Paul Ryan vs. the Nuns: Round 2

Fuel up the bus, it’s time for the nuns to hit the road again.

This summer’s Nuns on the Bus tour, you may recall, focused on the good sisters’ moral opposition to the House Republican budget, usually referred to as the Ryan Budget, after House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, its author.

Chris Lisee reported for Religion News Service at the conclusion of the nuns’ successful tour:

A group of Catholic nuns ended its nine-state bus tour here Monday (July 2), speaking out against a Republican federal budget proposal they say favors wealthy Americans at the expense of poor families.

Led by Sister Simone Campbell, the “Nuns on the Bus” rejected the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which it called “immoral” and “unpatriotic.”

Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That’s wrong,” said Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.

Nuns on the Bus claims that the Ryan budget would raise taxes on low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations, push families into poverty, and kick 8 million people off of food stamps.

The sisters “claimed” such things because they happen to be true. The Ryan budget is a call for radical austerity for the poor and radically irresponsible largesse for the very rich. Ryan’s scheme calls for the most extreme redistribution of wealth in more than a century — a redistribution from the poor and to the wealthy.

What about the middle class? Well, Ryan’s budget would get rid of that. If his plan were implemented, the middle class would be joining the poor.

As Kris Benson summarizes: “The Ryan Plan will privatize anything and everything, raise your taxes if you make over $50,000 per year, cut them if you make over $200,000 per year, and end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it.”

Yes, Benson is writing there for Wonkette — a snarky blog famous for filthy jokes. But go ahead and click through to Benson’s detailed analysis of Ryan’s plan, and then click through all the links he provides to sober, disinterested studies demonstrating that he’s not overstating his description of the Ryan plan. The Wonkette link is appropriate, because if the Ryan budget ever becomes law, then all most Americans will have left is snark and dirty jokes.

Ryan’s immoral, unpatriotic, anti-poor budget is newly important because Paul Ryan is now his party’s candidate for vice president. Former Massachusetts Gov. and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made that announcement Saturday morning.

Statistics wizard Nate Silver notes that Ryan “is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center.”

Charlie Pierce doesn’t use the same careful quantitative measures of political extremism that Silver employs, but Charlie knows extremism when he sees it. And he sees it in “Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward, Candidate for Vice President“:

In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead.

… Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.

Pierce also recommends Ryan Lizza’s recent profile of the Z-E G-S in The New Yorker.

Kevin Drum relays Michael Grunwald’s frustration with the indefensible claim that Paul Ryan is a “deficit hawk.” Grunwald notes that Ryan: “voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush military and security spending binge, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the bank bailout and the auto bailout, and against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan.”

Ezra Klein makes the same point, in wonkier fashion:

[Ryan] is not primarily interested in reducing the deficit or cutting federal spending. He has voted to increase deficits and expand government spending too many times for that to be the case. Rather, the common thread throughout his career is his desire to remake the basic architecture of the the federal government.

… Ryan says that under his budget, everything the federal government does that is not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security will be cut to less than 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, energy research, national parks, civil service, the FBI — all of it. Right now, that category of spending is 12.5 percent of GDP.

… Ryan is also known as having a deep allergy to debt. But such a  concern isn’t evident in his voting record. He voted for the George W. Bush tax cuts, as well as the war in Iraq and the unfunded Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. Perhaps his most ambitious policy proposal prior to his celebrated budgets was the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, a plan to privatize Social Security. The program’s actuaries found that Ryan’s plan would require $2.4 trillion in additional costs over the first 10 years, and the Bush administration ultimately dismissed it as “irresponsible.”

… But the real north star of Ryan’s policy record isn’t deficits or spending, though he often uses those concerns in service of his agenda. It’s radically reforming the way the federal government provides public services, usually by privatizing or devolving those public services away from the federal government.

That was, again, the George W. Bush administration calling Ryan fiscally “irresponsible.” There aren’t many people the Bush administration could look down on when it comes to fiscal irresponsibility, but Ryan’s budget-exploding $2.4 trillion proposal made him one of them. Compared to Paul Ryan’s approach to fiscal responsibility, George W. Bush looks like Bill Clinton.

