On the video above – Paul Ryan says a couple of things here that I want to focus on:
#1 – Who published the study that he’s referencing in the video?
Paul Ryan refers to a study written by Greg Mankiw for the Tax Foundation. Now – Greg Mankiw is a Harvard economist who is a paid adviser for the Romney campaign (since 2006) and a former economic adviser for George W. Bush while he was President. In 2008 – Paul Krugman called Greg Mankiw and the Tax Foundation not a reliable source HERE. Citing sources from political advisers who get paid to say things isn’t exactly an honest interpretation of the world as it is … it’s an interpretation of the conservative worldview they want to see. Paul Krugman later accuses the Tax Foundation of “deliberate fraud” and says “knowledgeable people don’t trust the Tax Foundation.” HERE.
Northwestern University says the Tax Foundation is a think tank funded by lobbyists and the Koch Brothers HERE:
“The foundation is the sixth largest financial sponsor of privately funded House and Senate staff travel between January 2000 and August 2006; the vast majority of the trips were for staffers who work on powerful committees that shape U.S. tax laws. ”
“As recently as last year, one of the Tax Foundation’s directors was registered as a lobbyist for Koch Industries, and another lobbied for Exxon Mobil Corp. in 2004, according to the Senate’s Office of Public Records.
Koch Industries has been a prominent advocate of repealing the estate tax, said a report earlier this year by the government watchdog group Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy, a liberal think tank. The Tax Foundation also supports repeal of the estate tax.
#2 – “70% of Americans want the American Dream … only 30% want the welfare state.”
So – according to Paul Ryan … 100 million people want a welfare state. That’s only 17% less than Mitt Romney. This shouldn’t be surprising at all. Paul Ryan is the guy who called Social Security a welfare transfer system HERE. This is the guy who tried to privatize Social Security and is running on a platform to privatize Medicare. When he says people want a welfare state – he means people want Medicare and Social Security. By that definition Paul … I’ll tell you – a lot more than 100 million Americans want a welfare state. Or maybe he was just referring to seniors.
These guys want to fundamentally change America. They see unemployment benefits as “the welfare state”. They think worker training programs are “the welfare state”. They see Pell grants for poor college students as “the welfare state”. If you were to act out conservative philosophy in a sandbox filled with a bunch of kindergartners … it would sound something like this “That’s my toy”. He really believes that 100 million people view themselves as victims who want to live off of government. Exactly how is this vision any different than the 47% comments that Romney made privately? Or did Paul Ryan just say this more “elegantly”?
#3 – “70% of Americans get more benefits from the government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes”
I think this goes to the heart of what Paul Ryan really believes here. He doesn’t like the fact that Americans might get more benefits than they put in. You know – the only way to change that type of system as they define “government benefits” is to have a flat tax system which coincidentally Paul Ryan has proposed. That flat tax system would end up giving you the opportunity to pay more for your government services. Some call that a tax increase and with a flat tax system – the only possible solution is increasing taxes on the middle class.
Fundamentally – Paul Ryan does not believe in a progressive tax system. Fundamentally – Paul Ryan believes that you should only take out what you put in. If you started poor – your problem. If you follow Paul Ryan’s logic … it takes you down a path where the only solution is giving huge tax cuts to the rich and raising taxes on the middle class. Or you cut government services that people rely on and the middle class gets less but pays the same. Either way – it’s an ideology and it’s cult like.
If 70% of Americans are getting more than they are putting in … it is because of programs that conservatives have structured to be that way. Republicans were so desperate to cut taxes for the rich that they promised everyone gets a tax cut. And so when poor people buy into their $50 tax cut they receive from the Republicans while the rich get tax cuts in the hundreds of thousands per year … the poors who believe God is a Republican join on board. Over decades though – conservatives like Paul Ryan say “wait a minute – these poors are getting welfare”. Yeah – those tax credits they promised the poors would receive to help them in their economic prosperity; Paul Ryan wants it back now. But they still want to cut taxes on the rich.
This is why Paul Ryan’s economic plan would cut Mitt Romney’s tax rate to less than 1%. But he wants to raise your taxes to pay for it; that’s the rub.
#4 – Takers vs. Makers
I’m so tired of this “takers vs. makers” nonsense being propagated by conservatives. Republicans continue to claim that President Obama is engaging in class warfare politics … the politics of division when he talks about raising taxes on anyone making more than $250k a year or more … or 2% of households. Meanwhile – President Obama is looking to cut taxes on 98% of Americans. That’s class warfare according to conservatives.
And yet – Paul Ryan and the rest of the conservative clan talk about the “takers and makers”. By his own definition – only 30% of Americans are makers. I know I’m one of those because I’m in a much higher tax bracket than the vast majority of Americans. I am expecting a statue with my likeliness any day now; just make sure the wings are positioned properly. But those 70% of Americans who aren’t quite pulling their weight … well – they’re just takers. And we know at least 30% of those are deliberate takers. It is the other 40% who are takers but don’t want to be according to Paul Ryan. But that’s not class warfare?
Here’s the deal. If someone makes $1 billion in a year – he or she should pay a lot more in taxes as a % of total income than any of us. Period. Now Paul Ryan doesn’t agree. I believe in a progressive tax code just like our founders. Adam Smith believed in a progressive tax code. Thomas Jefferson believed in a progressive tax code. Teddy Roosevelt pioneered the progressive tax code of the modern era. Paul Ryan doesn’t believe in public school systems. He doesn’t believe that college kids should get breaks on the cost of their college tuition if their family can’t afford it, and that’s ironic because he funded his own college tuition using the social security proceeds that were given to him when his father passed away.
The takers vs. makers argument is a breath away from the job producers argument. When they say makers – they’re really talking about the billionaire that just made $1 million yesterday and handed a little crumb over to their campaign. They’re not interested in protecting the middle class; they’re interested in a continuation of welfare for the rich.
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