The Savaging of Paul Ryan

Bemoaning the legislative stalemate in Washington, President Obama last month publicly rebuked Republicans in a speech from New Hampshire:

“You’ve been sitting on the sidelines criticizing what we’re proposing… You got a better idea bring it on.”

The president has finally got his wish. It comes in the form of the most constructive legislative proposal to emerge from Congress in a long time. Called “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” it is the brainchild of Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. The proposal is unusual by Washington’s standards: It actually offers real solutions to a pressing problem.

Faced with moribund economy and weighted down with astronomical obligations it cannot make good on, our federal government is slouching toward fiscal disaster. This much is obvious to most observers and politicians alike. The problem is that politicians are loath to do anything about it, because the swamp of federal spending has always been a fertile ground for political fortunes. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap bucks this trend and seeks to reverse our disastrous course with a series of commonsense measures. Here are some of the plan’s highlights:

  • Allowing those under 55 to invest over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees;
  • Placing future Medicare beneficiaries (those currently under 55) into a semi-private programs similar to those currently used by Members of Congress;
  • Reducing the tax code into two rates: 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for single filers, and 25% on taxable income above these amounts;
  • Eliminating the alternative minimum and the death tax;
  • Doing away with taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends;
  • Replacing the corporate tax—currently the second highest in the industrialized world—with a business consumption tax of 8.5%;
  • Imposing a 10 year discretionary spending freeze.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Ryan’s plan would accomplish what no other recent proposal could claim to do – it would strengthen the economy and put the government’s finances on a sustainable track. Having evaluated the Roadmap, the CBO issued a letter which stated that it would “lower budget deficits” and “result in much less federal debt than under the alternative fiscal scenario and thereby a much more favorable macroeconomic outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office concluded its evaluation as follows:

The Roadmap would put the federal budget on a sustainable path, generating an annual budget surplus of about 5 percent of GDP by 2080… The economy would be considerably stronger under the proposal than it would be under the alternative fiscal scenario. Real gross national product per person would be about 70 percent higher in 2058 under the proposal than under the alternative fiscal scenario.

In his syndicated column, George Will – who is no ferocious partisan – praised Ryan’s program as one that successfully “connects three destinations – economic vitality, diminished public debt, and health and retirement security.” Even President Obama himself was forced to admit during his get-together with Republicans in Baltimore that Ryan’s proposal constitutes a “detailed” and “legitimate” plan to address our fiscal crisis.

Yet, Ryan’s constructive approach is not playing well with Congressional Democrats. Sensing the possibility of scoring political points, they wasted no time launching a salvo of vicious attacks. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the House Democrats’ reelection committee, had this to say of Ryan’s plan: “Put it this way. For seniors on Medicare, it’s a dead end.” In case you missed it, the pun is not incidental. Van Hollen really meant to imply that Ryan’s plan would be the death sentence for seniors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired from both barrels when she described the Roadmap as a scheme that “provides tax breaks for the wealthy, it ends Medicare as we know it, and privatizes Social Security. Here they go again. Rehashing the same failed Bush policies.” Pelosi was deftly seconded by House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson who chimed in with the following: “They are dusting off their old playbook, rehashing the policies that the American people have rejected in the past. They want to privatize Social Security. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. And they’re providing tax breaks for the wealthy while they raise taxes on the middle class.” Never one to mince words, Democrat guru and strategist Paul Begala scoffed: “They have ideas, and lots of them. And their ideas ruin the country.”

Killing seniors and “ruining the country” just about delineate Democrats’ discussion parameters when it comes to Ryan’s plan. So vicious and intense has their assault been that that now even Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Ryan’s plan. Last week, the Washington Post gleefully reported that “even Ryan’s fellow GOP colleagues will not endorse his plan.” When asked about it, House Minority Leader John Boehner disclaimed any responsibility for the contents of Ryan’s plan, insisting that “it’s his.”

Despite assaults from the Left and the lack of reinforcements from his own side, the embattled Ryan is sticking to his guns. He has gone so far as to say that he is willing to fight for his cause and lose his job if it means ending the deficit. “The Democratic attack machine is in full throttle,” he said in a recent interview with the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “It’s sad but predictable.”

