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Forum Post: From today’s New York Times

Posted 5 years ago on Aug. 14, 2012, 8:50 p.m. EST by bensdad (8977)
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PAUL D. RYAN is the most articulate and intellectually imposing Republican of the moment, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this earnest congressman from Wisconsin is preaching the same empty conservative sermon.
Thirty years of Republican apostasy — a once grand party’s embrace of the welfare state, the warfare state and the Wall Street-coddling bailout state — have crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt. Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.

Mr. Ryan professes to be a defense hawk, though the true conservatives of modern times — Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Robert A. Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, even Gerald R. Ford — would have had no use for the neoconconservative imperialism that the G.O.P. cobbled from policy salons run by Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites three decades ago. These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion “defense” budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global policeman.

Indeed, adjusted for inflation, today’s national security budget is nearly double Eisenhower’s when he left office in 1961 (about $400 billion in today’s dollars) — a level Ike deemed sufficient to contain the very real Soviet nuclear threat in the era just after Sputnik. By contrast, the Romney-Ryan version of shrinking Big Government is to increase our already outlandish warfare-state budget and risk even more spending by saber-rattling at a benighted but irrelevant Iran.

Similarly, there can be no hope of a return to vibrant capitalism unless there is a sweeping housecleaning at the Federal Reserve and a thorough renunciation of its interest-rate fixing, bond buying and recurring bailouts of Wall Street speculators. The Greenspan-Bernanke campaigns to repress interest rates have crushed savers, mocked thrift and fueled enormous overconsumption and trade deficits.

The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking.

Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Likewise, hacking away at the roughly $400 billion domestic discretionary budget (what’s left of the federal budget after defense, Social Security, health and safety-net spending and interest on the national debt) will yield only a rounding error’s worth of savings after popular programs (which Republicans heartily favor) like cancer research, national parks, veterans’ benefits, farm aid, highway subsidies, education grants and small-business loans are accommodated.

Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. America has some of the highest labor costs in the world, and saddles workers and businesses with $1 trillion per year in job-destroying payroll taxes. We need a national sales tax — a consumption tax, like the dreaded but efficient value-added tax — but Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan don’t have the gumption to support it.

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends.

The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.

BUT – what do I know?.........................................................David Stockman



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[-] 2 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago

It sounds bold until you get to this line

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing.

Which is total bullshit. http://blog.richardkentgates.com

You want entitlement solvance, it's as easy as fixing our wage system to keep pace with inflation. I will push this until someone uses this talking point in the mainstream to dispel all the excuses and reason against fixing our wage system. This article pretends to look out for the common man but places the burden of the economy back onto the wealthy, yet further empowering them. As long as we look to the wealthy to solve our problem, we also give them the right to dictate and have power over the conversation. Fuck the rich, focusing on the working class. We can solve this problem if given the tools and empowered to do so.

[-] 1 points by kaiserw (211) 5 years ago

I think means testing is likely going to happen. They don't have any other options. The rich will not get their SS and medicare, it will be on a sliding scale.

I'm confused how monkeying with wages would have an impact. It reminds me of a form of price controls (turned on it's head).

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago

I don't see how anyone could be mystified about the importance of wages in a capitalist society. The only form of economics that does not depend on people having money to spend is socialism. Are you a socialist?

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

I agree with your analysis. Ryan is the fourth generation scion of a family that made most of its money in construction and he has never had a job outside politics. The 'Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities' ( http://www.cbpp.org/ ) described Ryan's budget proposals as "Robin Hood in reverse - on steroids" !

Ryan's plan proposes that 62% of the trillions it hopes to cut should actually come from low-income programmes. It would give al those earning more than $1M / annum, tax cuts worth $400K, increasing their net income by 12.5% on average - while low-income people'd actually experience tax rises !!

Ryan wants to reduce the Medicaid budget dramatically while eliminating Capital Gains & Dividend Income taxes. Such an elimination would - R-money noted with pride in a debate, mean that the Presidential Candidate himself would have paid ... No Taxes for the last two years !!!

radix omnium malorum est cupiditas ...

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago

Flat tax and minimum wage @10$ per hour inside 2 years. Then adjust to keep pace with inflation annually.

It is in the gap between inflation and wages that the siphoning nozzle of the 1% is placed. Remove the gap and disallow the 1% from siphoning the difference.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

"Flat Tax" ! Why ? Consider :

The US tax system clearly favours speculative gains as well as absentee ownership. Ironic as it may sound to some, really wealthy people prefer not to make any income at all. They prefer to focus on total returns, which they take in the form of capital gains. This is why hedge fund billionaires pay a much lower tax rate than their secretaries.

