Rubio Left Thirsting For New Ideas On Poverty

Following a disastrous 2012 election cycle in which Mitt Romney infamously described 47 percent of voters as “dependent upon the government,” Republican leaders set out to make their party more appealing – or at least less insulting – to middle-class and working Americans.

Just weeks after the election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech on “middle-class opportunity” that was hailed as a sign of shifting conservative priorities and a more compassionate Republican Party. However, Rubio’s message did not translate into action, as he and his party spent the next year opposing middle-class tax cuts, pushing massive cuts to the safety net, and even shutting down the government in a futile attempt to undermine access to affordable health insurance.

Meanwhile, Rubio endorsed comprehensive immigration reform but failed to sell conservatives on a bipartisan bill and, after damaging his standing on the right, eventually dialed back his support. That failed leadership led one major Florida newspaper to dub Rubio the “political loser” of 2013, so it’s no surprise to see the senator delivering yet another highly publicized speech to give his image a boost.

It is almost unfathomable that Rubio is giving a speech on poverty just a day after voting against unemployment benefits. But his refusal to help the unemployed is actually emblematic of conservatives’ empty rhetoric on poverty. Until Rubio and the Republicans come up with any actual ideas beyond their endless calls for more tax cuts and repealing Obamacare, the real war on poverty in America remains their endless attacks on the middle and working class.

Read more after the jump.

GOP Budget Blues: How Conservative Policies Increase Inequality

As congressional leaders from both parties negotiate over the federal budget, it is important to remember that many Republicans are similarly unsympathetic to the idea that addressing inequality should be a priority. Echoing Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks, congressional conservatives routinely blame the safety net for making people “dependent” on government, implying that low-income Americans remain at the bottom of the economic ladder by choice. For instance, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the leading Republican voice on budget issues, has complained that “we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America.”

That attitude has been on display throughout the recovery from the massive recession that President Bush left behind, even as the wealthiest Americans recovered their losses and the income gap widened. In each of the past three years, Ryan has authored – and House Republicans have approved – extreme budget plans that shred the safety net while providing tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations. Republicans have repeatedly sabotaged bipartisan budget talks by demanding that working Americans shoulder the burden of deficit reduction while dismissing any proposal that requires the rich to pay their fair share. And, despite shamelessly citing the job losses that Obama inherited as evidence of his supposed failure, Republicans have been consistent in obstructing efforts to actually help the unemployed.

Read more after the jump.

American Action Network: “Tax And Spend”

American Action Network goes after congressional candidate Val Demings (D-FL) over her support for the Recovery Act and for ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, saying she supports wasting Floridians’ money. But the stimulus, which passed without any involvement from first-time candidate Demings, helped save the economy from an even worse recession, and ending the Bush tax cuts for top-tier earners would impact few real small businesses.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “Forgot”

Crossroads GPS once again attempts to portray Heidi Heitkamp as corrupt, this time in an ad that relies on citations from a right-wing radio host’s website and a Rupert Murdoch-owned editorial page. Crossroads claims Heitkamp engaged in a “pay to play” scheme with “an out-of-state trial lawyer,” but the reality is both less interesting and less insidious than Crossroads suggests. Heitkamp and several other state attorneys general negotiated a multi-state settlement with tobacco companies following years of litigation conducted by private law firms. Those firms did not charge up front for thousands of hours and millions in costs, in exchange for a percentage of any payout they succeeded in winning for the states. Heitkamp’s office did not pay attorney Jack McConnell for his work on the settlement, but he receives a portion of the percentage the states agreed to pay his firm. And while GPS’ biased source claims she ducked questions about the matter, Heitkamp was quite willing to speak to reporters at an actual newspaper in the state.

Read more after the jump.

More Bad Medicine For Seniors In Latest Ryan Budget

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is out with an updated version of his fiscal blueprint for the country, replacing last year’s widely panned plan to effectively end Medicare by turning it into a voucher system with an only slightly less destructive concoction. In his latest proposal, Ryan pitches a premium-support system that would offer seniors a voucher to buy either traditional Medicare or a private plan, purporting to control costs by allowing competition. But the vouchers wouldn’t be able to keep up with rapidly rising medical costs, shifting the burden onto beneficiaries and eventually rendering traditional Medicare an unviable program.

Click here to read more about the Medicare overhaul in Rep. Ryan’s previous budget, which was passed by the House GOP in 2011.

