Tuesday, August 14, 2012

He didn't build that? Oh pshaw!

Paul Ryan didn’t build that! His family built its fortune on the public-works projects that Romney's "You didn't build that" campaign mocks
By Sally Kohn

When Paul Ryan took to the stage in Mooresville, North Carolina, as Mitt Romney’s running mate, he attacked President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remark about the role of government in supporting private innovation. But while Republicans have been clamoring to make this election a false dichotomy between the private sector and the public sector, Paul Ryan — heir to a private fortune made by building public highways — is a gaping pothole in that plan. Paul Ryan is a living, breathing GOP example of how public infrastructure and private entrepreneurship work hand-in-hand.

Paul Ryan’s great-grandfather started a construction company to build railroads and, eventually, highways. According to the Web site of Ryan Incorporated Central, the company was “founded in 1884 with a single team of mules building railroad embankments in Southern Wisconsin.” And in the 1800s, railroad construction was subsidized by the federal government. Mid-century, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law, providing taxpayer dollars to fund the construction of a transcontinental railway. All railroads thereafter connected to, and benefited from, that public investment.

At the turn of the century, Ryan Inc. turned to road building. A subsidiary family corporation, Ryan Incorporated Southern, states on its Web site, “The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later [and] was mostly Highway construction.” The $119 billion spent by the federal government on the Interstate Highway System was, by one account, “the largest public works program since the Pyramids.”

And, according to the Ryan Inc. Web site, the company completed “some of the original work at what would become O’Hare Airport” in Chicago. Originally, O’Hare Airport was a manufacturing base for World War II transport planes. In other words, it’s likely that construction project, too, was paid for by tax dollars. A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996 , including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million.

When President Obama said that we succeed in America “because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together,” he was actually speaking in more general terms — about manufacturing companies that ship their goods on our railways and highways and thus indirectly benefit from that public infrastructure. With a net worth of up to $3.2 million and ranking as the 124th richest member of Congress, Paul Ryan very directly and very significantly benefited from the federal spending he now rails against.

Or does he? What’s funny is that Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes. Yet Ryan wants to gut financial aid for college students, food stamps for hungry families, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — the very things that have, historically, helped poor families climb the ladder of opportunity in America.

And this is precisely the problem with the Romney-Ryan vision for America: It takes the ladder of opportunity and public infrastructure that helped the previous generation and yanks it up for the next generation. Your grandfather went to college on the GI Bill? We’re not even going to give you measly Pell Grants! Your grandmother lived independently thanks to Social Security? We’re giving yours to Wall Street to crash with the rest of our economy! Your great-grandfather got rich building public railways and roads? We’re going to cut taxes for the rich to historic lows and raise taxes on the struggling middle class to barely cover the cost of plugging potholes!

It’s “I Got Mine, Now Screw You!” economics. This kind of hard-heartedness may appeal to the extreme fringe base of Republican voters, but it is as repulsive to mainstream voters as it is corrosive to the American dream. The Romney-Ryan budget focuses 62 percent of its cuts on programs that help the poor — in order to pay for more tax breaks for the already-rich and, incidentally, raise the deficit.

“Of course we believe in government,” Ryan said to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza. “We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.” In other words, the government spending that helped Ryan’s family get ahead falls within the proper role of government. The government spending that helps other families get ahead …? Fortunately, Ryan Inc. also builds landfills, so we’ll have somewhere to bury all that wasteful spending on the poor and middle class.


Anonymous said...

....and Route 66????

Anonymous said...

Mooresville NC, the home of rich white NASCAR teams. I'm sure there's some poor folk there to but not very many per capita. It's about 35 miles from Charlotte.


Anonymous said...

Paul Ryan, who wants to gut Social Security, received survivor's benefits himself when his father died. He saved the money to pay for his college education.

Anonymous said...

Is the term 'gut' one that you dreamed up to support your dislike for Ryan?

Seems like the knowledgable people are saying he, like others, understands the long-term funding problems of Social Security and wants to fix it.

What is your detailed solution?

Busplunge said...

Anon 8/15/2012 8:52PM--

Just keep my checks coming.

BTW, and this was on Fox News, when asked by Britt Hume when the Romney plan would balance the budget, Ryan said he didn't know because "we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan."

Ah jeez.

Anonymous said...

Until you come up with a better plan for Medicare, here is one from Congressman Wyden (D-OR)that represents a major advance in the effort to build a more secure future for the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare.

The report is titled “Guaranteed Choices to Strengthen Medicare and Health Security for All: Bipartisan Options for the Future,” outlines a path forward on expanding health care choices for seniors while preserving a traditional Medicare plan as an option. The report also proposes to give Americans under 65 more power and freedom to purchase coverage they can carry with them into retirement.

A fact sheet on the report is here:

Oh,yeah......Paul Ryan helped write the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/15/2012 8:52 PM:

Response to first question here:



"Social Security is not broke. Social Security has a trust fund that’s over $2 trillion in size. Their projections, that the Social Security Administration makes, say that it will—the trust fund will run out in 2033. Now, what does that mean? That means that Social Security will only have the payroll tax receipts that are coming in at that time to pay for benefits. But there’s lots of things that can be done to prevent that from happening. Congress can simply vote more money to put into the program. The Social Security payroll tax could be raised gradually across the board over a period of decades in a way that would not cut into anybody’s purchasing power, and that could be done in a slow—as a slow process. That’s the way Social Security’s books have been balanced in the past, and there’s no reason why that can’t be done in the future. The only thing standing in the way of doing it, which is the sensible thing, is the fact that, in Washington today, Republicans basically get the flu every time the subject of taxes comes up."


Anonymous said...

8/16/2012 4:13 PM:

"Guaranteed Choices to Strengthen Medicare and Health Security for All: Bipartisan Options for the Future,”

This proposal is nothing new. It's a voucher plan-a "defined contribution plan".

"Employers provide a fixed sum to employees who then purchase whatever insurance they can afford. Because employer contributions stay fixed while health care costs increase, basic benefits quickly become unaffordable.

Without reform, American businesses can survive only by shifting escalating health care costs to someone else. A defined contribution plan allows just that — it moves increasing costs away from businesses and onto employees. These plans do nothing, of course, for those without benefits or without a job."


Who else contributed to this, yet another give-away to the insurance industry? Cigna? Humana?

Anonymous said...

Why do the republicans hate old people?

Anonymous said...

Why do successful people intimindate Democrats? Hiring handout seekers doesn't seem to matter. They usually have to have a union to speak for them. Is it jelously?

"Just keep my checks coming."

"Why do Republicans hate old people?"

Did all Democrats come from Greece? It seems as though Greece is their economic role model.

Ah jeez.

Busplunge said...

Is Wednesday night still church night in the Ozarks?

I was wondering because I ran into a state politician in a bar on Wednesday night.

Anonymous said...


Why can't you spell or use proper punctuation? I guess proper communication skills aren't really required in order to mindlessly follow the GOP.

Anonymous said...

@6:29, No Wednesday night is bingo nignt. Take 9:35 with you.

Anonymous said...

I'll bite. You were in the East StL. strip joint and ran into Kinder and his Lesbian friend?

Anonymous said...

@9:48 PM - Please proofread before posting. Your brilliant repartee is wasted because all the reader notices is your egregious composition errors.

I'm guessing, you were home schooled.

Anonymous said...

I was one-room schooled.