Ryan labels educators “special interest,” comes up short on budget specifics


by Félix Pérez

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan laid out their sharply different visions for restoring the middle class last night, with Ryan characterizing educators as an “interest group” that benefited from President Barack Obama’s economic recovery initiative, which is credited with preventing the layoffs of more than 400,000 educators.

Congressman Ryan, the architect of a controversial budget passed by the House in March, condemned President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a failure. “Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?” Ryan asked.

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President Obama’s recovery package is credited with keeping educators in the classroom and in schools, helping to keep class sizes from increasing even further as states and cities laid off hundreds of thousands of educators and other public service workers.

Lisa Petrey-Kirk, an eighth grade social studies teacher from Anderson County, Ky., attended the debate. In an interview with Education Votes, Petrey-Kirk said she was troubled by Ryan’s lack of specifics. “As (Biden and Ryan) were talking, I sat there listening with my educator ears for who will be there for public education and the middle class. It was obvious that Ryan fell short.”

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz pressed Ryan on how he and Romney would pay for the Romney-Ryan tax proposal, which analysts say would:

  • Slash education funding by $115 billion over 10 years – hurting the neediest students and causing class sizes to rise even further
  • Eliminate Head Start enrollment slots for 2 million kids, and
  • Cut Pell Grants for more than 9 million students seeking a college education.

Raddatz tried to get Ryan to explain how he and Romney will cut taxes for everyone — including people earning more than $1 million — while not cutting funding for education, health care and other programs for middle class and struggling families: “You have refused to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?”

After offering a lengthy example of how Republicans and Democrats reached a bipartisan tax agreement nearly 30 years ago, Ryan said, “We want to work with Congress — we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful. Look . . .”

Raddatz interjected, “No specifics, again.”

Arizona high school math teacher Dennis Van Roekel was not impressed with Ryan’s explanations. “The proof is in black and white. Romney and Ryan want our students to get as much education as they can afford. They can’t just shake the Etch-a-Sketch and make the facts and figures in Paul Ryan’s budget plan disappear.”

Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, added:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made it abundantly clear that they support the interests of corporate America and the wealthy over America’s students. They can’t say they support education and America’s students when their budget priorities deliver a totally different message.”

Adam Spinks, a senior at Western Kentucky University and a future educator, was also at the debate. He told Education Votes, “I think both candidates made it very clear what their visions are.” Spinks, president of the Student Program for the Kentucky Education Association, said, “In my opinion, the vice president made it clear he will stand with educators, students with special needs and middle class communities.”

Reader Comments

  1. I would strongly suggest that Mr. Hurst listen to the comments provided by Ms. Hyman. Her comments are very much on point. I would also suggest that you stop listening only to FOX news. How can you blame the president for this sluggish economy and the growing deficit when both are the result of 3 decades of public policy and tax law that heavily favors large corporations (especially those that ship jobs overseas with impunity) over the welfare of the citizens of this country. I find it incredibly arrogant that Republicans can complain that Obama has not cleaned up George Bush’s mess fast enough and at the same time advocate the same policies that created the mess.

    Please learn your history Sir and don’t just listen to the rhetoric of the politicians…..follow what they do and how they vote. That is the real test. Mitt Romney has proven that he is capable of holding each side of every position that matters, so how can you even begin to trust what he says……..you need to watch what he does and follow his record. That applies to all politicians of all parties, but particularly to someone like Romney with such a talent for lying.

    I am always amazed how so many people in this country can vote for a candidate that does not support their best interests. Romney certainly does not support your best interests, unless of course you are a billionaire and/or a corporate CEO. If not, you are simply the hired help that mooches from the so called “job creators” like himself. It would be funny if it were’nt so sad. Do you honestly believe that Romney is a “job creator”. Romney is a “wealth creator”. He is not a business man; he is a venture capitalist…….and there is a big difference. Bain Capitol, and other companies like it, do not manufacture any products or provide any services. Their only function is to make money from other people’s money, usually at the expense of hard working middle class workers. You should learn about the plant in Freeport Illinois that Bain is about to close and ship the jobs to China.

    One last thing. Even if you decide to continue to ignore the facts, history and your own eyes and ears, how can you support a presidential candidate that thinks it’s completely fair that he and other wealthy hedge fund owners pay only 14% (or less) on earned income while you and I pay 35% or more. Please pay attention. Please.

  2. I cannot support a ticket that will keep our country moving towards bankruptcy at an ever-increasing rate. We have a tough road ahead for everyone to get us out of the effects of decades of irresponsible deficits. Romney/Ryan is our best hope for leadership on the difficult but necessary task that we have been denying for way too long. We can collect more tax revenue from a healthier economy taxed at a lower rate. We need to find other ways to solve some of the problems that government as been throwing money at without improving the situation. After Romney is inaugurated, we should work to establish term limits for congress, even as the president works with the existing congress to tackle issues that are crippling our economy. Already, businesses in the service industry are shifting jobs from full to part time, in hopes of surviving the effects of obamacare. That’s probably the reason new filings for unemployment benefits went down last month. How can people who should know better support a candidate who promises the moon, when there is no way to deliver except by borrowing from China? Romney meets with, talks to, and listens to people, and puts together plans that make things happen. The other guy goes upstairs and watches tv with his kids.

