Why is Paul Ryan still considered a “serious” person…when he suffers from DCFS?

After a brief hiatus, Badger Democracy is back. We’ll get to Paul Ryan and deficit hawks in a moment, but first, some announcements.

Thanks to all followers of Badger Democracy for your comments and participation in 2012. 2013 will be a critical policy year in Wisconsin, so continue to stay informed and engaged in the democratic process. To that end, Badger Democracy will focus on media coverage of political events in Wisconsin, and look to fill the void, offering media criticism when and where appropriate.

Next, Congratulations and welcome back to Sly! There will again be a little balance on political talk radio in the state. Sly is taking over afternoon drive time with a three state on-air reach (Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa), and worldwide on the web. Starting February 4th, Sly will be heard from 3 – 6:30pm, Monday – Friday on 93.7 WEKZ-FM. Updates and archived segments will be available on the revamped “Sly’s Office.” Watch out Rahm and Pat Quinn, Sly can now be heard in Illinois…

Now, for Mr. Ryan. Congressman Ryan rejoined the ranks of “serious people” on Sunday, joining Greg Neumann on Capitol City Sunday. The Congressman from the 1st District of Wisconsin continued his litany of deficit reduction being of greatest importance to the fiscal health of the nation. Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan, he is suffering from DCFS – Deficit Crisis Fear Syndrome.

The President got his tax increase.  That pays for about five percent of the deficit, (and) spending is the ultimate part of the problem here that we have to deal with.  The President has been trying to hide, or stay away from a conversation about spending.  We gotta deal with spending.

I want to do this in a responsible way, but I do not want to let an opportunity slip by to get a control on spending, which we so desperately need if we’re going to prevent a debt crisis.

Classic DCFS (Deficit Crisis Fear Syndrome). If using serious language is the new standard for being taken seriously, our nation is in serious trouble. The media in Wisconsin needs to read the memo from real economists, and see through the talking points. The deficit is not our biggest problem. Chronic, long term unemployment is our biggest problem. What the new breed of conservatives refuse to acknowledge is that by creating real, family-supporting jobs and an increase in revenue, our deficit problem will be solved.

Brad DeLong illustrates the point rather nicely today.

…policies to reduce the deficit in the short run–before 2016, say–are highly, highly likely to actually increase the long-run burden of the national debt. Even making the unlikely assumption that deficit reduction in the near future would reduce rather than increase the long-run burden of the debt, the fact is that the debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio is now stable until at least 2020. A lower debt-to-GDP ratio would be a good thing in the long run, but there is absolutely no urgency. And there is enormous urgency in getting the economy moving again. (emphasis added)

“Moving again…”- as in investment to create those illusive, family-supporting jobs that pay more than $15/hour. The truth about the deficit is, that with the current growth of the economy (as slow as it is) and recent revenue measures, the debt-to-GDP ratio is already beginning to stabilize. Paul Krugman posted the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities graph last Thursday:

Image

 

The vertical line represents the projected debt as a percentage of GDP. Each colored line projection represents a different scenario affecting the deficit. Krugman breaks down the analysis:

The blue line at the top represents the projected path of that ratio as of early 2011 — that is, before recent agreements on spending cuts and tax increases. This projection showed a rising path for debt as far as the eye could see.

Conservatives are framing the discussion as if that dark blue line represents the current fiscal reality, because it re-enforces DCFS (Deficit Crisis Fear Syndrome)…but that is not the truth of the situation. Krugman continues:

The orange line shows the effects of those spending cuts and tax hikes (Budget Control Act 2011, American Taxpayer Relief Act 2013): As long as the economy recovers, which is an assumption built into all these projections, the debt ratio will more or less stabilize soon.

“The debt ratio will stabilize soon.” The CBPP advocates for an additional $1.4 trillion in combined revenue and spending cuts, represented by the red line. As a frame of reference, in 2010, debt-to-GDP exceeded 100% and has been on the decline – dropping to about 72% in 2012:

Based on the factual data, not Paul Ryan’s DCFS talking points, the deficit situation, even without any additional revenue or cuts, is stabilizing. It has been stabilizing since early 2011, a fact that is consistently ignored as the media continues allowing Ryan and company to get away with promoting their DCFS talking points.

The runaway debt crisis talking point is something that should be relegated to the 2012 election dustbin. The focus should really be jobs that get the economy moving again, and investment to make that a reality.

With all due respect to Greg Neumann, who is one of the best political reporters in the state, I would suggest referencing the final point from Krugman for his next interview with a conservative who attempts propagating Deficit Crisis Fear Syndrome (DCFS):

  …at this point reasonable projections do not, repeat do not, show anything resembling the runaway deficit crisis that is a staple of almost everything you hear, including supposedly objective news reporting.

Fear never solved anything. Paul Ryan and company need help getting over DCFS-Deficit Crisis Fear Syndrome, so we can get down to something REALLY serious – solving our long-term unemployment problem.

 

 

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Paul Ryan retains his Congressional seat…but is Tuesday’s biggest loser

Paul Ryan will still have a job, having defeated challenger Rob Zerban in his most competitive race since he first won election. What is getting very little attention in the mainstream media is that Ryan failed to carry his home communities of Janesville and Rock County. Zerban won his home County of Kenosha and Ryan’s home County, Rock. Not surprisingly, Ryan has the GOP-friendly redistricting and Waukesha County to thank.

Total vote:

Ryan –      199,715 –  55%

Zerban – 157,721 –  43%

Difference – 41,994

(Source – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

First, Ryan loses his home of Janesville and Rock County:

Rock County

Paul Ryan (Rep) 46.39% 18,826
Rob Zerban (Dem) 51.50% 20,902

Zerban + 2076

(Source: Rock County Clerk)

Zerban wins his home Kenosha County:

Kenosha County

Rob Zerban (DEM) 41101 52.27
Paul Ryan (REP) 36092 45.9

Zerban +5009

(Source: Kenosha County Clerk)

Zerban is competitive in Racine county:

Racine County

PAUL RYAN   –   50,106 –  48.21 %
ROB ZERBAN  -  47,618  - 45.81 %

Ryan +2488

(Source: Racine County Clerk)

Racine and Rock basically cancel each other out, leaving Zerban with a 5,000 vote lead. Walworth County gives Ryan a slight lead:

Walworth County

PAUL RYAN REP 27,890
ROB ZERBAN DEM 16,546

Ryan + 11,344

(Source: Walworth County Clerk)

After Rock, Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth County, Ryan is only ahead 6,747 votes out of 259,081 cast in those four counties, or 2.6%. Enter the GOP behemoth Waukesha County.

Paul Ryan    -   36,843

Rob Zerban –  12,688

Ryan + 24,155

(Source: Waukesha County Clerk)

After Waukesha County, Ryan’s lead is increased to 30,902 out of 308,612 votes cast, or 10% – a huge increase, and insurmountable.  Waukesha County accounts for nearly 50% of the margin of victory. Southern Milwaukee County adds almost the same pro-Ryan vote as Walworth County.

More Waukesha County for Ryan, larger margin of victory for the GOP, and a relatively “safe” seat.

2001 WI 1st CD map

2011 WI 1st CD map

Ryan wins thanks to favorable redistricting, even after losing his hometown. In the final analysis, Paul Ryan may have retained his House seat, but after the fight of his political career. This on the night he failed to deliver a critical Wisconsin for Mitt Romney, and Tammy Baldwin defeated a state political legend in Tommy Thompson.

The 43% of voters in the 1st Congressional District will undoubtedly have a close eye on Paul Ryan – as will Rob Zerban.

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Breaking : Paul Ryan’s Big Campaign Finance Problem

A story first reported on “Politicker” is picking up steam and has been confirmed. Paul Ryan appears to have violated FEC laws on campaign finance by paying for Republican National Convention expenses out of his Congressional Campaign account. By FEC law, candidates running for two offices simultaneously must keep separate accounts for each campaign.

