Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Paul Ryan should put Arkansas in play

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

ryanss.jpg
Ernie Dumas writes this week that Paul Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate would put Arkansas in play if issues mattered as much as President Obama's name, skin color, presumed foreign ancestry and such.

Start with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. What Ryan would do isn't pretty (though his own route to government employment was eased by his father's Social Security benefits) and would particularly harm people in a poor state like Arkansas. For starters:

Ryan was the father of President Bush’s short-lived effort in 2005 to privatize Social Security by diverting people’s payroll taxes into private accounts run by stockbrokers. Ryan would start by diverting only half the taxes. But Bush was a wuss and to Ryan’s dismay offered a weakened version, which soon went down in flames. Bush would say he regretted following Ryan’s advice at all; Ryan says he deeply regrets going along with all of Bush’s follies, from the wars to Medicare expansion, which together with tax cuts sent deficits into the stratosphere. But Social Security, the linchpin of socialism, remains Ryan’s main target.

Read on.

Mitt Romney’s bold selection of Paul Ryan, the author of the Ryan budget, as his running mate raises the question: Does that put Arkansas and its six electoral votes in play?

After all, if there is a full-bore debate on Ryan’s Roadmap for America, far more than half the people in the state could see that a Romney- Ryan-Republican government would change their lives for the worse by gutting programs that make their lives bearable.

But let’s not be absurd. Of course it will not put Arkansas in play. Nothing could do that—maybe if it were proved that a masked Barack Obama himself, disguised as a Navy Seal, had bounded up the stairs of Osama bin Laden’s compound that night in Abbottabad, ripped off his mask and shot the terrified old terrorist, or if the new running mates were caught in flagrante delicto in a bathroom scandal. Short of those, nothing.

Still, to consider it is an interesting exercise. Arkansas will see none of the ad tonnage and the speechmaking that will be dumped on the dozen or so swing states, much of it, pro and con, explicating the Ryan plan, which Romney has decided to embrace unreservedly. Romney will not be explaining the Ryan plan so much as airbrushing it.

What if Arkansans were made privy to all that—forced to hear it, actually, if they turned on their TVs?

Democrats have been praying for Ryan as the vice presidential candidate, believing that most of the country will be horrified, if not at the current Ryan budget, at what it portends long range. Ryan was turned on to politics by the Darwinian author Ayn Rand. Life is for the strong, and a fit society and its government owe nothing to the weak, the unlucky, the disabled or the misfits.

All those government programs opposed by Republicans—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to education, college assistance, food and environmental safety (Republicans actually were complicit on environmental protection in the 1970s and ‘90s), disaster relief, farm aid, banking and securities regulation—must be phased out to return to a strong America. Ryan says the country should keep its promises to people already in the programs, but everyone afterward will be free to make it on their own.

Ryan said in a New Yorker article last month that, beyond the military, government’s role should pretty much be limited to national infrastructure— roads, bridges and the like. That is natural. Federal highway dollars are the source of his family inheritance, which paid for his eight-bathroom home.

Only billionaires and wannabe billionaires were demonstrating any enthusiasm for his candidacy, so Romney picked Ryan to put some juice in his moribund campaign. Sure enough, Ryan instantly turned on the well-to-do element of the tea-party movement, who love his plan to cut taxes on the well to do.

Back to the question of how Arkansans would react. Let’s take just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which together directly affect some 1.5 million beneficiaries in Arkansas, if you don’t count the families of all the children on government insurance or disability or the families of those in nursing homes and disability facilities. The Ryan-Romney plan would exempt the current beneficiaries from the cuts, for obvious political reasons, but they might vote just on the principle.

Ryan was the father of President Bush’s short-lived effort in 2005 to privatize Social Security by diverting people’s payroll taxes into private accounts run by stockbrokers. Ryan would start by diverting only half the taxes. But Bush was a wuss and to Ryan’s dismay offered a weakened version, which soon went down in flames. Bush would say he regretted following Ryan’s advice at all; Ryan says he deeply regrets going along with all of Bush’s follies, from the wars to Medicare expansion, which together with tax cuts sent deficits into the stratosphere. But Social Security,
the linchpin of socialism, remains Ryan’s main target.

Medicare and Medicaid are next. About 550,000 Arkansans are enrolled in Medicare and 790,000 in Medicaid—in nursing homes, the children’s colonies or Easter Seals programs, mental health facilities, and the various categories of medical assistance, mainly children and the disabled.

The Ryan plan, which Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly adopted, would end both programs, though Ryan keeps weakening his plan to pick up more votes. The idea is for now to just put the programs on their deathbeds.

Medicare would become essentially a voucher program except for current enrollees and those who will be enrolled in the next few years. People would get voucher with which they could shop the insurance industry for medical and hospital coverage. The size of the voucher would be far short of medical inflation, so it would cover smaller and smaller parts of the premiums. Oldsters would be on their own.

Medicaid would end and the states would be sent capped block grants, like President Nixon’s short-lived revenue sharing. States could choose what to do with the money. In Arkansas, it would set off a furious competition for the declining dollars among the nursing home population, which now gets the largest share of Medicaid, and all the other beneficiaries. Many would have go back to their families, if any, to the streets or to the cemetery.

All those weaklings screaming and clawing. Ayn Rand would love it.

Tags: , , , , ,

Speaking of...

Comments (31)

Showing 1-31 of 31

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-31 of 31

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.
  • How the South became dead red

    Good piece in Politico from Stanford sociology professor Doug McAdam on the roots of our modern partisan divide. McAdam tells the familiar story of how the South flipped, as yellow dog Democrats in the old Confederacy abandoned the party in the wake of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • Mark Pryor highlights Cotton votes against Paycheck Fairness and Violence Against Women Acts

    Sen. Mark Pryor today began what the campaign is dubbing a "Women for Pryor" statewide tour. Pryor is highlighting Cotton's votes against paycheck fairness legislation and the Violence Against Women Act (all together now: the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to do so). Pryor was joined by his mother, the former first lady of Arkansas Barbara Pryor, at this morning's event at the Fresco Cafe in Fayetteville. Events will be held across the state to mobilize women in support of Pryor to vote.

Most Viewed

  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Sen. Jason Rapert reacts to Beverly Carter's death with proposal to abolish parole in Arkansas

    Sen. Jason Rapert reacted to the death of Beverly Carter with a proposal on social media to abolish parole in Arkansas. Seeking to do everything in our power to construct public policy that curtails crime and protects citizens is of course vitally important. Indeed, keeping folks safe is a foundation mission of having a government — of having a society — in the first place. Awful tragedies happen, in Arkansas, and the rest of the nation. Events like these rightly shake us. They rightly force us to examine our policy choices. But to conclude that the panacea is locking up more people, and locking them up for longer periods of time, strains credulity. Thoughts on criminal justice and incarceration in the wake of a tragedy, and a conversation with Rapert.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.
  • AG candidate Leslie Rutledge's voter registration cancelled by Pulaski Co. clerk

    Leslie Rutledge has been kicked off the voter rolls in Arkansas due to the fact that she is concurrently registered out of state. Does that mistake make her ineligible to run for statewide office?

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation