Updated below. Tuesday evening. July 29, 2014.
Paul Ryan wants people to know that despite his (supposedly recanted) adolescent (as in he was a teenager when he read Atlas Shrugged and as in emotionally stunted) devotion to the cult of Ayn Rand, he does care about the poor and unfortunate and wants to help them to material success and happiness. He’s come up with a plan that on the face of it doesn’t, like his parade of sham budgets, depend on magical thinking and involve shaming poor people, shaming their children, and out and out granny starving.
Here’s the thing. There’s nothing in the plan and there’s nothing in anything he’s said about it that even hints that he’s changed his mind about why the poor are poor---dependency on government aid has made them lazy---and how they need to get out of their hammocks and get to work or work harder if they are working and be more like…well, Paul Ryan.
Which, he’s always forgotten to mention, means being born the son of a well-connected lawyer into a family sharing the wealth from a construction company founded by his great-grandfather and prospering mainly through government contracts, inheriting essentially a very generous, lifelong allowance, marrying money, and then using family connections to “work” your way into a secure seat in Congress from where you can bamboozle and smarm your way to a reputation as a Man of Ideas.
There’s enough that’s not awful in Ryan’s new plan to give Ezra Klein the opportunity to amuse himself imagining how it could work to actually help some people besides millionaires who want their taxes cut if…if it was administered by people Paul Ryan and his masters in the Republican-controlled house would die before they’d let get their hands on it---that is, technocratically-minded liberals with a mild fondness for the memory of Franklin Roosevelt. Truer-hearted liberals with a real commitment to the memory of FDR are likely to see it as the con it is and toss it back to Ryan with a thanks but no thanks.
But whatever nods to New Deal and Great Society ideals and goals are in the plan, there aren’t enough to change Charles Pierce’s opinion of the man he’s dubbed the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver.
(At the top of the post I linked to in my previous post, Pierce asked, referring to the prima donnas in the Washington Press Corps, “Jaysus, will these people ever stop whining?” I ask, “Jaysus, will I ever stop depending on Pierce to do the heavy lifting?”)
One must never forget when discussing anything Paul Ryan says about economics that he fundamentally does not believe that the care of the poor and the sick is a legitimate function of government. This belief is theological. It is the basis for his entire political career. And it has not changed. This is a philosophy he developed while going to high school and college on my dime and yours through Social Security survivor benefits, and you're welcome again, dickhead. Anybody who thinks Paul Ryan has "changed" in any substantive way should not be allowed out in public without a minder. In this recent scam, the tells are scattered everywhere, and they are obvious, and you don't even have to know that the more "compassionate" of his proposals don't have fk all chance of getting through the monkeyhouse Congress in which he is a leader. He knows that, too.
Here’s the whole shebang.
Just a note: Ryan’s having used his Social Security benefits to help pay his college tuition is an important part of liberal folklore. We like to retell the tale because it shows him up as a hypocrite and ladder-puller. It shows up his vanity, too, as he obviously thinks he was among the few Ubermenschen strong-willed enough to resist the pull of the hammock provided by government aid lesser mortals in need can’t. But, again, it needs to be stated: he didn’t need it. He had help from his wealthy family as well. He was entitled to the money and welcome to it. That’s how it’s meant to work. You don’t have to deserve it because you or, as in Ryan’s case, your parent earned it. The point is that instead of being a budding John Galt, the young Paul Ryan was doubly a “parasite”, and unless he can give the poor the formulas to pull that trick off for themselves, he should stop with the shaming and the giving of fatuous, meretricious, hypocritical, and self-serving lectures on how to succeed.
Update: Be sure to read Michael Hiltzik’s column at the Los Angeles Times, The poison pill at the heart of Paul Ryan’s poverty plan.