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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "paul ryan"

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What Went Unmentioned in the Vice Presidential Debate

October 11, 2012 ·

Biden and Ryan discuss Israel but ignore Palestine.

What remains missing on in the v-p debate is what Israel has gained from the debate — just the debate! — over Iran. That is, as long as Israel maintains its spurious claim that Iran represents an "existential threat" to Israel, no one — no one — especially in the United States, is willing to say a word, let alone exert real pressure, on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands and its apartheid policies towards Palestinian people. No one's talking about that.
 
On the substance of Iran, we once again saw an actual disagreement on Iran policy. We're still hearing about "red lines" for the use of force against Iran, but the red lines are in two different places. To his credit, Biden didn't reference a military strike or red lines directly, although he did say the Obama administration would not allow Iran "to get" a nuclear weapon. He went on to say that war should always be the last resort.
 
Ryan was different. He reinforced Romney's on-again-off-again red line, threatening force to prevent Iran from obtaining "nuclear capability" — which could mean today.

But once again — Israel's occupation, apartheid, settlements expansion, the siege of Gaza, Palestinian prisoners, violations of international law and human rights — not a word. We heard from Biden that "the last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East." But he sticks to the Obama plan — endorsed by Ryan as well — for maintaining the war through at least the end of 2014, when a "transition" to Afghan security would take place, with training, special ops, and other forces remaining in Afghanistan. No evidence of what might be different after another year and a half of war, instead of ending it right now, but nonetheless both parties agree on continuing a failed and devastating war.

And once again the drone war, militarization of U.S. policy in Africa... and Palestine, all remain unmentioned. The unspoken, indiscernable, invisible questions. And Palestine at the center.

A Winning Strategy: Voters in Upstate New York Rebuke Radicalism

May 26, 2011 ·

Earlier this year, New York’s 26th House district was left without representation following the resignation of conservative Republican congressman Chris Lee. You remember Lee. He was the congressman who was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had posted shirtless photos of himself, a married man, in the personals section Craigslist. In the bid to replace him were two conservatives, Republican Jane Corwin and Tea Partier Jack Davis. Also on the ticket was Democrat Kathy Hochul.

The 26th district is the most conservative House district in New York and one of the most reliably Republican districts in the nation. Indeed, it hasn’t elected a Democrat in half a century. Yet last night, Hochul, the Democrat, scored a victory. She did so by making the Republican effort to dismantle Medicare the central issue of the campaign.

The Ryan Budget gave Hochul a win and Democrats a celebration. Creative Commons photo by BuffaloPundit.

Medicare has been one of the most successful social programs in the history of the nation. It is a program that seniors desperately need. But the House budget committee chairman’s draconian budget proposal would dismantle Medicare, as we now know it. Today Medicare is a guaranteed healthcare insurance program for elderly Americans. Under the conservative plan, Medicare would be transformed from government guaranteed health insurance to a voucher-like program that would not cover the costs that many seniors will face when confronted with health problems. When Paul Ryan initially introduced his plan it was hailed as courageous and innovative by conservatives in the mainstream media. We were told that Ryan was being brave by starting a conversation. The voters in New York disagreed. They know that there is nothing courageous about cutting programs that help those in need. They know there is nothing brave about cutting taxes for the wealthy, while telling everyone else to fend for themselves.

The Republicans have now tried to claim that the Ryan budget was just a marker. Meaning that it is a starting point. This is utter nonsense. The entire House Republican conference, with the exception of four members, voted for the budget. They cannot just sweep their support for dismantling Medicare under the carpet. And there’s no hiding from their goal of forcing American seniors to pay more for deductibles and co-payments, as will inevitably happen when the cost of healthcare skyrockets and the premium support, offered in the conservative budget, fails to keep up with the rise.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that seniors would have to pay up to two-thirds of the cost for their insurance, as opposed to the 25 percent they pay now. No one should be surprised; the conservatives always seek, during tough economic times, to shift the onus to the elderly, middle-class, working class and poor, instead of to the economic elites — the ones who should be sacrificing the most during this sluggish economic recovery. If last night’s election was any indication, the American people are finally waking up to this reality. 

Juan Thompson is a student at Vassar College and a current intern at IPS. 

Finally, Obama's Talking about Taxing the Wealthy

April 14, 2011 ·

President Obama has broken through the silence about revenue in Washington's dominant budget and deficit debate.

 "At a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more," Obama said in a speech at Georgetown University on Wednesday. "I don't need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn't need another tax cut."

He lambasted the GOP budget proposal put forward by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires," he said.

In addition to reversing tax hikes on the wealthy, Obama made vague recommendations about closing loopholes, especially for high-income households. Unfortunately, he avoided the important issue of corporate tax dodging through off shore tax havens.

"Unnecessary Austerity," the IPS report I recently co-authored , questions the assumption that budget cuts are the only path to fiscal health. Instead, we argue, Congress should focus on reversing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — and closing tax loopholes and overseas tax havens that enable corporations to shrink their tax bills.

The United States is far from broke. The problem is that wealth and income have become concentrated in the hands of the richest 1 percent of Americans and our largest multinational corporations. Yet over the last generation, we've greatly reduced taxes on the wealthy and global corporations.

