Video: Paul Ryan gets booed at townhall meeting

posted at 2:55 pm on April 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Think Progress originally pushed the video out after Paul Ryan’s meeting with constituents, and CBS News reported on it today, so it’s making the rounds.  The booing and groaning comes from Ryan’s perfectly factual argument that not only do we already tax the wealthy, we also need them to keep the rest of the money so that they can invest it in the private sector rather than the public sector.  The negative response doesn’t deflect Ryan from his argument:

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the architect of the Republican budget plan, was booed at a town hall meeting on Tuesday in Milton, Wisconsin, while defending extending tax breaks for high-income individuals. …

In the video, a constituent says “history shows that concentrating more wealth at the top has been the worst thing for our economy.”

“The middle class is disappearing right now,” he says. “During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire?”

The Census Bureau found last year that the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans had hit its widest amount ever.

Certainly it did, but it’s not from a lack of taxation of the wealthy, at least not in federal income taxes.  The top 1% of earners paid 38% of all federal income tax receipts; the top 10% paid 69% of them.  The problem of income disparity in the last few years comes from unemployment, not a lack of taxation.

Why is unemployment continuing to be a problem?  One reason is that we are directing capital into the public sector, which is the least efficient user of it.  Only instead of directing present capital into Keynesian stimulus programs and government expansion of regulation, we’re borrowing money like crazy to send future capital to government bureaucracies.  Those who have capital to invest see the rather obvious problem approaching of how we end up paying for all of this credit-card living, and it’s either budget cuts or higher taxes.  That has them sitting on capital rather than investing it in private-sector growth, a problem that will only get worse as government policy turns more towards populist class warfare.

Still, the video here is instructive on a couple of points.  As Allahpundit has repeatedly noted, we’re only going to have a serious conversation about government entitlements if the public is ready to hear some painful truths about the phony capital Washington is moving to float those programs.  This audience is obviously not ready to hear those truths, and that’s not going to be an anomaly.  On the positive side, it’s not stopping Paul Ryan from attempting to make clear the cliff we’re about to reach.   We’ll need politicians with this kind of courage to find their voices and stand their ground over the next few months to turn this corner, but it’s not going to be easy — or pretty.

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