According to the latest Ryan for Congress campaign finance report , Ryan’s Congressional campaign spent $59,603.41 specifically itemized as Convention Expenses (beginning on page 1219 of the report pdf).

The Ryan Campaign expenses include multiple rooms at multiple hotels during the convention, including the largest single expense of $34,854.35  at the Marriott Tampa Waterside, the Romney campaign’s base at the convention.

Ryan’s Campaign also paid $4,183.20 for hotel rooms at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, while the Wisconsin delegation was staying in a different hotel operated by the same chain, the Hyatt Regency Tampa. From the article on Politicker:

When we responded asking why so many rooms were purchased, Mr. Seifert sent another email claiming the additional rooms were for “other staff members.” He also provided initial information about the campaign’s spending at the Hyatt.

“As I said when we spoke, the 5 members of the Ryan for Congress staff were there for the full convention. Other staff members of Congressman Ryan’s attended parts of the convention–most notably Congressman Ryan’s keynote address,” Mr. Seifert wrote. “Ryan for Congress reserved 20 rooms at the Marriott and had a couple rooms at the Hyatt, where the Wisconsin Delegation was staying.”

Based on their own disclosure reports Mr. Seifert’s claim Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign purchased rooms at the hotel where the Wisconsin delegation was staying is untrue. Mr. Seifert has also not responded to a request asking for an explanation of this discrepancy.

Unless Ryan can prove these expenses were clearly for his Congressional Campaign use at the RNC, these discrepancies could be a significant issue – particularly in his local campaign for Congress. The race for the 1st CD has taken a back seat to the Presidential ticket, and challenger Rob Zerban is mounting a considerable challenge to Ryan.

Badger Democracy has emailed both Zerban and Ryan campaigns at this late hour for comment. Updates will be posted as available.

 

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The REAL Paul Ryan GM Janesville record – politics over people

Paul Ryan has been representing Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District since 1999. Ryan’s recent statements inferring that Barack Obama could have possibly saved the Janesville GM plant in 2009 are, at best, misleading; to be blunt, they are lies – especially as Ryan’s own record proves he knows better.

A report released as early as July, 2005 was an early warning that the Janesville plant was vulnerable to closing.  The study predicted decreased demand for SUVs manufactured at the Janesville plant, largely due to rising oil and gas prices:

If the cost of a barrel of oil rises to $80 or $100, possibly due to a supply disruption, gas prices would reach $2.86 to $3.37, according to the study, which may be enough to drive down demand for SUVs and larger pickup trucks.

The changes that this would bring would gravely impact the auto workers and the communities these manufacturers are in, said Walter S. McManus of the Transportation Research Institute.

Was it possible Ryan was unaware of this situation? Considering this report was cited in a July 28, 2005 article in the Wisconsin State Journal – not likely. Fast forward to 2008…

On June 3, 2008, Ryan issued a statement in response to the GM announcement that the closing of the Janesville plant by 2010 was imminent:

“Today’s news is downright gut-wrenching for Janesville. Growing up and living in Janesville, this is something we’ve always feared…It is my hope that as this 2010 shutdown date approaches, Janesville will be in a better position to reverse this decision.”

The same day, June 3, 2008, Ryan, Kohl, and Feingold issued a joint response to GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner. A key part of their response:

We ask that you reconsider the decision to close the Janesville GM plant and request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss GM’s plans for the Janesville plant, including the possibility of retooling the plant for different production lines.

Clearly, Ryan knew in mid-2008 the plant would be closing within the year.

In September 2008 Ryan and other state leaders, including Senators Kohl and Feingold, and then-Governor Jim Doyle scrambled to convince GM to keep the plant open. Ryan flew to Detroit with Jim Doyle that month to present an unprecedented package to GM Executives. The union concessions, combined with state and local tax breaks, amounted to a $195 million package for GM. Ryan also personally lobbied GM executives to keep the plant open. Again, clearly, Ryan was aware of the impending closure.

