Web Only// Features » March 19, 2013
Paul Ryan Disses ‘The Help’ Again
Rep. Paul Ryan takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
The election didn't go our way—believe me I, I know what that feels like ... That means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in? ... We think we owe the country solutions to the big problems that are plaguing our nation ... We’re showing our answers.
Just four months ago, Americans told the Romney-Ryan team: “No.” The electorate rejected them. Many voters objected to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan treating them the way arrogant 1 percenters treat “The Help.”
Rep. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, exposed his condescension toward the masses when he described 60 percent of Americans as “takers.” Mitt Romney illustrated his when he referred to 47 percent of Americans as slackers too lazy to take responsibility for their lives, a moment captured on video by a member of “The Help,” Scott Prouty, who was working as a bartender at the $50,000-a-plate fundraiser where Romney said it.
Last week, Ryan revealed the election loss left him unchastened. He remains intent on telling “The Help” what to do. The princeling of the royal Republican team reprised his prosperity-for-the-rich-austerity-for-the-rest budget. Although the public rejected that path in November, Ryan continues to insist he’s correct and the majority is wrong. He doesn’t care what they want. Like any pampered princeling, he doesn’t tolerate challenges from “The Help.”
He said as much at a news conference after releasing a budget that even the conservative Wall Street Journal described as nearly a twin to the one he and Romney ran on. Here’s what Ryan said after he was asked why he was pushing ideas that the American people spurned in November:
“The election didn’t go our way—believe me I, I know what that feels like … That means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in? … We think we owe the country solutions to the big problems that are plaguing our nation. … We’re showing our answers.”
What Ryan calls answers are the same old schemes, the ones to which the majority of Americans said, “No!” But the consensus of the populace doesn’t matter to Ryan. During the campaign, he and Romney made it perfectly clear they don’t like and don’t respect “The Help.”
The contents of the Ryan budget demonstrate that as well. His proposal, like his previous budgets, would damage or destroy government programs that workers cherish, from Medicare and Medicaid to Pell Grants and food stamps. While Ryan’s budget slashes the living daylights out of those, it awards the wealthy and corporations additional gigantic tax breaks.
He takes from the poor and gives to the rich. That’s the motto of medieval royalty. It’s not the reigning philosophy of the 21st Century.
Americans told him that last November. Congress told him that twice previously by refusing to pass either of his earlier two “Path to Prosperity” budgets, both of which were also based on Ryan’s path-for-the prosperous-to-loot-the-people’s-treasury concept.
Still, Ryan insists on austerity for the non-rich. He demands for America the government-imposed asceticism that has devastated citizens in European nations from Great Britain to Greece. He demands for America what austerity did to Italy—a country now reeling as unemployment rises above 11 percent and1,000 businesses a day go bankrupt.
No. The American people said no. They said they wanted another way.
Congressional progressives also released a budget last week. It’s another way. Called the Back to Work Budget, its provisions are ones that a majority of Americans have supported in poll after poll. It raises taxes on the richest. It creates jobs immediately. It protects social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
It would create as many as 7 million jobs the first year with investments in infrastructure, education and struggling communities. Over time, it would cut the deficit by $4.4 trillion, partly by ending tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas and for luxuries such as corporate jets.
The idea is to spend government money immediately to stimulate the economy and create jobs, which, in turn, will lower government costs and the deficit in the long run as less is paid out in unemployment benefits, food stamps and other aid, while at the same time more is paid into the government in taxes by the newly employed. This is stimulus Ryan once believed in—of course, that’s when there was a Republican in the White House.
The Back to Work Budget doesn’t balance. But economists like Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman and public policy experts like former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich have repeatedly pointed out that the federal budget does not have to balance. It is not at all like a family budget, Reich has emphasized. In fact, he explains, it’s crucial when unemployment strains family budgets for the federal government to spend to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
While Ryan claims his austerity budget would balance in 10 years, that’s highly doubtful since he cuts taxes on the rich and never explains what loopholes he would close to offset that massive loss of income—if that’s even possible.
That’s among the budget secrets Ryan doesn’t deign to share with “The Help.”
It’s revealing that when Ryan ran for vice president last fall, he lost his home precinct, his hometown, his home county, and his home state. As well as the majority of the country. Once Americans got to know Paul Ryan, they didn’t like him or his ideas or his attitude toward them.
Ryan says he’s not going to change anything just because America rebuffed him and his ideas. Instead, he’s ordering Americans to do his bidding. Again.
Ryan is confused about what his job is.
The American people don’t serve Paul Ryan. They’re not “The Help.” He’s “The Help.” And right now, by demanding austerity that Americans already rejected, Paul Ryan is back-talking the boss. It’s insolent, insubordinate and disrespectful.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Leo Gerard is the president of the United Steelworkers International union, part of the AFL-CIO. Gerard, the second Canadian to lead the union, started working at Inco's nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario at age 18. For more information about Gerard, visit usw.org.