Paul Ryan's 7 Terrible Ideas

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Paul Ryan's 7 Terrible Ideas

The new Republican Speaker of the House has a lot of ideas. They are nearly uniformly dumb and destructive. (Photo: Paul Ryan/Twitter)

Yesterday, the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, summed up his House Republican agenda – vowing to pursue legislation that would frame a stark choice for voters in 2016.





“Our No. 1 goal for the next year is to put together a complete alternative to the left’s agenda,” he said. 

Despite the speech’s sweeping oratory and careful stagecraft, Ryan clings to seven dumb ideas that are also cropping up among Republican presidential candidates. 

Here they are, and here’s why they’re dumb:

1. Reduce the top income-tax rate to 25% from the current 39%.  A terrible idea.  It’s a huge windfall to the rich at a time when the rich already take home a larger share of total income that at any time since the 1920s.

2. Cut corporate taxes to 25% from the current 35%.  Another bad idea.  A giant sop to corporations, the largest of which are already socking away $2.1 trillion in foreign tax shelters.

3. Slash spending on domestic programs like food stamps and education for poor districts.  What?!  Already 22% of the nation’s children are in poverty; these cuts would only make things worse.

4. Turn Medicaid and other federal programs for the poor into block grants for the states, and let the states decide how to allocate them.  In other words, give Republican state legislatures and governors slush funds to do with as they wish.

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5. Turn Medicare into vouchers that don’t keep up with increases in healthcare costs.  In effect cutting Medicare for the elderly.  Another awful idea.

6.  Deal with rising Social Security costs by raising the retirement age for Social Security.  Bad!  This would make Social Security even more regressive, since the poor don’t live nearly as long as the rich.

7. Finally, let the minimum wage continue to decline as inflation eats it away.  Wrong again.  Low wage workers need a higher minimum wage.

These 7 ideas will harm most Americans.  Ryan is wrong.

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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