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For People of Color, Paul Ryan May Be Even Worse Than Romney

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Mitt Romney, usa, obama, Paul Ryan, republicans, elections, dishonesty, americans, government, candidates, media, news, politics )

- 2102 days ago -
For progressives and people of color, it's hard to imagine a worse choice. Romney and Ryan may make a telegenic pair, but the reality of their policies and philosophies is downright ugly.

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pam w (139)
Monday August 20, 2012, 8:22 pm
He may see himself as a "young gun."

I see him as someone who has already shot himself in the foot!

Past Member (0)
Monday August 20, 2012, 8:54 pm
Thank you.

Stephen Brian (23)
Monday August 20, 2012, 11:40 pm
Hi :)

As usual for AlterNet, there are a few important things missed in the article. These are generally things which could not have been avoided if the author of the article bothered to look over the fence at Republicans' underlying arguments. I'm not saying that I'm sure the main thrust of the article is wrong, but there are a lot of counterarguments which would have to be addressed before I could consider it convincing at all:

First, a high-income taxpayer is not necessarily the same thing as a rich person. Very often these are corporations which pool funds from a large number of investors. Even the "individual" investors are often not rich people: They include pooled funds like pension-funds and mutual funds. Tax-cuts for the "rich", in this case, can easily mean increased investment-payoff. There were a lot of confounding factors, but I think we saw the trouble of low-payoff earlier in the recession when interest-rates got so low that investors no longer saw much point in lending money so businesses went under and entrepreneurs could not start new ones.

The comment about the pension-plan totally misses or ignores the intent of the policy. The point which conservatives have made endlessly is that often government-plans are less efficient than private-sector ones. I don't know exactly how much the Social Security Administration covers, but its budget is a little over 1.5% of the Social Security budget. Does anyone remember the outcry when 1% of the bank-bailout was given as retention-bonuses to the top investment-managers? The SSA appears to be less efficient right off the top, and then there are inefficiencies in the coverage-plans themselves (which are inevitable when those plans are driven by politics rather than economics and beneficiaries' needs). The idea is not to leave people without retirement-plans, but to have them switch from a mandatory government-plan to more efficient private-sector ones.

The second section seems flawed as well: Reagan's era did not involve the sort of spending-cuts proposed by Ryan. Bush's tax-cuts have been sustained for a reason: Apparently they support economic growth so much that they lead to a net-raise in revenues over the long-term. (I'll have to check this before attributing to it any real weight, but I heard the "long-term" for some kinds of tax-cuts means "with growth accounting for the proportion-loss in two years".)

The "black and brown blame game" segment misses a vital point too: Republicans have been very vocal and clear about this one. They blame Democrat party-elites for, as they see it, buying votes with social programs and reducing the numbers of new jobs to the point where the recipients are left with little choice but to go for the government-supported benefits and vote Democrat. I suspect many believe this to be just a fortunate (for Democrat politicians and their staff) consequence of doing what they genuinely believe is right, but there are some who think it is a deliberate strategy.

I am confused by a later point: There is apparently some discussion of Ayn Rand's views on race, but then the supporting quote has absolutely nothing to do with it. Then there is a comment about how "When everything works as it should, the government actually reflects the expressed will of the people; itís not apart from us." Has that ever happened, anywhere on Earth, ever? There are reasons why it has not. The simplest is that policy-makers tend to come from subcultures which are more likely to produce effective politicians in whatever democratic society, not the general public. Governance by "the people" is not a natural result of democracy.

It does make some good points, though: Attempts to balance government-books will have social consequences. The programs which drive the deficit exist for a reason and it will be very painful to cut any of them. This is actually why I want to see it done as soon as possible, rather than wait for debts and deficits to grow further so that even more cuts would be needed.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 3:37 am
It is so much easier to attribute motives to people rather than debating their ideas.

Carol H (229)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 5:17 am
noted and agreed!!

Robert O (12)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 11:00 am
Truth is the GOP in general is bad news for people of color, women, the middle class, etc. It's a political party based on ideas of elitism, nationalism, sexism, and pro-corporate greed among others. Thanks Cal.

Nancy L (141)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 11:58 am
What a load of garbage. Why do you people continue to read Alternet? It's a hate site. Ryan's sister in law is black and Ryan dated a black woman in college. Trying to paint him as racist is not going to work.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 12:22 pm
Of course, Paul Ryan isn't a racist, at least not publicly: he's against health care for all of America's working poor, no matter their color.

John B (185)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 1:33 pm
Thanks Cal for providing the link to the AlterNet article by Imara Jones. Point taken and I agree. Read and noted.

Terry V (30)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 2:40 pm
Does that mean I'm a person of NO COLOR?? JEEZ!!!!!!!!!!

Wayne W (12)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 3:23 pm
"I don't know exactly how much the Social Security Administration covers, but its budget is a little over 1.5% of the Social Security budget. Does anyone remember the outcry when 1% of the bank-bailout was given as retention-bonuses to the top investment-managers?" unquote

You're comparing the entire overhead budget of SS to just the retention budget of financial firms? The firms said they needed the bonuses to retain their best people, the same ones who crashed the economy. As Jon Stewart said at the time. "They don't have best people".

