Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Paul Ryan Now Pretending To Care For Poor People-- But The Numbers Don't Add Up

The man who used social security benefits to help pay his way through college now says that social security is a "ponzi scheme"
Paul Ryan is now attempting to rebrand his public image, adopting a new persona as "The Serious Policy Wonk Who Deeply Empathizes With Poor People." Unfortunately, it hasn't gone according to plan.

In recent days, Ryan has tried to demonstrate a new familiarity with scholarly research on poverty initiatives, giving his recent budget proposal a phony sheen of concern.   According to Jonathan Chait of the New Yorker, basically everything in Ryan’s budget turns out to be wrong.  Reporters from the Fiscal Times contacted a number of researchers cited by the Wisconsin Republican, and they all report that Ryan's conclusions display no understanding of their work whatsoever.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a longer list of the errors, distortions, and omissions in Ryan’s report.  Even libertarian economist Tyler Cowen concludes that Ryan’s report presents “only a marginal command of the scholarly literature, and it is a good example of how the conservative movement is still allowing the poverty issue to defeat it and tie it up in knots.”

Hamstrung by his dystopian politics, Paul Ryan has put himself in a pickle.  He is intent on boosting defense spending, refuses to increase taxes of any kind, and has promised to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits for all current retirees.  With no other options in his single-minded pursuit of a balanced budget, Ryan’s budget slashes spending for anti-poverty programs – in fact, the vast majority of his spending cuts come from the minority of federal programs aimed at the poor. 

This fact has led to his current predicament: Democrats have painted him as a cruel social Darwinist, causing him to become concerned about his image as an “Ayn Rand miser,” causing him to re-brand himself as a poverty wonk, causing him to dive into scholarly literature. But scholarly literature is never going to show that his plans to impose massive cuts to the anti-poverty budget will help poor people.

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