‘Saving Congressman Ryan,’ the sequel gets nasty


By Al Norman

You remember trickle-down economics? Well, it’s still trickling — with an emphasis on the “trick.”

In early April, U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chair of the House Committee on the Budget, released an FY 2012 Budget Resolution entitled The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. His resolution should have been called Refried Reagan.

According to Chairman Ryan, his Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2012 “intends to recommit the nation fully to the timeless principles of American government enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — liberty, limited government, and equality under the rule of law…freeing the nation from the crushing burden of debt that is now threatening its future.”

Congressman Ryan says Pres. Barack Obama has failed to tame the budget, so now it’s time for House Republicans to lead. Stealing a speech from Pres. Ronald Regan, Ryan says, “This budget helps spur job creation today, stops spending money the government doesn’t have, and lifts the crushing burden of debt.”

Under the Wisconsin congressman’s plan, the federal budget would be cut by more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years. It “keeps taxes low so the economy can grow,” and buries the president’s health care law in the cemetery.

By doing all these things, Ryan says his budget will create nearly 1 million new private-sector jobs next year, and drop the unemployment rate to 4 percent by 2015. The congressman says his plan “stops Washington from spending money it does not have on government programs that do not work.” Apparently on Ryan’s list of program that do not work are: 1) The president’s new Affordable Care Act; 2) The Medicaid program; 3) The Medicare program; and 4) The Social Security program.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Obama health care plan would be repealed. Medicaid would be converted into a capped block grant to states. Medicare would be privatized for younger workers. Social Security would be converted into a system of private savings accounts.

The Medicare program would be protected for people who are now near retirement — but everyone else would get “the same kind of health-care options now enjoyed by members of Congress.” Rep. Ryan does not mean that you and I would get the same benefits and deductibles and copays that Congressmen get — just that we’d have the choice of some private insurance plans — most likely those with deductibles as high as the Empire State Building.

Instead of offering us the same kind of pensions that Congressman get — Ryan has a plan to take Social Security private. His proposal preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older, but offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. It includes a guarantee that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation. But it contains no guarantee that you will make a penny either. Ryan will raise the retirement age, and cut back on the Social Security cost of living. The burden of retirement savings is shifted from Social Security onto the backs of the workers, and it’s every American for him or herself.

After having done all this to poor people and the middle class, Ryan gives large corporations nearly a 30 percent cut in their federal income tax rate.

A few years back there was a Tom Hanks movie called Saving Private Ryan. Filming is now underway in Washington, D.C. for the sequel to that movie, starring the representative from Wisconsin. It’s called Saving Congressman Ryan, in which a young lawmaker is chased around the Nation’s Capitol by a mob of angry senior citizens brandishing worthless savings account passbooks.

Al Norman is the executive director of Mass Home Care. He can be reached at 413-773-5555, or an info@masshomecare.org