For my Republican, I picked Paul Ryan. He is Speaker of the House, ambitious, handsome and reasonable in tone. He play-acts the character of the responsible adult in a room full of children. Whenever he appears in public to a general audience, he tells America that we should have a contest of ideas. He often adds the word Freedom as if he is defending freedom (from Democrats, presumably) but is vague, so never tells us just how Democratic oppose Freedom.
I scanned his website for ideas, but other than giving me a sense of his pet projects, if you really want a battle over ideas, you will find NOTHING in Paul Ryan's website to battle over. Perhaps Ryan meant that we should have a contests of UNEXAMINED IDEAS.
The following was pulled from a section about the Economy and Jobs.
Ryan’s beliefs are simple. He believes that the government should spend less money. I can accept that on its face. But if so, where are the big ideas to spend less? Ryan is the Speaker of the House - if he cannot suggest more than freezing the IRS budget, spending MORE on the military and veterans, and blocking Obamacare, then he really has no ideas at all.
That’s right, none at all.
By the way, the category of The Economy and Jobs would have led one to believe that it might review the overall economy, so include a discussion of stagnant wages, or of the increasing reliance on debt to fund post secondary eduction. And how about the hollowing out of our small towns as progress passes them by in favor of wealthy suburbs?. But there is nothing at all about these worries. Instead Ryan shared pat answers about a few bills that he is interested in - sops to big business; and more sops to special conservative special interests that have nothing at all to do with the economy.
Ryan wants a reduction in taxes, but before we reduce taxes, the fair person would first examine our taxes and compare them to years past. What an honest review would show is that tax rates in the past have been much higher on individuals. And regarding corporate taxes, while our rates are high, a fair review would include recognition that the yield from corporations has declined relative to the overall yield from taxes. So - a fair person should agree that we need to increase the yield from taxes (so increase rater selectively on persons and end accounting games that allow corporations to shield income from taxes).
Oh - and the bullshit about job creators. Sorry, there are no job creators.
Industrialization was (historically from its beginning) NEVER about creating jobs, it was about finding ways to get more products from fewer persons. Jobs increased only because consumption increased tremendously and so factories expanded. For example, after the US civil war, folks in cities and towns began to own more shirts, dresses, books and so forth than ever before. Consumption increases drive growth, NOT INCREASES IN CAPITAL. Consumption continues to increase even now, but as far as the number of beds, shoes or dresses, my guess is that the numbers are not moving as they did a century ago (data is hard to come by). In the US recently, the largest changes appear to be in energy use and in the myriad consumer electronic gadgets that soak up watts and band width - and almost none of the gadgets are made in the US. So even if we gave every small businessman a rebate of 1/3 of his income taxes, reams of good jobs simply will not follow.
So here we go --- and remember, this is from the section about Jobs and the Economy
Southern Wisconsin’s families continue to work hard to make ends meet in an uncertain economy. In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate remains at 4.5 percent, while the national unemployment rate stands at 5.0 percent. Also telling is that the labor force participation rate stands at 62.8 percent. … In a struggling economy, many workers often get discouraged and stop looking for employment, as a result, the participation rate decreases. Another way of looking at this is the U-6 unemployment rate, which is a comprehensive measure of labor underutilization that takes into account persons marginally attached to the labor force as well as persons who would like to be employed full time but can only find part-time work – in other words, the unemployed, the underemployed and the discouraged who have given up on finding work. The U-6 unemployment rate stands at 9.7 percent.
As the economy continues to struggle, much focus has been placed on increasing taxes to address our deficit and our debt. These tax increases would hit job creators, like those small manufacturers located in industrial parks in our communities, and hard-working families. Our local manufacturers and families are already forced to live under the strains of the current difficult economy. Asking them to pay more will hurt our local communities. What the federal government needs to do is stop spending too much. It simply can no longer afford to spend money that it does not have and take out more loans to pay for that spending.
Economic growth comes when American families and small businesses work, save, and invest. Congress needs to prioritize legislation that encourages job creation by keeping taxes low, controlling government spending, and addressing the severe problems that lay ahead if we do not reform critical government programs that are driving up our national debt. Left unchanged, these programs will continue to take up a larger portion of our budget each year, crowd out other government spending, and hurt our economy. ....
Further down he notes these accomplishments (stuffed into the budget bill last Fall):
1 Repeals the antiquated oil export ban. This provision ends the 1975 ban on the export of American crude oil. Domestic energy production is booming in the United States, and lifting the ban will help create jobs, grow our economy, reduce the world's dependence on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian oil supplies, and promote greater exploration of our natural resources.
While there may be reasons to and an oil export ban, in fact the world is glutted with oil right now. So this is simply a way to gain campaign cash from big oil. It adds nothing right now.
2 Increases resources for our military. The arbitrary spending cuts in the sequester have depleted the resources our armed forces need to carry out their mission. This bill restores funding for our military to ensure our troops can confront today's challenges and defeat ISIS.
Tis spends MORE MONEY. So what do we cut to pay for this?
3 Strengthens the Visa Waiver Program to protect the homeland. The Visa Waiver Program presents one of the most urgent threats to ourhomeland from radical Islamic terrorism. This agreement includes the House-passed bill to tighten the security requirements under the program. It also denies visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorist hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.
This does not help the economy or jobs. It is an appeal to Nativist sentiments among white Republican voters.
4 Prohibits new funding for Obamacare. The bill contains no new funding for Obamacare and continues to prevent a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare's risk corridor program.
Actually Obamacare helps to economy, it allows small businesses that cannot offer health insurance to compete for the experienced workers who can find jobs with benefits.
Also, the risk corridor funding is classic government funded reinsurance. It is sound policy - not a "bailout." But Bailout scares the average Republican voter, so Ryan's will use a scare tactic rather than a genuine idea.
5 Prevents the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to American soil. The bill prohibits funds from being used to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and prohibits the construction or acquisition of a facility in the United States to house detainees.
Nothing to do with the economy, but "terrorist" is a way to grab the attention of the average Republican voter!
6 Blocks EPA overreach. The bill contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989.
Does not help the economy or jobs - but if you cut the EPA far enough, you guarantee that it cannot do its job. Remember the Flint water debacle. At one point the EPA was involved. In fact we need a MORE EFFECTIVE EPA not one less effective.
7 Reins in the IRS. The IRS continues to act with impunity against the interests of hardworking taxpayers. This bill freezes most IRS operations and maintains budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency roots out wasteful spending and redirects resources to better serve the American people.
This make the IRS less able to collect taxes. And that will help the overall budget how?
8 Maintains strong protections for life. The bill maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion. It also includes a ban on FDA approval for genetically modifying human embryos and cuts funding for a program involved in abortion-related activities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by seven percent.
Ok, I get it. One more SOP to Republican voters.
9 Honors our commitment to our veterans. The bill ensures our veterans receive their much-deserved health benefits, speeds up VA claims processing, prioritizes modernizing the VA's electronic health care record system, and tightens oversight of construction projects.
Spends more for one federal program. Hmmm, where will we get the money.
10 Provides critical health care benefits for 9/11 first responders. More than 30,000 first responders continue to suffer from injuries or illnesses sustained during the 9/11 attacks. The bill contains a bipartisan measure to permanently reauthorize critical health care benefits for these brave men and women—and it does so in a fiscally responsible way.
More for a select group of US citizens. As for the rest, Fuck 'em.
11 Repeals harmful labeling requirements on American meat. The bill repeals mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements, ensuring that our economy does not suffer more than $1 billion in trade penalties.
WTF? This one probably makes sense to folks in an agricultural state.
The contest for ideas will have to wait for the first idea to be presented.