The traveling circus known as the Romney/Ryan 2012 campaign was busy again yesterday trying to cut into President Obama’s growing lead in the polls. And so we saw VP candidate Paul Ryan at work in the swing state of Ohio, where he let fly with a great new line at a GOP campaign rally, one sure to “lure” in a few undecided voters.
A concerned citizen in the audience offered the following statement: “I make $316 every two weeks. I’m wondering what you’re prepared to do to end welfare as a hand up and not a hand out. I can’t get off welfare with what I make.”
It’s likely the questioner meant to put it differently, to say “end welfare as a hand out and make it a hand up.” But she was in a public setting and got her words mixed up.
That didn’t stop the buff Marathon Man from Wisconsin from responding pretty much as you’d expect, seeing as how he often comes across as a heartless, clueless, arrogant bastard: “The only thing that limits you is your God given talent and your own effort,” he told the poor woman and other adoring fans. “We need to have that dynamic economy return. You do that by drawing the economy and giving people a hand up, not a hand out. Teach a man how to fish, he can feed himself for a life. Don’t simply feed fish.”
The first problem, of course, is that Ryan was butchering this old Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” A much more serious problem, if you’re a fan of the GOP, is that combined with other tone-deaf responses in recent weeks, you have to worry that undecided voters will begin to doubt you have any interest in helping struggling Americans at all.
So, let’s summarize key GOP/Tea Party/Crazy Town economic principles. They can be boiled down like so:
- Give a billionaire a bigger yacht and the poor still won’t have any fish; but they can watch the pretty boats in the harbor. (More tax cuts for the super rich coming.)
- If you’re poor and hungry and need fish, borrow money from your parents to buy your own boat. (Romney explaining how to afford college.)
- Deregulate the fishing industry and millions of new jobs on fishing boats will be created. Until, then, poke extra holes in your belt and tell yourself, “Hey, I’m on a diet. (GOP trickle down gospel.)
- Quit crying about not having any fish; you just think you’re hungry; you just think you’re a victim. (Romney taped; talking to rich donors.)
- Did you say you rake in $316 every two weeks!! Lady, we need to close the loopholes you’ve been abusing in the tax code and be sure you shoulder your share of the income tax burden. (Romney/Ryan plan to fix the deficit.)
- What? Older Americans living on fixed incomes can’t afford fish. What do you expect the government to do? Give away fish sticks? That’s a hand out, not a hand up. And at age 89 granny can clank her walker down to the pier and get busy fishing. (Romney thinking about the 47%, also know in GOP circles as the “moocher class.”)
- You say you already work on a fishing boat, but you don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to go to the doctor for checkups? And now your wife seems to be developing heart trouble? Well, if she has a heart attack, no problem. We already have places where you can take her. They’re called “emergency rooms.” (Romney explaining how we can help fifty million uninsured citizens during a CBS interview.)
- If the people at the top of American society have billions of fish and the working poor, some of whom already hold down more than one job, have almost none, it’s still class warfare to hint that those at the top can’t eat all the fish they already have and might not notice if we raised their taxes slightly. Anyone who says we should raise taxes is anti-fishing and probably a communist. (Tea Party logic.)
- Barack Obama can’t be president anyway, because he’s never shown us a fishing license. (More Tea Party logic.)
Or, maybe we sum it up so, reduce the New Conservative Gospel to the irreducible minimum:
Those of us who are doing well, who have big boats and can afford to eat caviar, well, frankly, what do you expect us to do if you fall overboard?
We’d like to toss you a life preserver. But that would be the same as a handout. And the “only thing that limits you is your God given talent and your own effort” and if you paddle really hard, we have faith that you can make it to shore without drowning.
Meanwhile, we’re sailing for the Cayman Islands. We have to check on a couple of secret bank accounts.
Viall also writes about education issues a http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/