    1. Wendell, have you done any research into the Free Trade Agreements’ effect on the mighty USA economy, manufacturing, and the once dynamic middle class? Over the past 20 years, we have lost, by some accounts, 9 million middle class jobs in the manufacturing sector, 50,000 manufacturing plants and factories have closed (Our magnificent Midwest “industrial belt” has become the “rust belt” in just 18 years) while corporate profits have exploded, and tax rates for our wealthiest citizens has been cut in half, as well as long term capital gains and other forms of tax shelter for old money sitting in tax sheltered annuities, tax deferred stock options, etc.; elevating investment money riding on Wall Street to the status of “untouchable” .
      For a telling perspective on the difference on where the parties stand for the USA worker, see Bill S3816, Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act (2010). It is a much needed, common sense bill that would grant generous tax breaks to corporations who stay home and hire USA workers (especially vets), and terminate the combined $20-30 BILLION/yr. loopholes for offshoring corporations (some of the most profitable “multinational” corporations this world has ever seen).
      Post WWII, between 1947 and 1979, Americans shared equally in the increase in output that took place. In those 30 years, the income of the bottom 20% increased 116% and the top 20% increased 99%, as did the middle quintile.
      Then the world flipped. From 1980 to 2007 the rich took practically all of the increase in income. During those three decades, the bottom 20% got only a 15% increase, the middle three quintiles, and avg.of 25%, while the top 20% got 95%, with the top 1% receiving 261% by comparison.
      Plus, back then, the tax code had built in adjusters to discourage the kind of wage disparity we have today (see the history of marginal tax rates). During the “boom years” of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, marginal tax rates were set at over 90%. To get a tax break, the rich invested in the best game on the market; namely the USA (USA industries, research & development, education funds, NASA, philanthropy, etc.). In the 1980s, marginal rates were dropped from around 74% to 28%. The rich were getting their breaks up front. That combined with the Free Trade Agreements and a generous corporate tax code rife with loopholes, exemptions, subsidies, etc. incentivized the offshoring of our vast manufacturing sector into 3rd world nations to exploit a cheaper work force and the then import these products, tariff-free, at pennies on the dollar to undersell Made In USA.

  3. Mr. Romney stated he wouldn’t raise the middle class taxes. He said he wants the Bush tax cuts made permanent ( his party voted in August to eliminate them).
    Mr. Romney, maybe you need to get a public education in order to learn math the middle class way.
    Here’s the real math. Eliminating the Bush tax cuts cost me an extra $2500 in taxes. You said you would lower the tax base by eliminating the tax deductions for mortgage…. Guess what I will pay even more with the mortgage deduction gone.
    Math your way has middle class Americans paying higher taxes. This leaves us less money to spend in our local economy.
    I’m voting for the guys who care about the middle class OBAMA and Biden 2012

    1. We should expect everyone to pay higher taxes, after decades of deficit spending. The sooner we get started, the better.

  4. If an organization that employs lobbyists and is the largest contributor to the Democrat Party is not a special interest group, then what exactly would the definition of special interest be?

    Being interrupted in the middle of a response cannot accurately be said to be not supplying specifics, can it? Furthermore, just because Democrats and Republicans have not worked successfully to pass legislation in too long a time is no reason why a future administration cannot facilitate such a collaboration. What’s significant in terms of this election is that the present administration has not facilitated such a collaboration.

    1. The NEA is a special interest group; however, public school children are not a special interest group. They are United States citizens who deserve a quality education. As a parent of two such students and a veteran educator, I stand by any candidate who holds the present and future interests of our most precious resource (our children) in high regard. It is clear that Romney/ Ryan are more interested in appeasing the wealthy than they are in providing an excellent education for the future of our nation.

    2. Record 360 filibusters, party of NO, obstrucionists who take their marching orders from the PLUTOCRATS will lie when the truth is better. Gee, now Romney is FOR the middle class, FOR a tough line on foreign trade with China, FOR Social Security, FOR teachers, etc. Romney and the GOP are the masters of deception; they’ll say ANYTHING to get elected, and they depend on their constituents to be either intellectually lazy, or complicit with their deceit.
      The only way to get USA middle class manufacturing jobs back, which to me is THE issue for the USA, is to take on the FTAs, the darling of the GOP and their PLUTOCRATIC overlords (see how they voted if you’re not too lazy…) Then look up Bill S3816, Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act (2010), see what it contained, who supported and opposed it, and how they voted for a telling perspective on where our elected legislators stand on USA jobs…

  5. For years, I was a loyal Reoublican. However. this election, I must go with the candidate that will move America forward. It isn’t the Romney/Ryan ticket. God Bless America!!!

    1. If there’s a ticket besides Romney/Ryan that will “move America forward”, it must be a third party, that has zero chance of getting elected. The only good thing about the incumbent is that he hasn’t moved us backwards any faster than he has.

    2. I voted GOP for 30 years (until March of 2011), that’s when I began to look into how they voted on key issues. That’s when I discovered their deceptive strategy of kicking the hornets’ nest of social issues to distract attention (like a type of sleight of hand) to divert attention away from and subterfuge their loyal devotion to their only objective and true love, the advance of the Divided States of Plutocracy. BIG $$$ is calling the shots for the Dems also, to an arguably lesser degree, and BIG $$$ will become an even bigger influence thanks to Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010), where even undisclosed doners from foreign nations can contribute to our elections. A third party that represents the interests of the commoners is attractive as long as they don’t insist on legislating the treasury into THEIR pockets, much like the PLUTOCRATS have done.

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