One Wisconsin Now Blog

August 2010 Archives

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who left Marquette University without a degree for reasons yet to be revealed, returned to his almost-mater and the results seem to be the same as when he was a student: incomplete.

Walker was there to take part in a debate with former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, but unfortunately, Walker flat-out refused to address the main issue which had dogged him - how will he pay for nearly $3 billion in proposed tax cuts, tax shifts and tax loopholes in the midst of state's looming $2.5 billion deficit.

Keep in mind that Walker offered a blistering assault on the state's historic BadgerCare program, which provides access to health care coverage to children, expectant mothers and uninsured working Wisconsinites. This critical investment, begun under Tommy! Thompson is a model for the nation and has allowed Wisconsin to cover a higher percentage of its citizens than almost every other state in the nation.

Walker was on the attack, telling viewers that kids who have BadgerCare better watch their collective heinies. Apparently, only kids like Walker's, who have been covered their entire lives through Walker's various taxpayer-financed plans he's gotten as an elected offical, should have access to quality care.

And the reason why government has deficits? Remember that it's because of tax cuts that benefit the rich and big business that go all the way back 30 years to Reagan unaffordable tax  cuts which took the top 1 percent from 70% to 28%. It's because of the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts which gave the richest nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.

Usually, tax modern conservative tax policy is this: across the board income tax cuts that give the middle class crumbs but provide a banquet to the wealthiest. These happen at the federal level, so when the wealthy calculate their adjusted gross income, state revenue also suffers because the revenue they would generate through progressive taxation from those at the top income brackets is also lost.

So, when Scott Walker offers a first-of-its-kind tax cut, something our research can find no evidence of happening either federally or in other states ever - a tax cut just for the top one percent, people making more than $225,000 - by god, he owes us an explanation how the hell he is going to pay for it.

WISN political host Mike Gousha directly asked Walker and Neumann how they would pay for their tax cut plans.

Walker refused to answer. Flat out. Nothing. Nada.

Walker has called for five budget-busting tax cuts and shifts and he absolutely refuses to act like a responsible adult and tell us what he is going to cut from health care, education  and police and fire protection to pay for it.

A list of the most prominent Walker tax schemes:

  • Slash income taxes for the top one percent of income earners who make more than $225,000 a year -- two-year budget cost: $287 million.
  • Reopen the "Las Vegas Loophole" which allows Wisconsin businesses to shelter their tax obligations to Wisconsin families through phantom "offices" in states without corporate income tax -- two-year budget cost: $185 million.
  • Repeal changes made to the capital gains tax deduction, despite the fact 70 percent of capital gains filings are from those earning more than $200,000 a year -- two-year budget cost: $243 million.
  • Shelter the assets of the wealthiest Wisconsinites even more by a radical end to tax paid on retirement income, regardless of income -- two-year budget cost: $920 million.
  • Shift tax revenue from new car sales into the transportation fund -- two-year budget cost: $1 billion.
    [Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2/23/09, 7/8/09, 1/25/10; "Upfront," WISN-TV, 11/8/09; La Crosse Tribune, 11/24/09], Wisconsin State Journal, 6/20/10; Legislative Fiscal Bureau]

Earlier today, One Wisconsin Now offered a list of 10 potential questions for Walker to answer. We would have settled for a simple answer to this one.


Ron Johnson's imaginary health care issues

Ron Johnson, who's taken back half of what he's said since entering the race for US Senate, has had one consistent story he tells on the stump and in interviews.

It's a personal story about his daughter, which humanizes him (makes him seem a little less like a space alien who just entered our atmosphere) and sets up his complaints about national health care reform.

Maybe it's because it is personal, but the news media have been giving him a pass and simply reporting the story without asking whether it makes any sense. (It doesn't.)

The latest version was reported by the Racine Journal Times, but similar reports have appeared elsewhere. It goes like this, reported by WKOW-TV in Madison:.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
"That's Debatable" is a weekly column published by WisOpinion.com featuring One WI Now's Scot Ross debating Brian Fraley from the conservative MacIver Institute on the 'hot topic' of the week.

This week's topic: Fundraisers, FEMA and Trains...but mostly about trains, and how Scott Walker apparently doesn't want to bring 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin with the high-speed train.

