This post presents a view of Paul Ryan--in particular of his tax and fiscal policy ideologies--as portrayed by various pundits and news reporters over the last few days.
Die Tagezeitung (cited in Amandolare, Global pundits react to Ryan, Salon.com (Aug. 14, 2012):
"More than anything else, Ryan is a radical ideologue who has never changed his platforms. By selecting Ryan, the Republican candidate has taken one step closer to clarifying his ideological position."
[T]his earnest congressman from Wisconsin is preaching the same empty conservative sermon. ... 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. ...
The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for 'job creators'--i.e., the super-wealthy--to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. ... Mr. Ryan's plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn't pass. ... Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have ... no plan to revive capitalist prosperity--just empty sermons.
Andrew O'Hehir, Paul Ryan is the anti-Reagan, Salon.com (Aug. 14, 2012):
If you want to argue that Paul Ryan's mode of sincerity and civility is just the pretty face pasted on top of a rapacious social-Darwinist agenda, you may be correct. (emphasis added).
Joan Walsh, Let Paul Ryan enjoy the fair!, Salon.com (Aug. 14, 2012):
Ryan grew up well-to-do in Janesville, Wis. He was embraced by the city's Republican elite, ushered into cushy congressional aide jobs at an early age, and now he's swaddled in the arms of the Koch brothers and treated with deference and respect by the Beltway press corps. He is worth between $3 millin and $7 million. ...[He is] solidly in the top 1 percent. Maybe that is why Ryan doesn't think he should be interrupted on the campaign trail by 'policy things' [a reference to Ryan's refusal to respond to a journalist's inquiry while in Iowa regarding whether he supported federal relief for farmers struggling with the state's historic drought].
Maureen Dowd, When Cruelty is Cute, New York Times (Aug. 15, 2012), at A21:
"He's the cutest package that cruelty ever came in. ... He's Scrooge disguised as a Pickwick, an ideologue disguised as a wonk.
... He seems more like a friendly guidance counselor who wants to teach us how to live, get us in shape, PowerPoint away the social safety net to make the less advantaged more self-reliant, as he makes the rich richer.
... Ryan truly believes he made it on his own, so everyone else can, too.
... Ryan co-sponsored the Sanctity of Life Act enshrining a fertilized egg with the definition of 'personhood' and supported a bill ... which would have let hospitals that get federal money deny women abortions even in life-threatening circumstances.
... Ryan was drawn to [Ayn] Rand's novels, with their rejection of 'the altruist morality', making narcissism a social virtue.
Dylan Matthews, Paul Ryan's 2004 Plan for the poor ,The Washington Post, Ezra Klein's WonkBlog,(Aug. 15, 2012):
Whatever you think of Rep. Paul Ryan, “anti-poverty crusader” isn’t a description that comes readily to mind. Yesterday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or.) told Ezra that Ryan’s Medicare plan “completely pulls the rug out from under the poorest and most vulnerable seniors.” Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities alleged that the Ryan budget would “take food from poor children.” And sure enough, Ryan’s budget cuts disproportionately from programs that benefit the poor. Indeed, of the 71 bills Ryan has sponsored, only one is primarily designed to combat poverty.
...[That bill is] called the “National Enterprise Zone Act of 2004”. ..Enterprise zones, first proposed by the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler in the 1980s and embraced by HUD secretary (and Ryan mentor) Jack Kemp, are economically deprived areas, typically in inner cities, that the government designates for exemptions from certain taxes and regulations. ... [S]ome elements of the zones are effective, such as property tax breaks and tax credits for jobs, but ... sometimes the programs end up just subsidizing companies for buying equipment or hiring workers when they would have done so without the incentives.
[Beale Comment: Ryan's 2004 bill allowed all businesses and individuals in an enterprise zone to pay a flat 17% tax on all income earned in the zone. For individuals, it was essentially a flat 17% consumption tax, with deductions for all savings, capital gains and business inventory expenditures. Note that this is a quite regressive modification to the current income tax: low-income individuals in the zone would end up paying a much higher rate than under the regular income tax, while high-income individuals in the zone--especially private equity fund managers like Romney investing in the zone--would have the nifty outcome of stupendous tax savings, with zero percent taxes on most of their income while halving the ordinary income tax rate.]
Andrew Ross Sorkin, Everything Wall St. Should Know About Ryan, DealBook, New York Times (Aug. 14, 2012), at B1:
Mr. Ryan is also an ardent critic of the Dodd-Frank Act, the postcrisis Wall Street legislation. ... Mr. Ryan voted in favor of the bank bailout in 2008, known as TARP ... Ryan was a member of the [Simpson-Bowles] commission and voted it down, arguing that it did not go far enough in overhauling health care entitlements. ... [During the debt ceiling debates,] Mr. Ryan said that he was prepared to let the government default on its debt for at least several days if it would force Democrats to accept deeper cuts.
Sally Kohn, Paul Ryan didn't build that, Salon.com (Aug. 14, 2012):
Republicans have been clamoring to make this election a false dichotomy between the private sector and the public sector. Paul Ryan--heir to a private fortune made by building public highways--is a gaping pothole in that plan. ...
With a net worth of up to $3.2 million and ranking as the 124th richest member of Congress, Paul Ryan very directly and very significantly benefited from the federal spending he now rails against.
Or does he? ...Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.
Yet Ryan wants to gut financial aid for college students, food stamps for hungry families, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, the very things that have, historically, helped poor families climb the ladder of opportunity in America. ...
It's 'I Got Mine, Now Screw You!' economics.
Ken Derow, Letters to the Editor, New York Times (Aug. 14, 2012), at A16:
The Democrats will predicably say Mr. Ryan's selection is pandering to Mr. Romney's far-right wing. They will portray him as a dangerous ideologue who is out of touch with Middle America, as evidenced by his budget plan, which seems to favor the rich, the powerful and connected over everday Americans. Is there some truth to these assertions? Yes.
The New York Times Editorial Board, The Romney-Ryan Plan for America (Aug. 13, 2012), at A16:
[H]is Medicare plan ... would turn the program into a voucher system that would pay beneficiaries a fixed amount for their medical care, leaving them on their own if the voucher did not cover their costs. [Even leaving the existing Medicare system as an option, his plan] would leave older Americans on average with $6,400 in extra costs by 2022.
...Mr. Ryan's plans for the rest of the federal budget ...if anything are worse than his Medicare proposal. ...Mr. Ryan drew a blueprint for a government that would be absent when people needed it the most. Medicaid, food stamps, and other vital programs would [be] offloaded to the states, but the states would not be given the resources to run them. The federal government simply would not be there to help the unemployed who need job training, or struggling students who seek college educations. Washington would be unable to respond when a city cannot properly treat its sewage, or when the poor and uninsured overload emergency rooms as clinics close. ... Mr. Ryan's budget would not reach a surplus for 30 years ... because he would cut taxes, largely for the rich and for corporations, by $4 trillion.
...Mr. Romney made a clear statement in choosing the most extreme of the vice-presidential possibilities.
Frank Bruni, The Bold to Mitt's Bland, New York Times (Aug. 14, 2012), at A17:
Ryan [shows some soul] so deftly that the contradictions, holes and hooey in his story recede. Being a Rand devotee and a faithful Roman Catholic is a nifty trick indeed. So is a reputation as a detail-obsessed deficit hawk when your big budget plan lacks crucial details and you spent much of your time in Congress backing George W. Bush's spending juggernaut. .... But Ryan ... [is] utterly slick in his projection of genuineness.