And this brings us to the moral bankruptcy of Washington, DC. Overspending and saddled with obligations it cannot pay, our government is quickly approaching fiscal Armageddon. Our politicians, however, refuse to do anything about it, because it would mean that they would have to start behaving responsibly and stop buying votes with money they do not have. Then along comes one man who proposes meaningful, common-sense measures to avert the impending calamity. For this he gets vilified to the point that even the leadership of his own party, the party that claims to stand for fiscal responsibility, runs away from him in fear.

Given that we are on the brink, this situation is hardly tolerable. Take Medicare, for example. Its unfunded obligations are estimated by some to be in excess of $80 trillion. This is more than five times the current amount of our national debt. Even if the estimate is wrong by a half, this program by itself will still bankrupt our federal government. If we want to survive fiscally, something must be done, which is exactly what Paul Ryan is trying to do. And yet he is being brutally savaged, while those who defend this fiscal black hole posture as defenders of the people.

Several Democrats have charged that Ryan’s proposal will end Medicare as we know it. First of all, the charge is disingenuous, since anyone 55 years old or above will continue with the program. Given today’s life expectancy, we are talking about at least four more decades of the program’s continuance. But here is an even larger question: Why should ending Medicare be a bad thing? From whichever angle we look at it, Medicare has been a disaster. Ending it would be a good thing. In fact, America cannot prosper financially while Medicare continues in its present form.

Especially glaring is the fact that Democrats do not engage Ryan’s plan on its substance. The fact that his is the only proposal around that would alleviate our fiscal strain is of no concern to them. Instead they use fear-mongering and demagoguery to destroy and revile the man who at least attempts to do something about this country’s desperate straits. Given our dire situation, even Ryan’s plan may be the case of too little too late. But it is without question a step in the right direction and as such deserves serious attention from those who hold this nation’s purse strings.

Democrats will defend the status quo, because they think that by doing so they will make political hay. They obviously value electoral gain more than the price that will have to be paid. That price is America’s bankruptcy. And woe to anyone who attempts to do something about it. Reviled and abused, Paul Ryan is learning this lesson the hard way.

  • cedarhill

    It's time to send someone like Ryan up to Obama's WH as the sole delegate to "discuss" and then end the discussion with "we'll let America decide in November how much they want the Obama plan. Ours will work and be fair while his is the wreck the voters see it as." Or words to that effect.

    Even better, just turn it into a campaign issue with "let the voters decide in November" if they want your plan (whatever it is) or a fresh start."

  • Bill Ford

    Using government to control government never works. Neither will this plan. Government must be removed and a free market generated for sustaining improvemnet to happen. Government has failed to allow for and provide a free amrket. Government invovlement is the problem. More government involvement does not address the problem which is government invovlement. Pure dreamland fiction just like both parties.

  • Stephen D.

    Three cheers for Rep. Paul Ryan! While Rome burns the balance of the politicians play the same worn out fiddle. I hope that the Tea Party folks get wind of this and back him all the way to help get the message out. Democrat AND Republican Politicians ought to be ashamed to continue on their chosen path of least resistance in an effort to NOT be the associated with a plan that may cause (temporary) hardships for some. I hate to say it but the cry to “throw the bums out” is sounding more reasonable every day…for BOTH parties. Time to grow a pair folks! Step up and do what is right or step off!

  • jbtrevor

    I've been saying for some time that Paul Ryan is the 'Man' to watch in the political sphere. Bring him and his plan to the American people, we want him!!!

    • Peachey

      I agree. What we all we want is someone with not just knowledge, but wisdom, something that the Obama administration is sorely missing. Ryan has a depth of understanding that cannot be dismissed so easily so expect the Obama circus to attack him in an attempt to eliminate him from the scene. Remember, Obama and minions play nasty to cover up for their lack of cogent plans.

  • pr 10

    If I was a Republican I wouldn't play Obama's game. As Cheif Executive he naturally dictates the issues, and with a majority in his Congress expect fig leaf bills which do nothing but allow Dems to say they lowered taxes come November.

    Instead of a shotgun approach, try just one issue, like Bill Kristol's idea of eliminating the payroll tax for one year instead of just splurging money to AIG or Goldman Sachs as in the naive Obama approach.

    Do you really think we would have 10% unemployment right now if we would of originally had a one year moratorium on the payroll tax? Or is it better that the crooks who got us in this mess by packaging mortgages as financial vehicles know how to spend that 1.8 trillion better. Puh-leeze.

    • abner honyocker

      the bailout for AIG and Goldman Sachs was decreed by Hank Paulson right after the
      November 2008 elections. Obama was not president at the time.

