House Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, a Catholic, has recently discovered poverty and has vowed to do something about it. He reintroduced a couple of modest ideas that might help the poor. Some progressive Catholics did their best to applaud Ryan's nascent initiatives. Others just rolled our eyes at the hollowness and political expediency of Ryan's actions.
The fact is, Ryan's federal budget proposal contains brutal and devastating cuts to programs that help and feed the poor. Yet Ryan has never repudiated his killer budget and presented a comprehensive and complete budget that matches his startling new views about the poor.
Two writers have repeatedly debunked Ryan's attempts to justify his budget and god-awful cuts to the poor: Paul Krugman of The New York Times op-ed page and Jonathan Chait of New York magazine.
Paul Ryan has emerged from his long post-election period of repositioning, soul-searching, and secretly but not secretly visiting the poor. He had been caricatured as an Ayn Rand miser and attacked as a social Darwinist, merely for proposing the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history. Ryan has identified the root cause of his difficulties, and it is fiscal arithmetic.
The new Ryan, now fully formed, emerges in an interview with Philip Klein that is revealing precisely for its evasiveness. The overview of Ryan's new strategy must be pieced together from several elements.
Chait reveals how Ryan's math doesn't add up. Ryan simply doesn't make sense. Chait addresses Ryan's desire to implement tax cuts for all; Ryan's claim that he actually has a budget all his own; the idea that Republicans will replace the Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," which will never happen; that Obamacare is hurting Americans by cutting prices; and that the debt crisis has never been addressed by President Barack Obama. It's a devastating critique.
So while some have praised Ryan's new interest in poverty, until Ryan presents a comprehensive budget centered on the human dignity of the poor, save the "Hosannas," as Ryan is not presenting his poverty ideas in the name of the Lord.