Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has long been considered the economic guru of the Republican Party. As the 114th U.S. Congress was seated last month, Mr. Ryan took over the Chairmanship of the all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Chairman Ryan, in that capacity, gains his power since Ways and Means is the committee within Congress that proposes Tax Legislation.
As I have written previously, he has continuously preached the supposed benefits of the trickle-down economic theory. First popularized by Ronald Reagan in 1980, it suggests that lowering the tax rates on the wealthy will grow the economy by giving low and middle income Americans certain benefits. Trickle down, however, has not been documented as ever having accomplished that growth goal, and few economists endorse it.
For years, Congressman Ryan has declared that President Barack Obama is the cause of our economic stagnation due to his redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor–or as he suggests, from the “makers” to the “takers”. He has also claimed that Obama’s anti-poverty programs have been breeding a dependency on government largesse. Ryan has been rolling-out his economic ideas over the past week.
Furthermore, Congressman Ryan claimed that Obama’s current programs did not help narrow the income gap. Economists who have studied the economic decline of the middle class, which began 30 years ago, and have focused on: the continued decline of labor unions; technological change; the growth of the finance sector; and various other reasons.
Ryan often boasts of his Irish ancestry. His great-great-grandfather fled to America during the potato famine in the mid-19th century. The Irish were starving, even though rich stores of grain and livestock–grown with Irish hands, on Irish land–were being sent to England, the wealthiest nation at the time.
During that time, an Englishman asked Parliament if it should feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting-up a “culture of dependency”. It declined. Oddly enough, Congressman Paul Ryan has used that very term “culture of dependency” as reason why we should cut back on the various anti-poverty programs. Timothy Egan’s truly gripping column, “Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia”, from the NY Times, is linked as follows: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/opinion/sunday/paul-ryans-irish-amnesia.html.
The new Paul Ryan, who is now trying to brand himself as the friend of the Poor, and working to correct the inadequacies of what he calls “Obamanomics”, is once again counting on the same old ideological rhetoric and misrepresentation, rather than sound economic principals. But, his trickle-down economics is nothing new. It is merely the same re-branded trickle-down theory, which Candidate George H.W. Bush referred to as Voodoo Economics back in 1980, when Reagan suggested it.