Ryan Talks Jobs and Exposes the Lies about the 47%

By William K. Black
(Cross posted at Huffington Post)

This Monday, I posted an article entitled:  “Let’s test Romney’s claims about the 47% by offering the unemployed jobs.”

The article explained that Romney, Ryan, and Charles Murray claim that 47% of Americans receive governmental assistance because they are morally defective and shiftless.  It goes through why Romney and Ryan know that they are lying when they use the 47% figure to slander Americans as refusing to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” and as failing to pay taxes.  The article points out the obvious – the vast majority of the 47% cannot work because they are (1) minor children, (2) the profoundly disabled and sick, and (3) the elderly.  The article reminds readers that the disabled (except when they were profoundly disabled even as children) and the elderly had typically borne substantial federal, state, and local taxes, often for over forty years.  Romney and Ryan cannot possibly be claiming that the members of these three groups refuse to take personal responsibility.  (There is also the small fact that the elderly frequently vote for Republicans, so Romney and Ryan are slandering their own voters.)

The article explains the most despicable aspect of Romney and Ryan slander of the American people.

“[H]undreds of thousands of the 47% are ‘dependent upon government’ because they took ‘personal responsibility’ and cared for our lives at the risk of their lives and health. These are the veterans, police officers, and firefighters who were injured protecting the public, and the families of those who died protecting the public.”

The only group of Americans who could possibly fit the category of shiftless, moral defects is made up of the unemployed, underemployed, and those employed at or near the minimum wage – a wage so low that it sometimes makes them and their children eligible for Medicaid and food stamps.  (Again, millions of Americans who fall in this category support Romney.)  This group of people prompted my article’s primary point – we can and should test Romney’s slanderous dismissal of these Americans by adopting a jobs guarantee program.  Romney, Ryan, and Charles Murray will fight desperately to prevent us from offering a jobs guarantee program because it would expose their slanders as baseless and destroy their dogmas.  Millions of the unemployed and marginally employed would eagerly seek those jobs.

The article was posted Monday.  Tuesday, Ryan said that the key answer to Romney and Ryan’s disdain for the 47% was jobs.  As with Romney’s rant against the 47%, Ryan’s comments were in response to a supporter’s question that expressed actual disgust with and mock sympathy for anyone receiving government aid.

“‘Is there any way possible that this 47 percent can pay a nominal fee or something so that they feel that they have small ownership of the government and maybe they don’t take all the handouts?’ the voter asked.”

This insulting question gave Ryan the perfect opportunity to begin to undo the damage done by Romney’s slander about 47% of Americans.  Instead, Ryan gave an answer that indicated how faux a wonk and how unserious he is.  “I have an idea: Let’s help them get jobs so they can get good paychecks and then they’re good taxpayers.”

Ryan could have explained to the questioner why the question was premised on multiple factual errors.  He could have explained that the overwhelming majority of the 47% currently bear the cost of taxes and many have done so for decades.  Businesses may nominally pay a tax but economists have shown that they generally pass on the cost of the tax to the customer.  The concept is known as “tax incidence.”

Ryan could have explained that bearing the cost of taxes has nothing to do with “hav[ing] ownership of government.”  Ryan could have explained that governmental assistance is not a “handout” and that America would not be a better place if single mothers refused to accept food stamps and their children went hungry.

Ryan does not understand how subversive his response was to the questioner.  His response exposed the lie at the heart of Romney’s slander of the 47%.  Recall Romney’s statement:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who 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.

That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.””

There is a reason that Romney did not discuss jobs in his infamous rant against the 47%.  If the 47% who are capable of working are not working because they are unemployed (which means they are looking unsuccessfully for a job) or are only marginally employed at such a low wage that they qualified for governmental assistance, then they (1) do bear the cost of many taxes and (2) they are seeking to take personal responsibility.  Romney implicitly claimed that the 47% were all shiftless types receiving a handout while refusing to work or try to find a job.  Romney describes the problem as having nothing to do with the Great Recession and high unemployment.  He claims that the problem is that the freeloaders are so shiftless that Romney cannot “convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”  Creating more jobs is useless because the problem is the ineradicably immoral defects of the 47%.

