Jim Hightower: Ryan's joke is on us
My guess is that Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Party's highly touted budget guru, doesn't have a very tight grip on the concept of irony.
Otherwise, why would he choose April Fools' Day to release the latest version of what the GOP intends to do to federal programs (and to the people who count on them) if it takes total control of Congress? But there he was on April 1, declaring with a straight face that, "We (Republicans) believe that we owe it to the country to offer an alternative to the status quo. It's just that simple."
Sure it's simple. He just Xeroxes the same stale budgetary flimflams that he always puts out, even though the public keeps upchucking at the sight of them. Ryan's "alternative" to the status quo is taking Americans back to the harsh days before there were any programs to help unemployed, elderly, sick, and other people in need.
Ryan envisions turning Medicare into a privatized "WeDon'tCare" program. He wants to outright pull the plug on the new health care law that just extended coverage to millions of people, replacing it with, uh, nothing.
The Wisconsin Republican's budget scheme also slashes job training, education, infrastructure repairs, medical research, public broadcasting, the arts, and pretty much anything else that regular people need.
Still, he claims that he's "helping" — in an ideological, Republicany way. For example, Ryan explains that whacking food stamps "empowers recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payrolls."
What payrolls, you ask? That's not my problem, says the guy drawing $174,000 a year and a gold package of benefits from the government he pretends to despise.
Yeah, let 'em eat right-wing ideology. I wish it were all an April Fools' joke. But Ryan's joke is on us.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.