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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan values his reputation as a serious policy analyst and a genial soul. But he’s not above name-calling, and he insists that President Obama’s budget is the product of “envy economics.”

Ryan’s label invites a comparable description of his own approach, which would slash taxes on the rich while cutting programs for the poor and many middle-income Americans. If Ryan wants to play the branding game, is it unfair to ask him why “greed economics” isn’t an appropriate tag for his own approach?

Ryan’s opening rhetorical bid is unfortunate because there are signs that at least some conservatives (including, sometimes, Ryan himself) seem open to policies that would redistribute income to Americans who have too little of it.

Yes, conservatives and just about everybody else — except, perhaps, for truly austere libertarians — are for redistribution. But almost everyone on the right and many of the more timid Democrats want to deny it. This form of intellectual dishonesty hampers a candid debate about solving the interlocking problems of stagnating wages, rising inequality and declining social mobility.

Let’s first examine Ryan’s envy claim. “Look,” he said on Meet the Press last Sunday, “the president has done two big rounds of tax increases. It’s one of the reasons why we have this stagnant economy we do. He’s practicing yet again envy economics and it doesn’t work. We are an aspirational people. We are an optimistic people and our policies should reflect that in our country, and that is not the kind of economic policy or politics the president practices.”

Well. Regiments of Republicans claimed that Obama’s policies, and especially Obamacare, would be “job killers.” In the face of 58 straight months of private-sector job growth, will they ever admit their claims were absolutely wrong? Will anyone even ask them? And like them or not, aren’t Obama’s proposals on higher education, child care and pre-kindergarten programs all about aspiration and optimism?

At least some conservatives, such as Michael Strain at the American Enterprise Institute, are coming around to the perfectly sensible view that a few percentage points up or down in the top income tax rate for the rich don’t make much difference after all. As Bob Davis reported in The Wall Street Journal, many conservatives, including Strain, are supporting various policies (along the lines of the Earned Income Tax Credit) to lift the incomes of the working poor. Does anyone notice that this is redistribution?

In fact, we need to pay far more attention to “pre-distribution,” the wages and benefits people get before government taxes or transfers money. It’s why we should increase the minimum wage, strengthen unions and find other ways of enhancing workers’ bargaining power. Funnily enough, progressives are more insistent than conservatives on increasing the market rewards for work so government doesn’t have to redistribute so much. In the meantime, the tax code and the various credits ought to be tilted toward those who have been lagging behind.

As it is, we engage in all sorts of redistribution in favor of those already doing well. Consider: In 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which focuses on lower-income Americans, spent $42 billion. The numerous tax benefits for homeowners totaled $154 billion, a lot of which went to the affluent. I’ll be the first to admit that these tax breaks help me. But who is redistributing to whom?

And then there’s a little item in Obama’s budget reported by Politico that would take away tax subsidies for the owners of pro-sports teams that help them build new stadiums. Oddly enough, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is busily trying to cut the budget of the University of Wisconsin, has endorsed $220 million in state-backed debt to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Bucks over Badgers? Really? Who benefits from this particular redistribution?

We should just admit it: Government inevitably redistributes all the time. Won’t bigger defense budgets help large defense companies? At a time of rising inequality, we need to pay closer attention to whether this ongoing government redistribution aggravates the problem or instead tries to make life better for those at the wrong end of economic change.

In a moment memorialized across the Web, Elizabeth Warren once suggested there was nothing wrong with asking entrepreneurs doing very well to “pay forward” for the government that protects their property, educates their workforce and builds the infrastructure to transport their goods.

That’s not about “envy.” The words that come to mind are social justice.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is Twitter: @EJDionne.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

43 Responses to ‘Envy’ vs. ‘Greed’

  1. Shot of implementing mandatory lobotomies, I can’t imagine how politicians like Rep. Paul Ryan can make Americans forget the tenets of his 10-point plan, including dismantling MEDICARE and replacing it with a voucher system.
    Greed has been the operative word in the agenda the GOP has embraced during the last century, and considering their latest “economic solution”, a gas tax to pay for infrastructure, that shifts the burden of funding critically needed projects from the super wealthy to the middle class, I think it is fair to say that their little ploys – and governing cowardice – is not going to drop their focus on greed, and fiscal irresponsibility, any time soon. Solutions with a cynical smile only fool the naive that have been taking the bait, while we head to the nearest fast food joint, and the elite that controls all facets of life in America strolls down the Champs Elysee or shop at fashionable stores in London, Rome or Madrid. The only thing that has been evident, when it comes to Republican economic policies, is their trickle up effect.