Check it out!

http://wisopinion.com/index.iml?mdl=article.mdl&article=29605

Just two short years ago, Two years ago Patrick McIlheran was railing against Barack Obama lack of experience, in a column entitled, "For President, I'd Go With Experience": 


I'll put it simply: Judgment is formed by experience. Obama has little and asks us to trust him anyhow.

McCain, by contrast, has a record you can judge.

Obama seems like a bright fellow. Someday, he might achieve such understanding. Until then, I'd trust the guy who seems to know what he's doing.

 

Two years later, right here in Wisconsin, comes a guy who, if elected, would be the least experienced Senator in Wisconsin history and McIlheran is celebrating him in a glowing column entitled, "An Amateur Getting Up To Speed," saying:


It's the look of a guy who didn't plan his life around winning office. It's refreshing to see.

 

McIlheran, also extols the virtues of Johnson, who "spent the summer learning" about the issues, instead of "buttonholing the Wisconsin voters" and "interupting them to politick"-- like those nasty "career politicians" that just care about votes!  (Is he talking about Sensenbrenner and Petri?) 


To be fair, McIlheran wasn't the only conservative harping about Obama's lack of experience. Rick Esenberg complained that would "be the least experienced - and therefore least-known - person ever nominated for president by a major political party."  Now, of course, Esenberg is silent on Johnson's lack of experience.

 

Gosh, who knew that political fortunes of inexperience would change so dramaticly?  I hope they don't get their hands on my five year old son. He's REALLY inexperienced and knows alot less about the issues than Ron Johnson-- the perfect candidate!

 

 

 

 

RoJo's Sunspots Solution?

Noted scientist Ron Johnson is making news over his head-scratching declaration that sunspots, and not industry-created pollution, is the reason for the global climate change causing historic flooding, severe heat and cold and erratic weather events.

One Wisconsin Now has obtained a confidential blueprint of RoJo's powerpoint presentation about his solution to the sunspot menace. We await his release of this information, and subsequent backpedal.

The RoJo Device:


rojo1.JPG


The RoJo Action Plan:


rojo2.JPG


Since RoJo, in true Sarah Palin-style, has insulated himself from having to answer many of the media requests about his bizarre positions of the day...or hour...he may or may not have had this to say: "Excellent."


Scott Walker's been on a "waste, fraud and abuse" tirade lately, conveniently omitting the fact that Milwaukee County has been swimming in waste, fraud and abuse throughout his eight years as County Executive.

Here are a few examples:

  • A "glitch" in the county's pension system computer software deposited some $10 million in pension payments to the county's retirees. That was after a $10 million computer system upgrade paid for just a year earlier. http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/83572597.html

  • And now, the pension cuts that Walker was pushing earlier this year will cost the county another $580,000 in computer upgrades, according to the pension board. http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/91722969.html

  • A county audit found that errors and omissions resulted in estimated annualized overpayments of $328,000 in the $11.9 million Milwaukee County Rent Assistance program.

  • A county audit found that Milwaukee County Program Integrity Unit needed a more comprehensive, strategic approach to detect and pursue child care fraud, and weak child care authorization and payment controls result in overpayments caused by excess authorizations.

  • Another county audit found that Walker, through staffing reductions, had concentrated the county purchasing power in the hands of just two people, overseeing approximately $50 million in purchases ($19 million centralized, $31 million decentralized), a disturbing sign of inadequate management oversight and a huge opportunity for fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

This is just five examples of the waste, fraud and abuse perpetrated by Scott Walker as Milwaukee County Executive. You can read about more examples here.
It being silly season and all, I thought I'd point out this typo in Scott Walker's ad on creating a commission to find waste, fraud, and abuse.

walkeradspellingfail.pngSeriously though, we did a quick fact check on the ad last week with more to come.



Scott Walker's Slithering Snakes: A Roundup

A year ago, Cory Liebmann likened Scott Walker's gimmickry on a range of issues, notably his brown bag campaign, to a salesman selling snake oil (to this day, Walker's campaign has an iPhone app yet no detailed economic plan for the state). Now, in a year the tea party promised right-wing establishment reform, I'm a bit surprised to see George W. Bush-Republican snakes slithering around our state, hosting high-dollar fundraisers for the snake oil salesman himself, Scott Walker.