Consider also that the main source of taxation should be unearned income, defined as land rent, monopoly rent, other forms of economic rent (income extracted without playing a necessary role in production) and capital gains on these rent-yielding assets, mainly land sites.

Today one could raise the income tax to 100% and still not capture the actual cash-flow revenue of real estate, monopolies, and multinationals who use transfer pricing to manipulate their income and expense statements to show no reportable taxable income at all. So the first concern should be what kind of revenue to tax. In addition to charging off interest as a tax-deductible expense (rather than a financing choice), owners pretend that their buildings are depreciating, despite the fact that property prices have risen almost steadily.

In most years No Taxable Income is reported at all ! Real estate owners don't even have to pay a tax on capital gains if they plough back their sales proceeds into buying even more assets. This is just what the great majority of wealth-holders do. They keep on trading and accumulating, tax-free.

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago
  1. A true flat tax is just that. Any type of income is considered equally. There is no distinction between investment returns or a paycheck.

  2. A flat tax should only be on income. No property taxes, no sales tax. ie, a flat tax.

  3. Fair pay, welfare, you have to chose a path. You cannot demand a living wage and welfare(EIC or other tax credits) in the same breath.

  4. The working class needs to be permanently recognized as a crucial mechanism of the economy.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

Please consider :

  1. That at least helps to clarify the idea.

  2. Doesn't this rather contradict 1 above ?!

  3. Really ? You can't have both you reckon ? Why ?! How do Germany, Holland and The Scandanavian Countries manage this d'you think ?!!

  4. The Parasitic 0.01% & The 'Wannabe' 1% Love The Idea of 'Flat Tax'. Why is that ?!!!

multum in parvo ...

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago


My understanding is that the working class pay a pretty good amount of taxes in those countries. So, if you like those systems, get used to the idea of the working class paying taxes. It's odd that you would think that the working class could achieve equality but not pay a fair share of taxes. Participation is just that. Not partial participation, not weakened participation, not participation with just a thumb on our heads. The working class needs to be brought into full participation of society and the economy or there can be no equality.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

Actually "it's odd that you would think" that I am thinking, saying or implying that "the working class could achieve equality but not pay a fair share of taxes". I actually have no problem whatsoever with everyone paying a fair share of taxes in a truly democratic society.

'The Northern European Social Contract' model deserves examination and again I agree that "The working class needs to be brought into full participation of society and the economy or there can be no equality", tho' 'equality of opportunity' is the most important thing (imo).

However, I suspect that we have different ideas of 'working class' as I reject the term 'middle class' almost entirely. In my estimation, anyone who needs to work/sell their knowledge, labour & expertise in order to fund their lifestyles is Working Class. 'Middle Class' is a term specifically designed to pander to egotistic conceits and affectations and very much used by TPTB to divide and rule us, The 99%.

ad iudicium ...

[-] 2 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago

I agree.

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

Cool bro' & have you noticed how our entire conversation has been assiduously voted down ? Do we expect more of this as September 17th [ http://s17nyc.org/ ] approaches ? Or as November's 'choice' between 'Tweedledumb and Tweedledumbass' draws nearer ?!

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 5 years ago

Not sure how much it has to do with the election. It's been pretty regular since the forum took #1 on google.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 years ago

"#1 on Google", eh ?! Hmmm. Good point. Well made. Thanx.

pax et lux ...

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 5 years ago

Everyone should read this

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

I have to say Bensdad, this is an excellent post. And very true. Ryan's plan is nothing more than hogwash, and any plan that takes effect 10 years into the future is about 8 years too late.

Ryan is just another big spending globalist that is intent on selling our country to the highest bidder abroad, while soaking the people in the name of Goldman Sachs.

The banks. Its about the banks. We are in the middle of a fuckin takeover of global proporations. They own every aspect of goverment, all the media, and they are on their way to censoring the interent.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22871) 5 years ago

Well said, hchc. Afterall, this is why we occupied Wall Street, isn't it?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

Bingo. Unless the banks are addressed (seems how they practically own every aspect exterior experiences) then the rest is fairly meaningless.

[-] -1 points by funkytown (-374) 5 years ago

The problem though is that Obama himself has proposed the very same methods of collecting revenue - taxing compensation packages, eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, eliminating deductions for state and local taxes, etc. They are the very same items that were proposed by the Bush administration.