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Thread: Ryan's plan a step -- but in wrong direction

  1. #1
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Ryan's plan a step -- but in wrong direction

    By Aaron E. Carroll, Special to CNNApril 8, 2011 8:11 a.m. EDT

    (CNN) -- This week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his "Path to Prosperity" budget proposal and made some bold claims about what it would do. He said it would bring spending and the deficit under control while stimulating the economy to recover from the recession with amazing speed.

    The Wisconsin Republican deserves credit for producing a proposal that can be scored and debated. Nobody should be demonized for offering ideas.

    But Ryan shouldn't be lionized either. Some of his claims are hard to believe. He maintains that his plan will reduce employment in 2015 to 4%, a stunning figure. This is especially odd given that the Federal Reserve might consider that level of unemployment too low and fight against it.

    Moreover, since there are at least 150 million people in the potential U.S. work force, reducing unemployment in the next year by more than 2% would mean adding more than 3 million new jobs. I've not seen any other economist who claims this is possible, let alone sustainable.

    Ryan also proposes changes to Medicare that are major, not minor. Medicare today is essentially a defined-benefit program, meaning that everyone using it knows exactly what benefits they are going to get. Every year, the government figures out how much it will cost to provide those benefits, and it pays the bills.

    Ryan is proposing a defined contribution plan. Everyone would get vouchers to buy private insurance. Voucher amounts would be set to rise at a rate far below the historical rate of increase in health care costs, meaning that more of the cost will fall on the shoulders of senior citizens each year. His hope is that this will force costs down. The more likely effect is that more and more senior citizens will find adequate insurance unaffordable.

    One more thing -- Ryan's changes affect only those who are now 55 or younger. Everyone else still gets traditional Medicare. This means that younger Americans will have to pay for their elders' potentially better and cheaper insurance but will not get it themselves.

    Make no mistake, this is a fundamental shift in Medicare.

    As deep as his proposed Medicare cuts are, those for Medicaid are far deeper. Ryan has recommended that Medicaid be first converted into a block grant program and then reduced. The block grants would allow states to do whatever they want. Some might cut the benefits or reduce Medicaid in other ways. But with reduced funding, it's easy to imagine what will happen to benefits. They will have to go down, or physician reimbursement will.

    Medicaid is already underfunded. Ryan describes Medicaid as "welfare," but it's not close to what we traditionally think of welfare. More than half of Medicaid spending goes to the disabled or to senior citizens who are so poor they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. These people are not "out of work." Many are very sick or institutionalized. Most of the rest are children or pregnant women. Cutting their benefits won't make them more productive.

    And as some complain about how many physicians are refusing to accept Medicaid now, is there anyone who thinks that more of them will do so once funding is reduced and reimbursement goes down? This isn't a fix.

    It's important not merely to point out the flaws of others, however, but to offer counterproposals. Here, the media have missed the target. Other proposals exist but have not gotten nearly the amount of attention that Ryan's has. In the interest of practicing what I preach, here are a few:

    For Medicare reform, we could consider novel ways to cut spending, such as reducing fraud, permitting Medicare to negotiate as a program for lower drug prices or even consider some form of competitive bidding. For Medicaid, we could also start with fraud reduction. And that doesn't even include nonhealth-related measures, such as allowing the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy to expire or engaging in targeted reductions in discretionary spending, including subsidies to numerous industries and interest groups.

    These are not my ideas; others have proposed them before. Where Ryan deserves praise is for making his proposal official. He has made it concrete, in his name and in public. If other politicians disagree with his proposals, they need to advocate their own -- in their name and in public. Failing to do so, and merely attacking Ryan, may work politically but will not reduce the deficit. Ryan has caused the debate to begin in earnest. It's time for other politicians to join.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Aaron E. Carroll.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/04/0...ss_igoogle_cnn

    This guy belongs on Fox News as he is fair and balanced!! Not only that, but he appears to use common sense and logic!!

  2. #2
    Atypical is offline

    Paul Ryan's "Adult" Budget

    By David Corn

    Thu Apr. 7, 2011 12:01 AM PDT

    Google "Paul Ryan budget serious," and you'll be swamped with 22 million results. Add the word "adult," and 239,000 results will appear. There's been much musing within the politerati that the Wisconsin Republican's proposed 2012 budget, which was released on Tuesday and would slash Medicaid and privatize Medicare, is not helpful for Republicans during the high-stakes showdown over spending cuts and a possible government shutdown. But within elite opinion, Rep. Ryan, the influential and wonky chairman of the House budget committee, has won perhaps the most vaunted accolade in Washington: "adult."

