Rep Ryan Reality Check

October 28th, 2011 at 9:13 am

Two points re things I’ve heard Rep Paul Ryan say in recent days.

First, he’s downplayed the increase in income inequality that’s gotten a lot of play out of the new CBO study.  His claim is that there’s enough mobility in the American economy to offset any increase in inequality.

I examine that claim in some detail here but to summarize, imagine the income scale as a hotel with floors that improve as you go up.  The basement is funky; the penthouse, sublime.  Rep Ryan’s argument is that sure, the distance between the floors may have grown—with increased dispersion of incomes, there’s a greater economic distance between the top and the bottom—but the rate at which people move between floors has accelerated.

Except for it hasn’t.  There is no evidence that the rate of mobility has increased—there’s some evidence that it’s slowed (though other evidence shows no change).   In fact, according to mobility data covering a few decades, relative to their cohort (families in the same age range), most families end up close to where they started in the income scale, i.e., either in the income fifth in which they started or in the one either above it or below it (see tables 1-2 here).

Second, in a radio interview this AM I heard Rep Ryan claim that the R’s on the deficit reduction super-committee were in fact putting revenues on the table.  That surprised me since I’d thought they’d pledged to stonewall on that point. 

Well, according to this report most of what they’re calling revenues are not what the D’s, including the President, are thinking about–we’re not exactly talking shared sacrifice here:

“…about $440 billion appears to be generated instead by increased government fees, high patient co-pays under Medicare, for example, or increased Part B premiums charged to higher income beneficiaries — many changes that Democrats also accept but feel do not address the larger tax issue.

On the tax side, changes in the CPI would again yield some revenue, but the greater share of the tax revenue here — about $200 billion — is attributed to the impact of future tax reform spurring economic growth.”

This kind of spinning is precisely what makes people throw up their hands in disgust re American politics.  It’s a main reason way Rep Ryan’s institution—the Congress—has a 9% approval rating.  And remember, if you’re all about less government, regressive tax cuts, unleashed corporate power, less regulation, more privatization, YOYO economics (you’re on your own), you want people to tune out.

So I say let’s piss them off and tune in!

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7 comments in reply to "Rep Ryan Reality Check"

  1. perplexed says:

    When you work directly for the 5% that buy your way into office a 9% approval rating rating is actually pretty good.

    We can’t have a minority pre-selecting our choices for representatives by controlling campaign funding and also have “democratic” outcomes any more than you can select a biased sample and extrapolate the results you get to the larger population. Garbage in, garbage out; there’s no meaningful connection between the legislature we have and “democratic outcomes.”

  2. Michael says:

    Enh, it’s not like there’s an alternative available. Obama’s about as bad, sadly.

    • WadeJ says:

      How exactly is Obama the same? By offering real deficit reduction ideas? By genuinely offering up his party’s sacred cows in a proposal only to be burned by the Republicans more fearful to give their enemy a win, then they are interested in helping the country.

      To JB’s last point, the thing that pisses me off is the false equivalency, the “Pox on both your houses” BS that assumes it’s both party’s fault.

      No it’s not. Do the Democrats spin, of course they do. Do they consistently exaggerate, ignore evidence and lie their way out of arguments, NO, NO, NO.

    • perplexed says:

      -“Enh, it’s not like there’s an alternative available…”

      There is an alternative: 100% public financing of campaigns coupled with long jail terms for those attempting to buy or sell influence. It would cost no more than the current system and the voters would send the money with their votes. You can’t sell influence and have a “representative” government; why would we even believe its possible, especially in face of the evidence our current situation provides.

  3. D. C. Sessions says:

    If your objective is to convince people that government doesn’t work, they’re doing a great job. Especially since the story that people hear isn’t “Republicans in Congress have gummed up the works” but rather, “Congress can’t get anything done for Main Street.”

    As long as Democrats share the blame with Republicans for government disfunction, Republicans come out ahead.

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I admit that I have trouble taking Ryan’s remarks seriously. I associate him with the GOP House, which was willing to risk lowering the US credit rating via the debt ceiling fiasco.
    Sensible people do not ‘play chicken’ with national credit ratings; that’s for narcissists and nihilists.

    When I hear that Paul Ryan disregards the income inequality in the US, he loses any remaining credibility.

    I see no evidence that Paul Ryan comprehends that the people who own and control capital are **not** necessarily the ‘job creators’.
    As I understand Paul Ryan’s views, someone who owns a strip mall, a parking garage, or a commercial building has a lot of capital, so they must automatically be a ‘job creator’.
    This is magical thinking.

    When I hear that Paul Ryan wants to now discuss ‘revenues’ in ongoing discussions of economic policy, I feel manipulated.

    The GOP economic mantras do not distinguish between rent extraction and genuinely productive activity. It’s as if they think that rent *is* job creation. Go figure.

    When I see Paul Ryan, I see a guy who appears convinced that owning an acre of asphalt parking lot is somehow going to make the owner an ‘innovator’ or an ‘entrepreneur’. For the life of me, I can’t get that image out of my head: Paul Ryan, in the middle of a parking lot, handing some kind of ‘job creator’ award to the local parking attendant.
    Apparently, I need more brain bleach 8(

  5. the buckaroo says:

    …ole HW Bush would call that voodoo economics. How could he see the simple facts while his brethren these days talk trash.

    Heard Austan Goolsbee schooling Henpeck on his radio show yesterday…seems they refuse to recognize the historical record on the success of Raygun’s economic ups & downs.

    When you start with very high interest rates you have plenty of cushion to carve at…today, not so much. Increased payroll taxes captured a lot of stray buying power also.

    I don’t know which is worse…a mainstream media that lets the trash pass uncontested or the teavangelical media of the right that promulgates this garbage as culture/class struggle…shame on both their houses.