From the August 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Since becoming Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has been running with the "you did build it" line. If you're rich, it's all due to your own individual virtue, the line goes, not due to the public education you or your employees received, not enabled by your access to roads and bridges and sewer systems built by the government, not protected by public police and fire departments. But what has Paul Ryan personally built and how did he build it?
First off, Social Security built Paul Ryan. Ryan's father died when he was 16, and Ryan then received Social Security survivors benefits until he was 18. He was able to save his Social Security to help pay for college. Ryan likes to talk about how he used loans to pay for college, but the fact that he went in with a big chunk of savings thanks to Social Security is something he doesn't emphasize quite as much.
The next part of Ryan's origin story as he tells it is that he worked three jobs to pay off those loans. What he doesn't so much say is that he worked three jobs in much the same sense any kid who's spent a summer with a paper route, mowing the occasional lawn, and babysitting on Friday nights has worked three jobs.
Ryan has been in Congress since he was 28. Before that, he worked for Wisconsin Sen. Bob Kasten and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. The sum total of his work experience outside of Congress is a couple part-time or summer jobs as a waiter, fitness trainer, and Oscar Mayer salesman, stints as a speechwriter for a Republican advocacy organization and for Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and one year doing marketing for his family's construction business. That's it. The guy who will be Mitt Romney's running mate in a campaign founded entirely on the message that only private sector experience counts and that President Obama isn't a fit leader because he hasn't run a business hasn't worked in the private sector beyond what the average kid a year out of college has done.
So Paul Ryan looks at his education made possible by Social Security and student loans and his work experience made possible by Congress, family connections, and Congress, and the lesson he draws is that the government isn't responsible for anything good? For any part of anyone's success in life? It's much more clear that the government built Paul Ryan than that Paul Ryan has ever built anything beyond a budget that would end Medicare as we know it, leave 22 million kids hungry, attack Social Security, and cut Pell Grants for a million students. And hell, the government paid him to come up with that.
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In Florida, this is Romney's VP nomineeSo today is Paul Ryan's first Monday as Mitt Romney's number two, but instead of joining his boss's bus tour through Florida, he's been dispatched to the Iowa State Fair, where Mitt famously said that corporations are people. Don't worry, though. It has nothing to do with Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program.
Romney adviser Kevin Madden denied that the campaign was keeping Ryan out of Florida because of his proposal to privatize Medicare for people under 55; tinkering with the program for the elderly has long been toxic in Florida politics.And if you believe that, then you also believe the reason that neither George W. Bush nor Dick Cheney will be attending the Republican convention is that they had scheduling conflicts. But to be fair, it's not hard to understand why Romneyland is as eager to hide Ryan's plan to end Medicare as they are to hide any evidence that Bush and Cheney were Republicans. Just check out the headlines for yourself.
"This has more to do with expanding our bandwidth," he told reporters here on Sunday morning. "Gov. Romney is going to be talking about the issues that are important to Floridians."
The weird thing is that despite the Ryan pick, Republicans have apparently concluded that Romney cannot win the White House without taking Florida.
A well-placed source said Republicans recently did an extensive regression analysis war-gaming what states are most crucial given the polling.If that's what they believe, it's hard to understand why Romney picked a guy who wants to end Medicare ... unless they actually don't think it will be a liability. The state's Republican Agriculture Commissioner, who served with Ryan in the House, seemed to express that view to Politico.
The single state that Romney absolutely had to have in all the various combinations: Florida.
?The Ryan pick certainly energizes both sides and that means in Florida the Romney campaign will need to be very clear about [what his] budget reform means ? and doesn?t mean ? for seniors,? said Florida Agricultural Commissioner and former Ryan House colleague Adam Putnam. ?Fortunately, nobody is better at explaining these issues than Paul.?But if Romneyland really believes "nobody is better" than Ryan at spinning his Medicare plan, then why isn't he in Florida today with Romney? Why are they waiting to send him to the state until next Saturday, when his appearance will not get nearly as much attention as it would have today? I mean if Paul Ryan's plan is so great, and Paul Ryan is so great at explaining it ... why not let him explain it?
The question pretty much answers itself.
