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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”.


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.

22 Responses

  1. I accidentally heard a few seconds of the talking head shows on Sunday as we flipped by looking for something less stressful.

    And I caught someone asking Ryan about his plans in the most gracious, generous and interested tone of voice. It was bizarre — Ryan’s plans are so dangerous … the idea that we should consider exchanging Medicare for a system of vouchers is disgusting!!

    And THIS in a week when Bernie Sanders introduced such wonderful details in his Medicare for Everyone plan.

    (The Truck System is interesting … I hadn’t thought of vouchers as truck … but of course they are.)

    • Medicare vouchers are truck when you consider all of the money you pay in taxes for medicare over your working lifespan. Those taxes are your wages set aside for your medical expenses during retirement. Then, when you need the coverage, they give you a voucher and the only place you can spend it is on the open market where the cost of insurance is pretty much unregulated. Not only that but the older you get, the costlier insurance is. So, not only do you get a voucher that is much less than you anticipated, you have to pay much more money for a policy during the period in your life when you’re least likely to be able to work to make up the difference.
      It’s a no win situation for the retiree. The insurance market will make out like bandits because the buyer has no other choice. There’s no public option or Tricare system to buy into.
      It’s truck.

      • It’s crazy to think about…. They decided as part of the (so-called) Affordability Act that as we get older the insurance companies can charge us more and more and more…. Can you just imagine what the open-market charge for health insurance for an 85 year old? OMG…. There isn’t a voucher big enough to cover her!!

        • What Ryan’s backers really fear is Medicare putting limits on treatments and procedures that are unnecessary and chewing up money at a fast clip. Notice who *isn’t* being asked to sacrifice.
          Countries with successful health policies may end up with quite different plans but they have certain things in common: it has to be universal, no one can opt out of it, insurance company profits are capped and costs are controlled at the provider end as well as the consumer end. By those criteria, we’re doin’ it rong.

          • I hate to say this but they put me through procedures that are totally unnecessary just because the medicare insurance pays for it. I hate to say there is so much slush in it that I close my eyes to it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it nor do I want them to take it away. But people being what they are mostly in this culture, they will abuse it.

            Awwww. It’s Foucault’s power/knowledge/capital grid all over again so what else is new. All this is just deterrence but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to get really hurt.

          • Yep, as long as there are no rules to keep things fair and economical, people will abuse it. That means providers and consumers.

  2. Outstanding post. May I quote a few lines?

  3. well somebody better come up with a plan soon.
    they hit the ceiling yesterday 🙂

  4. Great post. And if anybody wants to know what the cost would be for an insurance plan at 60 years old I can tell you. Our Kaiser plan with a 5K deductible was going to be 24K a year when my husband and I go over 60. I saw that and said well, we’ll just have to do without insurance when we reach 60. Now you know that there’s no way Ryan is going to cut me a check for 24K to cover those insurance costs up front. So people will be forced to either not have insurance or have worthless junk insurance which doesn’t do much at all.

    • 24 thousand dollars EVERY year (and probably rising as you age!!) is outrageous! And a 5,000 deductible would mean that you’d have to cough up 30,000 before you got any assistance.

      OMG. We live in evil, evil days.

      • It can’t last. There’s no fricking way. I see several things happening: the self-financed retirement system based on the 401k is going to fail, shareholders are going to realize that the only full-time employees they have left are clueless MBAs who can’t innovate to save their lives and the political environment is ripe for someone to come out of the woodwork and snap up a lot of angry voters.
        I hope he or she is not a secret inseminator or psychopath but politics tends to attract the latter who then turn into the former.
        BTW, Maria knew. What a fricking hypocrite.

        • It’s not going to last. That’s why the ACA was such a huge mistake. It just delays the inevitable.

          I’ve been making the point about the angry working class voters for quite a while now. It seems that neither the GOP or Obama can do that. I guess we’ll just have to wait until 2016 to get a President that speaks to the middle class in this country.

  5. Until Bernie Sanders has behind him the same upstart power as the Tea Party, we will continue to spiral down to a feudal system. The gap between the rich and the rest ( of us ) has never been wider and it has never widened so quickly.
    Until Bernie Sanders is hoisted up on our shoulders, things are not going to get any better.

    Until we stop the MSM from selling hogwash as news and playing such a horse race with our politics, then we have no hope of ever seeing a better world.

    Why can’t Bernie Sanders get elected President?
    Because he will be marginalized and anyone suggesting such a thing would be laughed at, but to me, he is one of the very few out there who actually has a plan that is common sense and he speaks the truth.

    I guess I am a socialist too.

  6. Elegant post, RD. Righteous!


  7. I agree. I think Bernie Sanders is our only hope and the only one articulate enough to tell the truth about what is happening. While republicans seem to have a well precticed mantra to delude the public, democrats like our president seem to have no message clear enough to bring about hope or changes that would benefit the general public.

    • “Democrats like our president” are de facto Repubicans. There is no Democratic leadership because those who occupy the top positions in the party are not Democrats. Or democrats, for that matter.

    • You know, I would vote for Bernie sanders but as far as I know, there is absolutely no indication that he will run. Plus, he freely admits to being a socialist independent. Not that I have any problem with that. But it does make one wonder what the Fox addled average voter is going to think. He’d have to run as an independent and put his version of socialism in perspective, it can be done, I think. But he won’t get any help from the media or the big money.
      Still, stranger things have happened. Personally, i think the person most likely to succeed and get people motivated Is Hillary Clinton. If she ever decides to run, the left who hate her have just about marginalized themselves by now. The rest of the country wouldn’t have a problem with her. She’s more of an FDR style democrat and she’s not tainted by the socialism label. She’s also sufficiently hawkish for many republicans
      and she now has a ton of executive experience. In fact, she’s overqualified.

      • Very true about the left. That’s the one good thing Obama has done: he has shown that this group of people should NEVER be allowed to pick another Presidential candidate again.

  8. that letter behind their name don’t mean nothing anymore 👿

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