WASHINGTON, June 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former White House spokesman Robert Weiner and economic policy analyst William Kim argue that Paul Ryan's premise that "the safety net has failed" is wrong and is an inaccurate basis for his new Republican congressional agenda, and they claim the agenda will do far more harm than good. Coming after Ryan released the "poverty" paper as the first of six for his agenda, the two authors write a scathing critique of Ryan's plans in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The article is entitled, "Ryan Is Wrong: Safety Net Has Not 'Failed'".
Ryan has announced that the six policy papers would be released on a weekly basis throughout June and they would collectively be titled "A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America". The first paper deals with Ryan's attempts to "reform" the safety net, which Weiner and Kim say amounts to block grants, less money, and tax breaks for the rich.
Weiner and Kim write: "Ryan's premise of 'failure' is wrong. He'd at least partially privatize Social Security, which has reduced seniors' poverty from the 44% it would be to just 9%. It is the most successful social program in American history. He'd radically cut food stamps, now called SNAP, which have stopped hunger for 46 million Americans and allowed them to find jobs. He'd reverse the successful Clinton welfare reform that, despite liberal protestations at the time, enhanced the program with work requirements while allowing poor families to survive; and in sum, would carry out the long standing Republican dream of ending Roosevelt's New Deal legacy that gave people hope and ended the Great Depression."
The authors also criticize Ryan's policy of tax cuts for the wealthy, arguing that "Ryan talks about 'opportunities' against poverty, but the only opportunities he'll provide are for big businesses and the super rich, hoping that tax breaks for the rich will become jobs for everyone. The Congressional Budget Office and Library of Congress say that tax breaks for the wealthy only give a fifth of the bang for our buck as direct jobs programs. While Republicans regularly ask, 'Where are the Jobs?', Congress has failed to pass Obama's American Jobs Act that would have added a million jobs and reduced unemployment by a full percent. It is a myth that adding money to the wealthy through tax cuts stimulates jobs and grows the economy. Trickle-down economics has not worked since Herbert Hoover tried it."
Weiner and Kim also address the policy rift between Ryan and Trump, writing: "On June 2, Ryan tweeted that he will vote for Trump; Ryan said he is 'confident' Trump 'will help turn the House GOP agenda into laws.' Time will tell."
They continue, "One reason Ryan and presidential candidate Donald Trump for weeks couldn't have an endorsement lovefest was that even Trump couldn't go along with Ryan's goals of reducing Social Security, giving American jobs away (in Trump's view) by free trade agreements and refusing to 'build a wall' against immigrants. It will be interesting to see how close the congressional hard right agenda will be to Trump's gut-created agenda. We will see who caves to whom as the 'unification' proceeds. Both parties' presumptive presidential nominees have stated that they will not cut Social Security. Ryan has made no such pledge and included cuts and privatization in his past plans."
The authors point to Ryan's past budgets as evidence against his current agenda. They write "Ryan's previous budgets, notably his so-called 'Path to Prosperity,' put the writing on the wall. Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' contained $40 billion in food stamp cuts". They cite former director of SNAP Research and Analysis Carol Olander that "Food stamps reduced poverty by 8% in one year alone (2009), and it is a myth that the program 'abused' tax dollars given that '95% of federal spending' goes 'directly to low-income participants in the form of benefits.'"
Weiner and Kim are particularly critical of Ryan's plans to block grant social programs and eliminate Obamacare, writing "Ryan's agenda calls for most anti-poverty spending to be transferred into 'State Flexibility Funds,' meaning block grants. Block grants have routinely become smaller over time. They are just another way for Republicans to get rid of government programs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that out of 11 major block grant programs, eight shrank significantly since 2001. The Republican position also eliminates Obamacare, which has given health insurance to 20 million who previously could not get covered."
The contend, "At a speech at Georgetown on March 27, Ryan was asked about student debt and had no concrete plan. He only replied with 'opportunity' for students by an 'agenda project.'"
The authors point to the success that has been made under current social programs. They write: "Under Democratic presidents since 1930, who have emphasized people programs and resisted tax breaks for the wealthiest, annual GDP growth averaged 5%, according to Commerce Department and Office of Management and Budget statistics. Bill Clinton added 23 million jobs and balanced his last three budgets. Obama has enjoyed 6 straight years of monthly job growth. Under Republican Presidents who enacted tax cuts for the rich, GDP has only grown by 1.6%."
They go on, "Interestingly, Ryan leaves out that the Obama administration already has achieved many of the agenda's objectives regarding economic growth. Unemployment at 4.7% reported June 3 is less than half the rate at the crash Obama inherited in 2008, reversing 800,000 per month job losses then." They added today, "A CBO report just out shows that 2013, the year Obama negotiated with Congress for higher tax rates on the very wealthy, is the only recent year that income disparity in the U.S. actually decreased."
They conclude, "Ryan warned the Georgetown audience, 'You will be the first generation less well off.' If government takes away health care, social security, food, and jobs, that's exactly what will happen. Speaker Ryan is wrong; the safety net has not failed, but if his agenda passes, it most certainly will."
Robert Weiner was a spokesman in the Clinton White House, spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee, and Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee. William Kim is Economic Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
Contact: Bob Weiner /Ben Lasky 202-306-1200, 301-283-0821 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates