From Paul Ryan, who’s apparently hard at work on a conservative plan to fight poverty:
You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul. Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.
Well, maybe so. But here on Earth, money helps out too. The quote above is from a Washington Post story about Ryan’s newfound focus on poverty, and Jared Bernstein reads through the rest looking for some more worldly policy recommendations. He doesn’t come up with much:
Then you read page after page, trying to figure out what the dude is actually saying he’d do to lower poverty, and here’s what you’re left with: vouchers, tax credits, and volunteerism.
All sizzle, no steak.
And is that not the story of Rep. Ryan? His is the classic example of the adage that if you’ve got a reputation for being an early riser, you can sleep til noon….His proposals to block grant major safety net programs (freeze their spending levels and hand them over to states), like SNAP and Medicaid, would gut their critical countercyclical function (as was the case with TANF). He used the Heritage Foundation’s economic wizards to predict the his budget would reduce unemployment to less than 3% (don’t look for this forecast, though–his team pulled it once they actually, you know, looked at it).
For the life of me, I can’t figure out the media’s love affair with Ryan. Sure, he’s young, fit, good looking, and he’s not a screamer. He’s also a smart guy who understands the details of the federal budget. But everything he’s ever done—everything—boils down to a single sentence: reduce taxes on the rich and reduce spending on the poor. That’s it. There’s literally nothing else he’s ever seriously proposed.
It doesn’t even take much digging to figure out that this is what he’s saying. You only have to be barely numerate, just enough to draw the obvious conclusions from his budget proposals (conclusions that he’s very careful not to draw himself). When you do that, you find that his budgets always propose lower taxes and lower domestic spending. Much lower. How is it that so many people seem so willing to pretend otherwise?