Vice presidential hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan gave a rousing speech at the NRC in Tampa on Wednesday night. But like every good politician, he left out the details on how the Romney-Ryan economic plan would affect the individual lives of the voters he was trying to win over.
Ryan said, "Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work. Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed. Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. "
He's right. Poverty and unemployment are too high. But change comes slow in a sluggish economy strangled by a Congress that refuses to act, and Ryan has been part of that congress for decades.
Yet the Romney-Ryan economic plan does not solve the problems of unemployment and poverty; it makes them worse.
"House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $133.5 billion — more than 17 percent — over the next ten years…ending assistance for millions of low-income families," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Both Ryan and Romney have repeated that they don't believe Americans should rely on food stamps to survive. It is their contention, as it has been reiterated by most Republicans, that everyone in America should get a job and make enough money to be self-sufficient. Welcome to Fairyland.
Average rent in the U.S. is $820 a month. It costs a family of four up to $1,036 a month for food, according to USDA data. That's $1,836 a month, or $22,272 a year, and that doesn't include medical expenses, day care, gas, electric, phone service, clothing, travel expenses to school or work, car payments, or any other costs involved in living in a working-class world.
But Ryan and Romney still don't believe that the government should play a role in assisting working-class Americans, or even in raising the minimum wage.
As with much of the Romney-Ryan budget plan, the numbers just don't add up.
Working full time (40 hours a week) at the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour only comes to $15,080 a year, before tax withholding. That's $7,192 less than just rent and food alone. It's also $7,970 below the poverty line for a family of four.
The numbers are a little better if there are two or more incomes in the family, but it is still not enough to live on, let alone save for emergency expenses or a college education.
In his speech on Wednesday, Ryan said he wanted to generate "12 million new jobs over the next four years" to solve the unemployment problem. But he never said how he would create them, what kind of jobs he had in mind, or if they would pay more than minimum wage. And the number itself should be called into question.
Only four presidents in the past 50 years have created more than 10 million jobs, and three of them were Democrats; Jimmy Carter added 10.5 million jobs in a single term, Lyndon Johnson created 11.9 million in a term-and-a-half, and Bill Clinton created 23.1 million in two terms. The Democrat-turned-Republican, Ronald Reagan, came in third with 16 million jobs during his two terms.
Despite Ryan's lofty claims on job creation, his budget plan is actually a job-killer.
The Economic Policy Institute reports, "Paul Ryan’s latest budget doesn’t just fail to address job creation, it aggressively slows job growth. Against a current policy baseline, the budget cuts discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, sucking demand out of the economy when it most needs it and leading to job loss. Using a standard macroeconomic model that is consistent with that used by private- and public-sector forecasters, the shock to aggregate demand from near-term spending cuts would result in roughly 1.3 million jobs lost in 2013 and 2.8 million jobs lost in 2014, or 4.1 million jobs through 2014."
America is suffering from a decade of bad trickle-down economic policy that has favored the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. Obama may not have done enough to make it better, but at least he is smart enough to know that expanding bad policy only makes things worse.
Politicians are good liars and Ryan is no exception. But the truth often does not sound as good as a lie, and it certainly would not win many votes.
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