Yesterday, 37-47-11. If you missed it and don’t know what 37-47-11 means, take a minute to find out. (It’s not the address of a globular cluster — although apparently it’s that, too.) In a nutshell: when Governor Romney took office, Massachusetts was a not-great 37th out of 50 in job creation. After four years of applying the job-creation skills he now offers us the nation, Massachusetts had dropped — to a near-last 47th out of 50. Yet today, with a Democratic governor, Massachusetts has risen to an ever-so-much-better 11th out of 50.
Anyway, that was yesterday.
Today, Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan is a hugely consequential figure in American politics right now, and therefore a major player in the kind of future we and our kids will have. He is a member of the church of Ayn Rand — Atlas Shrugged is his bible* — and you can read a fascinating profile of him here.
Governor Romney embraces the Paul Ryan budget. He would increase military spending; cut taxes on the rich; tighten the screws on the sick, the poor, and the elderly. That’s his path to job growth: cut back on infrastructure and research and alternative energy initiatives, fire more teachers and nurses, lower taxes on the rich.
Make no mistake: if we elect Governor Romney, we’ll be getting Paul Ryan in a very real way.
Romney has shown no inclination to challenge Ryan, praising him fulsomely and even promising him, according to The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, he’d enact Ryan’s plan in the first 100 days. Republicans envision an administration in which Romney has relegated himself to a kind of head-of-state role, at least domestically, with Ryan as the actual head of government.
Ryan would achieve his short-term deficit reduction by focusing overwhelmingly on programs targeted to the poor (which account for about a fifth of the federal budget, but absorb 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts over the next decade). [His] budget repeals Obamacare, thereby uninsuring some 30 million Americans about to become insured. It would then take insurance away from another 14 to 27 million people, by cutting Medicaid and children’s health-insurance funding.
This is not a moderate plan. As Robert Greenstein, a liberal budget analyst, summed up the proposal, “It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.” And yet, Ryan has managed to sell it as something admirable, and something else entirely: a deficit-reduction plan. . . .
Whether Ryan’s plan [actually] is a “deficit-reduction plan” is highly debatable. Ryan promises to eliminate trillions of dollars’ worth of tax deductions, but won’t identify which ones. . . . Ryan is specific about two policies: massive cuts to income-tax rates, and very large cuts to government programs that aid the poor and medically vulnerable. You could call all this a “deficit-reduction plan,” but it would be more accurate to call it “a plan to cut tax rates and spending on the poor and sick.” Aside from a handful of exasperated commentators, like Paul Krugman, nobody does.
In 2005, Ryan spoke at a gathering of Ayn Rand enthusiasts, where he declared, “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.” . . . Ludwig von Mises, whom Ryan has also cited as an influence, once summed up Rand’s philosophy in a letter to her: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: You are inferior and all the improvements in your condition which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”
In 2001, Ryan led a coterie of conservatives who complained that George W. Bush’s $1.2 trillion tax cut was too small, and too focused on the middle class. In 2003, he lobbied Republicans to pass Bush’s deficit-financed prescription-drug benefit, which bestowed huge profits on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. In 2005, when Bush campaigned to introduce private accounts into Social Security, Ryan fervently crusaded for the concept. He was the sponsor in the House of a bill to create new private accounts funded entirely by borrowing, with no benefit cuts. Ryan’s plan was so staggeringly profligate, entailing more than $2 trillion in new debt over the first decade alone, that even the Bush administration opposed it as “irresponsible.”
[W]ith the possible exception of anti-tax activist/Bond villain Grover Norquist, nobody has done more in recent years to prevent the passage of a bipartisan debt agreement than Paul Ryan. And yet, incredibly, Ryan has managed to position himself as the nation’s foremost spokesman for the cause of bipartisan deficit reduction. Possibly his favorite accusation against Obama, one he repeats day after day, is that he failed to openly endorse the Bowles-Simpson plan. [Ryan was on the Simpson-Bowles Commission -- and voted against its plan.] Ryan regularly holds forth on this subject in a way that seems genuine and even admirable to his audiences but, to anybody who happens to recall his actual role in these events, utterly surreal.
*I loved Atlas Shrugged, which I listened to over the course of a 346-mile walk. (Not all at once.) But to me it was a cartoon, even for the era in which it as written, let alone for the realities of 2012.
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Quote of the Day
In finance, decay is more colorful than probity, and the prevailing direction of change in the past generation has only enriched the content of the narrative.~James Grant, Money Of The Mind
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