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Rep. Jan Schakowsky writes: "I served with Rep. Ryan on the 18 member Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and learned firsthand from the personally congenial Ryan just how dark his vision of America's future is for all but the super-rich."

Committee ranking member Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) listens during a markup hearing before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill, 03/15/10. (photo: Getty Images)
Committee ranking member Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) listens during a markup hearing before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill, 03/15/10. (photo: Getty Images)

Paul Ryan's Dark Roadmap for America

By Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Reader Supported News

25 January 11


A Frightening "Roadmap" for America in the Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union

f part of you clings to that vision of an America where opportunity for all is possible or if you believe that it's time to take the somewhat tarnished American Dream out of cold storage, then be prepared to be deeply disappointed - frightened even - by Republican Representative Paul Ryan's response to President Obama's State of the Union Address. Ryan is the newly crowned Chairman of the House Budget Committee who was given control over how the House of Representatives allocates funding. His Republican colleagues voted in January to give him unilateral, unprecedented authority to set spending limits for everything from defense to education.

I served with Rep. Ryan on the 18 member Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and learned firsthand from the personally congenial Ryan just how dark his vision of America's future is for all but the super-rich.

There is no disagreement over the fact that our economy is still a mess, and though the signs of recovery are hopeful, too many friends and family members are out of work, losing their homes to foreclosure, and feeling insecure about the future.

Many people are mad about finding themselves in such uncomfortable circumstances, and who can blame them? They didn't make the mess, after all. They didn't spend our country into record deficits. They didn't start two wars on borrowed money, and they didn't decide to give huge tax cuts to the already hugely rich. They aren't Wall Street tycoons who gambled billions of dollars on bets that caused the near collapse of our economy. And they aren't Wall Street tycoons who are still raking in the unimaginably massive paychecks and bonuses, after being bailed out by the taxpayers.

We don't know exactly what Ryan will say in his response to the president. But we do know plenty about what this self-proclaimed budget hawk has already said. He laid it all out in a document he calls "A Roadmap for America's Future." In it was his simple plan for health care reform: destroy Medicare as we know it by giving seniors a fixed dollar voucher and sending them off to find an insurance company that will cover them. That's after raising the age of Medicare eligibility. He also revives the discredited idea of privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age. Good luck, Grandma!

He enthusiastically joined every Republican to vote to repeal the health care bill, despite the independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office declaring that repeal adds $230 Billion more to the deficit. "The CBO is entitled to its opinion," declared Speaker John Boehner. Dismissing the CBO is equivalent to throwing the umpire out of the baseball game and replacing him with your team's coach. But that's just exactly what the new Republican rules allow - if they disagree with the CBO, they simply throw out the call.

Ryan and the Republicans have announced their plans to slash the budget by reducing all non-defense discretionary spending back to 2008 levels - at best. At worst, many Republicans want to go back to 2006 levels - Bush's last budget. The Washington Post calculated that 2008 spending levels mean a 16% cut for the FBI, 13% for national parks, and more than a $1,000 cut in college Pell Grants from the current $5,500 maximum grants. My state of Illinois, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, could see a $1.3 billion cut in federal support, forcing state and local government to lay off teachers and police and firefighters.

There are big winners in Paul Ryan's "Roadmap" and you can guess who they are. He would cut taxes for the wealthy, completely eliminate the corporate income tax, and create a value added tax. According to the Tax Policy Center, his plan would raise taxes for the bottom 95 percent of American wage earners and cut taxes for the top five percent. The top 0.1 percent would see an average tax cut of $1.7 million - every year!

In case you haven't noticed, the same big winners have been stuffing themselves with cash for the last two decades while the rest of America has been barely holding its own. The top 1 percent of Americans control 34 percent of the wealth while the bottom 90 percent (almost everyone - get it?) control 29 percent. There is greater income inequality in the United States than in any other industrialized country. Yes, the debt is a problem that must be dealt with. To me, however, the disappearing middle class is even worse - bad for our economy and really bad for our democracy.

Considering his zeal for propping up the super rich, I wasn't surprised when the Washington Post revealed that Budget Chairman Paul Ryan "has taken $1.4 million from banks, hedge funds, investment houses and other financial services companies." It's a two-way street between Ryan and his Wall Street pals - but the shrinking middle class, the poor, and others who benefit from bedrock American support programs including seniors and those with disabilities just keep hitting road blocks.

The Republicans led by Ryan are determined to keep serving only their wealthy constituency and push the rest of America down a dangerous road that threatens what has long been a consensus vision of our country as the land of opportunity for all. your social media marketing partner


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+56 # DrAnne 2011-01-25 12:53
Thank you Rep. Schakowsky - I wanted to write on your website, but I am not from your district (too bad for me!).