Ryan, however, admits that creating jobs with “good paychecks” is the key.  The unemployed and marginally employed receive governmental assistance because they lack “good paychecks.”  If the 47% had good jobs available to them they would become “good taxpayers.”  By stressing the need to create more “good” jobs to reduce unemployment and marginal employment and take families out of poverty Ryan has inadvertently exposed the lies that lie at the core of Romney’s slander of 150 million Americans.

Ryan’s job response also exposes the insanity of Romney and Ryan’s economic policies.  Why did Ryan vote to kill the revenue sharing portion of the stimulus bill that would have allowed hundreds of thousands of workers to keep their good jobs which made them “good taxpayers”?  Why did Ryan vote to block the pending Jobs bill?  Why do Romney and Ryan favor the Berlin-style austerity programs that have thrown the Eurozone back into recession and cost millions of Europeans their jobs?  (Recall that Romney has twice admitted that austerity would force the U.S. back into recession.)

Ryan’s response requires us to ask: why do Romney and Ryan (and Obama) refuse to support the immediate creation of a jobs guarantee program so that everyone who wishes to work and is able to do so can work and pay additional taxes?  Such a program would allow everyone capable of taking “personal responsibility” through employment to do so.

Romney and Ryan can never permit a federal jobs guarantee program to be adopted precisely because it would work so spectacularly well that it would discredit their core dogmas which hold that the poor and working class are poorer than the wealthy because they are their moral inferiors.  This dogma of ineradicable inferiority explains Romney’s infamous dismissal of the 47%.

“[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

A jobs guarantee program would test the truth of Romney, Ryan, and Charles Murray’s claim that jobs are not the problem; the problem is that the lower classes are shiftless and need to be denounced as immoral by the elites.  We know why Romney, Ryan and Murray can never allow that test, but why has Obama failed to support such a test?  Obama has the perfect opportunity to demand that Romney put up or shut up on his demonization of 150 million Americans.  All he has to do is point out Ryan’s response about the need to create jobs for the 47% with “good paychecks” and call Romney out on whether he is willing to support providing jobs to all those who are willing and able to work.

12 responses to “Ryan Talks Jobs and Exposes the Lies about the 47%

  1. The only group of Americans who could possibly fit the category of shiftless, moral defects is made up of the unemployed, underemployed, and those employed at or near the minimum wage – a wage so low that it sometimes makes them and their children eligible for Medicaid and food stamps.

    Actually, I think this describes a good many of the 1%, such as the Koch brothers who famously asserted that they got their wealth the old-fashioned way — By inheriting it; the Walton family; The Bushes, who never appear to work a hard day in their lives. Peter G. Peterson who loves to make pronunciamentos at Conferences which he pays others to organize, and many others who spend their time immersing themselves in Versailles gossip and plotting out kabuki strategies to fol the public into thinking that the parties are representing them rather than the emerging plutocracy.

  2. Seriously, it’s hard to think of Obama or the Democrats ever seizing an opportunity to unmask the Republicans. Even if he did call them out, once he was re-elected, he’d find a way to get out of his JG commitment, probably be by blaming any failure to pass a JG bill on the filibuster.

  3. Obama could also show up the Rs by minting the $60 T coin, and then coming out for both a JG and Medicare for All, saying that “we can now afford it” because we have the $60 T in the bank. However, he won’t do these easy things, because he’s not really interested in doing anything except supporting the global economic elite and the new feudalism.

  4. Evidently, “jobs” are something everyone should have so they can have income, correct? Which they can then spend to keep the economy humming along, and the only thing standing in the way of that prospect are the elites, who wish, no demand, that there be impoverished inferiors for them to tower above. Am I right so far? Ergo “jobs” aren’t something that potentially adds value to something else or provides a service, they’re a means to subsidize human existence. And since the elites insist on swindling the poor out of their riches and then hoarding it in Scrooge McDuck-like money silos, the state should pixelate more of their sovereign money and distribute it among the plebs. And if the elites, who evidently have no connection to the state, refuse to give people jobs, then the state must employ them. Wasn’t that attempted by somebody prior to 1991? How, exactly did it turn out? Were the admittedly well-educated central planners capable of successfully directing a fairly diverse economy? Were they able to set prices without a market? And their sovereign currency? How did that do? Oh, By calculating the product of all six redenominations, it is seen that a pre-1921 ruble is equal to 2×10−16 current rubles.

    • I agree that a JG is lame. The general population DESERVES restitution for theft by counterfeiting by the government enforced/backed counterfeiting cartel, the banks.

