Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Tells Fox News That Only He Is Entitled To Have Paid Family Time (VIDEO)



New House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear to Fox News that he thinks only Republican lawmakers like himself should have paid family leave.

Prior to taking the job vacated by John Boehner, Ryan demanded that he receive paid personal family time even though he opposes letting American workers have the same benefit at their jobs.

The United States is currently the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t mandate paid personal leave to workers so they can spend time with their families to deal with illnesses, tragedies, or raising a new child.

Yet Paul Ryan made sure that he secured a personal family leave mandate for himself, and Fox News grilled him for it on Sunday.

“In saying that you would accept the Speakership, Mr. Speaker, you said that you wouldn’t take the job if it interferes with your family time, which has opened up a national conversation about the importance of spending time with your family,” host John Roberts began.

“And there are many people in this country that would like to see you make your first priority legislation that gives people the backing of the federal government so that they can have time with their family. Would you make that one of your first priorities?”

Paul Ryan, of course, refused to support any legislation would give American workers the same time to spend with their own families, calling such a thing an “entitlement.”

“I don’t think people asked me to be Speaker so that I can take more money from hardworking taxpayers to create some new federal entitlement. But I think people want to have members of Congress who represent them, that are like them. Don’t you want your member of Congress to be a citizen legislator who lives with you among you, who has your own kinds of concerns, who wants to spend time with his children on Saturdays and Sundays?” he asked. “I’m going to keep living in Janesville, Wisconsin where I’m from, where I raise my family. I’m going to keep going back and forth to D.C. If you’re asking me, because I want to spend — I want to continue being the best dad and husband and Speaker I can be, getting that work-life balance correct means I should sign up for new unfunded entitlement, that doesn’t make any sense.”

Here’ the video via YouTube:

Yes, congressmen are just like us. I mean, we all get 239 days off per year while making a $174,000 salary that we can vote to raise any time we please, right? Wrong.

Americans only get 12 days off per year if they are lucky and many don’t even get to take time off during the holidays like lawmakers do. In addition, 30 percent of Americans work on the weekend and nights, which means they don’t get to spend nearly as much time with their families. Furthermore, the median household income stands at $50,500 and a quarter of households make less than $25,000 a year.

In fact, Paul Ryan makes even more money now as House Speaker, getting a whopping paycheck of $223,500 while doing less work than his predecessor and while presiding over a Congress that will likely be one of the least productive in American history as it takes a vote every day to repeal Obamacare while doing little for the people they are supposed to serve.

The good news is that Americans don’t have to continue taking this kind of shit from Republicans. The 2016 Election is just a year away and they can change this. The bottom line is that if Americans want paid family time like Paul Ryan receives, all they have to do is give the Senate and House back to the Democratic Party, which supports paid leave for every American worker.

Paul Ryan says this will burden taxpayers, but in reality, it strengthens families and makes workers happier and more productive. CEOs and business owners will be the ones paying for this out of their profits. The only ones taking taxpayer money to fund their own personal time is Ryan and his fellow lazy Republicans who just don’t want to force their corporate masters to do something good for their workforce. So really, Paul Ryan is the one who is getting an “entitlement” right now, and just like greedy bastards do, he refuses to share that benefit with everyone else, the ones who really deserve it. And Republicans have the gall to call themselves the party of family values.

H/t: DB

The right turns on Paul Ryan: Yesterday’s conservative savior is today’s moderate wimp

The right turns on Paul Ryan: Yesterday's conservative savior is today's moderate wimp

(Credit: J. Scott Applewhite)


In 2012, he was hailed by the likes of Rush and Glenn Beck. But in today’s GOP, no wingnut is ever radical enough

This article originally appeared on Media Matters.

When newly-elected Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was picked by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in 2012, right-wing media were ecstatic. Cheered by Ryan’s sterling conservative credentials, far right commentators celebrated that one of their own has been added to the ticket.

Rush Limbaugh: “I don’t remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan.”

Glenn Beck: “Mitt Romney has picked a solid, smart conservative for his vice-presidential running mate.”

