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Paul Ryan's Relatives Didn't Live Past 60, Why Should Yours?

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In a recent New Yorker magazine article Ryan Lizza speculated that Mitt Romney's newly selected vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, might have launched early and head-long into his political career because neither his father, grandfather, nor his great grandfather had lived past 60 and, "Ryan, who is now forty-two, could be forgiven if he seemed like a man in a hurry." But the early deaths of his antecedents -- rather than suggesting an excuses for his mad dash for power and influence in Congress -- might explain his complete disregard for the needs of the elderly. Having no elderly in his own family to watch decline, how could Congressman Ryan possibly see the value behind programs like Medicare, Social Security or Meals on Wheels?

Perhaps if he'd had a grandpop who juggled little plastic pill dispensers filled with thousands of dollars in medications -- each one marked with the day of the week on it -- before he made it to see the younger Ryan compete in his high school activities, the Congressman would worry that his budget reform agenda would heap about $6,000 more onto his grandpop's annual expenses. That added cost might have kept grandpop from being there at all. "The investigators from Harvard Medical School compared self-reported the practice of reducing spending on basic needs to afford medications, self-reported cost-related medication nonadherence (CRN), and strategies elderly Medicare recipients, with or without cancer, use to reduce costs." And in our current system, one that Ryan finds far more generous than he recommends, about 10 percent of the elderly go without medicine and other essentials.

Think about it, maybe Ryan is so colored by his family's lack of longevity that he thinks everyone is supposed to die at 60. Consequently, Ryan doesn't see the need for heating assistance for the elderly, homeless shelters or food stamps. Political scientists, Amy Fried and Luisa S. Deprez do an excellent job of detailing the programs Ryan sees as superfluous and unimportant -- the lion share of which effect the elderly.

So if a dearth of elders in his family has left Ryan without a healthy appreciation of what aging Americans need, just exactly what does Ryan care about? Well, he clearly cares about the wealthy; Fried and Deprez also do a bang up job of outlining the cost to the U.S. middle class tax payer of Ryan's proposed tax cuts for the wealthy.

But it isn't just more money in the pockets of the rich that Ryan believes justifies increased expense to the middle class. And kudos to Mitt Romney for picking a running mate who would assure that their own personal taxes never increased. No, if you take a good look at Ryan's district back home, Ryan does have a great deal of respect for government intervention. And that's not just because a republican president proposed the outlandish spending. See, even after he voted to support the unbridled spending of the Bush administration on everything from war to Wall Street bailouts to trickledown economics, Ryan continued to bring the pork home to his district.

After the great economic decline of October 2008 and the Democratic Party's rout of their Republican opposition, Ryan was happily accepting government stimulus payments to help revive his district's failing economy. And yes, this is the same stimulus money's he works feverishly to repudiate as worthless government spending.

Regardless of his love of all things Ayn Rand, Ryan brought millions and millions of federal tax dollars to his home town after the local GM plant closed. And now, as his home town economy rebounds, Congressman Ryan knows that President Obama's stimulus packages worked.

So, Paul Ryan has a new and very difficult job to do. Ryan is running for vice president. He must now wander to and fro across the nation justifying his plan to privatize social security -- even though if it had been privatized when he called for it in 2005, our nation's retirement plan would have been lost when Wall Street collapsed in October of 2008. He must call for more tax breaks for the wealthy even as our deficit balloons out of sight. And he must criticize the Affordable Care Act even though his new boss, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, created it. Perhaps Ryan will explain that Governor Romney's healthcare plan was just the silly sentimental ramblings of a man with relatives that lived past 60.