On October 13, 2008, Ryan issued a press release in response to the GM Janesville plant closing announcement:

GM’s decision to end production of their SUVs at the end of this year gets at the heart of our economic crisis. Today’s announcement is disappointing, although not surprising given the drop-off of sales of SUVs. (emphasis mine)

The press release itself refers back to the 2005 study (cited above) warning of the closure of the Janesville plant. In his own words, Ryan acknowledges the timing of the Janesville plant closure. By his own actions, he confirms the desperate attempts by Wisconsin officials to keep the plant open; in spite of the failing Bush economy.

Ryan even broke with his own party at the end of 2008 in a last-ditch attempt to save the Janesville plant; and to save face in his District. In November 2008, Ryan was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as being opposed to pending auto-industry bailout legislation:

Like most Republicans and a number of Democrats, Ryan opposes using part of the $700 billion financial bailout package to help the ailing industry, arguing it would not be the proper use of those funds.

“This is not what the (money) is for or should be for,” he said. “It was to save the broader economy from crashing.”

After the Thanksgiving recess, Ryan returned to Congress and voted against his party, to pass HR7321 on December 10, 2008. The legislation (sponsored by Barney Frank D-MA) approved $14 billion in auto industry bailout money. Ryan was 1 of only 32 Republicans to vote for the bill in  a 237-170 passage. Was this a last-ditch attempt to give GM resources  to re-open the Janesville plant? Or a political ploy to save face in his own district – ravaged by plant closings on his watch…

The Ryan record of words and actions are clear. Paul Ryan is now attempting to re-write the history and record of the Janesville GM plant closing. He leaves behind the workers in his district whose lives were turned upside-down; and moves ahead with his political career – taking no responsibility for the closing on his (and George W. Bush’s) watch.

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New Job Numbers and Paul Ryan – Fiscal Fraud, Moral Hypocrisy

Paul Ryan is being characterized by Republicans and main stream media alike as a “serious, wonkish, economic whiz kid.” He is the quintessential conservative; saviour of capitalism and the free market. Even Democratic pundits and politicians are saying “he’s a good guy”. Here’s something you won’t hear in the mainstream media – the disciple of Ayn Rand is an economic fraud. Moreover, he’s a hypocrite. Ryan recently denied following the philosophy of Ayn Rand, in spite of his own words and actions showing he wholly embraces Rand’s worldview.

The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicates that the 1st Congressional District continues to suffer under policies Ryan has supported since taking office in 1999. In-depth analyses of the Ryan Budget prove it would make a bad situation worse.

The data released today from the BLS was more bad news for the Walker Administration, and DWD Secretary Reggie Newson wasted no time refuting and spinning the data.   The bottom line – Wisconsin’s job “growth” continues to be anemic (that for another day). Badger Democracy wanted to present the data on Ryan’s district with a statistical measure accepted by the Walker Administration. In this case, using the “Local Area Unemployment Statistics” (LAUS) which Newson accepts per his press release today.

For the record – Paul Ryan began serving the 1st CD in 1999. Since then, the nation has experienced 8 years of Bush fiscal policies; for which Ryan has been a staunch advocate. It could be said the Ryan Budget is Bush fiscal policy on steroids – massive cuts in government spending, privatizing of Medicare, cuts to Medicaid, lower taxes on the top-tier earners, corporate rate cuts…how has that policy been working in Ryan’s home district?