    MSNBC talk-show host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP House member, hailed Ryan's "adult conversation." Time's Joe Klein praised Ryan's proposal as "an act of political courage" (while taking sharp issue with specific provisions). The subhead on Jacob Weisberg's review of the plan in Slate noted that it's "brave, radical, and smart." Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who recently chaired a national commission on the deficit, called Ryan's budget "a serious, honest, straightforward approach to addressing our nation's enormous fiscal challenges."

    Yet how courageous is it to whack poor folks and promote tax cuts that favor the wealthy? That's the core of Ryan's budget. Even deficit hawks like Bowles and Simpson recognize this. In the same statement touting Ryan's endeavor, the two declare that Ryan's plan
    relies on much larger reductions in domestic discretionary spending than does the Commission proposal, while also calling for savings in some safety net programs—cuts which would place a disproportionately adverse effect on certain disadvantaged populations.

    Here's the bottom line: In conventional Washington, squeezing the poor, while boosting the rich, is not considered a nonstarter.

    Ryan's budget has received plenty of attention for the provisions that would turn Medicaid into a block grant program that would provide limited grants to states (thus ending any guarantee of coverage for the poor) and would transform Medicare into a privatized system controlled by insurance companies (thus ending any guarantee of coverage for the elderly). Less discussed—especially by Ryan!—is the part of his plan that would implement a massive regressive tax cut. As Jonathan Chait points out: "He cuts Medicare and other vital programs in order to finance a huge tax cut for people who don't really need it. That's the point Republicans don't want to defend but should be forced to."

    Ryan contends that his proposed revisions to Medicare and Medicaid—that is, cuts—are necessary to save these critical programs. But these cuts and revisions are necessary to finance his major tax cut for the well-to-do. His plan, then, is intellectually dishonest at its core. Which doesn't seem very adult.

    The basics are not debatable. Kaiser Health News reports that "seniors and the disabled would pay sharply more for their Medicare coverage" under Ryan's proposal. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that two-thirds of the $4.3 trillion cuts in Ryan's plan come from low-income programs, while the Bush bonus tax cuts for high-income Americans are made permanent and estate taxes for the super-rich are ended. People with incomes over $1 million would be handed an average tax cut of $125,000 a year. As the CPBB observes,

    Taken together, its proposals would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.

    How adult.

    Ryan is indeed breaking new ground…in brazenness. He is boldly (bravely?) reinforcing the fundamental stereotype of Republicans: Screw the poor, aid the rich. This plan is a full embrace of his inner Republican. Though it may be politically gutsy to call for altering a popular program like Medicare, it is hardly courageous to mug the poor and the elderly to underwrite a tax bonanza for the wealthy. The hosannas Ryan is receiving reveal the perverted perspective of much of the political class. He has declared class warfare on the have-nots. And for that, he is admired.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011...n-adult-budget

    _____________________________________________
    It is important to debate new ideas - if they have merit. And if they don't, exposure and ridicule should follow. Not all opinions (Ryan's) have substance, and, as shown in the article above, are covers for subversive actions.

    This article has another point - a very important one - very important. The media shows respect for many things that do not deserve it. They practice a false equivalancy; to wit: each side has merit - so we have to debate them equally. This posture is to avoid being accused of 'bias' or 'favoritism'. It is a position identical to that of creationists, who argue that 'intelligent design' deserves equal discussion with evolution in a science class. The MSM is afraid of criticism and therefore provides cover for bullshit and stupid proposals. This needs to stop!

    I'll wait.
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-08-2011 at 05:49 PM.

  3. #3
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    "It is important to debate new ideas - if they have merit. And if they don't, exposure and ridicule should follow. Not all opinions have substance, and some, as shown in the article above, are covers for subversive actions.

    This article has another point - a very important one - very important. The media shows respect for many things that do not deserve it. They practice a false equivalancy; to wit: each side has merit - so we have to debate them equally. This posture is to avoid being accused of 'bias' or 'favoritism'. It is a position identical to that of creationists, who argue that 'intelligent design' deserves equal discussion with evolution in a science class. The MSM is afraid of criticism and therefore provides cover for bullshit and stupid proposals. This needs to stop!

