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.”
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.