I work in health care, and when I have tried to alert coworkers about the cloudy horizon "on the 'right side' of the aircraft", those not already attuned to the dangers have scoffed at me (and at their own ignorance I guess?). The apathy is frustrating to me, as this politics of selfishness is a mortal threat to us all. As there continue to be elected officials like yourself, I will also not be silent.
+16 # Gareth D 2011-01-25 15:15
It is very unfortunate that this is happening. It is unfortunate that even the journalists (legitimate) and leaders (too few) who saw this coming could just not get heard. It is unfortunate that Progressives and Conservatives alike could not own up to the corrupted system forming before their very eyes. It is unfortunate that there really are so many truly greedy, selfish, and narcissistic people, in our government and manning the tops of corporations. The more they get, the more they want, how unfortunate for everyone.
When I think about the big picture, I see the snake eating its tail. If you step back away from the spray back when it hits the fan, you'll be ok. What does that mean? Protect yourself and everything you have at this time.
When they get no more taxes from down here or purchasing public, no one paying off credit cards or buying cars, they might realize they have made a very serious mistake all the way around. Those of us who have survived many years in the ranks of the poor, can help those who haven't to figure it out.
+2 # pirugenia 2011-01-29 14:03
Dr. Anne, that is called "the defeated slave" mentality; we have been conquered; we are indeed occupied territory
+31 # Linda 2011-01-25 13:03
When the dust clears Republican's will have nothing to hide behind and the people who were fooled will come to their senses and be as angry as the left is about their distruction of our country selling us citizens out to Big Corp.
If Republican's really believe that citizens who belong to their party will enjoy this new America they have planned for us they will be sadly mistaken when these people who support them now feel the pain of the Republican parties actions. Right now they can use double speek to convince them they are on their side but when they realise they have been dooped that will be the end of the Republican party and the waking up of the masses .
+30 # Paul 2011-01-25 14:16
I'm sorry but you are very sadly mistaken. If this were true, all of these very same people wouldn't keep voting for these people now. No matter how bad it gets, they will continue to listen to the idiotic talking heads on Fox who tell them it is all the fault of the Democrats. Just the other day, I had a woman who had just got through telling me she was applying for Social Security disability ram her grocery cart into mine when I told her she should be glad that the Democrats won't let the Republicans destroy Social Security. She yelled at me, as she rammed the cart into mine, "You must be one of those damned Democrats!" This is the type of person you are referring to. They will never understand who is really causing their problems. We HAVE to regain some sort of voice in the mass media or all is lost, which is why the right is working so hard to control the Internet.
+6 # Jrak 2011-01-25 18:02
Quoting Paul:
Just the other day, I had a woman who had just got through telling me she was applying for Social Security disability ram her grocery cart into mine when I told her she should be glad that the Democrats won't let the Republicans destroy Social Security.

Luckily, most of the people with shitty right-wing opinions are old and will be dead soon.
+8 # Bonnie 2011-01-26 22:42
I'm from Wisconsin. In his ads to get elected he pretends to be a Progressive. He never once in his ads said he's going to privatize Social Security, destroy Medicare, shut down the National Parks and Food Stamps. The Democrat running against him was great--but you get the best Congress money can buy. The people have had years to come to their senses, but they still put him in. Wisconsin was at one time in History a major Progressive state. Money from Corporations. They need to get tax money back.
+1 # pirugenia 2011-01-29 14:08
Paul, I just came back from the pharmacy where, since I no longer have medical insurance, my medicine costed me thrice as much, and it was expensive to begin with (thank God, the condition was temporary and is getting better, almost "normal" levels no, thanks to my not listening to the doctor, and instead trying natural remedies). There a poor Latina who could not afford neither a diabetes medicine for herself nor a medicine for her child (and she was umployed she said). When I told her that there is universal coverage in other civilized countries of Latin America, Asia and Europe, she said "but that is socialism, like what Chavez and Castro have, and they kill el pueblo".
+31 # wizardbob 2011-01-25 13:04
I see many cuts for the people who need help the most and nothing for the super rich who have been getting fatter off the middle class. Why not a 16% cut in salaries of all congressional people to include congressmen/wom en and senators and their staffs cut back 16% also and to include a reduction in perks. It's apparent they want us to sacrifice, however, they will not do the same.
+6 # rf 2011-01-26 08:49
It is not just the Repubes who have whored themselves out...The Dems, starting with Obama have taken their payoffs also. This country is being run into the ground and people may start to pay attention when they are living in a company town and getting further and further in debt.
+30 # PhilO 2011-01-25 13:13
"There is greater income inequality in the United States than in any other industrialized country." And, if we leave it to the GOP/TEA/Me Party, it will only get worse.

The GOP/TEA/Me are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

Their "solution" may generate support, but that's because it will seem 'simple, intuitive, and obvious'. But, we need to counter them with the fact that complex problems require complex solutions. Solving complex problems with simple solutions (e.g., fix the budget gap by cutting taxes flattening the tax structure) with only make those problems worse!!