  • VJL

    If Obama is clever he might want to offer Ryan a position inside the administration. He does not seem that averse to debate, and getting Ryan inside the administration would cut off rational and constructive resistance inside the congress (not that I expect Ryan would be pushed around inside the administration, but he would be privy to the WH knowledge which would change a great deal). Heck, something good might even come out of it.

    It would also return people's faith in Obama's claim of bipartisanship.

    • USMCSniper

      Offer Ryan a position inside the administration? That is one sure way to neutralize him as a non threat.

  • semby

    Ok, so here is where they need to step and start hounding Pelosi and her friends with the fact that they are hell bent on destorying this country. They have been in power for over 3 hours, the democrats in the house, and they have proved to be disastrous. We need to rally around Paul Ryan and for the sake of this country, destroy his opponents.

  • Bill

    Since liberals can't compete with ideas, they resort to criticism!

  • Sam

    This is the kind of thinking that should be encouraged. Washington has a myopic focus requiring that only one problem be placed on the table at any given time. This plan solves a multiplicity of problems. It requires courage to develop such ideas and Paul Ryan should be embraced and applauded.

  • LucyQ

    Here's another plan:
    Subject: economy fix

    The Fix

    There recently was an article in the St. Petersburg Fl. Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on: "How Would You Fix the Economy?"
    I think this guy nailed it!

    Dear Mr. President,

    Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan":

    There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:



  • LucyQ

    Part 2

    1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings – Unemployment fixed.

    2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

    3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

    It can't get any easier than that!!

    • Raymond in DC

      This is a sure recipe for hyper-inflation and a collapse of the US economy. Check the math; she's proposing funneling $40 TRILLION into the economy, which can only come from printing money. Dumbest idea I ever heard, putting even voodoo economics to shame.

      • BMR

        Exactly right. 40 Trillion??? That's a new debt (or money printing) of $133,333 per PERSON in the country. that's going to solve it? And that's before interest!!

        What's sad is that LucyQ is on this site, so she knows there's a problem that needs fixing, but doesn't have the skills to figure out medicine from snake oil.

  • jms

    "Placing future Medicare beneficiaries (those currently under 55) into a semi-private programs similar to those currently used by Members of Congress"

    Putting everyone under 55, (without the choice to decline?), into a program that has 75% of its premiums paid by the government (i.e. the taxpayer), sounds an awful lot like government run health care to me.

  • Kim Marder

    Great advice, it’s all so pretty. Thanks

    Follow me on Twitter


    WHAT is the matter with…Democrats???

  • Bruce Robertson

    The plan that will save America's economy is too obvious, but would remove the lobby teat that politicos have sucked for years (the current Tax Code). I speak of The Fair Tax. All who have truly researched The Fair Tax and understood its implications on all sectors of our economy and society have agreed on the absolute beauty of its simplicity and astoundingly market friendly features. One of the main advantages is that it would suddenly include an entire segment of the economy that heretofore has been excluded from contributing to the support of government–the so called "underground economy"–those that pay no income tax whatsoever and never have. Literally billions and billions of uncollected taxes would be added back into the equation, while still more billions would be retained by wage and interest earners because income would no longer be subject to taxation, manufacturing jobs would return by the thousands, as companies returned to America, since Corporate income taxes would no longer apply, new small businesses would appear like mushrooms, and others would mushroom into larger ones, because capitol gains would not hinder their growth, thus more jobs would be created, Housing would boom, causing furniture and appliance sales to skyrocket, and on and on it would go! Ask Mike Huckabee, he knows all this.

  • Indioviejo

    The TEA Party needs to endorse Rep. Ryans blue print for economical sucess. We will see what they are made of in the coming days.

  • Liberty

    We need to spread this information around!! I wrote to Paul Ryan about 6 months ago…..LOL I asked him if he ever considered running for President! I hope he does consider it…With what I just read – A very common sense report – easy to understand. "Obama himself was forced to admit Ryan’s proposal constitutes a “detailed” and “legitimate” plan to address our fiscal crisis." That quote is hard to believe…..too bad nobody on the left could produce such a logical plan!!

  • coyote3

    I don't know whether his plan would work or not. Frankly, I am skeptical of government, any government, as a solution. The problem "is" government. However, the White House asked for "ideas", and they got them. Now, they won't even discuss what they asked for. Maybe Pelosi is right, it would end Medicare, as we know it, but maybe that is what is needed.

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