Karl Rove
Rove needs no introduction, except to say that he's the snakiest snake of them all. He's been pulling for Scott Walker since his run for Milwaukee County Executive (and we all know how that's going). In a visit to our state, Rove said of Walker's election county executive victory:

"[Walker] doesn't know this but that night we had people in Washington ... lights were burning late as they monitored the outcome of the race... It was great victory. I would like to think it's due to the fact that we trained him as being Bush county chairman."

[AP, 5/3/2002]

Eight years later, Republican Party of Wisconsin chair Reince Priebus was "honored" to have Rove as a featured speaker (and fundraiser) at the RPW Convention which nominated Walker.

Paul Ryan & Jim Sensenbrenner
If you want to blame somebody for our nation's huge deficit, look no further than Wisconsin U.S. Reps Paul Ryan & Jim Sensenbrenner.  This pair of slithering snakes are among the biggest George W. Bush rubber stamps the nation has to offer, having voted for both major Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy - the largest contributor to the U.S. debt. Noted economist Paul Krugman recently even called Paul Ryan a "The Flimflam Man" for his deceptive rhetoric on U.S. debt.

The slippery duo endorsed Walker in early August. (Musta been enamored by Walker's tax cuts for the rich and expected budget deficit.)

Newt Gingrich
Newt isn't quite a snake of the George W. Bush era,* but he's a slithering part of the right-wing establishment nonetheless. Gingrich was among the first to slither into Wisconsin to fundraiser for Walker. And when he's not making videos telling people to "Drill Here, Drill Now" he is sure to namedrop Scott Walker on national TV.

* Just prior to Bush coming into office, Gingrich had resigned after shifting serious policy discourse to Bill Clinton's marital transgressions while Gingrich himself was cheating on his second wife - whom he had cheated with during his first marriage. The GOP had unprecedented losses in 1998, for which Gingrich was often blamed.

Haley Barbour & Tom Ridge
Regular folks in Wisconsin probably don't know well the name Haley Barbour (unless of course they're Hurricane Katrina displaced residents from Mississippi). Besides presiding over a state with an 11% unemployment rate, the highest rate of obesity, and a third place ranking in the amount of federal money per capita, the Governor of Mississippi is notorious for downplaying the recent oil spill disaster (much like BP CEO Tony Hayward).

Barbour (R-BP) endorsed Walker in August along with Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and George W. Bush's Homeland Security Secretary.

Mark Green
Like Ryan and Sensenbrenner, Mark Green was a rubber stamp for George W. Bush, and makes the list of slippery GOPers who voted for the debt-expanding Bush Tax Cuts and Iraq War who are now hypocritically endorsing Scott Walker's message of less spending, less taxes.

Jeb Bush
The Brother of W. and former Republican Governor of Florida during his brother's election fiasco probably doesn't need much of an introduction either. Bush stumped and hosted a fundraiser for Walker in May.

There you have it: a roundup of right-wing establishment ssslithering sssnakes stumping for snake oil salesman Ssscott Walker and his debt-increasing tax cuts for the rich. Ironically, it's the tea party that carries the Gadsden flag.

(In turn, Scott Walker did his share of stumping for George W. Bush's presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004. More on that here.)

ScottWalkerBush.jpg


Leaders Celebrate Social Security's 75th Birthday

On the heels of Paul Ryan's much-maligned plan to make middle class families pay for tax cuts for the top one percent, leaders from across Wisconsin are taking time to celebrate the historic 75th anniversary of the Social Security -- among America's greatest investments in our nation's proud history.

The details, courtesy of the participants:

On Tuesday, August 10th members of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans (WIARA) hosted a party to celebrate the 75th birthday of Social Security at the Madison Senior Center.   Party-goers praised Social Security as America's most successful government program.  Sponsors of the event included the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, AARP, the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

Besides sharing a cake, speakers discussed the importance of Social Security and the modest adjustments needed to have it remain solvent for future generations.  Similar events are occurring around the state and across the country this week in order to defend the program from proposed cuts.

The center piece of the event was a new report prepared by the advocacy groups Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security.  "Social Security Works for Wisconsin" provides a clear picture of how important the program is to our communities and our economy.

According to the report:

· Social Security provides benefits to more than 1,000,800 Wisconsin residents, nearly 1 out of 6 people living in the state. (17.9 percent).