Badger Democracy retrieved data from the BLS today, August 16, from the LAUS for key areas in Ryan’s District – Janesville, Kenosha County, Racine County, and Walworth County; from January 1999 – June 2012. The results are available in pdf format here : Bureau of Labor Statistics Data 1999-2012

Unemployment Rate:

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 3.8%     June 2012 – 8.6%

Racine County – January 1999 – 5.5%        June 2012 – 9.2%

Walworth County – January 1999 – 3.1%   June 2012 – 7.8%

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 3.8%    June 2012 – 9.9%

Unemployment (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 3,121     June 2012 – 7,528

Racine County – January 1999 – 5,089        June 2012 – 9,222

Walworth County – January 1999 – 1,625   June 2012 – 4,341

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 1,249    June 2012 – 3,212

Even in contrast to 2007, just prior to the economic crash, as in Wisconsin, Ryan’s district shows virtually zero growth in jobs. The real nature of the jobs crisis resulting from conservative fiscal policy is evident in the employment and labor force data.

Employment (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 79,320     June 2012 – 80,159

Racine County – January 1999 – 87,971        June 2012 – 90,898

Walworth County – January 1999 – 50,490   June 2012 – 51,173

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 31,478    June 2012 – 29,096

Labor Force (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 82,441     June 2012 – 87,687

Racine County – January 1999 – 93,060        June 2012 – 100,120

Walworth County – January 1999 – 52,115   June 2012 – 55,514

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 32,727    June 2012 – 32,308

Again, even in terms of 2007-2012, the creation of jobs does not keep up with population OR labor force growth in Wisconsin, and more specifically dramatic, Ryan’s District. Despite the claims of conservative ideologues Paul Ryan and Scott Walker – their fiscal policies are simply a fraud. They also demonstrate a gross hypocrisy in being accepted as “fiscally responsible.” To wit:

1. Ryan cuts $4.6 trillion in revenue, in tax breaks amounting to $240,000/year to the average 1%er. He makes this “revenue neutral” through “undisclosed closed loopholes.” In addition, a minimum of 14 million people would lose Medicaid coverage due to cuts as a “cost-saving” measure.

2. Ryan has been a vocal critic of monetary policy and government intervention in the bond market, sounding the alarm of inflation. He couldn’t be more wrong. Inflation has been kept in check throughout the recession and both Commodity Index and Treasury Bond rates are stable, if not declining.

3. Ryan’s budget plan projects a fantasy in discretionary spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office. All discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. Paul Krugman summarizes it best…”This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.”

Paul Ryan himself recently admitted on FOX  that he hasn’t actually “crunched the numbers.”  Krugman and others have, and the facts demonstrate the fraud being perpetuated by Ryan, Walker, and their ilk. This is about power, ideology, and political expediency – thus Ryan’s sudden public rejection of Ayn Rand’s philosophy after being tapped for Romney’s VP pick.

Budgets are moral documents. Ryan’s budget tells us all we need to know about him. He doesn’t care about the people he actually represents. He is not a “good guy.” He is a bad man, who chooses fraudulent, hypocritical policies over responsible governance.

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Paul Ryan – Fracking Baron with clear conflicts of interest

Statements of Economic Interest (SEI) recently released by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), when compared to previous years’ SEI show a clear pattern – the more influence he has on the Congressional Budget process, the more stake he (through his wife Janna (nee Little)) has gained in Oklahoma mining interests. This family interest is led by Ryan’s father-in-law, Dan Little; and is currently making millions leasing rights to energy giants engaging in extensive natural gas shale fracking.

The financial conflicts at work here are direct. Ryan’s budget gives $43 Billion in tax breaks to the companies and processes the Little family (and Ryan) profit from. The policy conflict is the expansion of fracking, which the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is promoting through powerful Legislators like Ryan.

Ryan’s 2011 SEI shows his most significant interests are in four companies, all owned by his father-in-law, Dan Little (according to Oklahoma Secretary of State corporate registration). Little is a prominent oil industry attorney (who refused comment to Badger Democracy). The total value of these interests are $350K – $800K, with annual profit of $40K – $130K:

Ava O Limited Mining Co (8% interest) – valued at $100K – $250K; paying out $15K – $50K in profit.

Blondie & Brownie, LLC (10% interest) – valued at $100K – $250K; paying out $5K – $15K in profit.

Little Land Co., LLC – valued at $50K – $100K; paying out $5K – $15K in profit.