  2. The Republicans at the Federal level and many at the State have the equal understanding of economics as those in the Democratic party. People from the D clan scream for government action to fix their problem “A”. A few years later, the R clan screams for government action to fix their problem “B”. While “A” is still fixed, those who wanted it scream foul when the R’s fix their problem. With our current political two party division, there is NO WAY to change this.
    Once the people, of either clan scream for government action to fix “A”, they permit , by default, the fix for problem “B”. Yet the scream bloody murder. Well, that’s just tough. If one clan screams and receives, the other has the right to the same thing. Nobody learns anything, as this has been going on for well over a Century.
    Maybe if the Feds knew how to manage the peoples treasury, many like me wouldn’t have walked away and removed consent. Maybe if the Feds would only demand the minimum necessary to managed the powers they have been given, instead of 100x more for all the things they don’t have the power to manage. As an example, The Dept of Education and the DHS are not enumerated powers. Both can be eliminated and a huge savings.
    They won’t do that because they won’t cut their own throats. They want the power and the wealth that goes with it. ALL of them, not just the R’s. If anyone thinks the D’s are excluded, your an idiot. Recently, a waste of time vote to repeal Obamacare went through the HoR. I say waste of time because that’s what it is. The fascist marriage of government and the health insurance industry has occurred and there will not be a divorce in our lifetime.
    The R’s are already writing a new ‘ACA”, which will be just like the old “ACA” with a different name. It will do the same thing with just a few changes, none of which will affect what is being accomplished. The end result in this deal (the ACA has been referred to as redistribution, which is technically correct, but that’s how the insurance industry runs anyway, so no real change), the end result is government controlled healthcare. They don’t need single payer to accomplish the same thing, the Fascist marriage will work just fine.
    For those of you who are hard core Lefty’s or Righty’s, The gangs you love or hate are all in it together. Stop listening and start watching their actions. They are all trying very hard to get US to scream for a war with ISIS. Their propaganda must be called out. All the stories about beheadings and mass murders and throwing Gay’s off of buildings is nothing new over there. It’s been going on for thousands of years. Don’t fall for the propaganda!

    • You have a very skewed, cynical outlook, Gary. With a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem, if you believe the , “A’s” problem is ‘solved.’ And, whether you realize it or not. It makes you an enabler, and useful enough dupe for the, “Bs,” agenda to succeed. Fact is, the Right carries water for the small powerful minority, that now controls the direction, and distribution, of the vast majority of the wealth. And, if you’re so full of cynicism, you’re convinced both Parties are, “all in it together,” that the entire process is a fabricated sham…Well, that suits them just fine. It’s exactly what the Communist propagandists told their subjugated people for years, out of the fear their own people might long for the freedoms, and liberties, enjoyed by people just west of the Berlin Wall. I urge you to recheck your basics.

      • I have no problem with being a cynic. If more people would have listened to the cynics in Germany and Austria back in the 30s, things might have turned out different. I read a very long story from a woman who was a child in Austria when Hitler was coming to power. She explained how at first, everything was great, people working, everyone had HEALTHCARE at State expense. Then things changed over a few year, slowly. The churches were eventually closed if they didn’t speak the NAZI propaganda they were told, education changed etc. While I don’t want to draft a long drawn out post, I think you can understand that my cynicism comes from study, not crazy conspiracy theory websites (although they are entertaining at times).

        All it requires is to go back in time and follow the timeline of a high interest issue. The interest has waned, but the issue remains. Most recently, you can go back to all the hoopla from the Left about Bush’s Patriot Act. Mover forward 10 years, not a peep when it was passed again. This sort of activity has played out hundreds of times over the last couple decades.

        Another example is the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2010. Passed late on Christmas Eve and signed into law with no fanfare. That’s on purpose because if people read the ACT they would not like it. It was passed by a majority of both parties. It gives the government broad powers if a food poisoning type event occurred over a large geographical area. Why is this odd you ask? Because no such event has ever occurred in our history. The threat they claim to need the power to protect us from is miniscule, not the monster they proclaim. It’s all about control, when they feel the need to use it. There will be more coming up about food issues. He who controls the food, controls the people.

