March 12, 2010

Paul Ryan gains prominence with plan to eliminate Medicare, privatize Social Security and cut taxes for the wealthy

You may have heard lately that Rep. Paul Ryan is kind of a big deal.

Our Congressman is getting major national play as the Republican Party's leader on federal budget issues. Ryan wrote a budget proposal that was embraced by conservatives as a bold step toward eliminating deficits and reshaping some fundamental government programs. President Obama even called his plan a "serious" proposal.

Here comes the backlash. While Ryan's budget was introduced with great fanfare, Democrats are sinking their teeth into the plan. A few ideas Ryan is proposing include:

* Tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans
* Tax increases for anyone who makes less than $100,000 per year
* Cutting federal spending to what it was in 1951
* Cuts to Social Security
* Cuts to Medicare

Ryan's goal is to pay off the federal debt by 2080, but a recent analysis by a non-partisan tax agency determined the proposal would significantly increase the national debt over the next 70 years. Ryan said the analysis only suggests numbers need to be tweaked in his proposal to reach a more favorable outcome.

The Economist, an international magazine typically sympathetic to Ryan's idea, ripped his proposal to slash (and eventually eliminate) Medicare and "balance the budget on the backs of poor seniors." Here's an excerpt:
Mr Ryan has put forward a serious proposal for shrinking medical-cost inflation and hence shrinking the long-term federal budget deficit. It does so by ending America's provision of first-rate health care to all seniors. Rich seniors will still be able to afford high-quality medical care. Poor seniors won't. They will suffer more and die younger.
Then there's his plan to privatize Social Security, which is similar to President George W. Bush's unpopular proposal. A columnist in the LA Times described Ryan's Social Security proposal, which allows workers to invest in stocks instead of diverting money to the current system, as such:
What is Ryan really up to? His Roadmap would achieve a goal that conservative opponents of Social Security have cherished for decades: killing the program by undermining its broad base of popular support. It would sap Social Security's resources, increase its complexity and hammer a wedge between the currently retired or near-retired (who would be guaranteed their current statutory benefits) and younger workers and the future workforce (who would be increasingly on their own). The term for this is "divide and conquer."
Ryan himself said his entire proposal, called the "Roadmap for America," was only meant to stir debate and get national leaders talking about new ways to control federal spending and reduce the national debt. He seemed surprised people were upset over his plan to dismantle popular programs that benefit middle-class and poor Americans to help pay for a tax cut for the wealthy.
"The reason I did this was to try and stir debate and encourage others to do this as well,” he said. “What I’m finding is that’s probably not going to happen because of all the demagoguery ... It tells them, ‘Don’t stick your head above the foxhole or else you’ll got shot.’ ”
There's no chance Ryan will face a serious challenge for re-election this November. But it'll be interesting to see if his extreme proposals register at all with local voters. If nothing else, Ryan's ideas should embolden Democrats to take a stronger stance against the six-term incumbent.

But fawning media coverage, sweetheart deals, and Ryan's genuine charm make him a lock for political stardom. With that stardom, he'll push radical proposals that could fundamentally change our way of life. I wonder if he'll also keep serving pancakes at Pancake Days?

Update: Here's an interesting look at the debate between Ryan and a wonky policy group over Ryan's proposal. Ryan accuses the policy group - led by a higher-up in President George W. Bush's administration - of partisan analysis. The group responds that Ryan misstates numbers and can't cover up the fact that he wants to cut taxes for the super-wealthy at the expense of benefit cuts and tax increases for average-income Americans.


  1. I used to like this guy, but those bullet points are completly outta touch!

  2. He deserves to be electrocuted on this third rail of politics.

  3. I assume Mr. Ryan makes OVER 100k a year, has a comfy congressional pension plan and long term health care policy? I assume these changes benifit Mr. Ryan personally. I assume he is invested into the DOW and the money from SSI will inflate his value as such make it worthwhile for him to immediately withdrawl his interest, thus profit from his plan? I assume Mr. Ryan is an opportunist.

  4. Thank you for that unbiased rehash of left wing talking points.

    Just the kind of objective reporting we have come to expect from you.

  5. Just what we need - Go Paul.

  6. What we need is a little common sense. If a person earns $20,000.00, $ 2800.00 is paid to SS yearly between him and his employer. In a standard IRA over the course of a person 40 year work life that person would have $ 722,000.00 in savings to live on what's wrong with that? You prefer the gov't take his money spend it and then send him 650.00 a month? That thinking is about as sharp as a marble.

  7. I'll trust government more than Lyin' Ryan any day!

  8. Paul Ryan is the only Republican in D.C. that doesn't sound like a Neanderthal jerking off when talking about policy. While the rest of his party just spout off stupid sh!t like socialism, terrorist sympathisers, government takeover, blah, blah, least Ryan can hang in there on a real conversation basis.

    That said, boy do his ideas really suck! They suck so bad that his own party doesn't even support them. They ran away from Paul Ryan faster than Sarah Palin could run across her backyard to Russia.