· Social Security lifts 372,000 Wisconsin residents out of poverty.

· Wisconsin residents receive Social Security benefits totaling over $13.2 billion per year, an amount equivalent to 5.5 percent of the state's annual GDP (the total value of all goods and services produced).

"Social Security Works for Wisconsin" also gives a detailed breakdown of how retirees, women, the disabled, widows and widowers, children, African Americans, and working families benefit from the Social Security safety net.  For a full copy of the report, contact Billy Feitlinger at (608) 239-5384.

Some in Washington, including a new federal commission on deficit reduction, have recently suggested cutting Social Security benefits by privatizing it or raising the retirement age as a way to "fix" the deficit.

The 75th Birthday Party in Madison highlighted the fact that Social Security has enough money to cover full benefits for another 30 years, and has not contributed one cent to the nation's budget problems.

Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans President Leon Burzynski said, "America's Social Security trust fund was built up in the 1980's in preparation for the retirement of the baby boomers. However, the government has been borrowing from the trust fund for decades to pay for other federal programs. Currently, the federal government owes Social Security over $2.6 trillion."

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an independent non-partisan federal department, reported in 2009, that most of the current and future federal deficit is caused by 2 wars, double digit increases to health care, enacting President Bush's tax cuts, and the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In 2009, the CBO reported that Social Security will remain solvent through 2043 and that by 2020, it will have a surplus of over $3.8 trillion dollars.

"With more than 53 million people receiving Social Security benefits today, the program touches virtually every American family," Burzynski said.  "So beyond the candles and the cake, we have a very serious message to members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation--that Social Security is vital to the economic well being of citizens in Wisconsin and our country.  In Wisconsin over 1 million people rely on Social Security."

Scott Walker Fact Check - "Waste"

We just put out a new Scott Walker Fact Check video of Walker's new ad, "Waste." Walker appears to be struggling to come up with ideas on how to close an already $2.5 billion projected budget gap after announcing he would give $3 billion in tax cuts for the rich and re-open loopholes for big corporations. His latest idea, as we point out, is nothing more than another shallow gimmick void of any real numbers.

Walker is calling for a commission to study state overtime spending, citing the overtime costs for the state of Wisconsin in 2008. Records show Walker spent a substantially higher percentage of Milwaukee County tax dollars on overtime than did the state of Wisconsin in the year he cited, 1.4 percent, compared to the 0.2 percent spent by the state.

"Scott Walker wants less government by creating more government and have the foxes in charge of henhouse security," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "Walker rails against the state for overtime costs, but he spends seven times the percent the state does."

In 2008, Milwaukee County had a budget of $1,342,940,239 and $18,600,330 in overtime costs - 1.4 percent of its overall budget. The state in 2008 had a budget of $29,142,261,200 and $66.5 million in overtime costs - a mere 0.2 percent of its overall budget. Walker has averaged $15 million in overtime costs a year throughout his tenure as county executive. Milwaukee County Department of Administrative Services; Milwaukee County Executive Budgets: 2003-2009; Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau]

Likewise, Walker proposed increasing county budget spending 35 percent, while the state of Wisconsin spending has increased 21 percent over the same period of time. Walker's budget increases have raised the county tax levy by 20 percent. [Milwaukee County Executive Recommended Budgets: 2003-2010; Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau]

"Another day, another gimmick from Scott Walker," said Ross. "And yet, Walker still refuses to detail how he will pay for $3 billion in tax cuts, loopholes and shifts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich, big business and favored donors and will require drastic cuts to education, health care and police and fire protection."

Additional details about Walker's failed record for Milwaukee County can be found at: www.ScottWalkerFailureFiles.com.

Pot meet kettle

Sort of like how Walker's plan to eliminate state jobs that are already unfilled wouldn't save homeowners any money...

From WisPolitics.com ... -- Guv hopeful Scott Walker today dismissed Mark Neumann's property tax plan as nothing more than a tax shift that wouldn't save homeowners any money, but the two candidates largely avoided any fireworks in their first head-to-head debate of the campaign. "There's not one penny of government spending that's cut under that plan," Walker, the Milwaukee County exec, said. "You would still pay exactly the same amount of money just on a different day." Neumann countered during the debate hosted by WTMJ's Jeff Wagner that the plan would allow taxpayers to keep up to $11 billion in their pockets and said it would spur economic growth. Homeowners and municipalities would have to opt into the plan. See more: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=205665

Read more of the debate ridiculousness here.

