Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paul Ryan, For It Before He Was Against It

Bill in Portland, Maine, a regular at Daily Kos, quips

John McCain chose as his running mate a mama grizzly. Mitt Romney chose as his running mate a papa weasel.

He doesn't explain what he means by "papa weasel" but the Urban Dictionary defines "weasel" as a "shifty, schemeing (sic) person that will do whatever they need to to escape whatever they fear in the moment."

That'll do just fine.   Los Angeles Times' blogger Michael Finnegan recently wrote

Ryan’s plan to revamp Medicare – which included Obama’s $716 billion in cuts to the projected growth of Medicare – was a central feature of a federal budget proposed by the congressman and passed by the Republican-controlled House in April. Romney has said he would sign it as president. The voucher system would begin in 10 years...

On August 15, though, the presumptive vice-presidential nominee argued "what I don’t think he’ll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program — he raided it to pay for Obamacare.”

Actually, the President's cuts are Medicare savings rather than benefits to recipients.   They include primarily" reduced payments to hospitals, discounts on Medicaid prescription drugs, and pay cuts to private insurers under Medicare Advantage," according to Talking Points Memo's Salil Kapur.   Ryan's cuts would have been used to lower taxes further for the wealthy.   But now that the serious thinker from Wisconsin , the guy who was going to focus all of America's attention on Medicare funding, has joined the Romney team, he opposes the reductions, which had been central to his Medicare plan.   Obama has "raided it to pay for Obamacare," for luxuries such as prescription drugs (closing the doughnut hole) and preventive care (such as cancer screening).

Oh, but not just Medicare.    A year and a half ago, Representative Ryan teamed up with Representative Akin to propose "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."   Michelle Goldberg explained

Since 1976, under the Hyde Amendment, there’s been a ban on federal funding for abortion, which applies to Medicaid recipients as well as federal employees and military families. In 1993, though, Congress legislated an exemption for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Such pregnancies are not uncommon—according to the Guttmacher Institute, at least 9,100 women seek abortions after forced sexual intercourse each year. H.R. 3 would prevent many of these women from using their health insurance to pay for abortions, whether their plan is public or private.

Under H.R. 3, the only victims (sic) of “forcible rape" would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.

Recently, however, Mr. Akin has gotten into a bit of hot water- not for trying to bolster government control over women's bodies- but for an absurd comment, including suggesting that victims of "forcible rape" are unlikely to get pregnant.   So the Political Editor of KDKA in Pittsburgh had a little conversation with Akin's ideological blood brother:

Delano: “You sponsored legislation that has the language ‘forcible rape.’ What is forcible rape as opposed…”
Ryan: “Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”
Delano: “So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?”
Ryan: “Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape.”
As for the president’s claim that Romney-Ryan will restrict birth control, Ryan calls that ridiculous.
“Nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody,” says Ryan.
Ryan says women won’t fall for these side issues.
“And I don’t think they’re going to take the bait of all these distractions that the President is trying to throw at them

With little knowledge outside of the "pro-life" community, Paul Ryan once thought there was a)rape, and b)forcible rape, which apparently excluded women victimized by incest or a "date rape" drug.   Conveniently, now, "rape is rape and there's no splitting hairs over rape."    And adds with testosterone: "rape is rape, period.  End of story."

But it isn't only Medicare and abortion.    Last year, Representative Ryan threw in his lot with defense cuts, when, as Daily Kos' Joan McCarter describes, he

voted for the Budget Control Act, the law that sets up an automatic trigger, or sequester, to cut spending on defense and other domestic programs. The cuts were included in the act to try to force Congress to come up with alternative cuts through a bipartisan supercommittee. But House Republicans, including those on the supercommittee, have been so focused on abortion, repealing Obamacare, and naming post offices, they didn't actually succeed in coming up with those alternatives.

That was then, and this is now, and now that he is running for Vice-President, Ryan implies that he is opposed to defense cuts, blaming the planned reduction in Pentagon funding on the President and declaring  "national defense is the first priority of the federal government."

But it isn't only Medicare, abortion, and defense.   In January, 2002, he stated at a town hall meeting in his district "You have to spend to grow a little.  What we're trying to do is stimulate that part of the economy that's on its back."   On February 14, 2002 he was on the House floor when he defended President Bush's proposal for a stimulus package:

What we're trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed. What we're trying to accomplish is to pass the kinds of legislation that when they've passed in the past have grown the economy and gotten people back to work. We want to make it easier for employers to keep people employed. We want to make it easier for employers to invest in their businesses, to invest in their employee and hire people back to work...

and on top of it, for those people who have lost their jobs, we want to help them with their unemployment insurance and with health insurance. What we are trying to accomplish here is the recognition of the fact that in recessions, unemployment lags on even well after recovery takes place.

However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he piously intoned upon convening a meeting of the Budget Committee he currently chairs, is "out of the discredited economic playbook of borrow and spend Keynesian policies."   It was not so discredited, though, that he was deterred from writing the Department of Labor, and later the Department of Energy, to request stimulus funds for his congressional district.   Not to worry, however; Ryan recently denied asking the federal government for money.   Then when he was caught lying, the young Wisconsin congressman, bursting with integrity, blamed it on his staff:  "I didn't recall the letters earlier.  But they should have been handled differently..."   Classy, Paul.

All of this, of course, makes the House Budget Committee chairman a fitting help-mate to Mitt Romney.   One is tempted, further, to ask "will the real Paul Ryan please stand up?"  But the real Paul Ryan is probably more cunning and dangerous then he even has revealed.

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