  9. I just got my Social Security Statement: I have contributed over $250,000 (Employer contributions included) - If that money were in relatively low risk investments, I would still have far more at retirement in 20 years than I will ever get from Social Security. Moreover, I could pass it on to my children.

    Social Security is a ripoff and a Ponzi scheme.

    Ryan's ideas are good ones, and deal with the fiscal and demographic realities that we face as a country. You should read his plan yourself - and not rely on the hatchet job done here in the Racine Post.

  10. Read my lips: Don't touch my Social Security.

  11. Dear 11:31, Too late, the government already spent your social security money on other programs. That is why Ryan wants to have it changed.

  12. Read my lips: Don't touch my Medicare.

  13. I think an optional SS privatization program coupled with a higher age limit (say 70 years old) for non-participants to "encourage" them into the program would be a far better way to go. Why not have both programs run concurrently? If the privatization program is successful no one will care if SS is phased out after 10-20 years.

  14. Why doesn't the Racine Post interview Paul Ryan so he can debate your story.
    I thought the Racine Post was going to be a good read,but instead it's just another liberal news outlet.

  15. The notion that people are going to customarily work until they are 70 before they retire is a pipe dream. The trend is actually going the other way.

  16. The Translator3/12/2010 2:00 PM

    Dustin, why is this not listed as an editorial, as this is your opinion and not a serious news story.

    Why didnt you just call it "I dont like Ryan cause he's not liberal".

  17. Why not offer a CHOICE to Social Security? I believe this has been floated before. What's so scary about this choice? YOU can decide if you feel more comfortable choosing your investments or letting the government choose for you.

  18. The only people crazier than radical democrats are radical republicans.

  19. Anon, 2:16,

    Society Security taxes are paid by the current generation of workers to cover the retirement costs of their parents. I paid Social Security taxes to pay for my parents' benefits; my children pay their taxes to pay for me. If you keep all your Social Security contributions for yourself now, who pays for your parents? Or don't you care? Or do you just expect everyone else to pay for your parents while you sock away all their money for yourself and let them fend for themselves? Now, maybe if you paid entirely for your parents' retirement yourself, and yours, too, then your proposal might make sense. If not, it doesn't. You're just being selfish because you want your cake, your parents' cake, and everybody's else's cake, to eat yourself.

  20. Don't confuse the Racine Post with a real newspaper. Duston Block is merely a stenographer for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

  21. Republicans as well as Democrats better have a new candidate in 2016to replace this guy.

  22. Social Security pays me 20K per year, my 401K which I contributed to for almost twenty years was worth almost 300K at one time, it is now worth 150k and it was invested conservatively invested in bonds and stock index funds. The market over the past ten years has devasted IRA's and 401k's but my SS keeps coming. Forget Ryan and keep things as they are,everything else is too risky.

  23. 3/12/2010 11:15 AM
    NEVER trust government or the press for that matter. Listen to what both are saying and then do what ever you can to verify the facts.
    R.P. your biases is so obvious it's a wonder any one can trust anything you say. You kissed Russ Feingold's but when he lied Thur his teeth and said "there is no funding for abortion" in the health care bill. He did vote out the Stupak language that would prevent it. Tell the truth here or you will find yourself going the way of the NY Times. I for one can't stomach this any longer. See ya around.

  24. Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand enthusiast of the highest order.

    He believes that the poor deserve to be so and resents being asked to do anything at all to counteract the inherent disadvantages of poverty. The rich are somehow more deserving, not because they have had better luck and/or opportunities.

    Apparently they would have us live in a Dickensian society where the poor are relegated to work houses or commence dying and reduce the surplus population.

    May I suggest to Ryan and his fellow libertarians that they relocate to a country more suited to their world view. (Somalia for instance may fit the bill, as it has no federal government to "oppress" them).

  25. If Ryan wanted to solve our problems he would propose removing the cap on income subject to the social security tax. DONE, FIXED, PROBLEM OVER, Social Security would be fully funded from now into the hundreds of years from now!

    Better yet, let exempt (fully exempt from social security tax) the first $20,000 of earned income for everyone. Yes, a republican favorite, everyone gets a tax break on the first $20,000 of income. The price for this, remove the cap on earnings subject to Social Security tax.

    While we are at it, lets also close down the loop holes. Everyone gets the first $20,000 exempt, but after that ALL income is subject to social security tax. No more loop holes for the wealthy to reclassify earned income into dividend or interest income.

    Really look at this plan, who wins, who loses. Working class Americans win. The wealthy, you start paying your fair share. Tell me exactly why is it that the social security tax should stop for those earning over $100,000??

    The truth, Republicans and the wealthy are screwing over all working class Americans and guess what they get away with it. Why, because they turn the conversation into something else other than their greed. Why do you think Republicans like to talk about Abortion, it keeps please from talking about what really matters and that is stopping the Republicans and wealthy from stealing from working Americans. Why do you think Republicans want to talk about gay marriage, because again it keeps working Americans from focusing on real problems like the wealthy taking everything for themselves and not paying their fair share. Look, hate sells and it always has. Do you really think Hitler didn't know this? I don't think Hitler even cared abouts Jews, he just needed to have a good piece of hate to sell to keep everyone from focusing on what really matters.

