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Paul Ryan, Like Rest of Rich, is Different From You and Me | Mary Jo Melone

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Paul Ryan, Like Rest of Rich, is Different From You and Me | Mary Jo Melone

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Paul Ryan, Like Rest of Rich, is Different From You and Me
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 — Mary Jo Melone

Some days, a writer finds that her own words are mostly unnecessary, because the words of others are louder, clearer.

Consider the moment Monday when a heckler interrupted the newly-minted GOP vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, during a speech at the Iowa State Fair. “Stop the war on the common good!” the man cried. He was pulled away, as Ryan’s fans chanted, “U.S.A! U.S.A!” For his part, Ryan said the protesters must not be from Iowa.  What? People in Iowa and Wisconsin are not in favor of the common good? If I were from Iowa, right about now I’d be pretty peeved at Paul Ryan.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” -- George Orwell, Animal Farm.

The Republicans say it takes a businessman’s head to run the government. Yet the man who is telling us how the government should spend its money, and how we should all rely on ourselves, no matter how bleak our circumstances, has been in government for 20 years -- almost all his working life -- with only a brief stint in his family’s business.  Yes, his family’s business.  But other Americans must succeed on their own luck and pluck. He has a net worth of something between two and nearly eight million dollars, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. And while ordinary Americans have slogged through the muck of the last several years, trying to hold onto their jobs and their homes, Ryan’s net worth has risen as much as 130 percent in the last decade, the newspaper reported.

“I’m a businessman. I love money, I love power, I love capitalism. I do not now and never will love children.” -- Daddy Warbucks, in Annie.

Ryan, a devout Catholic who, to use the usual phrase, stands for life, wants to cut Medicaid spending by about one-third within a decade as part of the brilliant budget he has devised. According to The Washington Post, that would eventually cut 30 million people from Medicaid and leave them to save themselves. Most of those affected will be children. And Ryan, remember, is for life.

“For the past half-dozen years, I have been arguing that we conservatives need to follow a different course. And it is this argument that has led so many of my friends to demand, sometimes bemusedly, sometimes angrily, “What the hell happened to you?” I could fire the same question back: “Never mind me -- what happened to you?”  -- David Frum, When Did the GOP Lose Touch with Reality?

Answer: when it began to listen to Paul Ryan.

“I am invisible, understand, because people refuse to see me.” -- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man.

More than a fourth of American workers earn $11 an hour or less.

Sixty-two percent of all bankruptcies in America in 2007 were the result of unpaid medical bills, according to the American Journal of Medicine. Three-quarters of the bankrupt had health insurance. The Washington Post reported last weekend that the Ryan tax plan would, by 2015, cut taxes on the richest among us by $156,000, and raise taxes on the bottom 20 percent -- who earn under $20,000 or less -- by $159.

“The letters of the poor are not read. They are weighed.” -- Tampa-born novelist Jose Yglesias.

They weren’t giving anything away for free last Saturday at the Goodwill store in Town ‘n Country, a Hispanic neighborhood in Tampa. Nevertheless, it was nearly impossible to find a parking space. Inside, you could buy a bicycle, a wheelchair, women’s shoes for four dollars a pair. Tired mothers looking for toys and pots shopped with their children in tow. Elderly women worked their way through racks of blouses and displays of worn purses. Up and down the crowded aisles, people were making anxious calculations in their heads, calculations of a sort most remote to a man like Paul Ryan. You can save a great deal if you go to Goodwill. If you shop there long enough, you might even save $159.

Mary Jo Melone, former columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, is a writer in Tampa.

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