Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lion Ryan

 After Paul Ryan's selection as the Vice Presidential candidate was announced, GOPUSA described Paul Ryan as "The Lion from Jaynesville". The Lion? The Lion Ryan?  

In his speech at the Republican National Convention, the Lion Ryan displayed prowess that put him beyond any other politician who aspires to have Lion associated with their name. The Lion Ryan blamed President Obama for  a failed promise to keep the General Motors plant open in Jaynesville. General Motors ceased operations there in December 2008, citing low demand for SUVs and high gas prices during the Bush administration as the reason for halting production. Obama became president in January 2009, a month after the plant closed. The shuffled timeline entries matter not to the Lion Ryan.  

The Lion Ryan claimed the stimulus bill was political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at its worst, cutting out the working men and women and resulting in nothing but debt. When President Obama took office, unemployment was skyrocketing. The stimulus bill cut short the climb and tempered the disaster, keeping it from becoming worse than it was. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it put anywhere from 1.4 to 3.3 million working men and women back to work. Without the bill, unemployment would have been worse. But the Lion Ryan mixed another denial cocktail and the Lion party is on.  

The Lion Ryan claimed that President Obama, in a cold powerplay, funnelled $716 out of Medicare. The $716 billion wasn't taken away from Medicare. It is the savings resulting from reducing payments to Medicare Advantage, private plans that provide Medicare coverage at a higher cost to the government. The Lion Ryan says a Romney administration will repeal the law and the Lion Ryan implies that doing so would restore the money that was saved. Lost in bewilderness, the Lion marched on.  

The Lion Ryan blamed President Obama for Standard and Poor's downgrade of the US debt rating. In it's report, Standard and Poor blamed political brinkmanship culminating with the threat of default as contributing to less stable, less effective and less predictable governance and policymaking. That threat of default came from the Republicans. The Lion Ryan was one of those Republicans making that threat. What the Lion hides is more important than what the Lion reveals.  

The Lion Ryan blamed President Obama for doing nothing after receiving the "urgent report" from the Bowles-Simpson debt commission. The commission needed 14 of 18 votes to formally approve the plan it created. It failed with 11 votes. The Lion Ryan was a member of that commission and he voted against the plan. Congress is primarily responsible for creating legislation. Not only is the Lion Ryan is a member of Congress, the Lion Ryan is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. The Lion Ryan never once proposed legislation that incorporated the commission's "urgent report" he voted against. The Lion Ryan blames President Obama. The's complicated.  

The Lion Ryan said that the greatest of our responsibilities to each other is that the strong protect the weak. Yet the Lion Ryan's own Path to Prosperity would reduce Medicare to a voucher system which would increase the cost of medical care to the seniors seeking that care. Mitt Romney's tax and budget plans would result in a cut of $1.9 trillion to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program over a ten-year period. It would also cut $898 billion over ten years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, child nutrition programs like reduced and free lunches, refundable earned income and child tax credits for low-wage working families, and Supplemental Security Income for poor seniors, the blind, and the disabled. The Lion did not insult the intelligence of a single convention delegate.  

Throughout the Lion Ryan's speech, the convention delegates cheered the Lion. They embraced the Lion. It was as if the Lion was their own. Now the Lion Ryan is their shining star, the brilliant and daring Lion speaking the truth as only he knows how.


Honey Keynsian said...

You know how after a forest fire they announce the cause? Like, they trace some enormous swath of destruction back to some poor sap who parked his truck and walked into the woods to have a beer and a smoke. He just wanted to sit on a log and chill out, now he's on the hook to replace half the state.

That almost happened to me once. I almost burned down the internets. I was quietly contemplating a political discussion, not unlike this one, when a voice came down (kinda like in the Hunger Games woods) bragging that the stimulus had saved X number of jobs and only cost y dollars.

Oh, I thought. So what was the cost to create each job? Divide y by x and.... Omg. I came up with a number like $300,000. That couldn't be right. Why not just hand the money out to the unemployed? Give some of us 300 g's and we'd never even have to work again!

So, I crowd-sourced the problem. Passed the butt. Posted a comment and asked better minds to check my shaky math. Holy conflagration, Katniss! That little spark still hasn't burned out. Democrats have tried to douse the cost by upping job creation estimates to 5 million, but even then we're talking a cool $157,000 per position, most of them McJobs paying peanuts. Even 5 million jobs doesn't pace with the natural increase of the workforce, let alone the jobs lost in the recession. Any stimulus adds to the debt, the gamble is to create enough multiplier now to outpace future spending suppression.

Obviously, something misfired in Obama's stimulus. It's not enough to say that things would have been worse without it. Not if there were more effective ways to spend the limited funds to maximize the stimulus. You don't have to be an Ayn Rand hillbilly to advocate smart spending.

