FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Paul Ryan Was a Villain and No One Will Miss Him

Each New Year’s, my wife and I indulge one of our favorite traditions: the household purge. We scour our closets for stuff that’s just taking up space, quietly draining our home’s energy, and move it along. I can’t recommend it enough.

This year, America’s doing the same thing — and putting House Speaker Paul Ryan out on the curb.

For years, the ten-term Wisconsin Republican — who’s retiring as Democrats prepare to take over the House — enjoyed an improbable reputation as a “deficit hawk” and “deep thinker” about fiscal issues.

Year after year, as House budget chairman, Ryan would roll out his latest “blueprint.” He’d literally roll up his sleeves for the cameras and detail his latest plans to slash rich people’s taxes and scale back public services for everyone else.

For a while, mainstream liberals greeted Ryan as a serious interlocutor.

They treated his plans to privatize Medicare, eviscerate Social Security, and shred the safety net as valid viewpoints in the Adult Conversation they wanted politics to be. Even if you didn’t agree with him, they said, you had to admit Ryan “had a plan” to “deal with the debt.”

That scam propelled Ryan to the House speakership in 2015. Then the long con really took off.

For five straight years before Ryan took over, deficits had declined. By the time he gave his self-satisfied farewell, they’d increased by $343 billion — a product of Ryan’s tax breaks for corporations and millionaires, which will cost $2 trillion over the next decade.

Thanks to the very deficit he created, Ryan then left office warning that Congress needed to cut — you guessed it — Medicare and Social Security. (No doubt he’s still stinging from his 2017 failure to throw 24 million Americans off their health care — a feat of pure sociopathy he actually said he’d been dreaming about since he “was drinking out of kegs.”)

Ryan was never a serious thinker and he didn’t care about debt. He was a frat bro from a wealthy family who read a lot of Ayn Rand, a writer who called it “a disease” to do anything good for “the primordial savages” who made up “the collective” —  i.e., the public.

A bad model for public servants, if you ask me.

True to his training, Ryan presided over a massive cash grab by America’s billionaires and left the rest of us “savages” to pick at the scraps. No wonder Ryan never mounted that “principled conservative” challenge to Donald Trump in 2016 — on this they agreed entirely.

Ryan’s crimes go beyond what fits in spreadsheets. After signing off on over $700 billion for the Pentagon — no austerity for that agency, which has never passed an audit — Ryan concluded his speakership with an act of pure villainy. He tucked a provision into this year’s Farm Bill that prevented even a debate on ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

The UN calls that war the greatest humanitarian crisis on the planet. It’s caused over 85,000 children to starve to death. Almost miraculously, after years of inaction, the U.S. Senate just concluded a remarkable bipartisan vote to get the U.S. out of it.

In stymieing that effort with low procedural tricks, Ryan “used the Farm Bill to starve children,” as The American Conservative put it.

The silver lining is that Ryan’s villainy — like Trump’s — spurred the growth of powerful movements to expand health care, rebalance the economy, and get the U.S. out of immoral wars.  Lawmakers from those movements — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and others — and a new House majority can now get to work burying Ryan’s legacy forever.

No one who isn’t a billionaire — or a bombmaker — will miss him.

More articles by:

January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail