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August 19, 2014

Paul Ryan's New Book Expresses Frustrations With Republican Party, and Tea Party

A bit of policy critique, and a bit of political positioning, to be sure.

...Ryan singles out the government shutdown in the fall of 2013....

Ryan tried to sway fellow conservatives to drop demands that would prompt a shutdown. "It was a suicide mission," Ryan writes, but one that many members were unwilling to write off for fear outside tea party groups would deem them squishy.

In a separate, earlier episode, Ryan says he joined a 2001 meeting with then-Vice President Dick Cheney to talk about what the new Bush administration should prioritize. Ryan said he made a two-minute case for Social Security reform, saying that a budget surplus had created a huge opportunity.

Cheney, as Ryan tells it, dismissed that idea as though it was an annoying mosquito, not a policy option.

He also questions his own rhetoric:

Ryan recounts being confronted at a county fair by a Democrat who objected to his frequent talk of "the makers" and "the takers," or the divide between those who pay more taxes than the ones who receive government benefits such as unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare. Ryan now realizes that during that confrontation, he had been insulting voters without realizing it.

That seems less like opinion and more like fact -- while Romney's "47%" remark was the truly damaging one, the entire line of argument has been reckoned by most to have been politically damaging.

The reason for this is simple: A lot of less-wealthy people vote GOP for various reasons. A lot of these less-wealthy people do in fact receive more from the government in either direct cash payments or general government services (i.e., lower property values mean less money goes to their local schools, made up for by people who are, relatively speaking, overpaying for local schools), and it is, I imagine, pretty insulting to the working-but-not-wealthy to suggest, even accidentally, that they're freeloaders.

To some extent, the claim might even have some element of truth in it -- i.e., those paying less in taxes than they receive in total services are, in fact, being subsidized to some extent by wealthier taxpayers.

But it's a tiny element of truth wrapped around a pretty harsh insult.

No one who busts his ass every day at a job wants to be told he's a "taker."

Even if someone wanted to make the case that this is true (which I personally wouldn't), it can't be argued that this is anything but impolitic.

More details on this at the Journal-Sentinel.

The congressman says he began second-guessing his use of that language after a constituent approached him at the Rock County 4-H Fair in July 2012 and asked, "Who are the takers? Is it the person who lost their job and is on unemployment benefits? Is it the person who served in Iraq and gets their medical care through the VA?"

Ryan said he eventually stopped using the term when he realized that "it sounds like we're saying people who are struggling are deadbeats. ... The phrase gave insult where none was intended."

He also argues the GOP must move beyond its traditional coalition (a coalition in numerical decline), and this must of course include... some sort of comprehensive immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Ryan is out with a new argument in favor of his long-held brief against excessive government regulation: that the people most harmed by such regulations are the poor, who, having less money, are more damaged by the government's artificial inflation of the costs of literally every good sold in the US.

The regulatory part of Ryan’s anti-poverty plan goes after "regressive" federal rules -- those that have an outsize economic impact on low-income households.

Supporters of his plan say regulations are ultimately borne by ordinary consumers and households who pay extra when new restrictions are piled on to the products and services they use. The poor end up spending a greater share of their income to cover the added expense.

In some cases, the added costs pay for protections that are a higher priority for middle or upper-class households, said Creighton University associate economics professor Diana Thomas, whose research is cited in the Ryan report.

"By forcing everyone to pay for high income household preferences [e.g., trendily energy-efficient washing machines]... you’re going to affect lower income consumers negatively," she said.

DrewMTips has previously critiqued another aspect of Ryan's anti-poverty reforms, the bundling of grants into a unified "Opportunity Grant" which would, somehow, create better outcomes than the current system.

Edited: I had another whole post appended here.

I've decided it makes far more sense to post that as a stand-alone post.

This will result in my doing less work today.

So it's just a great idea.

The rest of the post will be put up at seven.


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posted by Ace at 06:03 PM

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