Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ryan rages and misgauges

According to that stalwart of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “rage” is defined as “violent, uncontrollable anger.”


I became enraged on Aug. 11 for two reasons. The first reason is obvious: former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, as his vice presidential running mate.

When I woke up four years ago to Sarah Palin’s face on the front page, I was first perplexed, and then positively baffled by John McCain’s choice. I had no idea who Palin was or what ideologies she held. As the campaign progressed, her spouting of senseless and misinformed rhetoric enraged me.

Ryan’s face, however, was all too familiar. Ryan was the chief architect of last summer’s fiscally inept budget proposal – a proposal seeking to make unprecedented cuts to government programs (well, anything other than our national defense budget). His “Path to Prosperity” also slashed funding for higher education.

As an undergraduate student of higher education who has had to take time off in order to pay for the rising costs of tuition and fees – even as an in-state student – Ryan’s financial stance on funding federal aid and academic research is frightening and even more ominous with his selection as Romney’s would-be right-hand man.

Don’t fret, Minutemen. Romney has reassured us he’ll be sticking to his budget plan, not Ryan’s. But honestly, I’m deeply concerned. Romney seems to only be distancing himself from Ryan’s plan as a political strategy during critical campaign time, and his actions are not because of an essentially different fiscal stance. Romney has said nothing of substance to make it seem as though his personal plan is any different from Ryan’s plan, which he supported last year. For Romney to attempt to differentiate his fiscal plan from Ryan’s is akin to saying Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts is fundamentally different than Obamacare. It appears as though Romney can’t recognize his own reflection in more than one instance.

It’s true we suffer from a deficit, and changes certainly need to be made. In 2011, Ryan attested his plan would bring the deficit below 3 percent of GDP by the year 2015, in which it’s reduced by over $3 trillion in comparison to President Obama’s budget. It would additionally cut spending by $5 trillion, prevent any tax increases and reduce the size of government to 20 percent, also by 2015.

But his solution is to cut funding to government agencies, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, as well as higher education, financial aid and grants. To Ryan, these are the entitlement programs that are accountable for our unsustainable budget. Ryan prioritizes national security and lists it as the first and foremost threatened government obligation. His budget for national defense in 2011 was $554 billion. This would provide “a military that keeps America safe by letting national strategic priorities determine spending levels, not the other way around.” His plan would “reject proposals to make thoughtless, across-the-board cuts in funding for national defense,” as “the nation has no higher priority than safeguarding the safety and liberty of its citizens from threats at home and abroad.”

However, spending less on national defense does not mean less security. If we were to use his agenda, national security would not only elude any significant fiscal reconstruction, it would be pumped with more money. We already have the largest military budget in the world.

Ryan spoke at a campaign rally in Virginia recently, a state whose economy is arguably dependent upon defense as it supports the Pentagon, among other key national defense sites. He addressed the crowd by highlighting how spending for national defense provides protection for both American lives and Virginian livelihoods. He said, “Under President Romney, our adversaries will think twice about challenging America and our allies because we believe in peace through strength.”

BREAKING NEWS: Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” was originally intended as a first draft dystopian novel!

Peace through strength? You’re a fan of dystopian novels, Ryan, as “Atlas Shrugged” is one of your favorite pieces of literature. So tell me, in which of her books did Ayn Rand write: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength?”

The answer is none. That was the mantra of the totalitarian regime in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

Ryan’s national defense prioritization is fear mongering masked as staunch conservative fiscal policy. The enactment of Ryan’s ideological vision would leave our social safety net in tatters. This I cannot abide.

Ryan’s proposal states: “This budget begins to address the problem of tuition inflation and consolidates a complex maze of dozens of job-training programs into more accessible, accountable career scholarships aimed at empowering American workers with the resources they need to pursue their dreams.” But, according to an article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education on Aug. 13, Ryan’s proposal “would cut spending on programs that support academic research, such as the National Institutes of Health, and would make several changes to the federal student-aid programs.”

In a piece for the Wisconsin State Journal, Ryan wrote on May 19: “The goal of federal financial aid is to make college more affordable, but there is growing evidence that wholesale increases in aid have had the opposite effect. Instead of helping more students achieve their dreams, these increases are simply being absorbed by (and potentially enabling) large tuition increases.” By assisting students with federal aid, he believes government enables tuition and fee increases.