    The Republicans are no different, if it isn't abortion or gays, then it is communists, socialist, or government take overs.

    As I have said before, our teachers are failing us. People get with the game and start focusing on what really matters. Republicans and wealthy will literally do anything to get more and keep more of the pie. Talk about greed, they will never have enough.

    Focus on what matters, level the playing field and then and only then will the American dream really start to be implemented for all Americans rather than the handful of Republicans and Wealthy.

  26. smear campaign from the racine[liberal]post

  27. Notice:

    All of the conservative apologists leapt to Ryan's defense by smearing the paper. Not a single word of evidence or even a shred of reasoned logic to attempt to refute the FACTS.

    This is because the FACTS are irrefutable. Paul Ryan wants to gut Medicare and Social Security to pay for another massive giveaway to the wealthiest earners and corporations. It's ONE LAST Republican raid on the US Treasury. They're f***ing SHAMELESS.

    Steal from the country to give to the country club.

  28. 3/13/2010 9:36 AM
    If you look at history you will find that the description you just gave is that of the Democrat Party against Blacks since before the civil war to present day.

  29. HunterJohn:
    The racists have always been the conservatives. Until 1964, the conservatives were in the Democratic party. But after Johnson pushed through civil rights, the Nixon and Reagan campaigns warmly welcomed these bigots to the Republican Party.

    You can't blame the party and excuse the ideology. The party is just a host. The ideology is the plague. Conservatism is a disease on an otherwise healthy organism.

  30. HunterJohn: You sir are why I say teachers are failing society. I utterly cannot see how you can support a political party that wants nothing more than to through you into prison and see you live life in poverty.

    Because your political views work against your own self interest, our teachers have failed you. Generally we should NOT look out for our own self interest but rather consider society as well as our own interest. This is one of the occassions were your own self interest is also in the best interest of society.

    In fact, you are a democrat without even knowing it. Again, our teachers have failed us. You have bought the empty words of the Republican party. You buy the hate for sale by the Republican party. Open your eyes and you will begin to see that what you believe in is not at all consistent with the Republican message.

    The fact of the matter is, if you take hate out of the picture and all of those that buy into it, this country is a democratic country.

    Do you or do you not believe in keeping government out of your private life, if so, you are a democrat. Do you believe in a progressive income tax because the benefits of government disportionately go to those on the higher end of the income scale, if so you are a democrat. Do you believe that working people should get a tax break, if so you are a democrat. Do you believe there is no reason for the social security tax to stop for those earning above $100K a year, but rather everyone should be exempt from social security tax on the first $20k of earnings, if so you are a democrat. Do you see no reason for dividends, interest, and capital gains which is disportionately the income of the wealthy should be taxed at a rate lower that earned income from working, if so you are a democrat. Do you believe in a level playing field so everyone can achieve their best regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, if so you are a democrat. Do you respect your neighbors right to live in peace as members of society regardless of their differences, if so then you are a democrat.

    If you so no to a majority of the above, then you are a Republican and indeed our teachers have failed you. For those in this situation, I am sorry that you are intellectually challenged.

  31. Anon 8:43 get help.

    Just because someone does not agree with your ideology that does not mean they "hate".

    The only "hate" I see here is from you and people who share your views.

    Seriously, seek help.

  32. Editorial from the Star Tribune - Minneapolis. A shame Dustin can not be the honest.

    Editorial: Ryan's 'Roadmap' reveals hard truth
    The plan is flawed, but it does treat Americans like adults.

    Last update: March 14, 2010 - 11:09 PM

    Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's plan for reducing the frightening federal deficit calls for some harsh medicine. Just for starters, Ryan proposes privatizing or placing limits on spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the nation's big three but much-depended-on entitlement programs.

    So the reaction from readers to a recent piece on these pages outlining the Republican's plan was surprising. The expected fear and loathing was in short supply. Instead, many of those commenting seemed relieved that someone, somewhere, was proposing something that might actually work: a plan that would stem the nation's red-ink spending and balance its books. (Ryan's plan would take a while -- until 2080 -- to achieve that goal, but it does get there eventually.)

    The takeaway lesson from all of this is not that Ryan's plan holds all the answers. It doesn't. Relying solely on spending cuts, as his plan does, isn't realistic. In particular, the changes proposed for the entitlement programs transfers too much risk to future seniors and other vulnerable people who will need them.

    Instead, the lesson here is that Americans want their political leaders to treat them as adults. They know the nation's borrowing and profligate spending is on a catastrophic course. They understand that hard choices lie ahead. Ryan is one of the rare politicians who believes that Americans are ready to handle the truth.


  33. 3/12/2010 12:57 PM said -- "Why doesn't the Racine Post interview Paul Ryan so he can debate your story.

    I thought the Racine Post was going to be a good read, but instead it's just another liberal news outlet."

    Nothing is stopping Paul Ryan from commenting right here on the article, unlike his op-eds at RJT where he doesn't allow his constituents to challenge his views. So yeah, shame on the left-wing pinko commie liberal rag Racine Post for conducting an open direct and public debate.