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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paul Ryan Is The Straw Man's Shadow




“Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes. So we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America..." -- Paul Ryan

It wasn't too long ago when Paul Ryan used to say that Social Security didn't return enough to participants and that we would be better off putting our money in the privately held capital markets. He painted us as "suckers" without ever saying it. That advice dates back to the time when Ryan was trying to make George W. Bush's scheme to privatize Social Security more attractive. But 2008 happened. Soon after and coinciding with the election of Barack Obama, he flipped directions and flopped on the demand side of Social Security. Ryan now says most folks are getting too good of a return on what they put into Social Security and then frames recipients as the "takers."

So which way do we go?

“The good news is, most people in America don’t want to be a ‘taker,’ they want to be American, they want to be a ‘maker’.” -- Paul Ryan

It's bad enough he framed the 60 percent as "takers," but then he takes them into McCarthy country by demonizing that majority (as he perceives them) as "not American."

There's no running away from that sort of talk and it certainly can't be dismissed as an urban legend.

"But we don't want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives." -- Paul Ryan

The stuff just never ends with this guy. But finally, after years of careful construction by Paul Ryan, who by the way is considered the GOP's grand architect of strawmen and scapegoats, walks in President Barack Obama with his 2013 inauguration speech. A speech that not only shook Paul Ryan's dark Atlas Shrugged ideology, but the entire conservative world to its very core.

"The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great." -- President Barack Obama

Whoa! That was dropping a bomb on Ayn Rand, but I couldn't agree more. In my view, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have always been near the very top of American exceptionalism. Paul Ryan just HAD to say something in response.

Ryan said earned entitlements such as Social Security — where you pay your payroll taxes during your working life to get a benefit when you retire — are “not taker programs."

What?? But that is simply and precisely what the President said during his inaugural address. So, why the flip-flop yet again? Of course Obama went even further when he said those programs strengthen us as a nation. Yet it was not Obama who "switched" his understanding and position on entitlements for the sake of argument, it was none other than Paul Ryan.

Politico Excerpt:
“When the president does kind of a switcheroo like that, what he’s trying to say is that we are maligning these programs that people have earned throughout their working lives,” he said. “So it’s kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadowbox a straw man in order to win an argument by default.”

Obama is not alone in this. We are all jousting with the shadows of straw men when dealing with Paul Ryan. There is no way the congressman could possibly think Americans are stupid enough to believe his response in the face of all the evidence. The only logical conclusion here is Ryan has some serious, serious issues upstairs, if you know what I mean.

ADDITIONAL STORIES:

Political Environment - The Sky Fell Yesterday On The Conservative World

Mother Jones - Paul Ryan Changes His Story on "Makers and Takers"

New York Mag - Paul Ryan Sad That Obama Quoted Ryan Correctly (Jonathan Chait)

DailyKos - Here's why Paul Ryan is the perfect guy to deliver the GOP rebuttal to the president's inaugural.

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