investors are much more willing to cut off necessary services to households in economic distress. They approvingly note that privately-owned water and electrical utilities are much quicker and more willing to turn off services when households cannot pay bills than publicly-owned utilities.

All in all, the hopes that a Trump administration will stand up to elites on behalf of the broad middle class look well on their way to being dashed. Republicans first priority is cutting $1.1 million tax rebate checks to the top 0.1 percent. A secondary priority is giving away tax credits to private developers while hoping that they might build something useful without the whole endeavor becoming a nest of corruption. A key question is whether or not Trump will be willing to devote the energy and effort needed to stand behind his own words about defending Medicare and Medicaid in the face of the Republican Congress. Their trade plans are pure bluster and as likely to raise as lower the trade deficit. And every single potential appointment floated to run the regulation of banks and Wall Street is on record as arguing that the big problem today is that people and governments are too mean to virtuous financial professionals.

Maybe I’m wrong (I sure hope so), but the wedge between implied promises and delivered reality to working-class households already looks awfully large, and will likely just grow over time.

Josh Bivens is the Research and Policy Director at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).



Five Reasons Ayn Rand Would Have Despised Paul Ryan

From: The National Memo

By: Jason Sattler

Paul Ryan may be backing away from his devotion to Ayn Rand, the woman who inspired him to enter politics. But there are some things that the 20th century’s most prominent prophet of selfishness would have probably appreciated about the Republican’s soon-to-be nominee for vice president. (N.B.: not written yesterday).

In fourteen years in Washington D.C., Ryan only passed two bills—one naming a U.S. post office in his hometown, the other giving arrow makers a tax break. This abject uselessness on behalf of the American people is about as close as an elected official can get to “going Galt.” Being a star member of the most unproductive Congress in 65 years might also have impressed the author who saw the only purpose of government as protecting citizens from physical violence.

Rand might also admire Ryan’s desire to eventually zero out nearly every program that helps the poor and his desire to help rich people become richer with massive tax breaks. But there’s much about the Congressman from Wisconsin that she certainly would consider abhorrent. As Rand scholar Jennifer Burns said, “If Mr. Ryan becomes the next vice president, it wouldn’t be her dream come true, but her nightmare.”

Here are five reasons why Ayn Rand would have quickly shrugged off Paul Ryan.

Jack Kemp was a favorite of Ronald Reagan. The ex-football star, Congressman, and 1996 running mate of Bob Dole, Kemp gave Paul Ryan his first job in politics as a speechwriter. A prime requirement of such a job would be the ability to praise the Gipper slavishly and constantly, something Ryan has been doing ever since. Ryan says that Republicans need to offer the kind of “boldness and clarity that Reagan offered in the 1980s.” Rand would disagree. She hated Reagan with a boldness and clarity that few liberals can match. In 1976 she wrote, “I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him. My reasons are as follows: Mr. Reagan is not a champion of capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense of that word—i.e., an advocate of a mixed economy with government controls slanted in favor of business rather than labor.”

A “conservative in the worst sense of that word” may be the single finest phrase she ever wrote.

Paul Ryan is as anti-abortion rights as any modern politician can be. He authored the Protect Life Act, which would deny an abortion even to save the mother’s own life. Rand’s stand on abortion rights was equally firm in the opposite direction. In her book Of Living Death, Rand wrote, “Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered.” The idea that a woman possesses ownership of her own body even after one of her eggs has been fertilized is certainly one concept of freedom that has not been transmitted to those on the right like Ryan, who publicize her philosophy.n his first speech as Mitt Romney’s running mate,

Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, said “Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.” He clearly hoped to soothe any doubters on the religious right who might worry that he is too influenced by Rand’s writings. A militant atheist, Rand believed the source of all rights came from simply existing. “The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man,” she wrote. About faith, a fundamental aspect of Catholicism, Rand wrote: “Faith is the worst curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.” It isn’t hard to believe that Rand would consider Ryan to be a walking manifestation of that enemy.

Paul Ryan’s great grandfather started a company called Ryan Incorporated Central that has been contracting with the government for over a century. Ryan himself famously used his Social Security survivor’s benefits to pay for his college, which was easy to do considering that his father also left him a substantial share of his estate. And you’re well aware that since he began serving in Congress back in 1999, Paul Ryan has been enjoying government health care. Ayn Rand preached self-reliance and her heroes were always self-made—unlike Ryan and Romney, both of whom enjoyed extraordinary financial stability and connections coming out of college. These luxuries made Ryan insensitive to the troubles faced by typical Americans and the need for a safety net, which Ryan likes to call a “safety hammock.”

