Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paul Ryan and the GOP has Waged Class War with Food Stamps

The poor in America aren't waging class war on the rich, they're too busy just trying to survive.

Why aren't members of congress required to take a drug test? (Just like almost everybody else must do these days.) Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act and they make life-and-death decisions all the time....such as the funding for wars. Or in this case, the de-funding in class wars, such as cuts to unemployment benefits, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and food stamps.

Paul Ryan went to the conservative Heritage Foundation to give a speech and spent most of his time attacking Barack Obama for sowing the seeds of "class warfare." But over the last several months it's become increasing clear to almost everyone (even Republican voters) that it's really been Paul Ryan and the GOP who have waged a class war against the middle-class and poor (the 99%).

In a New York Times/CBS News poll, an astounding 69 percent of all Americans said Republican policies favor the rich (the top 1%).

A recent survey by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center showed Occupy Wall Street to be more popular now than the Tea Party (and that includes the likes of Paul Ryan).

Besides being an heir to the family construction business and part of the 1%, taxpayers paid Paul Ryan an annual salary of $174,000 year, provided for his government healthcare, and gave him a generous government pension. So who is it REALLY that's on the government dole?

And they don't work that hard either. The Republicans changed the congressional House schedule so they could take one week off for vacation for every two weeks they work in Washington. Their excuse was: "More days in session has always resulted in bigger, more intrusive government." (But it's really so they could spend more time taking care of their financial interests, not talking to their middle-class constituents back home).

The fat in Congress isn't the part of government that's "too big" for Paul Ryan and all the other fat-cat Republican politicians, it's other things that ordinary Americans are more concerned with, such as  Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. That's what Republicans think is "big government", not their own extraordinary salaries and perks.

But in regards to defense spending, oil subsidies, and tax breaks for the top one percent and large multi-national corporations, they are all acceptable expenditures for Republicans like Paul Ryan. But food stamps for the poor are not...they consider that "big government".

It's always "big government" when we need something, but not when they benefit from something -- they are just hypocritical pigs. When his father died Paul Ryan used his Social Security survivor benefits to pay for his education at Miami University in Ohio, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics and political science in 1992.

His family wasn't indigent, but Paul Ryan wants to cut benefits for those who are.

Paul Ryan drinking a glass of $350-a-bottle wine, specifically Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru
In addition to releasing that radical budget to dismantled Medicare for the elderly and those with disabilities (The Path to Prosperity) while raising taxes on the middle class (while giving more tax breaks to the rich), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has also suggested a radical reworking of the food stamp program (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP).

Under Paul Ryan's plan, it would simply block grants for SNAP to state governments, “SNAP would largely lose the ability to respond to rising needs, forcing states during economic downturns to cut benefits or create waiting lists for needy families.”

In order to build support for his dismantling of the food safety net, Paul Ryan has been spreading falsehoods regarding SNAP. Case in point, during a question and answer session hosted by the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, Ryan claimed that SNAP is “rife with fraud“:

"Help us figure out how to reform these programs so they can grow at more sustainable rates and so that they really work. Help us reduce the redundancy and the duplicativeness of programs. Help us figure out how to make sure that these things are actually getting the assistance to the people who really need them.

Look at SNAP for example. You know we get all these reports. We get hearings and GAO and reports about how the SNAP program is rife with fraud, how it’s not getting the assistance to the people who need it, how there’s no incentive to – we’ve got a guy who won a lottery that’s on the program you know. Help us figure out how to reform these programs so that they can work better."

But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found, SNAP errors are currently at an all-time low, with errors accounting for less than three percent of the program’s cost:

To ensure that benefits are provided only to eligible households and in the proper amounts, SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program and, in recent years, has achieved its lowest error rates on record. In fiscal year 2009, even as caseloads were rising, states set new record lows for error rates. The net loss due to errors equaled only 2.7 percent of program costs in 2009. There is no evidence that program errors are driving up SNAP spending.

During the recession, SNAP has been critical for reducing poverty and pumping money into local economies. So in order to push his radical revamp of the program, Ryan is simply inventing reasons to attack its current structure, which is actually functioning quite well.

Now we have to wait and see what the un-Constitutional congressional super committee will do. Yesterday in the Senate, the poor got a temporary reprieve on a 60-39 roll call vote, seven Republicans joined Democrats in blocking a motion by Tea Party forces that threatened to pit food stamp benefits.

Half of congress are already millionaires, but now, according to Roll Call, members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total -- and nearly 90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest members of Congress.

Paul Ryan is a millionaire with a family business who enjoys $350-a-bottle wine on a $174,000 annual salary, but instead of paying for my food stamps, he wants even lower taxes for himself and his family business.

My prediction for November 2012

Barring any last minute Republican nominees and any major scandals by the Democrats, Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination (although I would have preferred Jon Huntsman); but he will lose to Obama in the presidential debates and the election. The Democrats will retain the Senate, and win back the House.

But no matter what party wins, unemployment will remain about the same, and nothing will change for the 99%. Homelessness and poverty will continue to rise, the banks and big corporations will continue to earn profits, wages will remain stagnant, and the CEOs will still rake in multi-million-dollar salaries and bonuses.

The politicians will most likely cave in to the "job creator's" ploy and lower corporate taxes, but if corporations were already being taxed too much now, how could they have hoarded $2 trillion in off-shore bank accounts? Wouldn't more tax breaks just put more cash into those corporate off-shore banks? Wouldn't more tax cuts just go to give CEOs bigger bonuses? It's low wages, not high taxes, that induce corporations to outsource jobs.

As they say, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The only thing I can't predict for November 2012 is my own survival. People like me don't have any "certainty" in the marketplace.

Don't the poor and elderly in this country also have a Right to Life? Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to deny millions of people the basic necessity of "Class war" my ass! It sounds more like "mass extermination".

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