For example, if the federal government taxed households with incomes over $1 million and big corporations at 1961 levels, the Treasury would collect an additional $716 billion a year, or $7 trillion over a decade. We've reduced the actual tax levy on millionaires by almost half during the past 50 years. In 1961, families with more than a million dollars of annual income paid 43 percent of their income in federal income taxes. This year, they will pay just 23 percent.

"I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me," Obama said. "They want to give back to their country, a country that's done so much for them. It's just Washington hasn't asked them to." His argument in favor of increasing tax rates for the wealthy is reinforced by a new call to action by Wealth for the Common Good and Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. Those groups encompass more than 100 millionaires calling on Congress to raise their taxes.

Obama has public opinion on his side. Polls show that the majority of voters would rather hike taxes on millionaires than slash spending. But some of his proposals — like reducing charitable and home mortgage interest deductions for millionaires — may encounter tough sledding. Those proposals will mobilize opposition from not only corporate lobbyist and a segment of the wealthy. They'll face the wrath of the second-home real estate lobby and charity advocates.

But one way or another, taxes on the top are going to rise in the coming two years.

Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity: A Redefinition of the Role of Government

April 5, 2011 ·

It is mindboggling to see Ryan’s budget being considered in its current form.  Although it is true that our current budget deficit is a serious problem that needs to be tackled (although I staunchly still believe that the unemployment crisis at hand should be priority numero uno), the fact that he can actually actively promote a plan to privatize Medicare shows that people’s views of the role of government are changing. And by expressing support for the plan proposed by Ryan, you are inherently supporting Ryan and his Tea Party-backed GOP’s view of a smaller, privatized government.

From my understanding, most people who support the privatization of government argue that the private sector is much more suited to providing services and goods to its people because they believe that the government is inefficient. In their view, social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security are plagued with excess, redundancy and waste and unnecessarily increasing our national debt.

Although it is true that entitlement spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security make up a lot of what our federal government spends annually, the rising costs of these programs are due to the fact that there are many Baby Boomers retiring, and a lot of these retirees are living longer. With 84 percent of wealth in this country controlled by the richest 20 percent, people can’t expect that a regressive payroll tax system is sufficient to support Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. A new revenue stream for these programs needs to be introduced if we want to keep these programs--and people want to keep these programs

Privatizing our social safety net is the opposite of what needs to be done to lower the costs of these programs and improve their efficiencies. Sure, by privatizing it, the government won’t need to pay a single dime for it, and we will all be seeing our income taxes decrease because it is not the taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for these programs. However, the Congressional Budget Office has shown that a complete privatization of Medicare (in the form introduced by Ryan) would increase the cost of health care for the poor and the elderly who are usually the beneficiaries of Medicare.

Furthermore, have people not been following all the nasty things that for-profit corporations are up to these days? Not only have many of these for-profit corporations like General Electric, Bank of America, and Verizon been tax dodging, contributing to the ever increasing federal debt, but it is exactly this for-profit mentality that has propelled Wall Street bankers to use people’s savings to invest in risky derivatives that has contributed to our current economic crisis.

I know these companies won’t be the ones responsible for providing health care and services if our social safety net is privatized, but for-profit corporations are driven by the same mentality of profit maximization no matter what industry they are in. These corporations have no national allegiance. Contributing to the common good is only a priority to them if it brings them more money.

A vote in support of Ryan’s plan is a vote indicating that private for-profit corporations are better suited at providing the basic needs for those who are most vulnerable. How can anybody seriously believe that is true? 

85 Percent? How Do You Figure, Mr. Ryan?

April 5, 2011 ·

Back in December, the co-chairs of the bipartisan President’s Deficit Reduction Commission liked their plan’s chances. One of their members was the current chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, and he promised that his committee’s budget blueprint would include 85% of the Commission’s recommendations.

Today we have that blueprint, and squint at it as hard as you might; you won’t find anything like that kind of math. The Commission laid down its “guiding principles,” such as:

  • “Don’t disrupt the fragile economic recovery” by cutting too soon. Cong. Ryan’s plan? Let the cutting begin. The deeper the better.
  • Cut and invest “in education, infrastructure, and high-value research and development … to make it easier for businesses to create jobs.” Cong. Ryan’s investment agenda? Nowhere in sight.
  • “Protect the truly disadvantaged.” By slashing Medicaid, Ryan? Really?!
  • “Cut spending we cannot afford—no exceptions.  We must end redundant, wasteful, and ineffective federal spending wherever we find it… including defense.” The commission laid out about $100 billion in military cuts. Cong. Ryan’s plan follows Defense Secretary Gates’  so-called ‘cuts.’ As I wrote when the President’s budget came out, they are not cuts. They slow the projected growth in Gates’ budget, to the tune of $15 billion a year, on average. Attacking the discretionary budget and giving about half of its total—defense--a nearly-free pass is like is like making a cake and leaving out the flour.

This despite the Government Accountability Office’s accounting of $70 billion in new Pentagon waste in the last two years alone. Despite the fact that the U.S. and its NATO allies outspend the rest of the world’s militaries by a factor of two; that the U.S. military alone outspends its nearest competitor, China, by at least six times. That the combined militaries of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria spend less than one percent of what our military spends.

Despite the fact that support in his own party for putting military spending on the cutting table includes, for starters, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the tea party base, Rep. Ryan saw fit to exclude it almost entirely.

If this is 85% agreement, what would disagreement have looked like?

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