Paul Ryan gave a speech yesterday. About poverty. That's right, the guy who blasted his way into a soup kitchen so he could wash clean pans and give the illusion that he cares about hungry people stood up on a stage and gave a speech so he could give the illusion he cares about poor people. No, really. He did.
This clip, put out by the Romney campaign, summarizes the Romney-Ryan view of poor folks. You see, it's all your fault, you single parents, you less educated folks. It's your fault, but it's also just a lack of opportunity. But mostly, it's your fault because you're all a bunch of dependent, irresponsible slackers who look to Daddy Government to take care of you.
Delivered with a smirk, of course. A somewhat self-satisfied smirk, at that.
After extolling the virtues of an "opportunity-driven free enterprise society", Congressman Ryan laid the smackdown on the poors, saying this (via Politico):
“With a few exceptions, government’s approach has been to spend lots of money on centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs,” Ryan said. “ … The problem is, starting in the 1960s, this top-down approach created and perpetuated a debilitating culture of dependency, wrecking families and communities. This was so obvious to everyone by the 1990s that, when a major welfare program was finally reformed, the law was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president.”
Let's just come out and say it plainly: You people of color are dependent because you are all welfare queens and slackers.
Why did I interpret it that way? Ryan's reference to the 60s was a clear signal that he was about to whale on the mythical poor folk of the 60s, who are always brown or black, live in government-owned housing (they called them 'projects') and mooch.
You moochers, Paul Ryan wants you to know it's all your fault but he's going to help you anyway, and he's going to do it by removing all those restrictions that are in place to ensure people who actually are in need get what they need. Via Huffington Post:
Ryan noted that Americans born into poor families are more likely to stay poor as adults than Americans born into wealthy families.
Well, duh. That's what happens when you have no estate taxes. The wealthy become dynasties unto themselves. Yes, I think it's fair to say that children of poor folks have a more difficult row to hoe than children of the wealthy.
A Romney administration, Ryan said, would help restore mobility by turning the open-ended commitments of federal anti-poverty programs into "block grants" -- fixed chunks of money the federal government sends to states each year regardless of the amount of need. States, in turn, get more leeway to design their own programs.
"The federal government would continue to provide the resources, but we would remove the endless federal mandates and restrictions that hamper state efforts to make these programs more effective," Ryan said. "If the question is what's best for low-income Ohioans, shouldn’t we let Ohioans make that call?"
If you believe this, you also believe Romney would have saved the auto industry. There's a reason these programs are funded and regulated at the federal level. Can you imagine, for example, a scenario where the federal government hands off a huge chunk of money to a state like Alabama, who then allocates it in a convenient fashion which might not include people who most need it?
I can. Or let's say they aren't quite that blatant, but at the state level decide they should privatize all services to the poor and force restrictions on those receiving assistance that they must only seek assistance from those private organizations who stand to profit?
Paul Ryan would call that free enterprise. I call it theft.
As if his condescending, smirky, high and mighty attitude wasn't enough in this speech, he actually did deliver some policy proposals. I'm sure Chuck, Dave and Bill Koch are all gratified. Huffington Post reports on that too:
Part of the problem with programs that haven't received the block grant treatment, Ryan said, is that they perpetuate "government dependency." But he also said government spending itself is a threat to people who rely on safety net programs for food and health care.
"When government’s own finances collapse, society's most vulnerable are the first victims, as we are seeing right now in the troubled welfare states of Europe," he said. "Many there feel that they have nowhere to turn for help, and we must never let that happen in America."
Ryan also said government spending discourages people from giving to charity. "Debt on this scale is destructive in so many ways, and one of them is that it crowds out civil society by drawing resources away from private giving."
Oh yes, let's serve some shame with a little fear sprinkled in for good measure. Did anyone think to mention to Paul Ryan that the United States government is in no danger of collapse? It might also be a good time to point out to him that austerity programs in Europe aren't working. Europe and the UK in particular are seeing a shrinking economy, not one that is growing, as Paul Krugman noted:
Schularick and Taylor have an update to their article on post-crisis economic performance. They previously showed that the United States is doing a bit better than one might have expected from the historical record. Now they show that the UK is doing significantly worse:
Hmmm. A bit better. Let's not mention that government dependency thing called the stimulus, shall we? Wouldn't want to wreck Ryan's narrative.
I wonder whether Paul Ryan felt dependent and shamed when he collected Social Security after his father's death and paid for college with it. After all, he didn't need the money, seeing as how his family's business (government built that), kept food on their table and the lights on. Did it make him feel dirty to collect a paid-for benefit?
If so, he could atone by giving back his college degree, for starters. And paying some extra taxes on that inherited money that keeps such a robust income stream going to his family. Does his mom feel shamed and dirty for being on Medicare? No?
Maybe Paul should just take his Ayn Rand nonsense, sit down, and STFU. I cannot wait until this smirky, cocky little twerp isn't on my radar anymore.