    I'll wait."

    Positive proof of bias and idealism, " if they have merit. And if they don't, exposure and ridicule should follow" based on your judgement. Really now? If Atypical says it is meritless, then we should ridicule it. I'm laughing. Seriously, you can "deem" an opinion to have no substance? Sounds really arrogant.

    And please stop using Mother Jones articles. For those who may think this is an objective article, please read about Mother Jones right here: http://motherjones.com/about.

  4. #4
    Atypical is offline

    House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's Goal Is to

    Shrink Government, Not the Deficit

    Any rational proposal to balance the federal budget would rely on a mix of spending
    reductions and revenue increases. But the House Republican budget plan relies on draconian
    and unrealistic spending cuts and actually reduces revenue.
    The plan is motivated not by a desire to balance the budget but rather by the ideological goal of reducing the size of government to something that would be unrecognizable to Americans today.

    The plan’s author, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, is intentionally vague about
    his plans to overhaul the tax system. That may be because his previous attempt to explain how he would reduce the top income tax rate to 25 percent made it clear that the result would be a big tax increase for all income groups except the richest ten percent.

    If Balanced Budget Is the Goal, Why Reduce Revenue?

    When President Obama’s fiscal commission proposed to use spending cuts to achieve
    two-thirds of its deficit reduction goal and revenue increases for just one-third, many analysts
    and lawmakers found this to be unbalanced and unfair. But Congressman Paul Ryan, who sat
    on that commission, voted against the plan, which was supported by a majority of members,
    because it dared to raise any revenue at all.

    Now Rep. Ryan, as the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, has put forward his
    own budget resolution which actually reduces revenue by trillions of dollars.2 He would cut
    spending by even more, so that the net result would be a smaller budget deficit — but this is
    clearly ancillary to his main goal, which is shrinking the government. After all, if the goal is
    simply to balance the budget, then surely revenues would be increased rather than slashed.
    Rep. Ryan says his plan would reduce spending by $6.2 trillion and reduce revenue by $1.8
    trillion, compared to President Obama’s budget plan. Of course, both plans would sharply
    reduce revenue. President Obama would make permanent most of the Bush tax cuts while Rep.

    Ryan would make permanent all of the Bush tax cuts. Ryan’s extension of the Bush tax cuts
    even for the richest two percent of taxpayers would reduce revenue by about $700 billion over a decade compared to the President’s plan.

    Ryan’s plan vaguely calls for tax reform, but insists
    that the resulting tax system should collect revenue equal only to “between 18 and 19 percent” of gross domestic product (GDP). Over the past half century, the only balanced
    federal budgets have occurred when tax revenues were far higher than that.
    Note that spending as a share of GDP was over 22 percent under President Reagan, and that was before we were facing the retirement of the baby-boomers, exploding health care costs, and multiple military engagements in the Middle East.

    Ryan would also repeal the revenue-raisers in the health care reform law. (Remember that the
    Congressional Budget Office concluded that because of these revenue-raisers, the health care
    reform law will reduce the deficit.)

    How Rep. Ryan addresses health care is telling. His plan would repeal $725 billion in subsidies
    under the health care reform law that will enable 34 million Americans to get health insurance
    coverage, while keeping in place the law’s cost savings, which Republicans had earlier
    criticized as intolerable. Ryan’s plan would slash Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars
    and block grant it to the states, and would replace Medicare with a voucher program. As a
    result, the share of health costs that typical seniors would have to pay out of pocket would
    more than double.

    The Ryan plan cuts many other public services even more severely. The Center on Budget and
    Policy Priorities finds that, during the first decade, two thirds of the spending cuts would come from services for people of limited means, like Medicaid, Pell grants, food stamps, and low income housing assistance.

    Why Congressman Ryan Doesn’t Explain How He Would Reduce Tax Rates

    The plan’s call for tax reform is very vague, but is also very telling. It calls for eliminating or
    reducing tax expenditures (loopholes and special breaks in the tax code that are the equivalent
    of spending) and for using the savings to offset reductions in income tax rates for individuals
    and corporations. The top rate for both would be 25 percent. The details as to how exactly
    this would be done are not stated.

