Paul Ryan: A Misguided and Dangerous Vision for America
Tonight is the biggest moment of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) political life. He’ll take the stage at the Republican National Convention to accept the GOP’s nomination for vice president.
Fortunately, Paul Ryan has a long and detailed record and his policy positions on key issues are well-known. Unfortunately, his views are misguided and dangerous. Instead of creating an economy that works everyone, Paul Ryan wants the middle class to pay more so the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations can pay less. And his views on women’s issues are more suitable for the 1950s than 2012.
Here’s the top 9 facts on Paul Ryan that you should know before he takes the stage tonight:
- Ryan wants to end Medicare, replace it with a voucher system. Ryan’s latest budget transforms the existing version of Medicare, in which government provides seniors with a guaranteed benefit, into a “premium support” system. All future retirees would receive a government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But since the premium support voucher does not keep up with increasing health care costs, the Congressional Budget Offices estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. A recent study also found that had the plan been implemented in 2009, 24 million beneficiaries enrolled in the program would have paid higher premiums to maintain their choice of plan and doctors. Ryan would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67. A newer version of his plan could leave current and future seniors paying thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more for their health care.
- Ryan wants to raises taxes on the middle class, cut them for millionaires. Paul Ryan’s infamous budget — which Romney embraced — replaces “the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cut the top rate from 35 percent.” Federal tax collections would fall “by about $4.5 trillion over the next decade” as a result and to avoid increasing the national debt, the budget proposes massive cuts in social programs and “special-interest loopholes and tax shelters that litter the code.” But 62 percent of the savings would come from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, who would also experience a tax increase. That’s because while Ryan “would extend the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year, he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time.” Households “earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.”
- Ryan co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, an extreme anti-abortion measure. Ryan joined 62 other Republicans, including the now infamous Rep. Todd Akin, in co-sponsoring the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This would outlaw abortion, some forms of contraception and in-vitro fertilization.
- Ryan tried to pass bills to redefine rape — more than once. Last year, Ryan joined with Akin as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.” But Ryan also worked without success even earlier, some three years ago, to try and redefine rape but was rebuffed by the then-Democratically-controlled House. In the midst of the growing controversy over Ryan’s views, he said that rape is just another “method of conception.” While Ryan said he was “very proud” of his record on abortion issues, he claimed that the “forcible rape” language he pioneered was just “stock language.”
- Ryan thinks Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.” In September of 2011, Ryan agreed with Rick Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and since 2005 has advocated for privatizing the retirement benefit and investing it in stocks and bonds. His 2005 plan to privatize Social Security was so extreme that even the Bush administration called it “irresponsible.”
- Ryan’s budget would result in 4.1 million lost jobs in 2 years. Ryan’s budget, which Romney embraced, calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”
- Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more more than 1 million students. Ryan’s budget claims both that rising financial aid is driving college tuition costs upward, and that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” So he cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could “ultimately knock more than one million students off” the program over the next 10 years.
- Ryan supports $40 billion in subsidies for big oil. In 2011, Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill. His budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.” For instance, it “calls for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone” and would spend only $150 million over five years — or 20 percent of what was invested in 2012 — on energy programs.
- Ryan’s budget expanded incentives for outsourcing American jobs. In addition to protecting current tax giveaways for companies that ship American jobs overseas, Ryan’s budget would also create new incentives for companies to move jobs to countries like China and India. Indeed, as many as 800,000 jobs could be created in foreign countries as a result of tax changes included in his budget. These changes would also further encourage to stash their profits in tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
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