On the point of government programs being less efficient, a common GOP canard:

Medicare is still considerably more cost-efficient. In one study, CBO found that privately run Medicare plans had 11 percent overhead, compared to 2 percent for traditional Medicare.

Finally, it is not necessary to gut the safety net in order to balance the budget.
Progressive budget:

Mary Donnelly (47)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 3:30 pm
Thanks Cal. Ryan is bad for everybody because he can't do mathematics. Reducing taxation revenues while reducing benefits, but keeping defence spending high, increases deficits, not reduces them.

Nancy L (141)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 4:42 pm
Ryan can't do math???? Bwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhaaaaa. Now that's funny.

He knows the budget better than anyone in DC

Ray M (0)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 10:48 pm
If anyone could be worse it'd be him. He and Akins are the Bobsy twins. But then all repugs are the worst there's ever been. This country's doomed if they get elected.

Stephen Brian (23)
Wednesday August 22, 2012, 2:43 am
Hi Wayne,

My numbers were off: I did not realize that the SSA covers expenses far beyond what is officially listed on the budget as "Social Security" . It also covers Medicare. However, there were also "administrative expenses" listed under actual Social Security/Medicare-spending here: in Table 13.1. (These are clearly not the same as the SSA-budget as the sums are differ by ~ 10%). Essentially, the real overhead was a little over $20 billion, for payments of about $1.2 trillion. It was about 2%, double my previous estimate.

Now, regarding the full scale of the inefficiencies: The majority of the inefficiency isn't in the straight listed overhead of the federal SSA. Remember that there are also all of the state-run welfare-programs, the fact that medical welfare is a joint venture, and most importantly, inefficiencies in the programs themselves. Before looking at the program-inefficiencies, let's take a look at the real total overhead:

I don't know if there is a central site where all state-level administrative costs are compiled and it would be a lot of work to put them together. However, from the nature of the programs (automated funds-transfer), the costs should be a higher proportion on smaller scales, so the actual overhead is likely well above that 2% federal cost. Of course, state-contributions to medical insurance mean the proportions may not change that much, so let's ignore that. Besides, there is something much, much bigger to consider.

That last form of inefficiency, "inefficiency in the programs themselves", may seem a little vague, so here is an example: The classic welfare-trap. I actually ran into someone whose income from work was at a level where a increase would reduce her welfare-benefits to the point where her total effective income would drop. That is why she remained a part-time worker and refused to take more shifts, taking more from Social Security than she would have from a more efficient plan. Her case is far from unique. Then there are issues like the fact that Medicare pays doctors so much less than they normally charge that some clinics operate at a loss when serving Medicare-recipients, so there may be less preventative care and a loss of efficiency there.

There are other inefficiencies, like unlisted paperwork-costs related to the contributions through taxes. For an estimate of those, consider that Social Security is roughly a third of the budget, and the federal tax-compliance costs for 2009 were estimated at about $160 billion here:
If it's proportional, that puts in another $50 billion in inefficiency in the federal program, bringing the overhead up to about 7% (not counting program-inefficiencies).

There is also something interesting about the difference in efficiency between private insurance and Medicare: Private insurers optimize their processes for small numbers of large claims, concentrating on verification rather than automation. Insurance-companies were not set up to handle the large volumes of small claims currently made for medical expenses.

Bernie's budget is ridiculous even just from his summary:

Taxing corporations AND dividends and capital gains like individual-taxes amounts to double-taxation on investors. Three guesses what that would do to the economy.
His Wall-Street plan ignores the effect of high-volume automated trading, the fact that the U.S. can only tax Americans and U.S. stock-markets, and the ease with which trading can just move to another marketplace these days. I'm not a fan of automated trading, but his plan would only destroy American competitiveness on a global market.
Progressively taxing inherited wealth like he says could put farmers out of business. Large farms amount to a lot of inheritance. It might work if the minimum is high enough, but I don't think the $3.5 million is even close.

The "Cold War weapons-programs" in the defence-spending are also called "Convention war weapons-programs" (as opposed to modern counter-insurgency). It's a whole lot easier to go from readiness for conventional war to addressing a counter-insurgency than the other way around.

Afghanistan, right now, is flypaper. Bringing the troops home prematurely would only lead to another costly deployment elsewhere, only breaking even if we're very, very lucky.

Does he even know how social Security money is held? $2 trillion in loans to the Treasury. Does he honestly believe that with the current deficit and debt, the government will be able to rotate its loans for the next 22 years? It will not have the money to repay those loans. His statement about it is also obviously false for two other reasons: First, money is fungible so the tax given to Social Security would just go elsewhere without it, and second, the interest on those loans has added directly to the official deficit.

His job-creation idea at the end misses something vital: Creating jobs without increasing quantity or quality of products does not lead to economic growth, just inefficiency in some sector. He wants people to have income, but doesn't seem to get that the money has to come from somewhere, and that "somewhere" is energy-prices. Three guesses which socioeconomic group pays the largest proportion of its income for energy. I thought the plan was to help the poor.

Rin S (10)
Wednesday August 22, 2012, 2:52 am

Janet B (36)
Thursday August 23, 2012, 8:42 am
Voting Independent!

Janet B (36)
Thursday August 23, 2012, 8:43 am
This will beo a fun election come November! Can't wait! Let the games begin!
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