Paul Ryan & Class Warfare

Rep. Paul Ryan, per Mike Allen’s Playbook:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in text for luncheon speech of Chicago Economic Club: “Class warfare may be clever politics, but it is terrible economics. Redistributing wealth never creates more of it. Sowing social unrest and class envy makes America weaker, not stronger. Playing one group against another only distracts us from the true sources of inequity in this country – corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.”

Paul Krugman responds:

Actually, for the most part critics of his plan haven’t focused on the distributional issues so much as on the nonsense he’s talking; they’ve been playing the arithmetic card, not the class warfare card. But yes, the Ryan plan does impose huge sacrifice on the poor and the middle class, while cutting taxes on the rich and corporations.

And this is, of course, the game conservatives have played over and over again since Reagan. Without exception, their policy proposals call for sacrifice on the part of most people, but lavish tax cuts on high incomes — and when you point this out, they yell “class warfare”.

Krugman comes close to getting it, but stops himself on simple facts and doesn’t look at the big picture. It’s not that Republicans complain when they get called out for the factual consequences of “their policy proposals call for sacrifice on the part of most people, but lavish tax cuts on high incomes.” It’s that when Republicans push policies like the Ryan budget, they are perpetrating class warfare. It’s not that Ryan is whining about getting called out. It’s that he’s following the Karl Rove playbook and attacking his opponents for his own weakness. His play is a massive assault on working Americans by wealthy elites; it would create an even-greater transfer of wealth from working Americans to the rich than what is already taking place. Ryan is hitting back at his critics for doing exactly what his actual proposal does: wage class warfare. It’s intended to be a distraction and to the extent that Krugman doesn’t throw it right back in Ryan’s face it seems to have worked on The Shrill One.

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