Some people are born on third base and think they hit a triple. Ryan is standing on third base wondering why the batboy is being so lazy. Not exactly a heroic stand.

For all her ranting about the limits of government and the need to be independent, Ayn Rand benefited from Medicare. After decades of smoking, she needed surgery for lung cancer. And where did she turn? The evil of collectivism. Her supporters argue that “she paid into [the Medicare system] her entire life. Why shouldn’t she accept the benefits?” I agree. But all the people under 55 who would get a vastly different version of Medicare under Ryan’s plan have paid their dues, too. Lao Tzu said, “Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Whatever Ayn Rand’s beliefs or intentions, her character provided a real testament to the virtues of  government that promotes its citizens’ general welfare.


Emphasis Mine & my comments



Top 5 Fibs In Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech


From: TPM

By: Brian Beutler

Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s headlining speech at the GOP convention in Tampa Wednesday night touched on many of the election’s defining issues. But it was also filled with prevarications — not just recitations of the conventions “you didn’t build that” theme, but on the very policy matters that have endeared him to the political establishment in Washington.

The speech effectively rallied his supporters in the audience. But on the merits it was chock full of misstatements of fact that undermine his reputation for brave, big ideas — which has hastened his rise through the ranks of the GOP.

Here are the top five examples:


Ryan forged his reputation in large part by drafting and advancing an unpopular plan to dramatically cut and privatize Medicare. Though he didn’t mention that plan once on Wednesday, he included it in his last two budgets, both of which preserved the Affordable Care Acts cuts to Medicare — taken mostly from overpayments to private insurers and hospitals.

Instead, Ryan once again dubiously accused President Obama of being the true threat to Medicare.

“You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”

Obama did use those Medicare savings — in the form of targeted cuts in payments to providers, not in benefits to seniors — to pay for the health care law. Ryan’s budget calls for using them to finance tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and deficit reduction. But by now calling to restore that spending commitment to Medicare, Ryan and Romney are pledging to hasten Medicare’s insolvency by many years.

Ryan said the Obama presidency, “began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”

US Credit Rating

Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating in 2011 because congressional Republicans, of which Ryan is a key leader, threatened not to increase the country’s borrowing authority — risking a default on the debt — unless Democrats agreed to slash trillions of dollars from domestic social programs and investments. Ryan even briefly toyed with the idea that the country’s creditors would forgive default for “a day or two or three or four” as long as Democrats ultimately agreed to GOP demands.

Janesville GM plant

Ryan criticized Obama for — yes — not using government funds to prop up an auto plant in his district.

“A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years,’” Ryan recalled. “That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”

Ignoring the inconsistency of a Republican chastising Obama for not bailing out more auto manufacturers, the plant in question closed before Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Debt Commission 

Ryan chastised Obama: “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”

Ryan sat on that commission. He voted against it. Following his lead, so did the panel’s other House Republicans.

Protecting the poor

Near the end of his speech, Ryan claimed the campaign’s top priority is protecting the poor. “We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone,” he said. “And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak.”

Just under two thirds of the dramatic spending cuts in Ryan’s budget target programs that benefit low-income people. That plan also calls for large tax cuts for high-income earners.

Emphasis Mine



The Facts Behind Romney and Ryan’s Medicare Lies

First and foremost, the Ryan plan, in any form, would mark the end of Medicare as we know it—as a guarantee of health coverage for senior citizens

From: workingamerica blog

By: Seth D. Michaels

N.B.: A concise, lucid explanation of what they say, what they mean, and what we need.

“It took approximately five minutes after the announcement of Paul Ryan as the Republican running mate for the spin to begin. Anxious to pre-empt a conversation about Ryan’s plan to end the guarantee of Medicare, the Mitt Romney campaign ison the air with some (strikingly dishonest) Medicare ads of their own. They have plenty of money to advance this message, so it’s worth unpacking what’s really going on.

First and foremost, the Ryan plan, in any form, would mark the end of Medicare as we know it—as a guarantee of health coverage for senior citizens. Instead, it would give older people a voucher to go buy their own private insurance. The Ryan budget would also increase the eligibility age, delaying the time when retirees could get Medicare. That’s the proposal the U.S. House voted on and passed in March and it’s the model Ryan has continued to promote even as he’s suggested possible tweaks.

