Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Miseducation Of Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan held a hearing on poverty yesterday in Washington. A hearing in which no poor people gave testimony - even though some tried pretty hard to speak.

Ryan has been all about poverty lately, trying to prove he isn't really a heartless, Randian robot just culling the herd for the sake of liberty.

After the U.S. Bishops came down on his budget pretty hard, "nun" on a bus, Sister Simone, drove the dang thing straight to Wisconsin to scold him and even his own parish priest threw major shade his way - Ryan needed a different script to read from.

It is true that most Republicans won't even say the word "poverty" as Ryan does, but it is also true that Ryan gets a lot of attention and praise for using the word without one single policy idea that addresses poverty beside chipping away at food stamps, Medicaid and Pell grants and, oh yeah, repealing Obamacare.

Aside from Ryan's "inarticulate" comments on inner-city men who don't even want to look for work (the college educated Cliven Bundy, y'all) and his safety net becomes a hammock routine (what is with the "lazy" imagery?) - Ryan's central theme has been that Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty has been a failure.

Of course, that is not true at all. Americans living below the poverty line dropped 43% when LBJ instituted reforms to address rampant poverty in America. He also fully funded those programs which have fluctuated greatly depending on who was office.

[Can anyone currently living in 2014 with older parents even consider how their lives would be impacted if mom and dad didn't receive a social security check or perhaps more importantly, Medicare? Hammock, my ass.]

After LBJ heralded a real fight to grapple with poverty, a giant sucking sound known as Vietnam entered the scene - and defense spending became far too important to cut - permanently.

So, it is no wonder Ryan's newest budget derives 70% of its savings from domestic programs which benefit the poor, working poor and what is left of the middle class while it increases military spending $43 billion.

See, in the world of Paul Ryan, just saying the word "poverty" is enough - you don't actually have to do anything about it. We have a few more words Ryan should add to his vocabulary:

Minimum Wage Increase
Income Inequality
Offshore Tax Havens
Corporate Tax Loopholes

It's a lot like washing clean pans at a soup kitchen so you can be photographed "helping." We're sure you have a few words of your own, too.