Above is a short video of Alan Grayson's appearance last month on Al Sharpton's MSNBC show. So this is when everyone was sure Romney would pick Portman or Pawlenty as his running mate and before anyone thought he could get bullied by the far right into committing political suicide with a Paul Ryan pick. At the time, Democrats were wondering how they could effectively and legitimately hang the albatross of Ryan's plan to kill Medicare around Romney's neck. That was solved for them on the deck of the USS Wisconsin over the weekend. It's especially relevant in Florida, where seniors make up 31% of the population-- as opposed to about 10% in the rest of the country. Sharpton asks Grayson if the Medicare issue could make the difference in Florida, where Obama is already beating Romney in the polls, despite Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to game the system by preventing students, African Americans and poor people from voting. The question was tailor-made for Grayson:
[W]e do have a few senior citizens in Florida, you may have heard that. And in fact, seniors are learning more and more about exactly how bad the Ryan plan is going to be for them. I think Ryan also has a sense of humor. His plan is a joke, and the joke is on all of us. I think that all of us hope one day that if we're not already getting Medicare, we will be. And we don't want to have to pay an extra $6,500 in order to have it.
But the fundamental problem with his plan is that right now, seniors get care and what they [Ryan and his GOP cronies] want to do is substitute the care with a check that they know is not going to be enough for the care... It's some kind of scheme, some kind of game that they're playing on senior citizens. And it's a game of life and death. If they don't get the care they need, then seniors are going to die.
...[A]s soon as Mitt Romney does what he's promised to do in his first week in office, which is to get rid of Obamacare, that immediately means an extra $600 that they have to pay for their drugs every single year. Every year. That's what that means right off the bat. Then beyond that, even without any change in the law, simply allowing what they want their budget to go into effect will mean thousands and thousands of dollars more that seniors will have to pay.
And it's not just seniors. You know, look, I'm in my 50s. One day, I'll be on this plan myself and I'll be paying more. So will people in their 40s, people in their 30s. There's no end to it. And for what? For what purpose? So that Mitt Romney can have a tax cut? You know, Mitt Romney wants millionaires in America to have a tax cut because Mitt Romney wants a tax cut. That's what it comes down to. And he and his selfish friends are going to gut government and gut the economy for the sake of that. Now, we have a president who believes in good government and we have a candidate who believes in no government. America can figure out which one is better for America.
...[B]ecause seniors vote in higher numbers than younger people do-- and that will be true this year, like it is true every year-- you might see seniors making up as much as half of the electorate in Florida this year. And seniors are beginning to realize that Romney is basically conducting a shell game.
The interesting thing is when the President points out all these elements, deficiencies in what Romney's proposing for the country, Romney doesn't even take a stab at defending the Ryan plan. He doesn't even try to do it even though he's endorsed it in the past. He can't explain why it's right after the President explains why it's wrong. That means it's wrong.
Romney adviser Kevin Madden denied that the campaign was keeping Ryan out of Florida because of his proposal to privatize Medicare for people under 55; tinkering with the program for the elderly has long been toxic in Florida politics... Madden said that the campaign believes that Ryan will be a particular asset in the Great Lakes.
The plans Mr. Ryan submitted as House budget chairman-- which are now Mr. Romney?s too-- were never models of clarity, but they at least made his priorities quite stark: more than three-fifths of his cuts would come from low-income programs like job training, Pell grants and food stamps. That?s not something Mr. Romney ever talked about on the stump, raising the question of whether the vice-presidential choice will end up defining the man at the top of the ticket better than Mr. Romney has himself.
Mr. Romney wants to offload federal responsibility for Medicaid and move it entirely to the states by turning it into a much cheaper block-grant program. He claims this approach would save $200 billion a year, but never mentions that this would force states to drop coverage for at least 14 million people when states are unable to keep up with rising medical costs, which would raise emergency costs at local hospitals. He says he supports Mr. Ryan?s plan to provide the elderly with a fixed amount to buy either traditional Medicare or private plans, but has also said he would issue his own Medicare plan this fall, far too late.
