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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ryan Exposed

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The second best thing that happened in November with President Barack Obama’s re-election was that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s fundamental dishonesty was exposed for the entire nation to see.

Before Ryan was named to the losing Republican ticket, he had successfully created an image in Washington, D.C., as a bright, young, right-wing economic expert.

Ryan accomplished this by using authoritative-looking charts to support apocalyptic warnings that American democracy was on the verge of total economic collapse unless we returned to Republican policies that already had created a near-total economic collapse.

One reason the far right wanted Ryan as their vice presidential candidate was that no other Republican could explain with a straight face why slashing Social Security, Medicare and health care for the poor and disabled would make America a better place.

But a funny thing happened when Ryan, an alleged Republican visionary, was caught in the political spotlight of a presidential campaign.

Journalists across the country realized that even for a politician Ryan told an incredible number of lies.

The whoppers were so obvious. Ryan accused Obama of closing a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville that actually closed under George W. Bush. He claimed the president robbed Medicare recipients of $716 billion. But that was money that was also included in Ryan’s Republican budgets.

Ryan even got caught lying about his marathon running time even though runners remember the exact time of every marathon they’ve ever run down to the second.

Before the vice presidential campaign, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was one of the few national columnists calling out Ryan as an economic flimflam man “who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.”

 

Ryan’s Impossible Budget Rewards the Rich

When Ryan released his latest federal budget to shift money from Medicare and other effective programs benefiting the nation into more enormous tax cuts for the rich, reporters knew better.

Ryan’s new budget would do truly incredible things—as in, impossible to believe.

Ryan would cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 39.6% to 25%. The tax rate for everybody else would be 10%. Corporate taxes also would be cut from 35% to 25%. Yet, even with those trillions of dollars in lost revenue, the budget would magically balance in 10 years.

It’s pretty obvious who would have to pay to make up those lost trillions since Republicans adamantly oppose asking millionaires and billionaires to pay another dime.

But first it’s valuable to examine exactly who would get how much under Ryan’s whopping tax cuts because it follows exactly the same pattern as those benefiting from Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed tax cuts for Wisconsin.

According to the Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Institution, the top 1% would get 55% of Ryan’s total federal tax cut. And, get this, the top one-tenth of 1% would get 30.5% of that. They are the ones making $3.3 million or more a year and would get average tax cuts of $1.2 million.

Compare that to the bottom 20% of taxpayers, those making $22,000 a year or less. They would get an average tax cut of $60 and many of them would get no tax cut at all.

That’s the way percentage tax cuts work. Republicans say that’s the way it should be because the wealthy pay the most in taxes. But income taxes are supposed to be progressive, with the poor and the middle class taxed at lower rates than the wealthy, and based upon the ability to pay.

Tax cuts, to be progressive, should be reversed. The poor and the middle class should get larger tax reductions and the wealthy should get less, again based upon ability to pay.

Across-the-board percentage tax cuts favoring the wealthy are one reason wealth at the top has multiplied many times over in the last 30 years, while middle-class wealth hasn’t increased at all.

Ryan increases that inequity by paying for his enormous tax cuts by devastating federal programs providing Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, child nutrition, education, scientific research, infrastructure and pretty much anything else that benefits anyone who is not wealthy.

For anyone still fooled into believing Ryan knows anything about economics, Keynesian theory demonstrated during the Great Depression that deficit government spending is necessary in times of massive unemployment to put money into people’s pockets so they can buy goods and services to speed hiring by private industry to produce even more goods and services.

Despite Ryan’s doomsday warnings about exploding deficits, Krugman again points out with the economy recovering under Obama our deficit already is falling faster than it has in generations.

The deficit peaked in 2009 at $1.4 trillion and has steadily come down ever since. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now expects the deficit for fiscal 2013 ending Oct. 1 to be on a sustainable path at $845 billion.

Believe real economists, not Ryan and other dishonest politicians who play economists on TV.