Laura Ingraham: “More than anything today, we need a man with courage and clear-thinking. Ryan has both.”

Mark Levin: “Paul Ryan is an excellent VP choice.”

Fast forward just three years and those same commentators are now raising doubts about Ryan, when not outright trashing him in public. Ryan’s sudden sin?  Not being sufficiently conservative; not passing the purity test.

Limbaugh: “This whole Ryan thing hasn’t made any sense to me from the first moment I heard about it.”

Beck: “The ‘fix’ the republic needs is Paul Ryan? The man who never met a bailout he didn’t like? A man who asked to be made king? 100% support and you can’t vote him out? Your solution is MORE POWER FOR THE SPEAKER?!?!?!?”

Levin: “NOT SO FAST! Paul Ryan an amnesty advocate”

Ingraham: “From misrepresenting the outrageous Fast Track &TPP to amnesty & foreign workers, list of demands, Ryan’s possibly the worst Spkr choice.”

Ryan’s amazing free-fall from grace seems to be part of a larger race to the radical right, not only among powerful forces with the Republican Party, which now seem to be fundamentally opposed to governing and legislating, but also within key portions of the right-wing media. There seems to be a mini-stampede underway towards an extremist destination rarely seen in mainstream American politics. And for parts of the conservative media that means now demonizing former heroes like Paul Ryan.

“Conservative talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have already denounced him as a dangerous moderate,” according to Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. “Tea party organizations are already raising money from supporters with appeals to stop any more Ryanesque budget deals.”

One of the many layers of irony here is that in 2012, the right-wing media defendedRyan from Democraticclaims that he was too far to the right and outside of the mainstream. Today, many conservative commentators are attacking Ryan for not being far enough to the right.

Yet “Ryan hasn’t undergone any sort of David Brockian-type worldview change that would warrant labeling him an apostate,” wrote conservative Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast. He added that while “Ryan’s voting record has its blemishes,” Ryan would “certainly be the most conservative Speaker of the House in modern history.”

Esquire agrees:

He still believes in privatizing social security and Medicare. He still believes that social programs are a “hammock.” He still believes that the Social Security survivor benefits that he and his family received throughout his adolescence cause dependency on other people and their families.

A portion of the conservative press, of course, has never been in love with an establishment-type players like Jeb Bush, so his lack of support this year hasn’t been surprising. But Paul Ryan? He’s “the Republican party’s intellectual leader” as The Weekly Standard once touted. The conservative press could barely contain its universal glee when Ryan got the VP nod just three years ago. ‘He’s one of us,’ seemed to be the collective cheer.

“Fox News, the most powerful right-wing media outlet in the country, has spent years praising Ryan as a ‘star,’ a ‘genius,’ and a man of ‘courage,’” Media Matters noted in 2012.

Today, the insults pile high:

-“He is the wrong man at the wrong time.”  [American Thinker]

-“Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives.” [Conservative Review]

-“Despite his portrayal by the media as being conservative, most actual conservatives in the House know that Ryan isn’t a conservative.” [Breitbart]

Breitbart, in particular, has become a clearinghouse of often-inaccurate analysis regarding Ryan, such as claiming the Republican’s bid for the speakership had recently collapsed. Breitbart even warned readers that Media Matters “has Paul Ryan’s back,” as proof the Republican cannot be trusted.

In a sign of how fractured and radical the conservative movement has become, it appears fewer and fewer media players have Ryan’s back. Even though they cheered him as a savior in 2012.

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of “Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.”
H/t: DB

Religious Leaders Slam Paul Ryan For Distorting Faith To Promote Income Inequality

paul Ryan

attribution: NONE


A leading faith-based group is calling out Paul Ryan for warping the teachings of the Catholic Church to justify his economic agenda that benefits the rich and promotes income inequality.

The group Faith In Public Life responded to Paul Ryan’s election as Speaker of the House by reminding the American people of how Ryan warps the teachings of his faith to promote income inequality:

As you know, all eyes are now on the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, but Catholic bishops, theologians, nuns and faith-based social justice advocates have been watching him closely for years. Ryan frequently references the importance of his faith and has argued that his budget proposals find support in Catholic teaching.

