Rep. Paul Ryan is back to his old tricks, demonizing people who rely on government to improve their lives. This week, his target was food stamp recipients.
He's already come out in favor of $20 billion in cuts that will throw an estimated two million children, elderly, and disabled Americans off food stamps. But now Ryan -- the millionaire Wisconsin Congressman who was Mitt Romney's VP running mate last year -- is pushing an amendment to eliminate food stamps for people who have $2,000 in savings, or a car worth more than $5,000.
The CBO found that this would throw 1.8 million people off of the program. The Hill reported,
Most of these would be low-income seniors and working families with children. These families typically live paycheck to paycheck. Denying them the ability to save for emergencies, such as fixing a car, or unexpected expenses, such as buying a uniform for a new job, only makes them more dependent on government resources, not less.
Last summer, in his speech to the GOP convention in Tampa, Ryan told a story about how, after his father's death, his mother "got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison."
She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business.It wasn't just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn't just in the past. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my Mom is my role model.
Ryan meant this as a celebration of his mother's lift-herself-by-her-own-bootstraps spirit.
But shouldn't someone remind Ryan that the bus was a public service, that the road was built and maintained by government, and that the University of Wisconsin in Madison is a public institution?
This is the Paul Ryan whose budget plan would have slashed funding for public education, roads, and public services that are the investments we need to lift people out of poverty and strengthen our economy. Now he's taking aim at the most vulnerable people in society -- food stamp recipients.
Ryan worships at the altar of novelist Ayn Rand, the philosopher of you're-on-your-own selfishness, whose books were required reading for his Congressional staffers.
And let's no forget the underlying philosophy of the Republican Party, well articulated by Mitt Romney last year. Speaking to a group of like-minded conservatives, Romney dissed the 47 percent of Americans who, he claimed, "are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
Raise your hand if you:
- went to a public college or university,
Congressman Ryan -- Welcome to "big government!"
Peter Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College and is author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, published last year by Nation Books