Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Tea Party Senior Citizens Love Paul Ryan

The New Republic by Timothy Noah

The Tea Party has a lot of reasons to love Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand acolyte Mitt Romney selected for his running mate. But it also has one very big and little-discussed reason to dislike him. Here’s how Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson explain it in their 2012 book, The Tea Party and The Re-Making of Republican Conservatism:

At its debut, the Ryan plan to eliminate traditional Medicare was described in the media as a “Tea Party proposal” But it would be more accurate to call it a “Koch proposal,” an ideological scheme to realize long-standing ultra-right hopes to privatize and radically shrink a major national social program. There is no evidence that ordinary American citizens who sympathize with the Tea Party were clamoring for the elimination of Medicare in early 2011. We heard no such thing from our interviewees, and a respected national survey completed right after the Ryan plan appeared revealed that 70 percent of the Tea Party supporters, along with even higher percentages of other Americans, oppose cuts in Medicare spending.

The explanation for this inconsistency is that most Tea Party members are AARP-eligible. Surveys have shown 70 to 75 percent of Tea Party supporters to be 45 or older (compared to about half the overall population). Tea Partiers aren’t against government benefits. They’re against government benefits for other people.

They just dress it up in anti-government rhetoric and convince themselves that Medicare and Social Security benefits are different because they’ve already paid for them through payroll taxes (when in fact beneficiaries take out far more than they put in; that’s why both programs need periodic adjustments). Hence the nonsensical slogan, “Keep government out of Medicare.” The fact that Medicare and Social Security account for most of the welfare-state spending that Tea Partiers profess to despise (and about one-third of all federal spending) is something that Tea Partiers either don’t grasp or choose to ignore.

Read the full story @ The New Republic.


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