So let’s move on to the claims the Romney campaign is making. The Affordable Care Act is paid for partly through billions in future savings—about $700 billion over 10 years in reduced payments to health insurance companies and providers. A lot of that money stays in the Medicare system, by paying for free preventative care for seniors and closing the prescription drug “doughnut hole.” The attack leveled by Romney, Ryan and their allies—an attack that’s Jonathan Cohn rightly called “astoundingly cynical”—is that this constitutes a massive cut to Medicare.

But here’s the catch: in the Ryan budget that passed, these future savings are included, even as the rest of the ACA is repealed. So the same reductions that the Romney campaign is complaining about were voted on and approved by Ryan and virtually every House Republican.

In the ACA, the cost savings that come out of Medicare go back into the health care system. In the Ryan budget, they’ll be needed to pay for the massive tax cuts proposed in that plan. Cohn notes that not only does this money get pulled out of providing health care entirely, but the attack the Romney campaign is making is a “brazen misrepresentation of reality.” Or, to say it in fewer and shorter words, “a lie.”

The Ryan plan doesn’t replace the guarantee with the vouchers for 10 years, so that major change doesn’t immediately affect today’s retirees. But the repeal of the ACA’s provisions on prescription drugs and preventative care absolutely will. If those provisions are gone, seniors who are on Medicare now will be paying hundreds of dollars more out of pocket. Ryan’s cuts to Medicaid, which many seniors depend on for nursing home care, would also have a big impact—his proposed cuts to Medicaid and the repeal of the ACA Medicaid expansion are a big and under-covered change in his budget. Some 6 million of today’s retirees depend on Medicaid and could lose out under Ryan’s plan. This is what was in the Ryan budget the House passed, and he hasn’t backed off of this at all.

What’s more, if Ryan’s plan kicks in ten years from now, today’s Medicare beneficiaries will getan unpleasant wake-up call as the voucher plan starts to erode the program:

In 2022, when the limited-subsidy program would be introduced, seniors who qualified for traditional Medicare would be allowed to switch to the new program. If healthier or younger beneficiaries make the change to lower their out-of-pocket costs, those still participating in Medicare would be part of an insurance pool that is less healthy and more expensive. To cover those higher per-person costs, Medicare might well be forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers—which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients.

Romney has suggested he may back off of the Medicare savings that Ryan included in his original budget. But in that case, the Ryan budget math gets even more implausible. And by the standards Romney has laid out for how he wants his budget to work, Medicare would have to be slashed either way. That these cuts to programs for vulnerable people would be required in order to pass his huge tax cuts for the rich adds insult to injury. As Derek Thompson notes, Romney’s proposals “have clear and inevitable conclusions: Tax cuts for the richest and spending cuts for the poorest.”

It’s hard to overstate how hypocritical and dishonest the new Romney-Ryan attacks over Medicare are, coming from two people who have pledged changes so radical that they’d leave it unrecognizable.

Emphasis Mine


9 Reasons Romney’s Choice of Paul Ryan for Veep Is Smarter Than You Think

Probably the most overarching plus, though, is that by adding Ryan, Romney has brought the whole Republican-conservative tribal deal together, which, from my vantage point only increases — not decreases — the chance of the Republicans defeating Obama in November.


From: AlterNet

By: Don Hazen

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tapped Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman, to be his running mate, progressives went on a happy-thon. That Romney chose the House Budget Committee chairman known as the architect of draconian budgets that would make huge cuts in every aspect of the safety net — not to mention his quest to turn Medicare into a voucher program — just seemed like a major blunder. My colleague, Joshua Holland, called it Romney’s biggest mistake. Many were gleeful and shocked that Romney would seemingly play right into the Obama message on how the Romney agenda harms the middle class.

But I wasn’t so happy. The Romney decision signals several things about the future, and none of them good — rather scary and ugly, as a matter of fact. My gut told me that, for the Republican vice presidential candidate, I would much rather have a non-entity like Portman or Pawlenty as the Republican than a right-wing rock star. Any day.

Progressives are right when they say Ryan represents everything that shows how out of touch the Republicans are with the needs of the country. But they are not looking at Romney’s Ryan decision for what it is —  a hugely dangerous step toward getting the Koch brothershand-picked star right to the verge of the presidency, which, if it should it come to pass, could dramatically transform the nature of American politics for our lifetimes. Whether Romney wins or loses, the Ryan pick poses a threat to the well-being of the nation.

