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Tuesday: Paul Ryan and Class Envy

Remote Area Medical (RAM) in the Los Angeles Sports Arena, April 2010

Wha?  Huh?

In a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago Monday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested President Obama and Ryan’s Democratic critics are “sowing social unrest and class envy” by pushing a tax increase on the wealthiest individuals in order to help address the deficit and debt.

“The president says that only the richest people in America would be affected by his plan,” Ryan said, arguing that “class warfare may be clever politics, but it is terrible economics.”

Ryan complained that Mr. Obama wants to increase the top tax rate to 44.8 percent. The president has pushed for an increase in the top marginal tax rate for families making over $250,000 per year from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

“Sowing social unrest and class envy makes America weaker, not stronger,” the Wisconsin Republican argued, suggesting the “true sources of inequity” in America are corporate welfare and empty promises.

He said the “real class warfare” that threatens Americans is “a class of governing elites picking winners and losers, and determining our destinies for us.”

Is that so?  BTW, no one who goes into science does it for the money as far as I can tell.  Even the inventors of blockbuster drugs lead pretty modest lives.  If they haven’t been “Pfizered”.

I like the other Paul’s take on Ryan’s Class Warfare remarks:

Actually, for the most part critics of his plan haven’t focused on the distributional issues so much as on the nonsense he’s talking; they’ve been playing the arithmetic card, not the class warfare card. But yes, the Ryan plan does impose huge sacrifice on the poor and the middle class, while cutting taxes on the rich and corporations.

And this is, of course, the game conservatives have played over and over again since Reagan. Without exception, their policy proposals call for sacrifice on the part of most people, but lavish tax cuts on high incomes — and when you point this out, they yell “class warfare”.

and…

On one side, we have a steady barrage of articles about how it would be cruel to raise taxes on everyone making more than 250K, even though that puts you in the top 2 percent of the income distribution, because 250K isn’t really rich.

And on the other side we have confident assertions that we can curb entitlement spending by means-testing, by not giving full Social Security and Medicare benefits to people who don’t really need them.

And by and large the people saying these two things are the same people.

So apparently the universe of people so affluent that they don’t need Medicare is a large segment of the population, while the universe of people who can afford to pay even slightly higher taxes is a tiny segment.

Oh, Kay.

Pretty much.  Too bad that a target audience soaked in messaging has a dysfunctional logic board.

I’m not sure where Ryan’s going with this “class envy” thing but recently, I have gotten really nostalgic for the 70’s, minus the bad fashion and avocado and gold color schemes.  I grew up in an America where you could own a house and two cars on one measly income.  I can’t recall anyone in my family moping around resentful of the rich.  It would have been nice to have a college fund but it’s not like we were hungry, homeless or over our heads in debt.  Every kid had their own bedroom and we went to DisneyWorld on vacation a couple of times.  The rest of the time we went camping.  Ok, so we had a single color TV and every time the sucker went on the fritz, my dad would swear he wasn’t going to get it fixed so that we could all learn to enjoy each other’s company.

That lasted about 72 hours.

When people are losing their jobs and homes and are angry that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, like at the level they did when I was a kid, I’m pretty certain it’s not “class envy” they’re expressing.  It’s righteous indignation that they’re getting screwed by the bastards who aren’t even pretending anymore that tax cuts create jobs.

So, what do you call it when people have more money than they have had in generations and still want to stiff the little guy out of a decent wage because it just isn’t enough?  How come so many rich people see working people as parasites?  Don’t the rich have any manners? Weren’t they raised right?  Or are they just ‘ignorant’?

I’d call it incredibly selfish if it wasn’t also destructive.  A productive middle class and thriving entrepreneurship depends on some kind of insurance against catastrophic failure.  You can’t take risks or get really imaginative when you’re worried about feeding your kids.  But go ahead, Paul, let the grasshoppers eat everything in sight leaving nothing for the rest of us.  We’ll revisit this American economy in about 10 years and see if businesses are still able to function and grow without some significant compromises based on loyalty, conformity and corruption.

And what about Ryan’s plan to reintroduce the “truck system” via vouchers for Medicare? Truck systems have been outlawed in developed countries going all the way back to the 15th or 16th century but if Paul Ryan has his way, and Democrats give in, we’re going to see it reintroduced here in modern America.  It’s the most shameful thing I’ve ever seen.  Why isn’t Ryan being honest with taxpayers about the repercussions of dumping millions of seniors on the insurance market where they won’t be able to afford a decent policy?  That will mean more trips to the expensive emergency room and those unpaid bills will be passed on to taxpayers.  In 2008, unpaid hospitalization bills were passed onto New Jerseyans to the tune of $700 million dollars in hidden taxes per year.  And let’s not forget all of the future inheritances wiped out by debt caused by illness.

If anyone is practicing class warfare, it’s Ryan’s friends against US.

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