Beyond his standard line about undoing financial reform and Mr. Obama?s ?anti-carbon? agenda, Mr. Romney has also vowed to repeal any Obama regulation that might burden the economy, without telling us which ones. Could he mean the power-plant rule that keeps mercury out of children?s lungs, perhaps? Or the one requiring better brakes on big trucks? Or the one expanding disability protections to people with AIDS or autism? Don?t expect an answer.
The Romney campaign decided long ago that it didn?t need a real economic plan of its own when it could just bash the president?s. ?As long as I continue to speak about the economy, I?m going to win,? he said last month. Voters, he is saying, need not inquire further.
"In selecting Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has crystalized the contrast of this election," said Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. "Ryan is the architect of Romney's extreme budget plan which would end Medicare as we know it, increasing the healthcare costs for Florida's seniors by thousands every year."
The state's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who faces a stiff challenge in his bid for another term, quickly posted on Facebook.
"Romney VP pick bad for seniors. Signals an end to Medicare as we know it. My commitment to Medicare never stronger," Nelson said.
...Ryan had said the budget is based on Catholic social teaching. But in a letter, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese called that nonsense.
"I am afraid that Chairman Ryan's budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "Survival of the fittest may be OK for social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love."
"The outright attack on the majority of middle class interests will be the establishment Republicans' undoing-- they've gone too far. In fact, the GOP establishment has been going too far for decades, and are attempting to go farther still. The GOP establishment no longer authentically reflects the rank and file Republican's sensibilities. Sure, many of them are conservative-- but they're conservative about excessive war spending, and excessive environmental degradation, and the excessive Wall Street profiteering that is eroding opportunity for their families and friends. And many NPAs feel the exact same way. That's why, come November 6th, the GOP establishment is going to experience a stunning defeat in FL-7, while the working and middle class people are going to celebrate a great victory."
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s daily round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but please let us know what stories you?re following as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- On Saturday, the Democratic Party Platform Committee unanimously approved the drafted platform, complete with its full-throated support for marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections.
- Iowa’s The FAMiLY LEADER has relaunched the so-called “Iowans for Freedom” campaign to oust one of the state’s Supreme Court Justices who was part of the 2009 ruling for same-sex marriage.
- During the last school year, there were 10,797 reported incidents of bullying in Iowa schools.
- Transgender pilots will no longer be subject an unfair battery of psychological tests.
- Thanks to the generosity of a Washington state lawyer, two gay men raising 12 children in Arizona officially both have legal guardianship of their family.
- British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg believes religious organizations should be allowed to conduct same-sex marriages.
- Thousands gathered in Dublin yesterday for the fourth Irish March for Marriage (equality).
- Artist Kathryn Cornelius married and divorced seven different times on Saturday, marrying both men and women throughout the day (one of which can be seen in the banner above).
- Officials in St. Petersburg, Russia will fine Madonna $17,000 for violating the ban on “gay propaganda” during her concert.
- Ten out LGBT Olympians won gold medals.
- Watch Taiwan’s first same-sex Buddhist wedding:
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are turning the GOP’s greatest political liability — a proposal to drastically restructure Medicare for seniors — into a sharp attack against President Obama, despite Republican efforts to cut more than a trillion from the program.
“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare,” Romney said during the ticket’s first interview together on CBS, honing in on a charge the pair has reiterated at every campaign stop since the two Republicans joined forces on Saturday:
“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors. No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, “We’re going to give you a bigger choice.” In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That’s how we make Medicare work down the road.”
The $716 billion figure comes from the Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate of the Republican proposal to repeal the law, though the office doesn’t back up the charge that Obama stole the money from the current Medicare budget. Rather, the savings slow the growth of Medicare over the next decade: eliminate overpayments to private insurers, reform provider payments to encourage greater efficiency, tie reimbursements to improvements in economic productivity, and reduce fraud and abuse.
As a result, ?growth in spending will be restrained” and the life of the Medicare trust fund is expanded by eight years, the government estimates. Sixteen million seniors are also benefiting from the savings by receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and saving more than $3.9 billion on prescription drugs.
The Ryan-backed GOP budet maintains these cuts, but rather than using them to improve the Medicare program, it applies the savings to pay for massive tax cuts. As the budget chairman himself admitted during an April 5, 2011 speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “We retain the Medicare savings” — and that’s not all. The Republican blueprint transforms the existing Medicare benefit guarantee into a premium support program that would provide seniors with depreciating vouchers to buy insurance from private plans.
