Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lyin' Ryan- with new and improved flim-flam!

I see another one of our state's righties is back in the news, as Paul Ryan released a new plan to try to deal with poverty, replacing the several other past plans of his that were promptly laughed out of the room. I'll leave it to the great Charlie Pierce to accurately call out why the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver's new and improved plan is set up to fail. Pierce rightly calls out Purty Mouth Pau-lie as a pathetic poser whose "ideas" are merely stunts intended to raise Ryan's profile, with no chance of actually being workable policy.
There are ideas within the stated plan to which I have no objection: the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, prison reform, etc. There is also one major and insurmountable flaw in the plan, and that is that Paul Ryan is a consummate charlatan, the fact that he has discovered a new formula for snake oil notwithstanding.

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.

For example, let us look at the tinpot re-branding of block grants as "opportunity grants." (And here we once again must refer to the words of Mr. S. Spade of San Francisco: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.") Ryan says, yes, block grants sucked before, when Saint Ronnie used them as a means to destroy programs he didn't like, but they will work now because - Paul Ryan.
And the especially dangerous part about Ryan's plan is this delegation of programs to the states, as they could easily be misused by some ideological governor and legislature to cut services (like say, Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP) and give large amounts of this money to sketchy, politically connected organizations that don't give one care about the people they serve (like Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP).

Plus, as Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer pointed out, for such a "fiscal conservative", Ryan's plan to have individualized counseling for welfare recipients would be monstrously expensive, and he offers no way to pay for them. Mencimer notes a book by New York Times reporter Jason DeParle that looked into Wisconsin's welfare reform projects that had a similar plan, and they didn't go very well.
DeParle describes caseworkers in the Wisconsin welfare-to-work agencies as utterly overwhelmed, with caseloads double what they should have been because no one wanted to invest the money to hire the number of qualified people it would take to do the job right. Caseworkers like Michael were also inundated with clients who didn't necessarily want the government or private-sector caseworkers all up in their business. Few of Michael's generationally poor clients ended up getting real jobs, but a lot of them ended up losing their benefits. That's one reason why, nationally, in the decade after welfare reform, the number of children in deep poverty—that is, living at below half the federal poverty line—jumped from 1.5 million to 2.2 million between 1995 and 2005.

Customizing federal safety net services, while a laudable ideal, has several major downsides. One big one: It's slow, and someone who desperately needs food stamps to free up money to pay the rent isn't especially well-positioned to spend a lot of time contemplating self-improvement. Jason Perkins-Cohen spent seven years working in the DC Income Maintenance Administration, helping set up the city's welfare-to-work program. Now the executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore, he says focusing on individualization ignores the fact that everyone has the same basic needs.

"So yes, everyone is an individual, but everyone needs to have shelter, food, health assistance, and a job." Right now, he says, people can get expedited food stamps in 15 days, an important feature for desperate people in crisis. "To customize [services], you're going to have to find out a lot more information, and all of this customization will end up slowing down the receipt of benefits."
Of course, screwing up social services beyond all recognition might be Paul Ryan's goal. Because that would enable Koch Boy to then turn around and say "See, helping these people doesn't work and wastes money, so we should cut it and/or pawn off these duties to campaign contributors private organizations." Win-win if you're a connected GOP crony, but it sure sucks for the rest of us.

As someone who still clings to the idea of accountability and that expertise and respect is earned instead of given out based on whose ass you kiss, it's vexing to see Paul Ryan continue to be projected in the DC media as some kind of bright thinker. This guy is a total fraud that doesn't give a care for the people who give him the chance to suckle at the government teat (tellingly, there is no Wisconsin stop on Ryan's book tour), and it's time for Southern Wisconsin to stop sending this self-absorbed dimwit to Congress.


  1. These caseworkers will be mostly in the private sector, with an incentive to save money. If they don't, and because they're overseen by government officials, the case worker or the company they work for, will lose their contract.

    This will be the return of indentured servitude. And that's what Ryan's been trying to create all along; a desperate class of people who will for almost nothing.

  2. John- Doing it on the cheap is certainly a concern, but it also could become a Chicago-style sweetheart deal where some connected group gets inflated contracts and don't save the taxpayer a thing. If there's one thing we've seen from GOP "governance", it's that providing good services to people in need is far from their first priority

    Your second point is spot-on- Ryan and his fellow Koch boys want feudalism, with the connected few being the overlords. Pierce compares Ryan's plan to share cropping, where people's fates, incomes and lifestyles can be easily manipulated by others.