If Romney wins, then Ryan occupies the Number Two spot with a money base and huge constituency of his own, far more than any vice president has ever enjoyed. With his own leadership PAC and a close relationship to the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity astroturf group, it is hard to imagine how Ryan doesn’t immediately become a co-president or, at least, the most powerful VP in history. And, and this is a win-win for Charles and David Koch, the right-wing billionaire brothers: If Romney loses, then Paul Ryan is sitting pretty to be the nominee in 2016, when there is no incumbent….a far easier race to win after eight years of President Barack Obama, the Democrat, presiding over a difficult economy whose recovery Republicans have done everything they can to obstruct. I have always felt that many conservatives intent on taking over this country, known for their long vision and patience, have this strategy.

And on the ugly side, the choice of Ryan says this Romney campaign, in contrast to even the McCain campaign, will be a no-holds-barred, vicious personal attack on Obama and everything associated with the Democrats –– scapegoating unions, public employees, poor people, immigrants, people characterized by Ryan as the “takers, not the makers [3].” This is the way the conservatives know how to win campaigns, and they are going all out to rip the Dems to shreds. If it doesn’t quite work in in this year’s presidential race, they could very well control of both houses of Congress come January.

Here are nine reasons that Romney pulled the trigger on Ryan, and why they make a lot of sense:

1. Romney was in danger of losing badly, so a gamble was worth the risk.

The polls and trends were going in the wrong direction as Obama was ahead by 9 percent among all voters and 11 percent among independents. As Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post [4]:

Romney was on course to lose the election…perhaps by a landslide…Independents, despite being unhappy with Obama, were even more unhappy with Romney. And too many Republicans remain unenthusiastic about their party’s nominee.

So Romney had to do something to energize the campaign, or he was dead in the water. Pick Ryan.

2.  Romney is now seen as bold. By picking a controversial choice, a young, mediagenic, so-called brainy numbers guy, and one loved by the conservative base, Romney passed up the gaggle of more boring white guys who populated the pundits’ predictions, to pick the radical one. But here, in fact, Romney has it both ways.  Ryan is not a Palin or a Rubio — a wild card — but rather a well-positioned Republican with major mainstream and corporate credibility, whom the media often has gone ga-ga over. And Ryan is an insider —  Erskine Bowles (the co-chair of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission, and rumored to be the next Secretary of the Treasury), has lavished lots of praise on to Ryan, who served on the commission, as have many others.

3. Did I mention Ryan is Catholic? We hear how the conservative Catholic bishops are trying to push Catholic voters to Romney, who has obviously come late to his anti-abortion stance. And among Catholic voters, Romney’s Mormonism isn’t exactly a plus. Still any anti-abortion politician is better than Obama in the bishops’ minds. For the bishops, their task became easier with Ryan (even if they have a problem or two with his budget proposal), who is as conservative as they come, being against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Those Catholics who are inclined to vote conservative are now very excited. And, in fact, it’s not just far-right Catholics to whom Ryan appeals. A lot of voters in this country, for some reason, really like candidates who stick to rigid principles, even if those principles contradict their own. Ryan will get some of those voters.

4. Romney now has even more money. Romney has been doing fine, raising hundreds of millions from investment bankers and other pots of big wealth from the 1/10th of the top 1 percent. Still the Ryan choice is a huge motivator to the group of rabid right-wing billionaires around Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who fund and raise money for right-wing candidates, and an array of right-wing groups. Ryan has been a Koch favorite for years, supported and featured in myriad ways. The Kochs have promised, with Karl Rove, to raise $400 million for the so-called “independent superPACs”. Now, with all those billionaires jazzed over Ryan, the sky may be the limit. There is talk of the superPACs and the Romney campaign raising and spending $1.2 billion — and now maybe even more.

5.  Romney gets the full Koch election infrastructure. Solidifying the alliance with the Kochs is even more about infrastructure than campaign dollars, which will be plentiful. As my colleague Adele Stan, who covers the Kochs and conservative election field operations, explains:

The Kochs, via Americans for Prosperity and Faith and Freedom Coalition, own the infrastructure for the ground game in the swing states. They’ve been building it for years. That’s not something any amount of money can build in the three months leading up to the election. Romney really, really needs Koch buy-in.