Yet, Faith in Public Life thinks it’s interesting to point out that Catholic leaders have strongly challenged Ryan’s economic vision and pushed back on those claims. Ryan has also implied that Pope Francis, who urges political leaders to address what he calls an “economy of exclusion and inequality,” is naive.

There seems to be a disconnect between the faith Paul Ryan espouses and the public policy he supports.

In 2012, John Gehring, Catholic Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Public Life discussed Ryan’s budget and economic ideology, “If Rep. Ryan thinks a budget that takes food and healthcare away from millions of vulnerable people upholds Catholic values, then he also probably believes Jesus was a Tea Partier who lectured the poor to stop being so lazy and work harder. This budget turns centuries of Catholic social teaching on its head. These Catholic leaders and many Catholics in the pews are tired of faith being misused to bless an immoral agenda.”

As the mainstream media celebrates Ryan, it is important to remember that faith-based leaders have spent years calling Ryan’s economic views morally indefensible.

Paul Ryan dreams of America where Medicare and Social Security no longer exist. Poverty programs are a thing of the past, and those who fall on hard times are on their own. Ryan’s vision for the country is a nation of haves and have-nots, where the wealthiest Americans have it all. Ryan has used his economic ideology to warp the teachings of his faith, and as Speaker of the House, he is going to try to use his power to undo decades of progress for regular Americans.

The man who so many in the mainstream press are celebrating possesses a morally wrong economic ideology, as Ryan’s rise represents a new battle that must be fought to protect ordinary Americans.

Jason Easley

Paul Ryan Is the New Speaker of the House of Representatives

Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES


It’s been called the worst job in American politics.

When first floated as a replacement for outgoing House Speaker John Boehner a couple weeks ago, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) dismissed it out of hand. The post was seen as a professional dead end. The conservative hardliners in the Republican conference had made life miserable for Boehner, threatening to block any bargains with the White House and promising retaliation against the speaker if he defied them.

Ryan’s about-face was the product of a careful campaign, orchestrated both by friends and associates who wanted him in the job and a conservative caucus that risked being sidelined completely if it didn’t play ball with the establishment. After a few rounds of politicking, Ryan emerged with the support of the three most powerful groups inside his conference. The House Freedom Caucus, whose actions to depose Boehner had started the ball rolling on his departure, fell in line last week.

The internal squabbling settled, at least for now, the whole House on Thursday morning elected Ryan to the speakership with 236 votes, 18 more than the majority he needed. Only 18 Republican members defected, throwing their support behind tea party favorite Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Even Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the conservative who moved in late July to remove Boehner, backed Ryan on Wednesday. The remaining 184 votes went to Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

With the passing of the gavel, Ryan becomes the 54th speaker of the House, pushing him to second in line to the presidency. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee who chose Ryan as his running mate, was on hand for the vote, which had been made a near-formality when Republican members nominated their respected colleague a day earlier.

Paul Ryan Is the New Speaker of the House of Representatives

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a good place: Ryan begins his reign in a significantly more comfortable position than his predecessor, thanks in large part to Boehner himself. In his final act as speaker, the Ohio congressman shepherded through a new government spending bill, which also raises the federal debt limit, that will last through the end of the Obama administration.

Without the threat of government shutdowns or the perpetually looming fiscal cliffs, Ryan and the White House are free to negotiate outside of crisis mode. While there’s no guarantee this will translate into any kind of meaningful legislation or reform, the downside stakes are considerably lower. Capitol Hill’s gridlock will not, at least through March 2017, threaten the broader functions of the federal government.

And that, for this Congress, is something close to a smashing success.

Correction: Oct. 29, 2015

A previous version of this story stated Rep. Paul Ryan is now third in line for the presidency. The speaker of the house is second in line.