Also from Team Ezra, Suzy Khimm crunches the numbers and finds “Ryan wants to give the wealthy even bigger tax cuts than Romney does.” And Dylan Matthews explores “Paul Ryan’s non-budget policy record, in one post.”

Grist’s Philip Bump looks at Paul Ryan’s environmental record (not good), and the Human Rights Campaign looks at his record on LGBT equality (even worse).

Republican pundit David Frum looks at “What’s Right and Wrong in the Ryan Plan.” Final tally, according to Frum: Ryan is “right” about three things in his plan; Ryan is “dangerously wrong” about four things in his plan; and Ryan is “wrong, wrong, wrong” about one other aspect of his plan.

Frum also predicts/describes “The Coming Democratic Attack Barrage” against Paul Ryan:

A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65 — and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”

That ad will draw blood and will — as Henry Kissinger used to say — have the additional merit of being true.

The Romney-Ryan campaign should be worried about the prospect of such a devastatingly truthful ad. And they should be even more worried that Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate will wind up putting those Nuns on the Bus back on the road. As Rachel Maddow put it:

Don’t mess with nuns. It’s not a warning. It’s not advice. It’s not a threat. It’s fact that I have learned from personal experience. Ask anybody in my family, if you mess with nuns, you will lose every time. You will always regret messing with nuns.

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  • AnonymousSam

    Completely off-topic, but you mentioned Meijer and suddenly I’m vaguely homesick. There’s a store chain here called Fred Meyer and it’s not the same thing. I say Meijer and I get pointed at a small grocery store.

    I vaguely miss Michigan. Too bad it went straight to Hell after I left.

  • Joshua

    I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be a gaffe or something? 

    Truthfully, that was pretty much my response to all that I read on that link. At least, all that did seem to be refuting things Obama actually said, when I eventually found some.

    I put it down to the fact that I frequently didn’t know what they were talking about, not being a USAian, but it may be that there just isn’t anything there.

  • Lori

     I totally understand. When I lived in California and would visit my parents I always wanted to go to Meijers. No reason except that it’s tied up somehow with “home”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Below the poll is the list of all Obamateurisms of the week for 2012.  Highlights include…
    That list of highlights, which I assume includes your strongest evidence that Obama lies as much as Romney does, contains precisely one false statement: that it would be unprecedented and extraordinary for the Supreme Court to overturn a federal law. If your assertion that Obama lies as much as Romney does is true, then surely you can do better than that. And in case you’re somehow not clear on the situation, it’s not Maddow or MaddowBlog saying Romney lies so much as it’s MaddowBlog pointing out places where Romney says things contrary to fact or contrary to previous statements of Romney’s.
    And the ‘you didn’t build that’ bit? False only if one assumes, contrary to what context makes clear, that ‘that’ means one’s business, rather than the roads that carry one’s customers and one’s products to one’s place of business and the government programs that mean people can be customers for more things than just food and rent, and that one built one’s business all by oneself, without borrowing or being given startup capital, without taking advantage of tax and other incentives designed to encourage the start-up and growth of businesses, without hiring anyone whose labor and/or ideas made the business more profitable than it would otherwise be.

  • Lori

    Exactly. The Right wing complaints about “you didn’t build that” are themselves untrue, so using that as an example of Obama lying is rather ironic. 

  • aunursa

    I’m sorry, then.  I’m failing to understand your point.  If you want to discuss it further, you can email me at aunursa (at) comcast (dot) net.

  • aunursa

    Since it will never, ever happen in any way, shape or form it doesn’t matter that I didn’t phrase the questions in an unbiased way.

    I’ve read a lot of funny things today, but that is the funniest. 

    For the last freaking time—no one has ever said or suggested that people are going to vote against Romney soley because of his tax returns. That doesn’t mean that the returns are the total non-issue that you want them to be.

    It isn’t a matter of whether I want them to be or not.  They simply aren’t an issue.

    And note the difference between the following assertions:

    No one will to vote against Romney solely because of his refusal to release his tax returns.
    I am not making this assertion.