The plan essentially institutes cuts on top of the $716 billion reduction. Total federal spending on Social Security, interest, and health care would plunge to 16 percent of GDP by 2050 under Ryan?s budget — “the lowest level since 1950, when Medicare, Medicaid, most federal funding for education, highways, and environmental protection, and various other significant federal activities did not exist,” Congressional Budget Office data indicates. And federal spending per Medicare beneficiary would decrease “by 35 to 42 percent in 2050.”
Romney’s proposal — which is short on details and does not outline cuts to specific programs — is even more extreme. While Ryan would “cut entitlement and discretionary programs (outside of core defense and net interest) by $5.2 trillion over ten years,” the Romney proposal would reduce spending “by between $7.0 trillion and $9.6 trillion.” To meet this goal, “Medicare would be cut by $185 billion in 2016 and $2.0 trillion from 2014 through 2022,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates, leading to “large increases in premiums and cost-sharing charges” for beneficiaries.
So if Romney thinks that Obama “robbed Medicare,” then he and Ryan prepared to bleed it dry entirely.
- President Mohammed Morsi shook up Egyptian power structures by dismissing, among others, defense minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and the transitional military council head Lt. Gen. Sami Anan. Morsi took for himself extraordinary powers that had belonged to the figures as part of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the transitional military authority that took power after the government fell last year.
- Fighting continued to rage in the Syria’s two largest cities — Damascus and Aleppo — as opposition figures called on the international community to impose a no-fly zone.
- Afghanistan’s intelligence service said it arrested for Afghans and a Pakistani who were plotting to attack the country’s parliament and launch other attacks, capping off a weekend where attacks on international coalition troops by Afghan forces underscored the chaotic security environment.
- An Israeli deputy foreign minister called on the Western powers in ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program to “declare today that the talks have failed” while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the security threat as Israel ran domestic security drills.
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
A round-up of the top climate and energy stories.
Parasites look set to become more virulent because of climate change, according to a study showing that frogs suffer more infections from a fungus when exposed to unexpected swings in temperatures. [Reuters]
Parasites, which include tapeworms, the tiny organisms that cause malaria and funguses, may be more nimble at adapting to climatic shifts than the animals they live on since they are smaller and grow more quickly, scientists said.
“Increases in climate variability are likely to make it easier for parasites to infect their hosts,” Thomas Raffel of Oakland University in the United States told Reuters, based on findings about frogs and a sometimes deadly skin fungus.
President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney clashed last week over a federal tax credit for businesses that produce wind and other alternative energy. [Washington Post]
A summer drought that has destroyed crops, killed livestock and sent feed prices soaring is now extracting a political price from members of Congress, who failed to agree on a comprehensive agriculture bill or even limited emergency relief before leaving Washington for five weeks. [New York Times]
Two young Eugene residents are appealing a local judge?s April dismissal of their lawsuit alleging that the state of Oregon is violating the public trust by failing to take adequate steps to prevent climate change. [The Register Guard]
Armed with the latest monsoon rainfall data, weather experts finally conceded this month that India is facing a drought, confirming what millions of livestock farmers around the country had known for weeks. [Reuters]
Lemons and sweet bamboo may not be associated with frontline efforts to adapt to climate change in most parts of the world, but in Kioutaloun village in northern Laos, rice farmers hit by landslides, land erosion and severe flooding are looking to different crops. [IRIN]
With a giant swathe of the nation?s prime agricultural land affected by drought, the federal government and private forecasters have been projecting a significant drop in corn and soybean production?and a jump in food prices. [The Daily Beast]
Under the most wide-reaching drought since 1956, and torched by the hottest July on record dating from 1895, the United States has been under the kind of weather stress that climatologists say will be more common if the long-standing trend toward higher U.S. temperatures continues. [Washington Post]
Methane is making headlines because of new numbers showing more leakage than previously thought from natural gas wells and pipelines. Some critics say natural gas is a worse climate-change polluter than coal. That?s hotly disputed by energy companies. [New Jersey Star Ledger]