• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail