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Monday, April 29, 2013

Report: Paul Ryan's Janesville Listening Session

One word. Boring.

Congressman Paul Ryan's so-called "listening session" in Janesville was as uneventful and boring as the congressman himself. With around 70 constituents in attendance not counting security, staffing and media, Ryan came across sounding tired and monotonous using his old ideological templates of debt-fear and tax reform to spur economic growth.

One chart he presented, which I haven't seen before, showed interest on past debt as the greatest driver of future debt and Social Security as the least. This in turn prompted one constituent to ask why Social Security is included on the debt chart at all since the program has it's own dedicated funding source. Ryan went on to talk about how Congress is cashing in some of the IOUs to pay current beneficiaries and this is expected to get only worse. He did admit that Social Security is one of the most stable programs in the federal government.

No one seemed to pay any attention to the greatest driver - interest on past debt - that Reagan, Ryan and Norquist are largely responsible for. The congressman did say his tax reform will balance the budget and even PAY DOWN the debt. I won't even go there right now.

Another constituent asked Ryan what has he done in Congress so far for closing tax loopholes and what are his future plans for closing them. Ryan immediately said that's what his tax reform in his budget accomplishes. He didn't answer the exact question of course, but it left me wondering that since "tax reform" wasn't needed to open tax loopholes, why is it needed to close them?

Another constituent asked Ryan if he would have voted in favor of the gun background check bill that failed in the Senate. Ryan said he would NOT vote for it because he thinks, A) it was poorly written and B) it would lead to a national gun registry. In another question about banning employers from retrieving passwords of job applicants and employee's social media accounts, Ryan said he voted against it because there are laws already on the books protecting those privacy rights and that particular bill would not accomplish what it was hyped up to be. And on and on.

In the end, Ryan looks like he's just buying time hoping his shtick can hold up for another year or two under the eye of public scrutiny, but judging by the light turn-out from his hometown - I don't think so.


Jeff Simpson said...

Will someone, preferably an actual reporter, ask him what he has changed now that the research he has based his austerity budget on has been debunked!!! Please!

Lou Kaye said...

Hey Jeff. You're right, no one asked him about Tom Herndon's report. But you probably know as well as I that Ryan most likely has a semantically-based strawman and scapegoat response ready to go. At the listening session, Ryan ended one conversation about his debt-built-budget-fearmongering by claiming that he hopes - for everyone's sake - that he's wrong.

Jeff Simpson said...

Well his hopes have been a 28 year old grad student. Now someone just needs to let him know!

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