        I can understand your comments, as they are not uncommon. You are free to believe as you wish. However, I feel it is you who should consider recheck your basics, mine have history as a guide. PEACE and may you and yours be healthy and happy.

        • Look Gary, that’s just nonsense. Why not wait until the Fed actually does something clearly Hitler-isk? Like locking up Homosexuals, or loading desperate
          Salvadorian kids on boxcars. Before comparing measures to increase the number of privately insured, to something out of Nazi Germany? Especially in view of the fact that Britain, France, and most of the world that has indoor plumbing, including post war Germany, have had universal healthcare provided thru the Gov. for years. And have not been turned into Fascist States bent on World domination. Their people aren’t subjected to death panels. In fact, their life expectancies are on par, or in some cases better than ours. And they spend a third of what we do to get there. You do realize all the fear mongering is just lawyers feeding the words to politicians who are protecting the rip off, private for profit healthcare has become here in the U.S.?

          • Sorry Friend, I don’t see things as “this isn’t close to that” because I don’t look at the past as something that occurred quickly. Things happened back then over a long time, much like things are moving along now. If I were you I would look at how many countries we have become involved with, militarily, via economic sanctions (an act of war in my opinion) and sponsoring regime change, then come back and we can talk about world domination.
            Socialized healthcare in the UK and Canada are failing, that’s why they are beginning/have begun allowing free market insurance. I will admit one thing, that I’m sure you will agree with, the old insurance companies denied certain healthcare services to many people. It wasn’t always “pre-existing conditions” either. It was rationed healthcare. Nothing will change under the ACA, or whatever it ends up being called later down the road.
            Rationed healthcare (aka death panels) aren’t anything new at all, they just have become more famous now. Read the ACA and note the end of life stuff. That’s not necessarily what I call a death panel, but it fits a criteria that hasn’t been realized yet, because the law is too new. Dig deep into the choices made by many different regimes in the past, you will find that government run healthcare ALWAYS have end of life stuff involved. We are in the baby stage still, but others made it quite clear that those who DON’T produce anymore are not worth saving.
            You can pretend that what is happening in other countries with socialized medicine is all great, because I’m positive that’s all you have likely read or seen on TV. Unfortunately, when governments control what the media puts out, that’s what you will get. It’s called socialism for a reason. When nations are considered socialist, there is no truth in reporting, it’s controlled.
            I do not fear monger, nor do I fall for it. I offer my opinion, based on lots of research and history. You, nor anyone else need to accept my opinions as true. It’s not a surprise that most won’t, it’s not something any government or government controlled entity will admit. The NAZI’s certainly didn’t advertise their end game! The Japanese didn’t before WWII, Nor the Italians. All of those people were lied too in order to get their support. In some cases, simply forced to accept it at gun point.
            The whole story about how great the economy is, is more BS coming from DC and the pundit’s. The stock market is great, which has little effect on the average person. Gas is down, cool. However, we alos have the fewest full time workers in 30 years and far too many part time workers, not to mention 92 million not working. Retirements are not rising as expected.
            The Baltic Dry Index is heading towards an all time low, which means it’s not just here, it’s the world economy that’s tanking. I’ll stop here, I type way too much and need to shorten my posts. Sorry! PEACE Charleo1, you really seem like a nice person at heart. I don’t have a problem disagreeing with a decent person.