5.   Ryan seals the deal for a base-motivating campaign in the worst tradition of the Republicans.  Republicans win when they run to their base, and play  the “us versus them” card for their anxious constituencies. Voter suppression tactics of all sorts are in play, especially in Florida and Pennsylvania. Taken together, Ryan’s earnest demeanor and brutal budgets act as an a elixir for grassroots conservatives; the base will now be super-motivated.

Bush won two terms without winning the majority of the popular vote because the GOP wanted the win more than the Democrats — and Republicans cheat more. As Thomas Schaller writes at Salon [5]:

By picking [Ryan], Romney provides a powerful signal that he is willing to counter Obama’s failed attempt to unite America with an unapologetic attempt to win via econo-demographic divide and conquer politics.

6. The Romney campaign will now be the most brutal, race-tinged, fact-absent, expensive, technologically sophisticated campaign ever run. This presidential race is increasingly polarized. Polling shows that Obama has lost most of the non-college-educated white male voters he was able to capture in 2008. As Charles Blow points out [6] in the New York Times:

A staggering 90 percent of Romney supporters are white. Only 4 percent are Hispanic, less than 1 percent are black and another 4 percent are another race.

And of uncommitted “swing” voters, Blow writes:

Nearly three out of four are white. The rest are roughly 8 percent blacks Hispanics and another race.

Schaller adds:  “Don’t be surprised in the Romney-Ryan ticket engages in the sort of racially tinged, generationally loaded entitlement politics practiced by the Tea Party...”

7.  While the VP pick isn’t going to change the mind of many independent or hard-core party voters, it is a move to bring all elements of the party in sync. Progressive pundits, just a few days ago, were saying: Oh, the VP pick doesn’t make much difference…maybe, at best, a 2 percent swing. Today is apparently a new day, and progressives are pouncing on this choice as being a huge plus for Obama. Well, ya can’t have it both ways. Republican wins are always about turning out the base to the polls. Ryan probably won’t make that much difference on the large scale, but he becomes the thunderbolt to rouse the base, which appears to love him, even if he is a media-created fraud. In fact, Ryan may be the most effective political phony in America.

8.  Repeat: Paul Ryan is the most effective phony in American politics today. When Romney picked Ryan, he was grabbing one of the great teflon politicians of all time. Ryan has a tremendous ability to appear earnest while lying through his teeth, as he did recently when he repeated Romney’s lie about Obama and welfare work requirements. Ryan represents what Salon’s Joan Walsh calls  [7]the “fakery at the heart of the Republican project today.” She adds:

[Ryan,] the man who who wants to make the world safe for swashbuckling, risk-taking capitalists hasn’t spent a day at economic risk in his life.

Guys like Ryan “somehow become the political face of the white working class when they never spent a day in that class in their life,” writes Walsh.  He has, she says, a “remarkable ability to tap into the economic anxiety of working class whites and steer it toward paranoia that their troubles are the fault of other people — the slackers and the moochers, Ayn Rand;’s  famous ‘parasites’ …”

9.  The Conservative tribe is now ready to fight all of its enemies. The conservatives and Republicans know what team they are on — and that tribal identity is more important to them than any idea of hegemonic cultural identity could possibly be to liberals. For one, the conservative team is almost totally white, and far more homogenous, while more than 43 percent of Obama’s supporters are people of color. Add in that conservative brand of resentment — the “makers versus the takers” — and it becomes clear who represents the conservative notion of a “maker.” With Ryan as the standard-bearer for the self-described “makers,” the team has its galvanizer.

The social psychologist Jonathan Haight and his researchers have compiled a catalog [8] of “six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.”

Among them, he finds that group loyalty and identification is important among conservatives, but not among liberals. As William Saletan describes Haidt’s thesis [8] in the New York Times Book Review:

Social conservatives see welfare and feminism as threats to responsibility and family stability. The Tea Party [9] hates redistribution because it interferes with letting people reap what they earn. Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely on care and fighting oppression.

Come election time, that array of values makes the Republican project more formidable. It is why, when conservative ideas are not popular, when significant majorities of Americans disagree with conservatives, they still have enormous capacity to exercise outsized influence, controlling much of the public debate — and are on the doorstep of winning control of all three branches of government.  Despite their minority status, the tribal thing still leverages far more power than is fair or many thought possible.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Romney picked Ryan out of desperation, or may have had to take Ryan as a deal for support from the Kochs, or may have felt Ryan was actually the best man for the job. Whatever the reason, the Ryan pick does a whole lot for the Romney campaign –conferring money, authority, media attention, change of tone, and more. Probably the most overarching plus, though, is that by adding Ryan, Romney has brought the whole Republican-conservative tribal deal together, which, from my vantage point only increases — not decreases — the chance of the Republicans defeating Obama in November.”

