Ryan and the P90X Republicans

Bringing the pain

Paul Ryan is known for his devotion to a fitness regime called P90X, which involves "working out 6-7 days per week, with each workout lasting about 1-1½ hours," according to WebMD. The website adds that "the workouts are so rigorous that you're asked to take a fitness test before ordering the P90X system, to see whether you're up to the challenge."

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will never be caught doing P90X. (Nor will I.) But on Tuesday night, Christie offered his own brand of toughness. "I believe we have become paralyzed," he declared in his keynote address to the Republican National Convention, "paralyzed by our desire to be loved." Who knew that the desire to be loved was a national liability?

Something odd is happening in Mitt Romney's Republican Party. The GOP is marketing the concept that a great many Americans need to suffer before they can prosper. The government needs the equivalent of a P90X regimen -- and never mind checking first whether it will actually be good for the country.

This approach is ingenious because it dismisses all challenges to P90X government as soft and lacking in courage. I'd argue that the country should  be rebelling against the idea of showering more riches on the already strong and wealthy while those in the middle or at the bottom are lectured that they should simply work and try harder. Yet anyone who dares say this is accused of failing to understand the magic of self-punishing rigor.

There is one famous Paul Ryan quotation that is not being widely cited in Tampa. "We are at a moment," he said in response to President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address, "where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency."

A hammock? What, pray, is any liberal proposing that will allow any American to live in such complacency? Trying to make sure that more people have health insurance? Allowing the elderly to retire on that vast $1,230-a-month income provided by the average Social Security check? And then there's welfare, which in all 50 states leaves recipients with an income equal to less than half the poverty line. Where's the hammock?

But it was Christie who came up with the most brilliant defense of a Social Darwinist world in which those hardworking, job-creating billionaires are said to deserve even more than they already have. Anyone who speaks up against the New Plutocracy is accused, in Christie's formulation, of longing too much for love. Our nation will only be great again, he argued, if politicians are willing "to say no when ‘no' is what's required."

Somehow, saying "no" to further enriching the wealthy is not on the GOP's agenda.

Indeed, there were telltale moments in Christie's effective if also deceptive speech. "Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless," he declared. "We all must share in the sacrifice. And any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth."

Put aside the P90X Republicans' pride in being the party of pain. What, precisely, is "shared" about the giving more tax cuts to Americans with high incomes while cutting programs for those dismissed as hammock dwellers?

And then there was Christie's entirely legitimate admiration for his dad. "After returning from Army service," Christie recounted, "he worked at the Breyers Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. With that job and the GI Bill he put himself through Rutgers Universityat night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree."

Good for his dad. But Christie somehow slid over the fact that it was government -- through the GI Bill and by financing New Jersey's fine state university -- that gave the elder Christie his chance to rise. Are we to "sacrifice" the next generation by cutting student loans and even arguing, as is becoming fashionable, that some Americans shouldn't get the opportunity to go to college?

Christie and Ryan talk a lot about "courage." It's an excellent virtue. But where is the courage in giving the wealthy people who are financing your campaigns all they want while accusing those who might vote against you of wishing to spend life in a hammock? P90X economics, apparently, is for everyone except the wealthy.

(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

"Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth."If the Republican Party had a James Carville, this is what he would have said to win Mitt over, in whatever late-night war room session led to the Ryan pick: 'It's the debt, stupid.' [Debt is] something just about everybody who's ever gotten a bill in the mail hates on a primal level."And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a 'turnaround specialist,' a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. … Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.…"The men of the private equity generation want no such thing. 'We try to hide religiously,' explained Steven Feinberg, the CEO of a takeover firm called Cerberus Capital Management that recently drove one of its targets into bankruptcy after saddling it with $2.3 billion in debt. 'If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person,' Feinberg told shareholders in 2007. 'We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it.'"Read more:http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz253h2qmO9

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/on-mitt-romney-bain-capital-and-private-equity-20120829

How nice that Paul Ryan can take the time to exercise 6 or 7 times a week for an hour and a half.  Throw in the time to get to the workout facility which is probably porvided by the taxpayers and he gets to spend about 16 hours a week keeping buff.  Too bad the hammock people don't have the time, money or access to work out everyday.  It is hard to set aside two hours a day when you have lost your full-time job, are looking for a full-time job, are cobbling together as many part-time jobs as you can, are sitting in an emergency room for hours so you can get your sick child looked at because you lost your health insurance, and you have to wait for a bus because you had to sell your car, etc, etc.

Three years ago, I served as the Interim CEO of a community action agency which provided a number of services to people who were struggling financially.  When the Bush-Ryan Great Recession hit, unemployed people who never had to ask for a hand because they worked hard and supported their families came pouring into the agency offices.  All you had to do is look at the faces and into the eyes of these hammock people to know that they were embarrassed and ashamed to have to ask for food to feed their families and energy assistance to keep their homes warm in the winter. 

Too bad the hammock people do not have the well-to-do supporters which have helped Paul Ryan along the way.  He came from a fairly wealthy family. But when his father died, he fortunately had social security to help pay his way through an expensive private college in Ohio.  He had "jobs" in the summer "working" for his family's company.  When he got out of college, he went to work for wealthy conservative "think tanks," and then got elected to Congress where the taxpayers have paid for his salary and benefits.  The only job Ryan has ever had that was not paid for by his family, super rich friends, or the taxpayers is as a summer driver for the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.  This is the guy who is going to turnaround America?  Scary thought. 

The Republican economic plan are basically 1950's and earlier economic theories trying to solve 21st century economic prsoblems.  It's not going to work.  Those theories put us in the position we are now and continuing them will only make it worse for the great majority of people. 

The real economic and job creation question of this election is how do we share the great wealth of this country that is created by all of us. "Are we going to have economic policies which put more money in the hands of the great majority of people or are we going to put more money in the hands of fewer people?"  I will vote for putting it in the hands of the great majority. 

Why oh why is the Obama team so inept at communicating simple, easily understood concepts, such as those expressed by Mr. Dionne, Matt Taibbi, and Mr. Beezat, above?

Additionally, I'd love to see some clarity and especially some backbone in defending ObamaCare and in calling out Romney with regard to how, precisely, he (Romney) would propose to replace ObamaCare, if he (Romney) is actually successful in repealing it.

- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

Did Paul Ryan actually get his Dad's Social Security through college? So when did that change? Does anyone know? My son's stopped the month he graduated from high school. Thank goodness my sons;  Dad had life insurance, his autistic brother died and I was able to invest that money and pay for my sons college. Otherwise he would be another of our youth who are indentured to the banks. When will the American people realize that we live in the least free first world country.

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About the Author

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist, professor of government at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury Press).