          • I’ll give you a lot of military activities, lately to be sure. Too many for my way of thinking. But, as I always maintain, radicalism, begets, radicalism. Without 9/11, I don’t think we see a U.S. led invasion into Afghanistan, and Iraq. And without the invasion, and subsequent financial recession. There is no “Arab Spring.” The upheavals, and Civil Wars across the Mid-East. Leading to what we see now, the Syrian Civil War, ISSl, the coup in Yemen, and so on. Was all preceded, and set into motion, by a rise in the cost of bread. I realize it’s hard to believe. It’s hard for us to live here, and imagine living on that thin of a margin. But that has been the case for the average Arab in the Mid-East for a long time. It was the case, when a starving Tunisian street vendor, having his scales confiscated by the local authorities, because he hadn’t paid a license fee. Promptly set himself on fire in the public square. Causing an instantaneous boiling over, that wound up toppling the fragile gov. there, and the revolution spread across the region like a wildfire. Such was, and is the tinderbox of the Mid East. So, naturally we have business interests to secure, and allies in the region, and tripwires all around the World. As do our trading partners. And it’s almost inevitable we’re going to be dragged in at some point. And being still neck deep in security responsibilities in Iraq. With the ever present political ramifications. Our slavish devotion to Israel always a priority, and the oil factor underlying all facets, and motivations. There’s that entanglement Washington warned about, some would say. But, how could he have guessed the size and scope of the economic World Super Power the country he founded one one day become? But I don’t believe our efforts include World domination of the sort Hitler envisioned. And I don’t believe the monied elite either. With their dire warnings of a slippery slope, over attempts to provide a modicum of healthcare to all Americans. It would be nice if more jobs paid a wage to afford the costs. Then, the demand in the economy might be such, that more people would be more fully employed. But big business can’t have it both ways. There’s not enough money to cut their taxes to zero. And then create the illusion of a livable wage, by the gov. stepping in, printing money, and borrowing to subsidize their payrolls. I know that’s what they want. That, or just eliminate healthcare for the bottom, and keep their tax cuts in place. Emerging Asian markets is what they’ve got their eyes on. The American economy? Not so much. They’d rather we just wing it. They’ll keep our military, and our excellent courts, and intellectual property protections. Our dollar, and banking system, our stability, and our gov, they can distort to serve their interests. But the rest? They figure is just not their problem. So, where does that leave America at the end of the day? Bowing to Communist China? To
            oil rich Saudi Arabia? While our corporate overlords
            chase low cost labor around the globe. while our illustrious politicians se and do nothing? Distract, and divide us over same sex marriage, and legalized abortion? That’s where I’m coming from, in my also even longer winded retorts, and commentaries.

    • The problem with politics is that–and we’re seeing it more and more–ideology tends to trump knowledge. I’ll point to the Republicans more than the Democrats on this at this point, not to say that the ideology of the left sometimes ignores realities, only that the Republican penchant for denying science (which begins with the religious right’s rejection of evolution) seems to have more profound consequences.

      • There is good reason why science is untrusted, the next ice age is coming (1970s) and the ice caps will be melted by 2013 ( global warming, ongoing). The earth isn’t warming and the science is junk.

    • “The Republicans at the Federal level and many at the State have the equal understanding of economics as those in the Democratic party.”

      Really?? Then why is it that Democrats have been proven to be FAR BETTER at guiding the American economy?? Why is it that since 1929 that under Republicans, actual inflation adjusted stock market returns have been effectively ZERO while Republicans were in office but have returned over 300% under Democrats?

      And why is it that GDP growth under Democrats has been about 4.5% while only 2.6% under Republicans??

      And why have 17 of the 20 recessions/depressions that have plagued America since 1901 occurred under Republicans?

      And why then is more than 95% of today’s 18 trillion in debt the fault of three GOP presidents, Reagan and the two Bushes??


      • You are dumber than a bag of hammers. The government is not in control of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve is. The R’s and D’s aren’t doing anything but screwing up the economy. Did you happen to notice the CBO’s report on how much the Obama regulations that took effect on Jan 1 was going to cost the economy? I doubt it, but it’s 181 billion a year. That’s not good policy, that sucks. Dream on Parrotmonkey.

      • Independent1: You probably should give up trying to change the minds of Godzilla and his buddies….they will only believe what they want to believe based on the BS that they’ve been fed. Trying to argue with them or change their minds is like herding cats! Those of us in the know agree with you…..

  3. “envy economics.” So wanting an increase in wages so you can support your family instead of working two jobs is “envy” or wanting to put your children through college so they can have a better live than you is “envy”. Sorry Ryan go back an review how your family got their wealth and how your wife’s family got her wealth.

    • Good Day Granny! It is not the governments job to “increase wages”, it is there job to support our individual efforts to make higher wages through effort and further education. I don’t envy the wealthy, nor do I want any of their wealth. May your day be Blessed.