Ryan makes run for speaker official after gaining support from GOP’s right, far right and OMG right

Paul Ryan  speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011.

attribution: Gage Skidmore


As noted by Barbara Morrill Thursday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan finally agreed to run for Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner. Now he’s made it official, according to Bloomberg:

“I am ready and eager to be our speaker,” Ryan said in a letter to colleagues Thursday night. “We can show the country what a commonsense conservative agenda looks like.” […]”I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve—I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”

Ryan obtained support from enough members of three factions of the Republican Party. The vote for the speakership, which will take place next Thursday, is a foregone conclusion.What’s not foregone is the unity that he and presumably a majority of Republicans hope he can create from the deep divisions among the right, the far-right and the completely off-the-friggin’-chart right that now make up 90 or so percent of the party. His honeymoon as speaker could be mighty short.

One of Ryan’s conditions for running was setting limits on how easy it is to oust a speaker, something the 36 members of the ultra-right Freedom Caucus had threatened to do to Boehner. Although two-thirds of the members of the Freedom Caucus decided to back Ryan after he met with them, they did not agree to setting limits on ousters, Bloomberg reported.

Ryan also met with the conservative Republican Study Committee and the moderate-for-Republicans Tuesday Group before making his decision to run.

You can read Ryan’s letter below.

Dear Colleague:Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about our country, and it’s clear to me that we’re in a very serious moment. Working families continue to fall behind, and they are losing faith in the American Idea: the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead. At the same time, a weaker America has led to a more dangerous world. Our friends and rivals alike wonder whether we will pull ourselves out of this stupor.

Instead of rising to the occasion, Washington is falling short—including the House of Representatives. We are not solving the country’s problems; we are only adding to them.

But now, we have an opportunity to turn the page, to start with a clean slate, and to rebuild what has been lost. We can make the House a more open and inclusive body—one where every member can contribute to the legislative process. We can rally House Republicans around a bold agenda that will tackle the country’s problems head on. And we can show the country what a commonsense conservative agenda looks like.

That’s why I’m actually excited for this moment. I’ve spoken with many of you over the past few days, and I can sense the hunger in our conference to get to work. I know many of you want to show the country how to fix our tax code, how to rebuild our military, how to strengthen the safety net, and how to lift people out of poverty. I know you’re willing to work hard and get it done, and I think this moment is ripe for real reform.

That’s because, whatever our differences, we’re all conservatives. We were elected to defend the constitution. We share the same principles. We all believe America is the land of opportunity—the place where you should be able to go as far as your talents and hard work will take you. We all believe in empowering every person to realize his or her potential. And we have the know-how to apply these principles to the problems of today.

I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve—I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.

This is just the beginning of our work. There is a long road ahead. So let’s get started.

Paul Ryan

Meteor Blades

8 Disgusting Things To Remind You Just Who Right-Wing Soon-To-Be Speaker Paul Ryan Really Is (IMAGES)


It seems like Paul Ryan is about to become the next Speaker of the House. Not because he’d be good at the job, not because he’s been angling for it for years. No, Paul Ryan is the only option the fractured GOP really has. These folks put the fun in dysfunctional, simply because they seem to enjoy it so much. So, Ryan wants to be the guy who brings everyone together. Bring them together for what? To lead them off a cliff?

If bringing people together means anything, it’s Ryan’s leadership leading the moderates in the GOP over to the right-wing. How do we know this? Just look at Ryan’s own statements. Here are eight things the former VP candidate actually said and believes that will disgust you:

1. Some rapes are worse than other rapes.

paul ryan gossling

Ryan actually co-sponsored legislation that is a little too “Todd Akin” for my taste. The “Sanctity of Life” Act is basically a federal personhood law which classifies a fertilized egg as a person. It would outlaw all abortions, but it would also outlaw many forms of contraception as well as pregnancy terminations that would result from complications arising from fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. It would also outlaw abortions in the cases of the many other problems that could arise in pregnancy that would require a termination. So if you get raped or you’re going to die along with the fetus, too bad. That’s Paul Ryan.