For starters, the trillions spent on the TARP-style programs should have been routed through citizen accounts to maximize stimulus. Those trillions instead continue to have an anti-stimulus effect in many, many ways. What a lost opportunity, makes me feel sick. We needed to restructure the financial sector, instead we propped up a failed and dangerous supply side system which is still hoarding cash. We're still holding the bag, we don't have decent regs despite our leverage! We still own the dinosaur AIG!

Those TARP trillions weren't seen as stimulus, even though the govt spending dwarfed the recovery act thingy. But, we did spend the stimulus ineffectively. Why not admit it? How many Barney Fifes did it take to screw in Cheney's surveillance cameras? I realize the system prevented Osama from enrolling at EWU as a comparative lit and environmental science double major, but did the spending actually create any real jobs with multiplier effect? Even projects that did create real jobs, like the North corridor project, created fewer jobs than WPA due to technology--much of which was made for lower wages abroad. And, unlike the 1930s, road projects today mostly serve the needs of foreign imports.

Worse, Obama and the Republicans showed their blind adherence to archaic neoliberal economic policy by signing even more regressively structured trade deals. Obama is the lyin' lion on that one. We need trade, yes, but we can't afford trade that guts wages and in turn our tax base. It's just not economically sustainable not to separate out labor and environmental exploitation from mutual advantage. Neo-liberal economics isn't so much wrong as superceded by reality.

Perhaps most sadly, Obama continued to structure environmental protection as cost, rather than potential value stimulus. The government should have given citizens quantified new value to spend.

It's not really the guy with the cigarette who burns down the forest. It's forest management policy that burns down the forest. It's "too big to fail" management that sets the economy up for massive conflagrations. We continue to build up fuel for the inevitable.

Swear to God, it's not my fault.

Anonymous said...

I find the "fact-checking" meme mostly arrogant and misguided. A lot of the "fact-checks" seem less about disputing discrete claims of fact, and instead about elevating certain opinions and interpretations of relevancy to the status of quasi-scientific fact.

The fact-checkers opinions may be correct, but those opinions are not fact.

Clabber said...

I'll be interested to read the "fact-checking" on Bill Clinton's upcoming speech. Will the fact-checkers include a full report on the corporations which have paid the Clintons since he left the presidency, including dollar amounts? Will the fact-checkers consider the relevance of the Clinton trade, bank deregulation, and welfare cuts to our present economic troubles?

Or, as usual, will the fact-checkers protect their own corrupt interests and let Clinton's "facts" go unchallenged?

We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton is less the Democratic Paul Ryan than the Democratic Clint Eastwood. The choices of Eastwood and Clinton demonstrate just how insular and disconnected party elites have become, and how nostalgic.

The symbolism of Clinton is probably worse for Obama than Eastwood was for Romney though. By the administration's own account, Clinton will deliver the President's heavily-hyped but secret new policy initiatives. It's hard not to imagine the hype falling as flat as an empty chair routine.

Why would the "Forward" campaign want new policy to come from yesterday's President's glib mouth? And, particularly from the mouth of the President whose economic henchmen (like Summers and Rubin and Geithner) are blamed by Democrats themselves for everything that went wrong with Obama's first term?

A couple of years ago, Obama was going around the country bragging that he had already accomplished 70% of what he had set out to do. He's dropped that line from his speeches, perhaps realizing that the message wasn't resonating with a public that hadn't received remedy, while Wall Street had.

Sometimes people say, well, you know, this item is not done and that idea -- well, I've only been here two years, guys. If you look at the checklist, we've already covered about 70 percent, so I figured I needed to have something to do for the next couple of years.

That's Obama, in September 2010, in Wisconsin of all places, utterly misjudging the political moment and hoping to find "something to do." The Democrats lost heavily in the midterms, the Wisconsin protests and Occupy were soon to follow.

But, nothing has replaced the line either. Obama goes through the motions of attacking his opponent and "grinding out" the "homestretch" of the campaign. He's checking off boxes on a resume, but for what? What's he plumping himself for, exactly?

Well into the second year of his presidency, Obama told the Americans to be patient. Then the President said he'd already done plenty. Then he told us we hadn't pushed him hard enough. Then he shut us down or ignored us when we protested and pushed. Then he blamed Republican obstructionism.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. All this from the guy who promised "a new era of responsibility" in his inaugural.

People say conventions don't matter, but the Democratic convention is starting to look important if only to document the irresponsibility, cluelessness, and mendacity of the current administration.

Or, perhaps I should say, of the latest version of the endless Clinton presidency.