      • Sorry, but IT IS the governments job to see that everyone who pays taxes of whatever form, gets a fair shake in America. Including getting paid enough money to subsist from one pay day to the next. Because it’s ONLY the government that can be trusted to even try and do that. Left at its own devices, the private sector would create slaves of all of us and pay us with monopoly money if they could get away with it. While destroying everything around them in their greedy effort to make the all mighty buck; because the vast majority of private companies don’t care one iota about what they’re destroying as they amass their plunder .

        • It is the governments job to protect the rights of the people so they can ‘PURSUE HAPPINESS”, period. Your an idiot parrotmonkey. Move out of your mommies house and get a life. Your as immature as Obama.

          • Really?? We’ll see. Funny that last year was the best job creation year since 1999; and that we’re going to have the 59th straight month of positive jobs growth for January- the longest stretch of positive jobs growth in American history. And that Obama reduced the unemployment rate faster and further than any president in history from 10.1% in January 2010 to 5.6% by December 2014 – that’s more than one full year faster than misguided Reagan could reduce a 10.8% unemployment rate, which his inattention to a recession allowed to happen, even to get the unemployment rate under 7%.

            So, as I said, we’ll see. Sometimes CBO forecasts for a coming year are no better than the weather service trying to forecast the weather for the next month.

          • Yes, I’m sure you believe that bullshit being sent out by your loving government. Did they mention that we are at a 30 year low in full time employment? NO, because they have you and your fellow parrotmonkeys who believe their lies.

          • More hogwash. The BLS’s ‘full-time employment’ number is a charade. The BLS is clearly including millions upon millions of Americans in their numbers that wouldn’t take a job if it was handed to them on a silver platter – far more of those today, than at any time in our history. You’re just one of the mindless ones that puts some credibility into those bogus numbers. Any sane person knows why the BLS never makes a fuss about those numbers. Because they know tracking those numbers is A GLORIOUS WASTE OF TIME!!!

          • The BLS is clearly including millions upon millions of Americans in their numbers that wouldn’t take a job if it was handed to them on a silver platter – far more of those today, than at any time in our history.
            Do you mean your oh so special welfare rats? Those poor people who couldn’t make it with your socialist programs?
            You are a hypocrite, times 1000000. You must have just got out of diapers when Obama was elected because you are immature and a mindless parrotmonkey. Just keep on copy and pasting all you Left Wing propaganda so I can have fun proving it nothing more that fantasy. You are Prince Parrotmonkey, you now Join Queen Parrotmonkey Bitch Whitaker.

          • Those poor people who can’t make it with “socialist’ programs ARE BY FAR people in red states. The Great Recession, was the 1st time since the Big Depression that a large number of states DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO MITIGATE the affects of a recession -THOSE WERE ALL RED STATES.

            Generally with a recession coming, states purposely increase spending or added programs to dampen the effect of a recession. But because the GOP was hellbent on making Obama fail, virtually every red state did just the opposite: they cut budgets and state services DELIBERATELY THROWING RESIDENTS OF T HEIR STATES OUT OF WORK AND ONTO WELFARE – AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THEN DOING EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO KEEP THEM THERE!! ON UNEMPLOYMENT AND DRAWING WELFARE.

            But what I was referring to are the millions more than usual younger Americans who are involved in educational programs because Obama cut the banks out of the student loan process and simplified the application process so millions more HS grads have gone on with their educations and wouldn’t be able to take a job if it was offered.

            And then there are the millions of older Americans who HAVE BAILED OUT OF JOBS EARLY and opted for retirement, because ACA has allowed them to get insurance and not have to keep working just to get healtchare until they reach the age where Medicare will kick in. There are by far more millions of those folks than ever before who the BLS is considering in the work force but wouldn’t take a job if you handed it to them on a silver platter. And there are still 10,000 of those people bailing out of the work force every single day (some of them are called Baby Boomers!!!!!!

          • This clown is a contrary commenter to get attention. He makes the dumbest most unknowledgeable comments I have ever read on NM except for EW.

      • Yes it is the government’s job to “increase wages”. They do it in numerous ways if they’re being effective. One is to ensure that “further education” is either free or affordable for all. Another is to set a high enough minimum wage that it has a ripple effect on all other low income wages, without discouraging investment and job creation. The alternative is John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, where job candidates compete with one another to see who can offer to work for the lowest possible wage to get the job.

        • No it is not the governments job to increase wages It is the gov. job to protect the borders and enforce the constitutional rights of the populace. Anything more than that and you have the beginnings of big government and creeping socialism.