2. He wants time with his family but denies American families time with theirs. 

Hypocrite alert! “I cannot and will not give up my family time,” Ryan said as a condition of being Speaker. “Janna and I have children who are in the formative, foundational years of their lives.” Except, Ryan has a substantial number of votes against bills that would ensure working Americans could spend time with their families if needed. Probably not what we want in a leader. Let’s avoid the hypocrites in the Speaker’s office, eh? Who’s with me?

3. Paul Ryan voted for George W. Bush’s tax breaks for the rich that blew up the budget and added to the deficit.


Paul Ryan loves to talk about debt and deficits. If the quote above is any indication, he hates having debt. But he blew the deficit when he voted for W’s tax cuts to the rich. And guess what, the trickle-down… didn’t. Because it NEVER DOES!

4. Paul Ryan blames poverty on lazy bastards. 

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America.

That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works. The truth is that most in poverty work, if not full-time, multiple part-time jobs. Sometimes they have a full-time job AND part-time jobs. They probably don’t get a lot of time with their families like Paul Ryan is demanding.

5. Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system.


Medicare costs significantly less than private insurance. As much as the right-wing wants to hate on the government, the fact is that Medicare is more cost effective. For reasons passing in understanding, Ryan supports privatizing senior health so corporations end up scoring more. It might make more for big pharma and Wall Street, but it hurts people like my grandpa.

6. Paul Ryan LOVES subsidies for big oil. 

At a time when we need to be investing in sustainable energy and green technology, Paul Ryan loves his subsidies for big oil. Maybe the reason is because his family has investments that earn him hefty profits! The Ryan budget maintains $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil over the next 10 years while other things get slashed. Passing bills that help your own interests must be part of the Ryan way. Ethics are for wimps.

7. Ryan isn’t Catholic enough for most Catholics. 

Because Ryan doesn’t support poor people, The Council of Bishops is a little cold on the Ryan leadership. Ryan might be Catholic, but his budget idea about food stamps cuts to support tax cuts for corporations and Wall Street millionaires was so absurd to the Nuns On The Bus they went on the road to advocate against him and his policies.

8.  His obsession with Ayn Rand. 


In Ayn Rand land, selfishness is a virtue and altruism is a sin. Ryan doesn’t have any of business experience and he has spent his adult life in politics. Ayn Rand wanted a limited government that contained only the military, police and judiciary. So, basically no services and a nice cozy police state. People like Paul Ryan and Rand’s many other right-wing teabagger followers want to slash government spending and eliminate the social safety net.

This is who your next Speaker of the House is going to be. He’s apparently trying to bring everyone together around his ideas. Not exactly inspiring, but this is what America gets when they vote for the GOP.

Potential Speaker Paul Ryan Just Issued A List Of Demands To Republicans. The Right-Wing Isn’t Happy.



Paul Ryan, who has said repeatedly he does not want to be House Speaker, now will consider the position. But only if the all Republican House members, including the hard-line “Freedom Caucus,” agree to a series of demands.

What the Freedom Caucus wants

The Freedom Caucus, which consists of about 40 members, had been demanding that potential candidates for Speaker make a detailed set of substantive commitments in exchange for their support. Kevin McCarthy wouldn’t agree to these so the Freedom Caucus endorsed another candidate. McCarthy was then forced to drop out because he didn’t have enough support to be elected speaker.

McCarthy had good reason to resist. Although Freedom Caucus members say they want “process reforms,” they are actually seeking a series of commitments from a potential speaker candidates that would send the country over a cliff.

For example, they want the next Speaker to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless it is tied to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is something the Democrats in Congress and President Obama would never agree to, potentially setting up the country for catastrophic default.

What Paul Ryan wants

Paul Ryan has a list of demands.

First, Paul Ryan refuses to agree to anything in advance of being elected speaker. He will not precommit to anything the Freedom Caucus wants.

Second, He wants the Freedom Caucus to publicly endorse him for Speaker anyway. This would require four-fifths of the Freedom Caucus to vote to support him.