    There is a very specific reason why Rep. Ryan doesn’t want to offer details about his tax
    overhaul. Last year, when he offered a budget plan that would allow individuals to pay income taxes at a top rate of 25 percent and repeal the corporate income tax, he offset much of the costs with a regressive value-added tax (VAT).

    Citizens for Tax Justice analyzed the tax components of that plan and found that, on average,
    taxpayers among the richest ten percent would pay less in taxes while taxpayers among the
    bottom 90 percent would pay more. We also found that the plan would reduce revenues by
    $2 trillion over ten years.
    We noted that it’s difficult to conceive of a plan that raises taxes on so many taxpayers while still losing $2 trillion, but that’s exactly what Ryan’s plan did.

    The truth is that it is very difficult to lower the top income tax rate to 25 percent and offset
    the costs simply by eliminating or reducing tax expenditures. That’s why Ryan’s previous plan
    relied on a regressive VAT, and he probably (correctly) decided his new plan would seem more appealing if he left that detail out of it.

    U.S. One of the Least Taxed Developed Countries

    Given that Americans are taxed less than residents of almost any developed country on Earth, there is no reason why revenue increases cannot be part of the solution to our budget deficit.

    As data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) make
    clear, the combined taxes levied by federal, state and local governments in the United States
    are among the lowest in the developed world. Only two OECD countries have lower taxes, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) than the United States.

    In 2008, total federal, state and local taxes in the United States were 26.2 percent of our gross domestic product, ranking 25th among the 27 OECD countries for which the most recent data is available.

    Only Turkey (23.5 percent) and Mexico (20.4 percent) had lower taxes.

    The fact that Rep. Ryan believes that revenue increases have no role in balancing the budget of one of the least-taxed developed countries demonstrates just how ideological and wrongheaded his plan is.

    http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/d...OiFtg0qguZT2hw

    __________________________________________________ __
    Sources at link.
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-08-2011 at 06:29 PM.

  5. #5
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Another "objective" progressive web site LOL - http://www2.democracyinaction.org/?reference=About DIA.

    Talk about "ideological". I guess YOUR choice of media is correct, and the rest of us are just plain stupid. Please, ridicule us. We are not to be substantiated.
    Last edited by SiriuslyLong; 04-09-2011 at 08:57 AM.

  6. #6
    Atypical is offline

    Brain Structure Differs in Liberals, Cconservatives: Study

    By Agence France-Presse
    Thursday, April 7th, 2011 -- 3:55 pm

    WASHINGTON — Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

    Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.

    "We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

    Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

    "Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place.

    "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

    The study was based on 90 "healthy young adults" who reported their political views on a scale of one to five from very liberal to very conservative, then agreed to have their brains scanned.

    People with a large amygdala are "more sensitive to disgust" and tend to "respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions," the study said.

    Liberals are linked to larger anterior cingulate cortexes, a region that "monitor(s) uncertainty and conflicts," it said.

    "Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."

    It remains unclear whether the structural differences cause the divergence in political views, or are the effect of them.

    But the central issue in determining political views appears to revolve around fear and how it affects a person.

    "Our findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty," the study said.

    _________________________________________
    There have been other, recent, peer reviewed studies, showing the same.

    Read 'Conservatives Without Conscience' for additional evidence from a, gasp, Republican, John Dean.
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-08-2011 at 10:58 PM.

  7. #7
    Atypical is offline

    Ryan’s Plan Neither Serious nor Courageous

    By Joe Conason

    What the meteoric career of Paul Ryan demonstrates is how easily impressed we are whenever a politician purports to restore solvency by punishing the poor and the elderly (while coddling the rich). The Wisconsin Republican congressman’s fiscal plan has won rave reviews from both the usual right-wing suspects and some self-styled centrists, who have praised him and his proposals as “serious,” “courageous” and even “uplifting.”

    By now, however, those who have actually examined the Ryan plan with care and competence know that those acclamations are highly exaggerated, which is probably a far too polite description.

    If a serious budget is a budget that eventually curtails deficits and reduces the national debt within the foreseeable future, the Ryan plan is a joke—as the most casual reader ought to be able to understand. His own published version of the plan doesn’t offer any real estimates past a decade from now, when he still anticipates a substantial deficit. Beyond that, he cites Congressional Budget Office numbers that indicate the budget will at last achieve balance in the year 2040—or more than a quarter-century from today.

