March 6, 2016

Lyin' Paul Ryan was at CPAC this past weekend pushing the same old trickle down economics, this time repackaged as trying to fight what he calls "the poverty trap." Here is a bit of his spiel, courtesy of Media Matters:

RYAN: Two things. I think we've lost the definition of success in the war on words, I guess. We have been defining success as how much money are we spending, how many government programs have we created, how many people are on those programs. That's success. Well, why don't we think about measuring poverty -- success in the War on Poverty by how many people are we getting out of poverty? How many people are getting on their own two feet and living lives of their own, shaping their own destiny? Reaching their version of the American Dream. So that's point number one. Point number two is what we are doing is we are saying the government in so many ways has been a part of the problem. I call it the "poverty trap."

If you take all these government programs -- I'm just talking about the federal government, about 92 federal programs spending $800 billion a year. And they're all stacked up on top of each other. And what they effectively end up doing is they tell people don't work. They make it harder for a person to work. The top effective tax rate in America today is not being paid by Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates, or Aaron Rodgers. And Aaron Rodgers probably deserves that tax rate. It's paid by, you know, the single mom with two kids making 20-something thousand dollars that if she gets a raise she'll lose 80 cents on the dollar, so she doesn't. Or if she goes to work she loses more benefits than she gains in going to work. So we're trapping people in poverty, by basically paying people not to work. So we need to make it so that work always pays. And what we're doing with these programs is we're isolating the poor. We're pushing people outside of the workforce, and they're missing out and we're missing out on their talents. So we think good conservative welfare reform moving from welfare to work, going with what works, and letting local communities have more power to revive their communities, like these guys do in these great videos.

Ryan then goes on to argue that tax cuts, especially for the rich, will somehow help the Average Joe lift himself out of poverty. It hasn't worked since St. Ronnie started it and it ain't about to work now. Ryan's theory is apparently if tax cuts for the rich didn't work, the answer is obviously more of the same.

Of course, the truth is if Ryan really wanted to help people out of poverty and get them out of this "poverty trap," the solution would be to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and create universal health care. Then people would be able to support themselves and not worry about benefits as much.

But Ryan won't do that because he isn't really interested in helping the poor. Never has, never will be. His spiel is just another rephrasing of what he was saying three years ago, when he started his whole push for trickle down economics, thinly disguised as a concern about poverty:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), soon to be the new House Ways and Means Committee chairman, wants to make one thing clear: those within his party who question the value of tax breaks for the rich are wrong. The far-right congressman sat down this week with John McCormack.

Some conservatives have argued that reducing the top rate is less urgent now than it was during the Reagan administration, when the top rate was cut from 70 percent to 50 percent and then cut again from 50 percent to 28 percent. But Ryan says that cutting the top rate is “even more pressing now” than it was back then “because the American economy was so dominant in the global economy and capital was not nearly as mobile as it is today.”

Ryan added in the Weekly Standard interview that he’s a “classic growth conservative,” who believes, “Growth occurs on the margin, which is a wonky way of saying, if you want faster economic growth, more upward mobility, and faster job creation, lower tax rates across the board is the key – it’s the secret sauce.”

Even putting aside the fact that Ryan seems to have an odd definition of “wonky,” this is a bizarre perspective. Note, for example, that the failed vice presidential candidate is apparently convinced there’s never been a better time to cut the top marginal tax rate, which only the very wealthy currently pay. The United States is in the midst of another Gilded Age, with massive amounts of wealth concentrated at the very top, but Ryan still demands tax cuts because capital is “mobile.”

As Matt Yglesias noted, “The idea that globalization, which tends to increase the overall size of the economy while also increasing inequality, makes tax cuts for the rich even more urgent strikes me as a little bit hard to defend intellectually.”

What I find particularly disconcerting about Ryan's spiel comes at the end of the video clip, when he says that he wants to make the day to day operation of government functions, including setting and enforcing regulations, a function of Congress. Apparently the dark money special interests that are Ryan's masters are none too happy that these "bureaucrats: aren't as easily bought off as Ryan or the other Republicans.

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