Third, he want the Freedom Caucus to agree to rule changes that would vastly limit their power moving forward. Specifically, he wants to eliminate their ability to oust a sitting speaker by making a motion to “Vacate The Chair.” This is where, fundamentally, the Freedom Caucus derives much of their power.

How the Freedom Caucus, and the right-wing, is reacting to Paul Ryan’s demands

Not well.

Many members of the Freedom Caucus are already publicly rejecting Paul Ryan and his demands:

Here’s how Matt Drudge, still an influential figure among conservatives, has framed Ryan’s request:



There are 40 members of the Freedom Caucus so the ultimate outcome is still in doubt. They will be under severe pressure from the Republican establishment to reverse course and support Ryan. But the early signs for Ryan are not positive.


Paul Ryan Repeatedly Declines To Detail GOP Plan For O-care Subsidies (VIDEO)

Wallace then asked specifically whether the GOP plan would make sure that all Americans with subsidies could keep them.

Ryan said he would not go into details because congressional Republicans want to see the “nature of the ruling.”

He then refused to answer whether Republicans would include in their fix a provision to eliminate the individual mandate.

Wallace later reminded Ryan that the GOP has yet to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

“For all the complaints, Congressman, we’re five years into Obamacare and Republicans have still not come up with a coherent plan that will ensure that all of those millions of uninsured people get coverage,” Wallace said.

Watch the video via Mediaite:


Jeb Bush’s Favorite Author Rejects Democracy, Says The Hyper-Rich Should Seize Power

Colonial British monarchs would find a lot to like in Charles Murray's new book against democracy

Pre-Revolutionary kings would find a lot to like in Charles Murray’s new book against democracy | CREDIT: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA


At the height of 2011’s debt ceiling crisis, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered a candid explanation of why his party was willing to threaten permanent harm to the U.S. economy unless Congress agreed to change our founding document. “The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check,” McConnell alleged. “We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’ve tried elections. Nothing has worked.”

The amendment McConnell and his fellow Republicans sought was misleadingly named the “Balanced Budget Amendment” — a name that was misleading not because it was inaccurate, but because it was incomplete. The amendment wouldn’t have simply forced a balanced budget at the federal level, it would have forced spending cuts that were so severe that they would have cost 15 million people their jobs and caused “the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent,” according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. It was, in essence, an effort to permanently impose Tea Party economics on the nation, and to use a manufactured crisis to do so.

Few politicians are willing to admit what McConnell admitted when he confessed that elections have not “worked” to bring about the policy Republicans tried to impose on the nation in 2011. Elected officials, after all, only hold their jobs at the sufferance of the voters, and a politician who openly admits that they only believe in democracy insofar as it achieves their desired ends gives the middle finger to those voters and to the very process that allows those voters to have a say in how they are governed.

Charles Murray, an author who GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently named first when he was asked which books have had a big impact upon him, is not an elected official, so he is free to rail against democracy to his heart’s content. And that is exactly what he does in his new book, By The People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.

Pay no attention to the title. Government “by the people” is the last thing Murray cares to see. Murray admits that the kind of government he seeks, a libertarian fantasy where much of our nation’s regulatory and welfare state has been dismantled, is “beyond the reach of the electoral process and the legislative process.” He also thinks it beyond the branch of government that is appointed by elected officials. The Supreme Court, Murray claims, “destroyed” constitutional “limits on the federal government’s spending authority” when it upheld Social Security in 1937. Since then, the federal government has violated a “tacit compact” establishing that it would not “unilaterally impose a position on the moral disputes that divided America” (Murray traces the voiding of this compact to 1964, the year that Congress banned whites-only lunch counters).

King George’s Revenge

Murray is probably best known for co-authoring 1994’s The Bell Curve, a quasi-eugenic tract which argued that black people are genetically disposed to be less intelligent that white people. Yet, while The Bell Curvepractically spawned an entire field of scholarship devoted to debunking it,” Murray remains one of the most influential conservative thinkers in America today.

