Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last Call For The Ryan Plan 3.0

Not content with his goal to turn Medicare and Medicaid into block grants that states will then use for purposes other than healthcare, Rep. Paul Ryan now turns his austerity machine upon those awful poor people in an attempt to block grant them out of existence.

Ryan, known as the Republican Party’s budget guru and a former vice presidential nominee, argued that disparate federal aid programs should be consolidated into “Opportunity Grants” to states, which would have the freedom to experiment with more flexible programs administered by certified providers like non-profit or community groups. No state would be required to participate in the program, which Ryan says would be budget neutral. The Wisconsin lawmaker and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, laid out the plan in a USA Today op-ed Thursday. 
Ryan, whose previous budget plans have been excoriated by Democrats in national ad campaigns as heartless slashes to crucial safety net programs, tried to strike a compassionate tone in his remarks Thursday, saying that he’s visited poor communities during the last year seeking solutions. “When I went to Milwaukee or Denver or Indianapolis, nobody asked me what party I belonged to,” he said. “They welcomed anybody who was willing to listen and learn. That should be our approach in Washington.”

Let's take a look at Operation Opportunity Grants, shall we?

Here's how the program would work: Each state that wanted to participate would submit a plan to the federal government. That plan would lay out in detail the state's proposed alternative. If everything passed muster, the federal government would give the green light. And the state would get more flexibility to combine things such as food stamps, housing subsidies, child care assistance and cash welfare. This simpler Opportunity Grant would include the same money as current law. 
Plans would be approved on four conditions: The state would have to spend all funding on people in need. Second, the state would have to hold people accountable through work requirements and time limits for every able-bodied recipient just as there are for cash welfare today. 
Third, the state would have to offer at least two service providers. The state welfare agency couldn't be the only game in town. And fourth, the state would have to measure progress through a neutral third party to keep track of key metrics.

So privatize the system first of all, giving billions in dollars meant to help the needy to corporations whose goal is to wring as much profit out of this as possible.  And of course we would need to have multiple corporations doing this to encourage competition.  You know, just like your cable company.  And then we'd have to of course hire more corporations to make sure the other corporations are doing their jobs. Yeah, that'll solve the problem with inefficiency and fraud.

Second, let's make getting poverty programs even harder to get into than getting good-paying jobs that don't exist, and then slap arbitrary limits on these programs so that people will magically find jobs or face starvation, eviction, or worse.  Because misery and shame creates good workers and magically produces jobs, or something.

If approved, the state could use that money to expand state programs and to partner with local service providers. Families in need would have a choice. There wouldn't just be a state agency. Instead, they could choose from approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to their neighborhood. These groups could provide a more personalized form of aid through case management.

It's cute that Ryan thinks that state leaders, particularly in red states, will give block grant cash to non-profits instead of lining their pockets the same way they have by privatizing schools and prisons.

In short, we would re-conceive the federal government's role in the fight against poverty. Instead of trying to supplant local communities, the federal government would support them. Communities have to lead this effort, and Washington should follow.

In short, Republicans are going to raid and profitize welfare at the expense of taxpayers and the needy, won't it?  And the best part is red state governments will be able to throw as many ridiculous requirements as possible.  Nobody will meet the criteria to actually benefit from the programs, and the corporations will pocket the difference.

If you think about it, there's no other possible "poverty program reforms" that Ryan could have arrived at. The three basic tenets of Republicanism in 2014 are:

  1. The only person keeping you from being a millionaire is you.
  2. Taxation is theft, but shame costs nothing.
  3. If it will piss liberals off, we'll do it. 

Put those three together and poof!  Classic Paul Ryanism.

Oh, but it gets even more awesome with the integrated shame component:

The "discussion draft" submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the House Budget Committee on potential solutions to poverty in America includes the proposal that low-income Americans would have to sign "contracts" in order to remain eligible for social safety net benefits, such as food stamps, or SNAP. The contract would include: benchmarks, such as finding a job, enrolling in employment training, or even meeting "new acquaintances outside circle of poverty"; a "timeline" in which individuals are contractually-obligated to meet those benchmarks; bonuses for meeting benchmarks early; and "sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract"

We're subjecting the poor to contracts and sanctions now.  That's compassionate conservatism from today's GOP!

Walsh-ed Out Of The Service

That loud sucking sound you're hearing coming from the direction of Montana is actually not Brian Schweitzer's career going down the tubes, but that of his former Lt. Governor and appointed senator replacing Max Baucus, John Walsh.  Walsh it seems is a military man, only his 2007 master's thesis for the US Army War College appears to be massively plagiarized.

Democrats were thrilled when John Walsh of Montana was appointed to the United States Senate in February. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war and former adjutant general of his state’s National Guard, Mr. Walsh offered the Democratic Party something it frequently lacks: a seasoned military man. 
On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues. 
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.

Oh, it gets worse.

Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online. 
Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic
In his third recommendation, for example, Mr. Walsh writes: “Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates.” 
The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it. In addition, significant portions of the language in Mr. Walsh’s paper can be found in a 1998 essay by a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.

So, yeah.  Walsh was in trouble, trailing Republican Steve Daines for Baucus's seat by around 12 points, he had even narrowed it to 7 points in the latest PPP poll out Monday, and as Talking Points Memo reminds us:

Senator Walsh released every single evaluation that he received during his 33-year military career, which shows an honorable and stellar record of service to protecting Montana and serving this country in Iraq.

Where this goes now is up to the people of Montana.

GOP Minority Outreach, Con't

Republicans keep happily reminding people exactly how they feel about "illegal immigrants" and by that term I mean "anybody darker than Orange Julius".

Anti-immigrant activist William Gheen this month said that the increase of undocumented immigrants crossing the border into the U.S. is more dangerous than an al Qaeda attack. 
In an interview on the Tea Party News Network, host Larry Altman asked Gheen how many undocumented immigrants might be "affiliated with Al Qaeda."

Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been designated ahate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, launched into an answer about how immigrants will destroy America. 
"Well, what the illegals that are coming — and especially the ones that are coming from China — are going to do to America are much more powerful and lasting impacts than anything Al Qaeda could blow up, short of a nuclear detonation," he began.

Hello, my Asian friends.  You're the new Latino, which is apparently like being the new black folks, only that people resent you for being smarter than them rather than the other way around.

"And how do you put a price tag on a family, let’s say that’s been in the United States for 300 years, and four or five different members of that family have gone off to World War II and Korea and maybe World War I to fight for the American way of life, and then finally they get to their grandson that’s alive in the year 2020 who doesn’t get to go to the college of their choice because invaders have been brought in the country and put in those seats ahead of him," Gheen said. 
"That child’s life, that negatively impacts that child’s ability to self-actualize, to be all they can be, impacted because the future has been stolen by this usurpation, this treason, this treachery from the highest levels of our own government right here in the United States of America," he continued.

Some of our families have been "in this country" for more than 300 years.  Some of them were here already when your peeps showed up, man.  Some of them were brought here in chains.

You ever notice that with these guys it's always "You should hate group X that's different from you because they took your Y"?  I mean, there's a long an ugly history of that here in America and around the world for that matter, but apparently the classics never go out of style.


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