The New Ryan Budget Undermines Medicare

The 2013 Ryan Budget “Reiterates Republicans’ Call Last Year For Overhauling Medicare.” From Bloomberg: “The proposal reiterates Republicans’ call last year for overhauling Medicare, though with some changes reflecting a compromise plan Ryan of Wisconsin has since written with Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. It would offer seniors, starting in 2023, subsidies they could use to buy private health insurance or use in Medicare. Either way, benefits would be capped, which would be a major change in how the open-ended program now operates.” [Bloomberg, 3/20/12]

Read more after the jump.

Ryan Medicare Plan Eliminates Health Security For America’s Seniors

In 2011, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a controversial plan that he claimed would “save” Medicare. The proposal was included in the House budget, which passed the lower chamber with nearly unanimous support from Republicans but was voted down in the Senate. The Medicare debate rages on, however, and the facts about the Ryan plan are too often obscured by the aggressive spin of its supporters and distracting arguments about the definition of words like “end” and “voucher.” Whatever the right wants to call it, the Ryan plan is radical legislation that would hurt millions of Americans who rely on Medicare for health security.

Ryan Plan Would “Essentially End” Medicare For Future Seniors…

Ryan Plan Transforms Medicare Into A “Premium Support System.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s overview of the Ryan plan: “The proposal would gradually transform Medicare into what is described as a ‘premium support system.’ Beginning in 2022, all newly-eligible Medicare beneficiaries (i.e., individuals turning 65 as well as younger, disabled individuals becoming eligible for Medicare) would only have access to health coverage through private insurance plans, rather than through the current government-run Medicare program (i.e., traditional Medicare), or under a Medicare Advantage plan. Under the new premium support system, Medicare beneficiaries would be entitled to a payment from the federal government to help defray premiums and other health care costs under the plan. The government would make payments directly to private health plans on behalf of Medicare eligible enrollees, rather than pay hospitals, physicians, and other medical providers directly for the services provided to their Medicare-eligible patients, as is currently the case. If the government payments to plans on behalf of enrollees were insufficient to cover premiums and/or other costs, beneficiaries would be responsible for additional costs. In other words, Medicare would no longer provide coverage for medical care, but instead provide a ‘subsidy’ toward the purchase of a private health insurance plan.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011, emphasis added]

Read more after the jump.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s Severely Conservative Budget Benefits The Rich At The Expense Of The Vulnerable

Those familiar with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) last budget proposal won’t be shocked at this year’s updated “Path to Prosperity,” a fiscal plan for 2013 and beyond that pledges policy prescriptions for “safeguarding America from the perils of debt, doubt and decline.” Like the old version of the “Path,” Ryan’s second attempt at engineering fiscal policy – including recommendations for overhauling the tax code, cutting spending, and reforming Medicare and Medicaid – takes an axe to federal spending that benefits those without political or economic power but showers tax breaks on the wealthy. With its absence of reasonable solutions for lowering debt and its far-fetched proposals to shift the country’s fiscal burdens onto the poor and middle class, the latest Ryan plan is at heart the same as the old one: A blueprint not for stabilizing the country’s fiscal situation but for forcing an ultra-conservative vision on the federal government.

Ryan Plan’s Cuts Are Enormous, Unrealistic, And Wouldn’t Balance The Budget Until 2040

The New Ryan Plan Proposes Even Larger Deficit Cuts Than Last Year’s GOP Budget. From the Associated Press: “This year’s GOP measure would produce deficit estimates that are significantly lower than a comparable measure passed by the House a year ago, claiming deficit cuts totaling $3.3 trillion – spending cuts of $5.3 trillion tempered by $2 trillion in lower taxes – below Obama over the coming decade. The deficit in 2015, for example, would drop to about $300 billion from $1.2 trillion for the current budget year. Last year’s GOP draft called for a 2015 deficit more than $100 billion higher.” [Associated Press via, 3/20/12]

The New Ryan Budget Cuts Spending By $100 Billion From This Year To Next. From the Associated Press: “The measure would cut spending from $3.6 trillion this year to the $3.5 trillion range in 2013 and freeze it at that level for two more years.” [Associated Press via, 3/20/12]

The New Ryan Budget Cuts Spending By $5 Trillion Over The Next Ten Years. From Bloomberg: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan today proposed reducing spending by $5 trillion over the next decade from the U.S. budget with Medicaid, food stamps, Pell college tuition grants and other programs facing reductions.” [Bloomberg, 3/20/12]

Read more after the jump.

Citizens United: “Jesse Kelly Will Repeal Obamacare”

In an ad supporting Arizona Republican Jesse Kelly, who is running for the seat previously held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Citizens United makes several false claims about the Affordable Care Act. The ad misleads viewers about the health care law’s impact on seniors, the economy, and the deficit. Citizens United further praises Kelly for supporting a full repeal of the law, a step that would increase the deficit and have disastrous consequences for millions of Americans.

Read more after the jump.