If Ryan's proposals to destroy Medicare, Social Security and health care for the poor were put forward not by a fresh-faced young congressman with puppy-dog eyes, but instead by a scowling old man with a mole on his nose, everyone would recognize his vision for America.
We all remember the scene from Dickens' A Christmas Carol when two good-hearted solicitors implore the old skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge to help those in need of food and warmth during the Christmas season.
Scrooge inquires whether prisons and workhouses still exist. Told they do, Scrooge is cheered. He says those are the public institutions he supports and people who can't provide for themselves should go there.
The solicitors reply that many can't and some would rather die.
“If they would rather die,” Scrooge snarls, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
What's most frightening is, unlike many politicians who will say anything to get elected, Ryan actually appears to believe in the destruction he advocates for successful government programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
When Tea Party Republicans helped make Ryan chairman of the House Budget Committee, he convinced his party to go on record in favor of destroying Medicare and replacing it with an ever-decreasing voucher program that would ultimately force the elderly to pay up to 60% of the cost of their own health care.
Approaching this year's elections, many Republicans would prefer to play down the dismantling of popular government programs that protect the elderly from being plunged wholesale into abject poverty.
Not Ryan. After previously advocating privatization of Social Security, Ryan now has introduced his election-year version of wrecking Medicare and other government assistance for anyone but the very wealthy.
Ryan would cut $5.3 trillion over the next 10 years from Medicare, Medicaid and a wide variety of other assistance, including food stamps and even support for farmers.
Ryan's budget also kills President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, kicking seniors and everyone else in the teeth even more by allowing insurance companies to cancel their insurance when they get sick and deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions.
He also would abolish Obama's closing of the “doughnut hole” in Medicare drug coverage, forcing seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for their prescription drugs.
Ryan Plan Increases Deficit
Well, those may be drastic measures, but aren't drastic measures needed to reduce our soaring national debt?
Nope. That national debt Ryan talks about so much continues to soar under his draconian cuts. Ryan's budget actually would add $3.1 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.
Ryan's enormous cuts punishing the elderly, the poor and the sick wouldn't be used to reduce the national debt. Instead, those savings would help provide $4.3 trillion in additional tax cuts, going overwhelmingly to the richest people in America.
Ryan's primary motive for taking government assistance away from the elderly and poor who are in need and giving the money to the wealthy is not to save the government money. He says he's doing it to improve the morals of the elderly and the poor.
Ryan recently explained to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute that when government provides too much of a safety net to those in desperate circumstances, it “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It's demeaning.”
Giving that money in tax cuts to people who are already rich, on the other hand, doesn't damage the morals of the wealthy. Rich people are accustomed to receiving enormous handouts from the government, so their morals remain as high as they've ever been.
Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, calls Ryan an economic flimflam man.
Ryan may not know much about economics, but he has been nothing short of masterful at bamboozling Republicans and much of the media.
Almost daily, you can hear commentary on cable TV describing Ryan as one of the leading intellectuals in the Republican Party. In the land of the visually impaired, the one-eyed man is king.
And woe be to any Republican candidate who dares to criticize Ryan. The first time Newt Gingrich's mouth got his presidential campaign in trouble was when he dared to speak the truth about Ryan's budget last year, calling it radical, right-wing social engineering.
Since then, every other Republican candidate has fallen into line. Mitt Romney calls Ryan “one of the brilliant visionaries in our party.”
The usual definition of a visionary is one who can see far into the future. It doesn't apply to Ryan, who looks backward, longing to restore the enormous economic inequality and Dickensian cruelty toward the poor and the elderly of the 19th century.