    No one will base his or her decision to vote or for select a candidate based on Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns.
    I am making this assertion.

  • aunursa

    The issue is that Republicans are the party of self-righteous family values and hatin’ on teh ghays, so there’s nearly always an extra layer of hypocrisy to their sex scandals.

    The person to whom my comment was directed claimed that it was not about hypocrisy. 

  • aunursa

    I could write 250 words that no one would be able to tell didn’t come straight off a right wing blog.

    I would bet that you could not.  Without the assistance of conservative materials to review, I would bet that you would write a charicature of what you think is the typical thought process of conservative intellectuals.

    You reject my assertion that I understand liberal arguments better than almost anyone here understands conservative arguments, but you’re not will to test the assertion.

    You accuse me of being wrong about the relevance of Romney’s tax returns to voters, but you’re not willing to take a poll that might in some small way test that assertion.

    You cite your own assertions as fact, and you reject my assertions out of hand.  You reject surveys by respected pollsters that support my assertions.  But of the two of us, I’m the only one willing to put my assertions to the test.  I’m confident enough that I’m willing to let you conduct the survey and I trust you to report the results.  I’m willing to take a test to determine the validity of my assertion that I better understand your point of view than you understand mine.  I’ve finally figured you out:  you’re just a windbag.

  • PJ Evans


  • Tonio

    Lori might see the issue as about hypocrisy, but I was speaking only for myself. My original point was that it’s false equivalence to respond to condemnations of Larry Craig with some version of “but what about John Edwards.” That might be a fair response if the originalm condemnation was of Mark Sanford. In the strictly technical sense, Craig was attempting to cheat on his wife as well. But I condemn him not necessarily for that but for promoting hatred and discrimination toward a group while pretending not to be a member. I choose not to call that hypocrisy because that wrongly focuses on his character and not on the millions he has harmed by denying them civil rights. His having been in the closet, like Rekers and Haggard, illustrates the phoniness of their demagoguery – they were selling other gays down the river for their own gain.

  • Tonio

    It would be also false equivalence to compare Sanford with Bill Clinton, although in this case Sanford comes out looking better. Simple infidelity and misuse of travel funds aren’t as immoral as abuse of power (sleeping with a subordinate) and lying under oath.

  • Lori


    I am making this assertion.  

    You’re an idiot.

  • Lori

    I would bet that you could not.  Without the assistance of conservative
    materials to review, I would bet that you would write an easily
    recognizable caricature of what you think is the typical thought process
    of conservative intellectuals.  

    You’re an idiot. I hear Conservative opinions literally every single day. Some because I seek them out, others because I can’t escape from them. I have no need to “review”.


    You reject my assertion that I understand liberal arguments better than
    almost anyone here understands conservative arguments, but you’re not
    will to test the assertion. 

    You apparently have reading comprehension problems. I firmly believe that if you wanted to you could produce a reasonable facsimile of a Liberal opinion piece. I don’t care. Because A) being able to reproduce something doesn’t prove understanding and B) the comments of this blog aren’t an essay contest, they’re a discussion. What you bring to the discussion is not a clear-eyed understanding of both sides of the issues, it’s partisan hackery.

    You accuse me of being wrong about the relevance of Romney’s tax returns
    to voters, but you’re not willing to take a poll that might in some
    small way test that assertion.

    The “small test” you propose is so small as to be pointless. Of course I’m not going to actually do it. If you want to see what a handful of random folks at the grocery store think you feel free to go right ahead and ask them.

    You reject surveys by respected pollsters that support my assertions.  

    The problems with many of the polls you link to have been discussed here many times, in great detail, by people other than me. The fact that you’re trying to turn your obsession with (badly conducted) polls that say what you want to hear into my issue says a great deal about you. It isn’t good.

    I’ve finally figured you out:  you’re just a windbag. 

    I’m truly wounded. I don’t know how I can go on without your respect.