The OWN Research Team will be liveblogging the debate between Scott Walker and Mark Neumann. The debate is airing live on WTMJ and begins at noon.

- - - - -

12:00 - We're all ready to go here at the OWN office. Waiting with anticipation to see if Scott Walker and Mark Neumann just come right out and say they support the single largest contributor to our nation's debt, the Bush Tax Cuts.

12:09 - Walker is sour grapes that his campaign donor Super Steel chairman Fred Luber didn't get the Talgo rail deal. Says he doesn't support train deal, but expressed outrage his donor didn't get contract. Failure File.

12:14 - Milwaukee Co. taxpayers have seen a 20% property tax increase. Hs spending increases eclipsed Doyles. Numbers don't lie. Failure File.

12:15 - Even though Wisconsin already faces a $2.3 billion dollar budget deficit, Walker wants to give $2 billion in tax cuts to big corporations and WI's wealthiest people. To pay for his plan, Walker would have to make massive cuts to education, health care, and public safety, which would mean firing thousands of teachers and police officers and ending health coverage for thousands of Wisconsin children. Failure File.

12:20 - Walker mentions his time in the legislature, does not mention he voted for $200 billion in budget spending. Failure File.

12:23 - Walker appears interested in investment in infrastructure. Link.

12:24 - Again the unrealistic promise by both candidates to essentially eliminate unemployment in the state. Link.

12:27 - Does Neumann's successful business plan include businesses not paying all their taxes? Link.

12:31 - We thought for sure Walker's criteria for the selection judicial appointments was going include whether or not they contribute to his campaign. Failure File.

12:36 -  Walker wants to repeal the recent health insurance reform, which would mean that insurance companies would be allowed to kick people off their insurance when they get sick or if they have a pre-existing condition; prescription drug prices would increase for seniors, and small businesses that provide health insurance to employees would face a tax increase. Link.

(More on JB Van Hollen's partisan lawsuit mentioned by Walker and Neumann here: Link.)

12:41 - Highly publicized Walker flip-flop on immigration. Failure File.

(Is Walker wearing his flip flops today?)

---Commerical break. Still no explanation how they're going to pay for billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest and big corporations.

12:46 - Walker and Neumann's plan to improve education: tax cuts to the wealthiest and big corporations paid for by cutting education, potentially resulting in thousands of teachers fired. One Wisconsin Now.

12:51 - Neumann failed to note that his private schools take public funding.  Link.

12:52 - Walker borrowing ideas from a Bush. What's new? Link.

12:57 - I just have to say, Scott Walker is a career politician who's raised taxes and raised spending.

12:58 - Again, Walker, a career politican just called himself a CEO. I wonder what businessman Mark Neumann is thinking. Link.

1:00 - It's 1pm, the debate is over, and still Scott Walker and Mark Neumann have notgiven us the slightest clue as to how they will pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest and big corporations.

- - - - -

We already have a comprehensive examination of the Scott Walker's failed leadership and mismanagement at ScottWalkerFailureFiles.com.

Be sure to check out our old blogs for more on Mark Neumann's and Scott Walker's unwillingness to detail what cuts to to vital public services like education and law enforcement they will make in order to give tax cuts to the rich and re-open tax loopholes for big business.

Even though the investigation into why the concrete slab fell from the O'Donnell garage, killing a teenager, isn't complete, and lawsuits may be pending, Scott Walker has declared what happened and who is to blame: the slab wasn't hung properly.

As far as I know Walker doesn't have an engineering degree (nor even any degree at all), he isn't leading the investigation, and he has a very good reason for sloughing any responsibility for this off of his shoulders as quickly as possible.

To declare in advance of the completion of the investigation screams of political posturing and a total and callous disregard of the severity of the situation.

Taking time away from his recent "Even-though-you've-lost-your-job-I-eat-a-sandwich-oh-yeah-and-I-drive-a-car-so-please-please-make-me-Governor"campaign themes, Scott Walker has found the time mash together the worst of his B roll campaign footage for a disjointed expression of self-loathing desperation...er, a "new web ad."

