Muftic: Ryan must be feeling good; not so for seniors and the vulnerable
Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader, must be feeling good. His lifelong quest to become the implementor of the Ayn Rand school of political/economic philosophy is half way done with the passage of the tax reduction bill. For his next act he wants is to cut “entitlements,” the social safety net, Medicare and Medicaid.
The unpopular tax cut legislation passed and signed by President Trump in December lopsidedly benefitted the rich and left the middle class with some small change and with future generations paying the interest to bond holders of trillion more debt the “reform” caused. While both houses of Congress are still in the hands of a compliant GOP, Ryan is going to make hay while his sun shines before the 2018 Congressional elections in November, where the House and possibly even the Senate GOP majority is at risk. In so doing, he is also handing Democrats an issue which will only help them to appeal to usually GOP stalwarts, seniors and about to be seniors.
Ryan’s motivations have been attributed to his long time love affair with Ayn Rand, a writer of a 1957 seminal book beloved by many a conservative, “Atlas Shrugged.”
Rand, a Russian immigrant, railed against Communist collectivism, and believed the way for governmental fiscal well-being was based on laissez faire capitalism and tax policy that feeds the rich, but not the poor. While Catholic Ryan had rejected Rand’s atheism, he shrugged his shoulders when a 2012 budget he had proposed cut the social safety net to the poor so drastically, the Catholic Bishops wrote…’ deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people (and his budget) …fails this basic moral test.’”
However, instead of invoking the Rand philosophy as a reason to cut the safety net and retirees’ benefits, his rationale now is that the deficit (he helped enhance) is too large. On Dec. 6, on a radio talk show he is setting his sights on welfare and seniors and those about to be seniors. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements.” Already the Children’s Health program has left 9 million kids in jeopardy of losing their insurance because its renewal is still on the GOP chopping block. The tax reduction legislation he helped engineered could trigger $25 billion from Medicare next year. Over 10 years, 13 million under retirement age ($4 million next year) will find health insurance unaffordable.
My conservative friends love Ryan’s approach to cutting welfare. In their mythological world, “ those welfare queens are robbing good American taxpayers and ought to get a job.”
We already had welfare reform in the Bill Clinton era that addressed that “get a job” issue. Who is left getting most of “welfare” now? Kids. Put them to work? Here are some statistics for a reality check: Three-quarters of food stamp recipients are families with children. Of the nutrition programs for the poor (8.7 million recipients), 4.3 million are women with children, 2.2 million with infants. National school lunch programs: 30.5 million kids benefit.
So what do you want to cut, Speaker Ryan?
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