Emphasis Mine



12 Things You Should Know About Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

From: Think Progress

By:Igor Volsky

Mitt Romney has picked as his running mate 42 year-old Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, which the New York Times has described as “the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress in modern times.” Below are 12 things you should know about Ryan and his policies:

1. Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ryan heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” Rand described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages. Though he publicly rejected “her philosophy” in 2012, Ryan had professed himself a strong devotee. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he said at a D.C. gathering honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”

2. Ryan wants to raises taxes on the middle class, cuts them for millionaires. Paul Ryan’s infamous budget — which Romney embraced — replaces “the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cut the top rate from 35 percent.” Federal tax collections would fall “by about $4.5 trillion over the next decade” as a result and to avoid increasing the national debt, the budget proposes massive cuts in social programs and “special-interest loopholes and tax shelters that litter the code.” But 62 percent of the savings would come from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, who would also experience a tax increase. That’s because while Ryan “would extend the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year, he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time.” Households “earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.”

Audiences have booed Ryan for the unfair distribution!

3. Ryan wants to end Medicare, replace it with a voucher system. Ryan’s latest budget transforms the existing version of Medicare, in which government provides seniors with a guaranteed benefit, into a “premium support” system. All future retirees would receive a government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But since the premium support voucher does not keep up with increasing health care costs, the Congressional Budget Offices estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. A recent study also found that had the plan been implemented in 2009, 24 million beneficiares enrolled in the program would have paid higher premiums to maintain their choice of plan and doctors. Ryan would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67.

4. Ryan thinks Social Security is a “ponzi scheme.” In September of 2011, Ryan agreed with Rick Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” andsince 2005 has advocated for privatizing the retirement benefit and investing it in stocks and bonds. Conservatives claim that this would “outperform the current formula based on wages earned and overall wage appreciation,” but the economic crisis of 2008 should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers who seek to hinge Americans’ retirement on the stock market. In fact, “a person with a private Social Security account similar to what President George W. Bush proposed in 2005″ would have lost much of their retirement savings.

5. Ryan’s budget would result in 4.1 million lost jobs in 2 years. Ryan’s budget calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”

6. Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more more than 1 million students.Ryan’s budget claims both that rising financial aid is driving college tuition costs upward, and that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” So he cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could “ultimately knock more than one million students off” the program over the next 10 years.

7. Ryan supports $40 billion in subsides for big oil. In 2011, Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill. His budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.” For instance, it “calls for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone” and would spend only $150 million over five years — or 20 percent of what was invested in 2012 — on energy programs.

8. Ryan has ownership stakes in companies that benefit from oil subsidies . Ryan “and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” the Daily Beast reported in June of 2011. “Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.”

9. Ryan claimed Romneycare has led to “rationing and benefit cuts.” “I’m not a fan of [Romney’s health care reform] system,” Ryan told C-SPAN in 2010. He argued that government is rationing care in the state and claimed that people are “seeing the system bursting by the seams, they’re seeing premium increases, rationing and benefit cuts.” He called the system “a fatal conceit” and “unsustainable.”

10. Ryan believes that Romneycare is “not that dissimilar to Obamacare.” Though Romney has gone to great lengths to distinguish his Massachusetts health care law from Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t see the difference. “It’s not that dissimilar to Obamacare, and you probably know I’m not a big fan of Obamacare,” Ryan said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the American Spectator in March of 2011. “I just don’t think the mandates work … all the regulation they’ve put on it…I think it’s beginning to death spiral. They’re beginning to have to look at rationing decisions.”

11. Ryan accused generals of lying about their support for Obama’s military budget. In March, Ryan couldn’t believe that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey supports Obama’s Pentagon budget, which incorporates $487 billion in cuts over 10 years. “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said at a policy summit hosted by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget.” He later apologized for the implication.

12. Ryan co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, an extreme anti-abortion measure. Ryan joined 62 other Republicans in co-sponsoring the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This would outlaw abortion, some forms of contraception and invitro fertilization.

Emphasis Mine.