Is it me, or does the GOP/TEA/Me Party treat us like we're stupid... too stupid to see what they're trying to pull?!!
+23 # tuandon 2011-01-25 13:27
This guy is from Wisconsin. He in NO WAY represents me, or anyone else in Pennsylvania. I want him out of there. He has no right to drag those of us who did not elect him down his primrose path to dire poverty. I despise him for the same reason I despised the likes of Jesse Helms, Boehner, Strom Thurmond and that whole bunch out there on the far right-they are foisted off on me by a bunch of people with whom I have (apparently) nothing in common. Let him do this to the cheeseheads who elected him. Leave the rest of us alone!
+6 # Bonnie 2011-01-26 22:56
20% showed up at the polls. I'm from Wisconsin and he disgusts and embarrasses us, too. This was the most horrific campaign in years. I am devastated, because Wisconsin was a great State ahead on Progressive ideas and positive things and 20% decide to shame us with a new Republican Senator (like Ryan is going to cut everything for ordinary people and as a millionaire from his wife's money he does not see any reason to help those who weren't lucky enough to find a rich spouse), then we got a whole State of Republicans. We did not all vote for these losers just not enough turned out to vote. Cheeseheads are basically good people--some are just Limburger cheese.
+18 # Tony Regusters 2011-01-25 13:41
Dear Rep. Schakowsky:
Thank you for your informative article and the caveats you so clearly present. The place we are in America right now reminds me of another moment in world history: those dark days leading up to the French Revolution, when the hard-pressed people of that nation rose up to overthrow the monarchy. The conditions for just such a tragedy already exist in our nation as the middle class, which rose up from the ashes of World War II, finds itself beset on all sides by an unsympathetic Wall Street and corporate business sector, the so-called "super rich" (equals "American Monarchy"), and the political elites which serve them. I grew up in the Cold War and Vietnam Eras, lived through the War for Civil Rights, et al, and I get down on my knees every night to pray that by some miracle of good common sense, our fair and ever-evolving nation, especially those in the Republican party, harken to the wake up call and smell the paint that is now dried and cracking after being painfully and regrettably handwritten (by We, The People) on the wall...
+12 # Jane 2011-01-25 14:19
If the budget figure is proposed to return to 2008 or 2006 levels; WHAT ABOUT RETURNING THE TAX RATES TO SOMETHING COMPARABLE that would "balance the budget." That also includes restoring the payroll tax fully, OR EVEN ELIMINATING the cap on the payroll tax to ensure that the Social Security fund is truly "secure."
+1 # pirugenia 2011-01-29 14:28
OUTSOURCE the FED, starting with Bernake and his minime Greenspan; give the job to the Germans or the Chinese; they are better bankers and will do more for US people than the current tribe
+10 # Daisy 2011-01-26 03:11
This Ryan philosophy of not taxing anybody should be held off until Ryan cuts his salary and office budget. Do we really need all his ideas? The nation would be better off if he and his "office" funding was cut by at least 25%. Same goes for Boehner and the rest of the Republicans in the House; and Mitch McConnell and all Senate Republicans.
+10 # rf 2011-01-26 08:45
I'm self employed and when ai went to find the address of where to send my quarterly tax allotment, I found a pie graph in the instructions that showed all. income of the Government. I showed Approx(from memory) 26% from Social security tax, 24% from income taxes, and 4% from corporate taxes, 5% from import duties,etc. Cut the corp. taxes much and there won't be they hide most of their income overseas. Welcome to USA inc.
+2 # Angeladtao 2011-01-27 05:16
#rf Sadly, I don't believe what the pie graph shows. I'm not doubting your word at all. I'm just doubting what I hear from this plutocracy. Sadly.
+7 # BishopAndrew 2011-01-27 12:25
Mr. Ryan reminds me of the Shakespearean addage that the Devil often appears as a perfect gentleman. He cooly with an intellectual detachment worthy of Gestapo doctor dimisses the elderly and the poor as so much baggage that the rich have to now carry around under the guise of government wastefull spending! Why the Democrats cannot see the political hay they could make out of such folke as he is beyond this poor bishop's understanding! He reminds me of the insurance rep who told ABC news that they had nothing to apologize for when they cancelled a vet's insurance because of a two penny error in payment! Ryan's America is the land of industrial England complete with poor houses that "decrease the surplus population"!
+1 # pirugenia 2011-01-29 14:11
absolutely Bishop! I remember Adenauer said that once the German middle class was corrupted, by materialist thinking, the Reich was around the corner.
+2 # pirugenia 2011-01-29 14:26
In terms of distribution of wealth, the US is getting closer to Honduras & Zaire in some (CIA) indicators; check the GINI
+1 # FOD 2011-01-31 13:05
Blah, blah. Fear mongering from the left. I get that your feelings are hurt, but quit trying to terrorize America with your doom and gloom predictions.

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