Dr. Murray’s pre-Bell Curve work shaped the welfare reforms enacted in the 1990s. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan cited Murray in 2014 to claim that there is a culture of laziness “in our inner cities in particular.” Last April, when Jeb Bush was asked what he liked to read, he replied “I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.”

So when Murray speaks, powerful and influential men (and his acolytes are, almost invariably, men) listen, including men who shape our nation’s fiscal policy and men who could be president someday.

By The People, however, rejects outright the idea that Murray’s vision for a less generous and well-regulated society can be achieved through appeals to elected officials — or even through appeals to unelected judges. The government Murray seeks is “not going to happen by winning presidential elections and getting the right people appointed to the Supreme Court.” Rather, By The People, is a call for people sympathetic to Murray’s goals — and most importantly, for fantastically rich people sympathetic to those goals — to subvert the legitimate constitutional process entirely.

“The emergence of many billion-dollar-plus private fortunes over the last three decades,” Murray writes, “has enabled the private sector to take on ambitious national or even international tasks that formerly could be done only by nation-states.” Murray’s most ambitious proposal is a legal defense fund, which “could get started if just one wealthy American cared enough to contribute, say, a few hundred million dollars,” that would essentially give that wealthy American veto power over much of U.S. law.

Murray, in other words, would rather transfer much of our sovereign nation’s power to govern itself to a single privileged individual than continue to live under the government America’s voters have chosen. It’s possible that no American has done more to advance the cause of monarchy since Benedict Arnold.

Madison’s Ghost

One of the heroes of By The People is James Madison, or, at least, a somewhat ahistoric depiction of Madison favored by Murray. Madison, as Murray correctly notes, favored an interpretation of the Constitution that would have made much of the modern regulatory and welfare state impossible (other members of the founding generation, including George Washington, interpreted the Constitution much more expansively than Madison). Thus, Murray states in his introduction, “[i]f we could restore limited government as Madison understood it, all of our agendas would be largely fulfilled.” Murray even names his proposal for a billionaire-funded organization intended to thwart governance the “Madison Fund.”

In Murray’s narrative, Madison becomes a Lovecraftian deity — dead, but not entirely dead, and still capable of working ill in American society. In his house at Montpelier, dead James Madison waits dreaming.

The real James Madison would be shocked by this suggestion that his dead-but-dreaming tentacle could reach into the future and re-instigate long-settled battles over the Constitution. Needless to say, the view Murray attributes to Madison — the view that, among other things, would lead to Social Security being declared unconstitutional — did not prevail in American history. And Madison, unlike Murray, was reluctant to displace well-settled constitutional law. As a congressman, Madison opposed the creation of the First Bank of the United States on constitutional grounds. Yet, as president, Madison signed the law creating a Second Bank. He explained that the nation had accepted the First Bank, and he viewed this acceptance as “a construction put on the Constitution by the nation, which, having made it, had the supreme right to declare its meaning.”

Madison, it should also be noted, admitted late in life that his reading of the Constitution was not consistent with the document’s text. Nevertheless, he argued that “[t]o take [the Constitution’s words] in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

To his credit, Murray acknowledges that undoing the entire post-New Deal state is not a realistic goal. The Supreme Court, he laments, “never overturns a decision like Helvering,” the 1937 case upholding Social Security, “because such a ruling would not be obeyed and the Court’s legitimacy would be shattered.” Yet the limits Murray would impose on the federal government are simply breathtaking. All employment law, according to Murray, must be subject to the strictest level of constitutional scrutiny. So must all land use regulation, and all laws that fall into vague categories Murray describes as regulations that “prescribe best practice in a craft or profession” or that “prevent people from taking voluntary risks.”

If these limits were actually imposed on the federal government, the minimum wage, overtime laws, most environmental protections and financial reforms, many worker safety laws and even, potentially, anti-discrimination laws would all fall by the wayside.

