Let's Get Ahead of Ourselves: Romney Wins, Dies and Paul Ryan Takes Over? Introducing Paul Ryan's America

paul ryan rnc.jpg
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Hope you're rich because this is Paul Ryan's America.
For a moment, let's talk fantasy. Let's say Mitt Romney somehow overcomes all of his apparent weakness -- Bain Capital rapaciousness, tax-record speculation, rich-guy aloofness -- and somehow ekes past President Obama in November in one of the narrowest victories in recent American politics. Democrats are swept into apoplexy, Paul Krugman's head implodes, and Rush Limbaugh launches a spectacularly insane campaign of agitprop.

But then, something strange happens. People accept Mitt and realize he's not all that radical after all. He passed state-wide medicare health care in Massachusetts, didn't he? Things can't get that bad, right? Then -- because Democrats are always wrong -- they do.

Weeks later, Romney dies. Just like that. Gone. Massive heart failure, they say. Ryan is rushed before Chief Justice John Roberts, who administers the oath of office and, incredibly enough, we have our 46th commander and chief. President Paul Ryan.

Deep breaths, people. This is a very real situation. Nearly one-fifth of presidents have died while in office, so it's not completely out of the realm of probable conjecture that Romney will croak while president.

What would such a scenario mean for America? What would a Paul Ryan America look like?

Ryan, a congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin, who also chairs the House Budget Committee is perhaps best known for his budget, which House republicans passed last April before the Senate vanquished it. The item is a manifesto ascribing all American woes to the fact that the rich ain't rich enough, and the poor ain't poor enough. Ryan has repeatedly said that he believes in a county that sacrifices "equality of outcome" for "equality of opportunity."

It's entirely possible that if Romney won the election, defeating the nation's most popular Democrat, that most of the other losers got booted as well. That means a Republican House, Senate, and presidency. So a Ryan presidency would have the support he'd need to furnish -- for all Americans -- a grand shift in our national aesthetic.

In a Ryan administration, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which Ryan co-sponsored with Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri (yes that Todd Akin) will be passed into law, granting every fertilized egg "the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood." Even in cases of rape and incest.

And he'll only be getting started. Since the dawning of the New Deal through Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the United States has been a large, functioning welfare state. Ryan would irrevocably change all of that, bringing us back to the Gilded Era when companies like Standard Oil Company determined the fate of the country -- and he'd do it all espousing the tenets of Atlas Shrugged, which deifies the wealthy while demonizing the poor.

The premise, first introduced to the United States by Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics, is that market-based economies work best when they operate devoid of any intervention or regulation. But in a Ryan America, he'll do more than deregulate certain markets, he'll privatize the government writ large. Think Helena Brown times gajillion.

Here's how he'd affect the exorbitantly wealthy: He'd eliminate taxes on capital gains, which are profits made in stock or bond market trading. Capital gains account for nearly 60 percent of the income generated by the Forbes 400, according to Forbes. Here's how he'd affect the disenfranchised: He'd raise the age of medicare coverage from 65 to 67, "leaving many 65- and 66-year-olds without any health coverage at all," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He's also cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other programs assisting the poor.

Then, the coffers would be stripped of revenues generated by estate taxes, meaning that gargantuan inheritances will be passed down in total to the following generations. These cuts, Ryan says, will be absorbed by closing various tax loopholes, though to date, he hasn't mentioned one single loophole he'd shutter. And in a time of skyrocketing tuition costs, he'll seal the deal on the middle class by slashing Pell Grants by $850 -- all but eliminating President Obama's $1,000 increase. That will mean more student loans, higher interest rates, greater youth stagnation.

Don't kid yourself. These plans are very, very radical. They will, by all accounts, vastly increase our nation's inequality problems -- shattering any notion of social mobility in the United States. We'd become a nation of profound inertia. Every parent tells their child they can be anything they want to be in America, but in a Paul Ryan America that, frankly, wouldn't be true. If you're poor -- you'll stay poor.

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9 comments
pieboy
pieboy

Paul Ryan has one of the most punchable faces in recent US political history. He, quite simply, has no soul, and believes wealth (inherited wealth, I might add) equates to superiority. and because he is wealthy, he believes he is immune to the standards of honesty, integrity and accountability. Unfortunately, there are so many more like him. all he wants to do is get elected and help thos e like him.

StrobotAllen
StrobotAllen

Dear Author (Terrence Mccoy apparently), I'm assuming with your brief review of the capital gains tax that you don't really have any personal experience with these evil "taxes" as you didn't differentiate.  Perhaps you have never sold a stock or land or anything that would qualify you as having an "adult's financial portfolio."  Long term capital gains taxes are generally 15% for the wealthy (and less for those in the lower income tax brackets).  See, corporations sell stock to fund their business, buy equipment, employ people, etc.  In exchange for holding onto that stock for longer than a year, watching the company grow, then selling it for cash--one gets taxed at the long term rate.  It really should be less or nothing, as you are investing in companys vis a vis individuals futures.  Now short term capital gains taxes occur when a stock, asset, etc is sold at less than a year.  One who does this is assumed to be more into stock market speculation (true or not) and is taxed a higher rate generally 35%. (Relatedly: High tax rates are also enforced for bonus for "corporate fat cats")

 

What is wrong to encourage people to invest in corporations?  

auslander
auslander

These Republicans all wax nostalgic about the America of their parents. And they should: America was a better, more fair, and prosperous place 30 or 40 years ago.

There was more opportunity if you worked hard: today the stats show kids from poor parents have much less chance of success, even if they excel in school; while kids from wealthy parents have a much greater chance, even if they are horrible students. So, Paul's 'equality of opportunity' is a great idea, but the data shows it's a nostalgic fantasy, and things have been going the wrong direction. And sadly nothing in their economic 'plan' is going to reverse this trend.

Eliot C. Hall
Eliot C. Hall

I bet the Koch brothers have already assigned the contract

Anse
Anse

I try to avoid superlatives when it comes to politics. I have a lot of family and friends that are uber-conservative fans of the Tea Party, and I've long learned how to be diplomatic. But honestly, I'm worried. The rightwing has grown more hysterical over the last couple of decades. It's really hard to debate folks who think the earth is 6,000 years old and climate change is a liberal conspiracy. But worse yet, it's the audacious, arrogant way in which they truly *revel* in their ignorance, as if it is some kind of honor to disregard the facts, and repeat the falsehoods ad nauseum. That is scary. I have to think eventually this whole thing is going to implode on itself.

edhulse_2000
edhulse_2000

Obama himself is cutting $700 billion from medicare to pay for Obamacare...an unproven government run health care plan.  Risky?

Those on medicare already will not get it taken away from them if the age is raised to 67.  Nothing will change for those 55 and older already on it.

 

Please do some fact checking

Livelystone
Livelystone

Using your same scenario, Obama wins, dies, and Biden takes over! Holy cow momma, now you got troubles - LOL

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