MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Paul Ryan
In a presidential race where media coverage has focused more on the horse race and the style of the campaigns, rather than substance, it's edifying to read the occasional article that focuses on actual policy implications of either party.
On Thursday, Steve Benen, who edits the Maddow Blog, wrote a commentary on a Paul Ryan "deficit reduction" speech given Wednesday in Cleveland. Ryan's remarks were euphemistically entitled, "Restoring the Promise of Upward Mobility in America's Economy."
Benen notes that the speech was laden with factual errors and rhetorical sleights of the hand, particularly that the deficit which so concerns Ryan and Romney would likely be considerably increased under their plan of maintaining tax cuts for the rich and expanding the military budget by two trillion dollars.
Of particular note is Ryan's plan for a new diet to reduce poverty: starvation. As Benen writes:
In reality, Ryan's proposed budget plan, which was heartily endorsed by Mitt Romney, is simply brutal towards the poor and working families. The plan identifies $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over the next decade, and nearly two-thirds of the savings come from programs intended to help Americans of limited means.
As the CBPP's Robert Greenstein put it, "[T]he Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation's poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured." He added that Ryan's plan "would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure."
When Ryan offers assurances about "providing resources," he actually means far fewer resources, leaving families that are already struggling to get by with even less. It's not a recipe for "upward mobility"; it's a callous policy that leaves millions behind.
What Ryan implies in his speech is that by reducing support for the needy, it will force them to find work. This view that somehow the poor, unemployed, and infirm can self-generate jobs is Ayn Rand at her essence. It assigns the blame for unemployment and underemployment on those who are in the state of poverty, not on the lack of jobs available – particularly in our inner cities and many poor abandoned rural areas.
Ryan stigmatizes those without financial resources as being responsible for their condition, when in fact that characterization applies to a very small percentage of those with the most limited of economic resources. Expecting those that our society has left behind to create their own jobs is kind of like arguing that one can live on a diet of imaginary food.