The Koch Veto

To impose these limits on society, Murray claims that his Madison Fund can essentially harass the government into compliance. The federal government, Murray claims, cannot enforce the entirety of federal law “without voluntary public compliance.” Federal resources are limited, and only a small fraction of these limited resources have been directed towards enforcement. Thus, Murray argues, by simply refusing to comply with the law and contesting every enforcement action in court, regulated entities can effectively drain the government’s resources and prevent it from engaging in meaningful enforcement.

The Madison Fund would spearhead this campaign of harassment, defending “people who are technically guilty of violating regulations that should not exist, drawing out that litigation as long as possible, making enforcement of the regulations more expensive to the regulatory agency than they’re worth, and reimbursing fines that are levied.”

There are, of course, a number of practical obstacles to this plan. One, as Murray acknowledges, is the need to find enough people with “billion-dollar-plus private fortune[s]” who are willing to contribute to such a campaign. Another is the need to find lawyers willing to risk their law licenses in order to become pawns in Murray’s game. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires attorneys to certify that they are not filing court documents “for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.” The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Processional Conduct provide that a “lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.” Admittedly, lawyers have more leeway in criminal cases, but the legal profession generally frowns upon attorneys who engage in the kind of legally meritless harassment Murray proposes.

Nevertheless, Murray’s proposal cannot be dismissed out of hand simply because it is built upon a foundation of frivolous litigation. The first Supreme Court case attacking Obamacare was widely derided as meritless — an ABA poll of legal experts found that 85 percent believed that the law would be upheld. And yet the justices came within a hair of repealing the entire law. The lawyers behind a more recent attack on the Affordable Care Act, King v. Burwell, make demonstrably false claims about the history of the law, and they rely upon a completely unworkable method of interpreting statutes. But that hasn’t stopped at least some members of the Supreme Court from taking this lawsuit seriously. Conservatives simply have more leeway to assert meritless legal arguments than they once did.

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Paul Ryan Went On Fox News To Defend Amtrak Safety Funding. It Didn’t Go Well.

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel | CREDIT: FOX NEWS


At least seven people died and 200 were injured in Tuesday’s Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia — even though technology exists that could have prevented the tragedy. A day after his Republican colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to cut about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) incorrectly claimed that Congress had already funded implementing the safety system it mandated in 2008.

Positive Train Control (PTC) would allow railroads to use GPS to stop or slow trains in cases of driver emergencies, switches left in the wrong position, hijacking, natural disasters, or other human error. Seven years ago, Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which required the nation’s busiest railroad operators to have these technologies fully in place by December 2015. Though Amtrak’s president has called PTC “the most important rail safety advancement of our time,” the chronicallycash-strapped Amtrak has struggled to put in place its Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) PTC technology system on the timetable it planned and the section of track where Tuesday’s accident occurred lacks it. The train was reportedly traveling at more than 100 miles per hour in a 50 MPH zone. Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board official leading the investigation into Tuesday’s crash, made clear on Wednesday, “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

Paul Ryan, who has made budget cuts a top priority, warned in a Fox News interview on Thursday that Congress cannot “rush to judgment and try doubling the size of government programs” in response to what he believes was “human error.”

Ryan noted that Congress had already “authorized and mandated the sort of speed control systems to be put in place,” though he noted “it wasn’t put in place here at this time.” Asked by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade whether Congress had actually funded those systems, Ryan claimed that they had.

“Yes!” Ryan responded, “Yeah, we already passed an Amtrak funding, an authorization bill earlier this year. And the appropriations process is working its way through right now.”

Ryan did not note that this appropriation would be well below Amtrak’s request which had included millions for PTC — and below even the past several years’ funding levels. And if Congress had provided the necessary funds to install PTC across the country, there would be no need for a Senate bill filed just weeks ago to delay the implementation deadline from December 2015 to 2020.

Watch the video:

Ryan said he hoped “cooler heads can prevail” and “people won’t seize on political opportunities out of tragedies like this” to spend more money. Asked whether he thought rebuilding America’s infrastructure should be a priority, Ryan noted that the Highway Trust Fund goes bankrupt later this month but that he would not back tax increases for infrastructure improvement as “we can do better by saving more money [and] being more efficient.”


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