Saturday, August 11, 2012

Getting the rich off welfare (re-post from September 2011)

In light of today's Paul Ryan selection I thought I'd repost this. It will be interesting to see if Ryan stands by his earlier positions.

Who said this?

“We want to stop subsidizing corporations. We want to stop subsidizing wealthy individuals."

"[We should be] focusing the benefits on the people who need it and away from those who need it the least."

Was that a quote from the "socialist" Obama? More class warfare rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi? Nope, that's Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Here's more on Ryan from Marc Thiessen writing in The WashPo.

President Obama is campaigning for reelection by casting Republicans as the party of the rich because they oppose his plan to raise tax rates on wealthy Americans. “If you’ve done well,” Obama declared in Cincinnati last week, “then you should do a little something to give something back.”

One person who agrees with that sentiment is Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee — though not in the way Obama means it. Ryan wants the wealthy to give something back: the billions of dollars in government benefits, taxpayer subsidies and corporate welfare they receive each year and do not need. Instead of raising taxes, which would hurt growth and job creation, Ryan told me: “We want to stop subsidizing corporations. We want to stop subsidizing [wealthy] individuals. And you can get more money for savings to reduce the deficit without damaging the economy this way.”

Call it “soak the rich” economics, GOP-style.

What government spending on the wealthy would Ryan target? “Everything,” he says. He would start with entitlements. The two biggest and fastest-growing areas of federal spending are Social Security and Medicare, both of which provide the richest Americans with growing benefits. To help stabilize both programs, Ryan wants to scale back those benefits for the wealthy. . . .

Ryan's also willing to risk antagonizing another powerful interest group that tends to vote Republican.

Ryan would also means-test farm subsidies. He points out that, while the rest of the economy struggles, the American agricultural sector is booming. Yet the government continues to make agriculture support payments to farmers with joint-incomes as high as $2.5 million. Ryan sees no reason why the federal government should be making direct cash payments to multimillionaires. He would limit agricultural support to those making less than $250,000 and has proposed cutting $30 billion over the next decade in price supports and other agriculture subsidies.

In addition to cutting cash payments to wealthy individuals, Ryan wants to end what he calls “wasteful welfare for corporations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, big agribusinesses, well-connected energy companies, and others that have gotten a free ride from the taxpayer for too long.” He points out that the president’s stimulus spending bill allocated $80 billion specifically for politically favored renewable energy businesses, such as the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received $500 million in federal loan guarantees from the Obama administration. “I mean, Solyndra, that’s half a billion dollars in one company,” Ryan says. He would do away with such loan-guarantees and “stop subsidizing businesses with industrial policy and crony capitalism.”

This gives someone like myself hope that the Republican party hasn't gone completely off the deep end when it comes to fiscal and tax policy. You have to wonder when you see Republicans arguing with a straight face that low and moderate-income people aren't paying their fair share of taxes. The truth is that wealthy individuals and big business have been getting a virtual free ride. While many of us have seen our financial futures going up in smoke they have prospered even more during these recessionary times. Fairness and shared sacrifice are conservative values. Paul Ryan seems to get that.

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