      Just the backing of all US bank deposits 100% by reserves would allow about $8.5 trillion dollars to be given equally to the population without increasing the total money supply (reserves + credit). Coincidentally(?) that accords with Steve Keen’s recommendation that about 1/2 of GDP should be given equally to the population, including non-debtors, in his “A Modern Debt Jubilee”.

    • Evidently, “jobs” are something everyone should have so they can have income, correct? No, everyone who wants to have a job should have one, because they need money income for the necessities of life, because of the government intervention called “a monetary economy”. In the USA, we have the government intervention called “a free market”.

      Which they can then spend to keep the economy humming along, and the only thing standing in the way of that prospect are the elites, who wish, no demand, that there be impoverished inferiors for them to tower above. The last clause is not necessarily true, but is accurate for USA 2012.

      Am I right so far? Ergo “jobs” aren’t something that potentially adds value to something else or provides a service, they’re a means to subsidize human existence. No, jobs should always be something to add value & provide services. If it were universally otherwise, they would not be effective in subsidizing human existence in reality. That the government intervention called “a free market” naturally causes many to be unemployed, to be unable to find paying employment from those who already can command sums of the government’s money, is an obvious fact. Why on earth should one think otherwise? If one helicopter-drops money into a crowd, why would one think that the money will somehow reach everyone as it gets used for transactions, even the people far away who might need it the most? Why on earth should one think that it is not a good idea for the government to employ these many people to add value and provide services, instead of effectively destroying their valuable labor?

      More to say, but stopping here. Want to see if it appears. Been trying to reply to you in the previous article, but my comments are getting eaten.

    • Robert Lavergne

      Actually, central planning was quite successful in the CCCP. While they were politically surrounded by hostile free-marketeers who actively supported sabotaging their efforts, the central planners were able to develop a formidable socialist-industrial economy that was, after all, able to defeat the supposed technologically superior nazis. This amazing industrial development took place while the economies controlled by the free-marketeers were in deep, pro-longed depression. The Soviets may have failed to maintain socialism, and the reasons for that are complex, but there is no evidence that socialism failed the Soviets – in fact, an honest appraisal of the events from the ’30’s and ’40’s has to conclude that it was socialism that saved the Soviets AND the world from a capitalist inspired barbarism, which is trying harder and harder to make a come-back.

      Yes, the ruble has devalued and living conditions haven’t seen the improvements noted in the ’20’s and 30’s, but surely ever since Kruschev the CCCP has been on the road to ‘free’ markets and the major damage to the economy was done in the ’90’s by neo-liberals, western economists and privatisations – all things that would have been discouraged when the Soviets were faithful to socialism and central planning.

  5. I don’t know where you find the energy, Dr. Black, to keep this up, but thank you. Your writings are so valuable to regular folk. Thank you.

  6. What if when Obama gets re-elected he decides to do all the things that should be done to contribute to the common good: He fires all his bank and corporate advisers and asks the FBI to investigate, and a new attorney general to criminally prosecute and put in jail, all the criminals who brought down the financial system; he shelves the PPACA and begins a single-payer plan for universal health care; he gets rid of all the lobbyists and shills; he ends all wars; he draws up a plan for a Job Guarantee for all those who want to work; he asks Bernanke’s replacement to increase the interest rate so that the TBTF banks all go bankrupt but the pensions increase in value; he supports a public banking system that will take over from the insolvent banks; he forgives all debts so that everyone starts with a clean slate; he draws up a plan for affordable housing for anyone that needs housing; he promotes manufacturing at home so that people can buy locally; he makes the minimum wage a livable wage so everyone can afford the local manufacturing; and so on.

    That is my last and best fantasy!

  7. Charles Fasola

    Martel,
    Unregulated, welfare for the elite, oh I meant free market, capitalism is doing as splendid a job of scewing up national economies as those central planners you despise. [ Comment edited by Administrator ]

  8. John Q. Public

    Martel is lying to himself and us. You really think the fact people had jobs, apartments, and had to wait in bread lines due to “central planning” is what caused the autocratic Soviet Union and it satellites to alter the appearance of its governmental apparatus? Please excuse me if I think you’re being more than a little facetious.

  9. Pingback: Naked Capitalism: The 47% Lie | Seniors for a Democratic Society