One of his supposedly “courageous” answers to this problem is the elimination of in-school interest subsidies on loans. When a loan is subsidized, the government pays a student’s interest rate until the student graduates. In the meantime, the student is able to pursue a degree with the goal of attaining a decent job after graduation that will begin to pay off the expensive loan. Ryan considers these subsidies to be a frivolous expenditure, and he believes the government can’t and shouldn’t foot the bill.

Good luck finding a job in this economy and managing your own personal budget crisis after you default on your loans and can’t pay the interest.

The VP hopeful also has some ideas regarding Pell Grants. Unlike a loan, federal grants do not have to be repaid. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the maximum amount awarded for the 2011-12 academic year was $5,550. The amount awarded is configured individually, determined by a student’s financial income, full- or part-time enrollment status, attendance costs, and length of time attending school. Their purpose is stated as providing “need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education.” These grants are the largest source of federal financial aid for college students. Under Ryan’s proposal, eligibility for Pell Grants would be drastically diminished.  He not only seeks to freeze the amount awarded to students, but also, he wishes to eliminate eligibility for students going to school less than part time.

Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Why do students have part-time schedules, Ryan? Is it because maybe they are working jobs with the rest of their time on top of attempting to complete a degree? Yes, let’s cut those students’ eligibility. They’ll be fine. I hear Amherst has a huge Tuesday night crowd at Cumberland Farms. I’m sure the huge tips they’ll receive after their paychecks – of course some percentage going to those ridiculous entitlement programs – will help pay for books, supplies and food. They are adults who should really stop complaining and just take out a toxic loan like the rest of us. What’s that, The Huffington Post? Oh, you mean to say, “60 percent of students who receive Pell grants also take out loans”? I see.

On the first page of his proposal, Ryan states, “Ultimately, a budget is much more than series of numbers. It also serves as an expression of Congress’s principles, vision and philosophy of governing.” At least he admits it. An approved Ryan budget proposal would make those students most susceptible to being royally screwed not only financially, but also academically, as they won’t be able to pay for school or even complete a degree if deemed ineligible.

The one other notable moment of my induced rage is probably the embodiment of my disdain for the Romney-Ryan ticket. After the vice presidential announcement, a New York Times’ TimesCast  video included a clip from April of this year in which Congressional correspondent Jonathan Weisman asked Ryan what was on his iPod. Finally, the hard-hitting question on the minds of all moderates and independents had surfaced! Ryan then confirmed to Weisman he was a fan of Rage Against the Machine, a vehemently leftist band that has since denounced Ryan’s praise. Tom Morello, Rage’s guitarist, responded with a scathing op-ed for Rolling Stone calling out Ryan’s “rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, [and] a rage against the environment.”

In the interview, Weisman pressed Ryan on the disparity between his worldview and Rage’s ethos. Like his idol John Galt, a character from “Atlas Shrugged,” Ryan shrugged. “Yeah, I know what it is,” he said. “I don’t like the words, but some of the sounds are good.”

That was it, right there, hidden in plain sight. This is why I am more outraged than ever. Both Romney and Ryan like the way things sound; they enjoy and relish in the superficial glaze and presentation of ideology, but deeply fail to grasp the true meaning and intention of those ideologies at their very core.

On his website, Romney claims fiscal responsibility in stating his willingness to “cut federal spending and bring much-needed reforms to entitlement programs.” Romney has yet to draft any real comprehensive strategy to achieve this. I’d be more than surprised to see a Romney budget proposal devoid of Ryan’s persuasion. It will certainly be interesting to hear what Romney proposes. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the presidential debates; I’ve always been fascinated by ventriloquism.

Emily Felder is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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  • K

    KrisSep 4, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve been waiting all summer for this: UMass students writing articles about last night’s Daily Show or yesterday’s anthropology class!

  • M

    Michael R. BrownSep 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Alas, the writer does not understand that government interventions into the economy have made education so expensive and bogged down with so little utility. The writer also ignores the fact that the present enormous deficit is dwarfed by unfunded liabilities due to welfare-statist programs. The financial crash of 2007-2008 resulted from a few trillion dollars evaporating from the private sector. Would she care to speculate on the effects of $100-200trillion hitting the economy, with steadily smaller working populations, fiat-currency driven inflation, and a worsening work ethic? The only solution is a newly prosperous private sector, and that can only be secured by real money, restraint on government spending (including getting rid of needless military spending), and gradually transitioning out of actuarially-unsustainable programs like Social Security and Medicare – before it is too late.