In case you have yet seen this masterpiece, it's footage from numerous Scott Walker speaking engagements. Walker offers a buffet of typical Walker platitudes. Gubmit bad. Spending bad. And (spoiler alert!) there's no explanation how he'll pay for those $3 billion in tax cuts, loopholes and shifts that'll decimate education, health care and police and fire protection.


Rather than try and fact check something that's fact free, we offer One Wisconsin Now's "reimaging" of Walker's web ad in which his actual record is juxtaposed with his hokey nonsense.

Here's One Wisconsin Now's handiwork.

We include a number of facts and figures which accurately reflect the Walker record, including:

Walker proposed budgets that would have increased spending by 35%, far ahead of the 21% proposed by Governor Doyle over the same period. And the actual county property levy increased by 20% during Walker's tenure. And Walker, as a member of the state legislature, voted for five straight budgets that increased spending 84%. [Proposed Milwaukee County budgets, 2003-2010; Legislative Fiscal Bureau]

Under Walker, in 2009 Milwaukee County lost over 30,000 jobs - the unemployment rate jumped from 5.5% to 9.2% in just one year. Walker reduced what had been $18-19 million each year in county spending on economic development (2002-2006), to just over $1 million in his proposed 2010 budget. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov, Proposed Milwaukee County budgets, 2003-2010]

Walker announced  in 2007 he was giving himself a $50,000 pay raise -- which will total $200,000 over his four-year term. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/19/2008]

Walker traveled across the state on a thinly-disguised campaign junket paid for by an airline  just as the county was negotiating with them, and other airlines, for a new lease at General Mitchell International Airport. [Minutes of Milwaukee County Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee, 5/12/10]

Walker has called for $3 billion in tax cuts, tax loopholes and tax shifts that would overwhelmingly benefit the rich, big business and favored donors - on top of the state's projected $2.5 billion budget deficit. Walker's plan would require massive cuts to education, health care and police and fire protection - yet Walker pointedly refuses to say how he will pay for his tax cuts for the rich. [Legislative Fiscal Bureau; "Upfront," WISN-TV, 11/8/09; La Crosse Tribune, 11/24/09; Wisconsin State Journal, 6/20/10]

And apologies to Cody, from One Wisconsin Now's staff, who was forced to watch the Walker video repeatedly in order to put this together.

PS: Visit ScottWalkerFailureFiles.com for more information about Walker's endless reign of failure.

Having spent most of his career rubber stamping the Tom Delay and George W. Bush agenda, author of books and roadmaps, Paul Ryan (R-WI) is now on the stump, claiming outrage over the national debt, and proposing Georgewbushian solutions as a fix.

Rep. Ryan follows right-wing incumbent talking points to a T:
(1)    Complain ad nauseam about the national debt
(2)    Ignore your own record of reckless massive spending increases

As One Wisconsin Now pointed out in 2009 following his criticism of the Recovery Act, Rep. Ryan started his career voting for eight-straight budgets which increased the national debt by $1 trillion annually.

And though now in order to resolve the debt he seriously calls for "openly broaching overhauls," Rep. Ryan provided the deciding vote to pass the disastrous $8 trillion unfunded Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, which then-U.S. Comptroller David Walker called, "the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation" in 40 years.

Rep. Ryan was also a huge proponent of the hugely unpopular financial industry bailout (TARP), and fearmongered the nation into believing it was a good idea:

"We're all worried about losing our jobs," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declared in an impassioned speech in support of the bill before the vote. "Most of us say, 'I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it -- not me.' "

With their dire warnings of impending economic doom and their sweeping request for unprecedented sums of money and authority to bail out cash-starved financial firms, Bush and his economic chiefs have focused the attention of world markets on Congress, Ryan added.

"We're in this moment, and if we fail to do the right thing, Heaven help us," he said. [Associated Press]

And:

"This is a Herbert Hoover moment... (Hoover) made mistakes during the Great Depression - let's not make those mistakes." [Capital Times]

The fact is: Paul Ryan may be following the incumbent Republican strategy to a T, but he's making his colleagues wince now because the Wisconsin Representative is so far out of touch with reality - even for modern conservatives - that he thinks selling a George W. Bush economic agenda will satisfy independent thinkers.