Red River Pine Timber (7% interest) – valued at $50K – $100K; no reported profit or interest.

Also owned by Ryan are Mineral Rights in Oklahoma valued at $50K – $100K; and returning $15K – 50K in profit last year.

An examination of Ryan’s 2000 SEI and 2007 SEI show a large increase in the value of these investments. This increase corresponds directly with Ryan’s growing power over the Federal Budget process:

Ava O Limited – in 2000, had no reported value; 2007 value of $100K – $250K

Blondie & Brownie, LLC – no listing

Land Oil Co. (now Little Land Co.) – 2000 had no reported value; 2007 reported $50K – $100K in value

Red River Pine Timber – 2000 had reported value of $15K – $50K; 2007 reported value of $15K – $50K

“Various Mineral Rights” in 2000 had reported value of $1K – $15K total; none reported in 2007.

Since 2000, the value has grown 15 – 20X; since 2007, the value has doubled – not a bad return for Ryan.

In addition, Ryan’s “minor” stock investments in gas, oil, and energy companies have increased significantly since 2007. The entire history of Ryan’s SEI can be viewed at Open Secrets.org.

The Little family, and Ryan by direct business association, stand to make additional millions based on the Ryan budget incentives for those very companies. The Oklahoma mining and land companies Ryan is invested in have lease contracts (according to the Oklahoma Secretary of State) with three of the most extensive “frackers” in the world. The gas and oil giants are leasing land and mineral rights from these companies in pursuit of natural gas trapped in the enormous shale deposits in the region. Expanded fracking and tax incentives would net Ryan, the Littles, and the Gas Companies millions more in profits.

The first company, Chesapeake Energy, are self-proclaimed as the “biggest frackers in the world” by CEO Aubrey McClendon. Chesapeake and McClendon are under numerous investigations for conflicts of interest by the SEC.

Reuters reported that from 2004 through 2008, McClendon ran a $200 million hedge fund that traded in the very same commodities that Chesapeake produces. McClendon’s hedge fund traded oil and gas contracts at the same time he was privy to potentially market-moving information in his role as Chesapeake CEO.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/05/03/fracked-why-chesapeake-energys-aubrey-mcclendon-is-in-hot-water/#ixzz1zrJ5gYov

The second company is XTO Energy, which was a 2010 acquisition by Exxon (a significant ALEC supporter) to the tune of $30 Billion. Ryan has received $3,000 in campaign contributions from the Exxon PAC in 2008 and 2010; in addition to profits from lease payments on his mining land investments. An article in Fortune highlights the value of these lease payments in the Oklahoma shale region (Woodford):

XTO has contracted it (the land rights) for three years at a cost of $24,000 per day. It’s one of 12 rigs the company has running full-time in the Woodford right now. The company has 65 wells in the area, but it’s now drilling at a pace to finish about 130 wells per year. “We’re stepping things up here,” says Guy Haykus, XTO’s regional production supervisor. “Right now this is a limelight area.” 

The third company, Devon Energy, is the largest employer in Oklahoma. Devon is currently undertaking extensive fracking operations in Michigan, Oklahoma, and Canada. The Executive Vice President for Energy of Devon, Dr. William Ehitsett, recently testified before Congress on the “safety” of fracking. The linked video of the March 2012 testimony is twelve minutes long – and worth watching. 

Ryan is getting away with clear financial conflicts of interest. The worse crime is complete rejection of potential social, safety and environmental impact to pursue profit at any cost. Ryan is using his powerful position to forward a fiscal and regulatory agenda from which he personally has, and will continue to reap enormous profit. In 1998, none of this interest was reported by Ryan – now, the value is nearly $1 Million and growing…thanks to Ryan’s inside operations.

For the record, Ryan’s office sent the following response via email to inquiries about this subject:

Our office doesn’t comment on the financial disclosures any further than what is available publicly. Appreciate your reaching out.

Smythe Anderson

If we are to restore democracy, the new Robber Barons, like Paul Ryan, must be held into account.