Thursday, August 16, 2012 | return to: news & features, national


Ryan hailed by Jewish GOPers as the face of budget restraint

by ron kampeas, jta

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Anointing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney attached a name and face to his fiscal policy.

Jewish Republicans, including the House majority leader, say they are thrilled with Wisconsin’s Ryan emerging as the ticket’s fresh face, hailing the lawmaker as a thoughtful and creative budget guru bent on taming out-of-control federal spending.

And to other Jewish community leaders, those who have been grappling with the Republicans’ chief budget shaper since the party retook the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Ryan’s name is well known. It’s just not one they’re happy pronouncing.

The Washington groups that deal with budget policy have had many interactions with Ryan, who writes Congress’ proposed budget as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney (left) and his vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan arrive at a campaign rally Aug. 12 in Mooresville, N.C.   photo/ap-jason e. miczek
Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney (left) and his vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan arrive at a campaign rally Aug. 12 in Mooresville, N.C. photo/ap-jason e. miczek
The interactions have not been happy, Democratic interlocutors say privately, although they emphasize that Ryan is as affable and gracious one-on-one as he appears to be in public. But Jewish groups see Ryan’s plan as threatening Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are cornerstones of care for the Jewish elderly — a population growing faster than among most other religious and ethnic groups.

“The Republicans can write off Florida, or at least its Jewish vote,” said one organizational insider who has a strong working relationship with both parties.

Jewish Democrats made it clear that they were ready to seize the moment.

“Ryan’s signature budget plan drew the profound concern and even ire of many in the American Jewish community is because of its plans to end Medicare as we know it, slash vital social safety net programs, and increase the burden on seniors, the middle class and the poor — yet Romney today proudly hitched his horse to Ryan’s dangerous plan,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said on Aug. 11 after Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, announced his pick.

Ryan and his defenders argue that his proposals will drive down costs by spurring competitive pricing and save popular entitlement programs from eventual bankruptcy.

Outside of his leadership on budget issues, Ryan, 42, has not been prominent in many of the areas that traditionally have attracted the interest of Jewish organizations.

Elected in 1998, he visited Israel in 2005 on a trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Along with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), he has joined Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, as the “young guns” heralding a more robustly conservative Republican Party, one that appeals to the Tea Party insurgents who fueled the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.

Ryan has followed Cantor’s lead on foreign policy, co-sponsoring signature pieces of legislation that the majority leader initiated, most recently one that enhances security cooperation between the United States and Israel.

“America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy, with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law, but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism,” Ryan says on his congressional page.

Ryan has not interacted extensively with the small Jewish community in Wisconsin, but those who have met him say he’s an eager student of the Middle East.

“He’s thought a lot about those issues, although he might not be an expert like he is on the nitty gritty of the budget,” said Nat Sattler, who has been active in Wisconsin Republican politics and who has met Ryan at Republican and pro-Israel events.

Ryan has backed cuts to the overall foreign assistance budget, although he favors funding at current levels for Israel. AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups generally are committed to maintaining foreign assistance funding overall, not solely for Israel.

It is in the area of domestic spending that the clashes between Ryan and the Jewish community are most evident.

On the record, however, formal criticism does not often name Ryan because most organizations do not want to make enemies or seem partisan. But even without names and party affiliation, it can be scathing.

In April 2011, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — the two leading policy umbrellas addressing economic issues — were blunt in a joint letter to members of Congress, slamming plans originating with Ryan that would change parts of Medicare, the medical program for the elderly, to a Medicare Exchange in which a variety of private plans would be available.

The plans also would convey funds for Medicaid, government-funded insurance for the poor, in block grants to the states. JFNA and JCPA objected to the loosening of federal controls over how such money is spent.

“We recognize that this country’s very significant budget deficit threatens the long-term prosperity of our nation,” it said. “We also believe that the major entitlement programs protect the health and economic security of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Also featured in the Jewish criticism of Ryan’s plans are his proposals to slash spending on assistance for the poor, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

In a March statement slamming Ryan’s proposed cuts, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Committee said,  “We are commanded in Deuteronomy, ‘Do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman.’ ”

Ryan’s defenders note that Obama’s plan also incorporates cuts to Medicare. They argue that Ryan’s plan, broadening options for recipients, is the more efficient and the likelier to prevent further cuts.


Posted by dregstudios
08/16/2012  at  06:16 PM
Out of Touch

So the economist joins the greed-ridden elitist to try and buy their way to the White House- What a team!  Ryan will need to get fitted for his Magic Mormon Underwear soon!  These sacred undergarments harness the power of the Almighty to cough up enough cash for their crusade to the highest seats in the land.  See for yourself how these miracles are performed and how money plays its role in politics at

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Posted by Frank
08/18/2012  at  03:14 AM
Vile religious bigotry

The comment above should be removed by JWeekly.  Attacks on the Mormon religion is something that “liberal” Jews should revile as the most vile bigotry and religious hatred. 

“Comments that denigrade any .. religion ... will always be rejected. Yet here it remains!

As for Romney and Ryan on Medicare - they will save it.  Everyone over 55 will remain on the same system (including keeping Medicare Advantage), and younger people will have a more efficient SAVED Medicare.

Obama has already immediately gutted Medicare by cutting $716,000,000, cutting Medicare Advantage, and imposing a “panel” to reduce, limit and ration medical care.  (Obama has admitted medical care will be cut.) Those losing Medicare Adantage (approximately 4 million seniors) will have to find new doctors, and may not be able to afford essential health care.  Their Medicare money is being taken to fund Obamacare.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/21/2012  at  07:57 AM
Attacks on Obama and Medicare are Just the Sort of Joke...

that has anyone with any intelligence laughing at the Tea Party Pinheads.

Is anyone foolish enough to believe that Ryan’s notion that substituting insurance company vouchers for government Medicare aid is going to “save Medicare?” This idea is akin to the signs some Tea Party demonstrators carry saying, “Government hands off my Medicare.”

In sum, the notion that Ryan’s alternatives are going to save medicare are an insult to the intellect. Of course, this assumes that one has a capacity for intelligence to begin with…

Also, people like Frank must have a secret agenda which opposes any semblance of support for women’s rights. Ryan stands against any form of abortion, including in response to cases of incest and rape. Frankie, if you don’t believe this just look at Ryan’s statements on record.

Oh, and show how Medival that Good Papal Party Line Ryan is, he opposes ANY governmental assistance for birth control. Indeed, he actually opposes birth control. Too bad his father didn’t avail himself of it.

Ryan is also a hater of gays and opposes any government strictures on the banking and financial industries (you know, the very culprits responsible for our current financial malaise).

Moreover, Ryan is on record opposing all scientific thought about global warning. And he loathes any semblance of restrictions upon corporations for their despoiling of the environment.

In sum, it could be said that when it comes to GOP supporters, “Ryan’s Hope is Ryan’s Dope.”

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/21/2012  at  08:52 AM
Hey Frankie, Your Pals in the Tea Party...

are still defending their comrade Akins for his rape/pregnancy comment. Is the Tea Party wrong? After all, they and Ryan oppose abortion in response to rape…

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/21/2012  at  11:09 AM
To Help Clarify the Medicare Situation...

and cut through the bilgewater Romney/Ryan Tea Party rubbish expressed by the likes of Frank and craven on this website, read the following editorial in the NY Times:

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