    To accept that projection, unfortunately, requires us to simultaneously accept Ryan’s utterly preposterous prediction that unemployment during the next 10 years will drop to 2.8 percent. As the economic sages at the Motley Fool point out, that is a fantastic claim, far below the normal unemployment rate of roughly 6 percent.

    Should that kind of meteoric growth indeed occur over the coming decade, there would probably be no need to contemplate the cuts in spending and entitlements now contemplated by both Democrats and Republicans. Happy days would truly be here again. But the conservative Heritage Foundation, whose economists first calculated those wildly optimistic numbers for Ryan, has not been able to substantiate them—and in fact have now erased the figure from its website.

    In other words, the same economists who formulated the numbers behind the Ryan budget have withdrawn their fundamental assertion, undermining his entire proposal.

    For a budget to be serious, it would also have to finance basic national needs that must be met for us to remain economically competitive. At a minimum, those include massive repairs and rebuilding of the crumbling infrastructure—from roads, bridges, ports, and airports to the communications and electrical grids—as well as education and the environment.

    But the Ryan plan envisions devastating reductions in infrastructure, education and environmental spending, with cuts as high as 70 percent. Robert Greenstein, of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities—a respected expert who would never dream of fraudulently projecting 2.8 percent unemployment—says that Ryan’s budget would ultimately defund all government functions except for defense (and drastically diminished Medicare and Social Security payments). In what sense is that a serious or responsible plan?

    So the Ryan plan isn’t really serious, but is it courageous and uplifting? Only if slashing services for low-income Americans and denying Medicare to tens of millions of older people is somehow brave and inspirational—and only if courage is defined by doling out still more tax cuts to the country’s wealthiest families (like the construction magnates in the Ryan family).

    Greenstein calculates that at least two-thirds of the cuts proposed by Ryan would have to come from programs for people with low and moderate incomes, including food stamps, Pell grants, housing and Medicaid. Meanwhile, he would literally ask nothing from the rich or corporate special interests, except perhaps to cash their enormous tax refund checks with a smile. Moreover, he would exempt one group from his scheme to abolish Medicare, which just happens to be the voters now over 55 years old who are the most reliable Republicans.

    What might be truly courageous for a Republican politician, of course, would be to urge sacrifice from his party’s rich contributors as well as from the poor and the middle class. That would be the start of serious budgeting, too.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/...eous_20110408/

  8. #8
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atypical View Post
    By Agence France-Presse
    Thursday, April 7th, 2011 -- 3:55 pm

    WASHINGTON — Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

    Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.

    "We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

    Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

    "Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place.

    "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

    The study was based on 90 "healthy young adults" who reported their political views on a scale of one to five from very liberal to very conservative, then agreed to have their brains scanned.

    People with a large amygdala are "more sensitive to disgust" and tend to "respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions," the study said.

    Liberals are linked to larger anterior cingulate cortexes, a region that "monitor(s) uncertainty and conflicts," it said.

    "Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."

    It remains unclear whether the structural differences cause the divergence in political views, or are the effect of them.

    But the central issue in determining political views appears to revolve around fear and how it affects a person.

    "Our findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty," the study said.

    _________________________________________
    There have been other, recent, peer reviewed studies, showing the same.

    Read 'Conservatives Without Conscience' for additional evidence from a, gasp, Republican, John Dean.
    I totally believe it, and have suggested it in the past - regardless of the indicated conclusion.

  9. #9
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    About Truthdig, "Truthdig is a news Web site that provides expert coverage of current affairs as well as a variety of thoughtful, provocative content assembled from a progressive point of view."

    Hmmmmmm, any trend here? A progressive posting progressive articles from progessive media outlets and definitively claiming "it's the truth." Seems suspect at best, but the guy (that's an assumption), does have good taste in music.
    Last edited by SiriuslyLong; 04-09-2011 at 09:34 AM.

  10. #10
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    I have to laugh. I'm reading about the "compromise" to keep government funded, and here both the extreme dems and repub's are bitching about their own party giving in.

    You can find it all here: http://thehill.com/

    Just straight up news - not assembled from any point of view.
    Last edited by SiriuslyLong; 04-09-2011 at 09:37 AM.

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