The furor over Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s retweet of a Lancaster, Pennsylvania high school secretary’s tweet has been a bit overblown, but it does raise questions about how Ryan and many of those who serve with him in Congress relate to everyday Americans and their problems.
In her tweet, Julia Ketchum said that with the $1.50 pay increase she was receiving thanks to the Republican tax cut she would be able to cover her annual Costco membership.
When Ryan retweeted, Twitter was almost immediately inundated with tweets noting that the speaker was touting a clearly sarcastic tweet from a woman whose take-home pay was increasing by a paltry amount while he and his fellow Republicans had just passed a tax plan that provided trillions of dollars of tax relief to the wealthiest people in the country.
Ryan’s tweet was quickly removed, though it will live on forever in the embedded images and retweets preserved by his political opponents.
In all likelihood, it was an error made by Ryan because he fails to comprehend humor about anything that has to do with tax cuts or any of his other sacred cows.
If he had given it some thought, he probably would never have tweeted in the first place. But a compliment is a compliment even when it is dripping with sarcasm.
The tweet, however short-lived its shelf life, does illustrate a problem with Ryan and others whose faith in the trickle-down theory resists decades of empirical evidence.
If he had kept searching, Ryan might have discovered someone who offered genuine approval of the tax plan because he or she received a $1,000 bonus, but it may be that to Paul Ryan, $1,000 in one lump package is just as minuscule as $1.50 a week.
A good example of the kind of money with which Ryan normally deals can be found in his quarterly campaign finance report filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
During the last three months of 2017, Ryan’s campaign received $1,432,680.08. During the current election cycle, donors have provided $10,254,444.46.
It takes a lot of $1,000 bonuses (and even more $1.50 a week pay increases) to match that kind of money.
The people who are forking over the big bucks are the ones who received the most benefit from the Republican tax plan, apparently enough to provide a $1.50 a week trickle down to a high school secretary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
These are the kind of people who might be tempted to spend their money on pricey vehicles, for instance, a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce.
Speaking of Rolls Royce, that company provided Paul Ryan’s campaign account with a $2,500 contribution.
The law firm of Wiley Rein, which provides lobbying services for the likes of Verizon, Panasonic, AT&T and 21st Century Fox, came through for Ryan with $5,400.
Ryan received money from political action committees representing health care, insurance, energy, just about every special interest that has seen its tax burden leveled while the people at the bottom end of the financial ladder have received what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described as “crumbs.”
The people who received those crumbs, however, are among those who are giving their hard earned money to the Paul Ryan campaign.
The long list of contributors features many Wisconsin residents who gave $10 or $25 to the man who has represented them in Congress since 1999.
Many of them are no longer in the workforce. Ryan’s disclosure report shows hundreds of people whose occupation is listed as “retired.”
Ryan has plans for those people, too.
In December, Ryan said Congress will begin working on entitlement reform in 2018 and his particular target will be Medicare.
While President Trump said during his 2016 campaign that he would not touch Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid, Ryan says he has been working on the president and is beginning to convince him of the need to make Medicare cuts, according to a Washington Post article.
Though Ryan indicated Social Security was not going to be touched this year, that could well be subject to change if his party maintains its grasp on Congress following the 2018 elections.
If that is the case, even if Julia Ketchum were to receive a $3 a week pay increase, it would be nowhere near enough.
And Paul Ryan would not know the difference.