  • Tonio

    This business about the “typical thought process of conservative intellectuals” sounds like a convoluted tone argument. I’m reminded of how opponents of same-sex marriage insist that it’s not fair to call the homophobes for “wanting to preserve traditional marriage.” Without unpacking the assumptions behind that last phrase, their motives don’t matter, because what they advocate has the effect of denying civil rights based to people based on sexual orientation. Similarly, Aunursa’s posts imply that everyone else here really believes that self-labeled conservatives like to kick puppies for fun. (I’m deliberately avoiding using the C and L labels myself.) Many of us have been told him over and over that when someone advocating positions that cause cruelty, the person’s intentions and motivations aren’t relevant. If I accidentally step on someone’s foot, the right thing for me to do is apologize, not to become defensive about not intending to hurt the person’s foot.

  • Lori

    That’s a good point, and ties into the conversation we had recently about why “nice” homophobes really can’t complain about being lumped in with openly not-nice homophobes.

    I also think we’re getting perilously close to No True Scotsman. There’s not much point in continuing once you get there. 

  • S Crosby

    Wow.  Do you guys (Patheos) have anyone who discusses issues from a center-right perspective?  It would be helpful broaden the horizon a bit.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Given that Romney’s Mormonism is anathema to fundamentalists….

    I’m pretty sure that’s not much of an issue right now.   At this point, I think most members of the Republicanist cult would vote for Emperor Nero if he was on the ticket running against Barack Obama.

    Now, AFTER the election, if Mitt fails, they’ll immediately do a 180 and go back to insisting Mormonism is a devil-cult, but until then, they’re all brothers in the arms of Lord Reagan.  :-P

  • Nobama

    Not true. Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor Joe Biden are protestant. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    [citation nee–who am I kidding, look at your handle. He says he’s Christian, the churches he’s on record as attending–remember the Jeremiah Wright incident?–are Protestant churches, that seems pretty clear indication that he’s Protestant, and if you’re going to try to refute that, you need to provide evidence that he’s lying and that the Jeremiah Wright incident never happened.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Wow.  Do you guys (Patheos) have anyone who discusses issues from a
    center-right perspective?  It would be helpful broaden the horizon a

    They’re called “Democrats”.

  • Eminnith

    Patheos is a rather large website, with a fair range of different kinds of blogs. If you do not see what you want here at the Slacktivist blog, click on one of the links to other channels down at the bottom of the page. You might be able to find a center-right Atheist blog or a center-right Spirituality blog or a center-right Muslim blog (the Catholic channel appears to have noone near the center AFAICT).

  • Yes, the whole game is a parody of Atlas Shrugged, it even has the same basic premise (i.e. the so-called “productive” people withdraw from society to create their own utopia except it turns into a dystopian fascist state under Andrew Ryan and then unregulated use of a new chemical leads to everyone becoming insane, drug-addicted mutants).

  • Tonio

    That’s probably because Romney has been playing the race card so heavily. It’s the same political faction that formed as a response to the threat of losing tax-exempt status for their segregated schools. They still care less about Mormons allegedly being heretics and more about preserving white exceptionalism and white privilege. 

  • joyce

    Are the “Nuns on the Bus” simply women who care about humanity (rightly so), but are Catholic Christrians who have forgetten about what abortion is, and especially late sage obortion, and obortion just because it is a convenient form of birth control?  I totally support their efforts toward mankind, but we cannot overlook what they ignore in trying to accomplisth their goal.

  • PJ Evans

     How about considering that the nuns care that people shouldn’t have to have kids that are the result of rape or incest, 0r that put the life of the mother in danger?
    The Republicans don’t care about that: they’d rather see those women die.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, abortion’s a convenient form of birth control compared to all the others. So much easier to do a large dose of hormones that’ll fuck with your system massively than daily small doses, and so much easier to have abdominal surgery than to use a condom. Ever, ever so much easier to wait through months and months of health problems and discomfort and potential risk to one’s life until a fetus is days from birth (healthy birth, of course, there’s no such thing as a pregnancy that goes horribly wrong in the end stages) and have an abortion than to have an abortion before anyone else has noticed that one is pregnant.
    Joyce, has it ever once occurred to you that there’d be less demand for abortion if there were less opposition to contraception?