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Paul Ryan calls 30 percent of Americans losers

Paul Ryan calling 30 percent of Americans takers
Paul Ryan calling 30 percent of Americans takers
Screenshot from video

On her show last night, Rachel Maddow commented on a video that's surfaced of Paul Ryan saying that 30 percent of Americans are "takers."

The video, shot in November 2011, of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) shows him making the claim that 30 percent of Americans are a bunch of deadbeat losers who don't care to pursue the "American dream."

Setting aside the fact that one person's "American dream" is another's living hell, what Ryan said in the video dovetails with what Mitt Romney got caught saying in the so-called "47 percent video."

The videos show that there's a belief among conservatives that there are two classes of Americans. There are the makers, and there are the takers.

Romney, who pays a lower tax rate than just about anybody, is apparently a maker. What he actually makes is not apparent, since he hasn't had a job-job in like 20 years. Ryan is a career politician — essentially a federal employee.

However, in Ryan's speech at an American Spectator dinner, he said that 70 percent of Americans are pursuing the "American dream," while 30 percent are not.

From the video it's impossible to tell exactly who it is he's referring to, but the assumption is that 30 percent of Americans are living off the government dole — the welfare state, as Ryan called it.

That means that more than 90 million Americans are living, or want to be living, on welfare. That's simply not true.

According to government data about 40 million receive food assistance.

That's up by 50 percent since the Great Recession rocked the economy, but it's nowhere near 90 million people.

But these people on food assistance are the takers, and so under a Romney administration "those people" would simply go hungry, thus thinning the herd of takers.

But to get to Ryan's 30 percent, he has to include Social Security recipients. If Republicans want to call retirees, orphans and the disabled a bunch deadbeat losers, that's within their rights, but most people would argue that's not the case.

Are there people out there abusing Social Security and welfare programs? Undoubtedly, there is. Just like there are people who abuse tax loopholes and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

But do more than 90 million people really want a life living off of government assistance? That's highly improbable and there is simply no data to back up that claim.

One group of people that Republicans lump into the takers category are military men and women — veterans. They were included in Romney's famous 47 percent figure, along with retirees and the working poor.

This is what the Republican party is running with this year. They are running a campaign on a platform that if they are elected, they will raise taxes on retirees, veterans and the working poor.

There is no other logical conclusion.

If their argument is that 30 percent, or 47 percent, of Americans are living off the dole and not paying any income taxes — the "no skin in the game" argument — obviously Romney and Ryan will push for taxing retirees, soldiers and the working poor, while gutting food assistance programs.

And while Ryan said that Romney's 47 percent comments were inarticulate, he clearly does not disagree with the message.

"This idea that a large proportion of the country are just dependent, mooching victims to whom the American dream is inapplicable," Maddow said, "who are beyond the reach of the kind of politics the Republican ticket is offering, it turns out it is both guys on the ticket who believe that."

The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim broke this story on Tuesday.

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