          • You sound like you want to roll back the last two centuries. If you don’t believe in public goods at all (education, infrastructure, health care) or the social welfare of the nation, then you should at least be a proponent of government intervention to make free markets work properly. If the State doesn’t intervene justly in the markets, you can’t have a free market. Not one that works very well anyway.

            Never mind bank regulations or SEC rules; how about something as simple as retail. In France retail prices are on average 20% higher than in Germany because retail in France is a cartel. France’s big retailers hold local monopolies that they don’t contest from each other. That could be fixed.

            You have other things like zoning laws that prevent the opening of big box suburban stores in order to protect mom and pop stores, and other laws that make it hard to squeeze suppliers.

            Much has been learned since the 19th century about how free markets work effectively and how they don’t. Sometimes it’s the governments refusal to step in that stifles free markets, not the other way around.

          • You are still wrong go back and read what I said. Big government and creeping socialism. Remember prohibition for one. Big gov. and creeping socialism. Justify it any way you want that’s what it is. I may not like thew sun rising in the east, but that is what it does and there is nothing I can do about it.

  4. Ryan is lying when he claims the president “the president has done two big rounds of tax increases.” He is trying to pretend that allowing the Bush tax cuts on people who make over $400,000 expire is a tax HIKE. And who knows what he is talking about when he mentions TWO increases? Is that another bit of right wing propaganda about ACA?

    • Exactly! I guess, Ryan forgot I to mention, that taxes for 99% of us
      weren’t raised a cent. What we need is a news program like Meet the Press used to be. That puts such assertions as Ryan tries to make to the test. Of whether low taxes, and a lower tax regimen for the top income/investor class, and corporations, actually pays for itself, with expansion, and job growth. And if, in fact, the economy’s recent performance ver the last decade doesn’t call all that into serious question? Or, if it’s other factors than taxes, or regulation, like low stagnant wages, that’s creating dependencies on the gov. to make
      up for the financial loses incurred in the wider economy. And those circumstances, combined with less monies coming in to the gov. to pay for that. And too, the accelerated military expenditures, have all colluded to create the unprecedented debt, and unavoidable deficit spending at the Federal level? Another good question seldom asked is. Since overall taxes as percentage of GNP haven’t be lower, by historical standards, than they’ve been since 1981 for the top 1% of Americans. And the Middle Class tax base is now disappearing, as ever more of this group joins the ranks of the already burgeoning working poor. What economic group do you see emerging as the leading funders to balance the budget, and pay down the Nation debt, pay for the National security, and that of Europe, over the next 40 years?

    • One is truthful, if you consider letting a tax break expire, which raised Federal taxes. I saw it in my paycheck as it was reduced about 25 bucks a pay net.

      • That was not a TAX INCREASE; greedy ones like you just got a tax holiday. And you make more than 400,000/yr?? If so, what you should be doing is accepting the return to the tax rate that Clinton had set before Bush fraudulently had it lowered, and under your breath say: Thanks George for conning Congress into passing those two unwarranted tax cuts while America was fighting two wars – letting me get out of paying anywhere close to my fair share of taxes for these past 10 plus years!! Even though David Cay Johnston showed that those tax cuts so depressed our economy that it kept Americans’ incomes depressed by over 6 trillion dollars – or about $48,000/American. It was worth it!! I’m so greedy I don’t care if everyone else in America got the shaft!!!!!

        • Your a dickhead. WTF did I just say Fudgemonkey? I said my paycheck went down by 25 bucks when a tax break expired. Why is that so fucking hard for you to comprehend? Are you just that brainwashed? Go away, shovel some snow, watch an abortion, copy and paste more bullshit, something, but go away, your an idiot

          • Just as I thought. You didn’t get effected one bit by Bush’s unwarranted tax cut being cut off; you’re talking about when the GOP insisted that Obama give up the tax break he had been giving working stiffs like you by cutting back the SS/Medicare payroll tax by 4%. Stopping that wasn’t Obama’s idea, it was Boehner who insisted Obama had to give that up before he’d agree to drop the Bush tax cut for folks earning, I believe it ended up being only for people earning $400,000 and over – or was it $450,000 and over. Given the amount is over my head I didn’t convert the exact amount to memory.

      • The Bush tax cuts that were always intended to be temporary were extended twice by Obama and ONLY the break for people making over 400k a year were maintained. For everyone else, he made the temporary cuts permanent. That is a tax CUT. If you happen to be making over 400,000 dollars a year, then 1) $25 a paycheck isn’t hurting you, and 2) I have no sympathy whatsoever. Now, if you are referring to the ALSO temporary payroll tax cut, which temporarily eliminated employee contributions to Social Security, and which was ALSO extended, all I have to say is that we all got that temporary cut and should be grateful for it. The bottom line remains: Ryan is lying about tax increases.

  5. And if I recall, Bride of Chuckie let him skate on this BS statement. Ryan is a not only a putz, he’s a fraud. Krugman is right about him being completely a shallow and vapid ‘thinker’.

  6. From a guy who was raised on Social Security benefits? What kind of money are the Koch Brothers paying this guy? Must be a ton!

    • The part that Paul Ryan does not mention when he brings his Mom to places like The Villages, a retirement community for wealthy people that is as red as you can get, or when he mentions her during speeches on MEDICARE, is that she spends her Winters in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, one of the most expensive cities in Florida, and that SS benefits would not even cover the the maintenance fees.
      There is nothing wrong with being rich, but trying to convince impressionable seniors by pretending that she depends on Social Security for sustenance, is as deceiving as most Republican policies. To his credit, he has not yet mentioned bread wrappings so, I guess, it could get a lot worse.

  7. Social justice? Well, that’s nice, but maybe frosting on the cake. The main course is simply economic viability, making sure people have enough money to sustain an economy. Not much point in keeping wages low if they’re not enough to buy what the economy is producing.

  8. The entire republican party is now the home of rich people’s whores. They get away with it because the working middle class have become emotionally distracted infants who stare mesmerized at distractions like gun rights and pointless flag parades celebrating meaningless, endless, and unwinnable military ventures. Addicted to brain-dead television, celebrity worship and mega-corp sports, we will hand over our pensions for a cheap thrill. The democrat party is not far behind, but that is only because we, the electorate, are so mesmerized by those shiny baby toys. We don’t even show up to vote, (witness 2014), against the multinational corporate shills and their candidates.

  9. From the article – ‘Ryan’s envy claim…“Look,” he said on Meet the Press last Sunday, “the president has done two big rounds of tax increases…”‘

    Wha, wha, what? When the hell did this happen, because I never heard anything about tax increases?

    “The effect of crisis-era policy is clearly visible in the sharp drop in rates from 2007 to 2008, mostly from tax provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Tax rates hit rock bottom in 2009, right as the tea party movement was gaining steam.”
    In other words, taxes dropped to the lowest point in over 30 years (in part to stimulate the economy during the recession), and the slight incremental adjustments going back up (yet still at historic lows) equates to “two big rounds of tax increases”? Whatever he’s smoking, he needs to stop…or get out of politics because it’s apparent that he either can’t “brain” or he’s willfully ignorant (or lying…that’s always a possibility, too).

  10. Politics of envy…politics of greed: It’s fighting over scraps really. The little bit government can do improve the economics of the working poor living on the bubble would amount to a huge boost for the little red caboose that could which is American middle class worker. Politicians on both sides are playing hocus pocus abracadabra with real lives so as to justify their greed for power and influence and to win more and more power and influence. The only real fact here is the world economy has changed in such a way that things can run fairly well (very well for the top 5%) without a flourishing middle class: The American economy CAN grow without American workers in the greater part sharing in the growth. Politicians need populous energy so they perform on the stage of politicking to keep us distracted and confused while thinking we’re informed so they can achieve job security for doing very little that make any real difference for real people. I know some folks here are waiting for me to run off a list of particulars but haven’t we heard it all… just stop and think has anything in this country gotten better for real people under any administration in the last 20 years or have they gotten progressively worse under both!?? Here’ the punch line: we don’t have a single politician worth our complete faith…it’s all fantasy…smoke…mirrors…cloak and dagger. I’ve just realized to my greatest horror that I don’t have a horse in this political race…so sad! Before I close just two particulars that go straight to my point: 1.The dismantling verses the enhancement of healthcare reform and 2. Fast track authority for TPP (a winner for the BIG winners). How are these FANTASTIC agendas going to improve the average American’s life situation?

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