Quiz: Are U Smrt Enuff to Vote?

Scott Brown and his people got their knickers all in a twist last week because, in keeping with the requirements of the law, an effort was made to help people on welfare register to vote. Just to register, mind you. It has often been noted that the poor don’t have much going for them in the hardball of modern politics. They don’t have high-priced K-street lobbyists working on their behalf. They don’t have secretly funded Super PACs pushing for special poor people’s depletion allowance loopholes. It generally sucks to be poor.

But Senator Brown and the Tea Party types don’t even want them to have the chance to vote. They were all over talk radio and on Facebook bemoaning how awful it was to encourage people in a democracy to vote. Especially poor people. Because apparently what those Tea Party types mean when they push “American Exceptionalism” is that Americans are exceptionally lazy, which is the only reason so many of them are poor, and they’re exceptionally stupid, so they can’t be trusted to vote for the right man.

So I thought that maybe there should just be a test to see if people know enough about the current issues to cast an informed vote. But where to start? A recent CNN poll showed that most people really don’t know much about the new Republican VP pick Paul Ryan. So here you go, the first in a series of tests—just to see if you are smart enough to have permission from Scott Brown and the Tea Party to vote. Good luck. Answers are below.

1. According to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future tax plan, which of the following are true:

A) The Roadmap’s tax provisions would be highly regressive compared with the current tax system.
B) The share of total taxes paid by the bottom 80 percent would rise from 35 percent to 42 percent.
C) The average tax rate for the top 0.1 percent would plummet from 30 percent under current law to just 11 percent.
D) All of the above

2. According to a Congressional Budget Office study under Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future, the U.S. national debt would be paid off:

A) By next Thursday
B) About the time the last of the baby boomers retire in 2020
C) By the time your kids are grown—about 2040
D) Long after you’re dead and turned to dust, in about 2080

3. What effect would Paul Ryan’s proposed tax plan have on somebody like Mitt Romney, whose income in 2010 was $21 million dollars and who paid a tax rate of 13.9 percent?

A) Romney’s pretty clever and so he would probably pay about the same.
B) Romney’s rate would increase to 20 percent because his deductions for dressage would be eliminated.
C) Romney would only have to pay 10 percent like most of the rest of us.
D) Thanks to the elimination of capital gains taxes, etc., Romney would pay less than 1 percent.

4. Under Ryan’s 2004 plan to “save” Social Security, by shifting funds out of Social Security and into “private” accounts managed by the government, what startling realization did the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities uncover?

A) Social Security would be easier to fix than most people think.
B) We’re going broke faster than most people thought.
C) Privatizing accounts would mean people had more in retirement.
D) Privatizing accounts as Ryan suggested would mean that by 2050, all of the stocks and corporate bonds in America would be held in accounts administered by the U.S. government.

5. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has weighed in on the Ryan budget in a series of letters. What did they say?

A) Pay off the deficit and get government out of the way.
B) Put in place Ryan’s voucher plan for Medicare.
C) Keep the Bush tax cuts.
D) The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work, or in poverty should come first, and the Ryan budget fails to meet these moral criteria.

6. According to an analysis by the CBO requested by Mr. Ryan, under his Medicare reform proposals, if you are younger than 56 years old now:

A) When you are 65, you will get a voucher to pay for a Medicare policy.
B) Most people will pay significantly higher premiums.
C) The eligibility age will be slowly increased.
D) All of the above

7. What is Paul Ryan’s position on abortion?

A) He supports choice only in the first 20 weeks.
B) He believes abortions is permissible only in cases of rape or incest.
C) He thinks abortions should only be permitted to save the life of the mother.
D) He supported the “Let Women Die Act,” which would allow hospitals to deny a medical abortion to a woman even if it was necessary to save her life.

8. What is Paul Ryan’s position on birth control?

A) He thinks the government has no business in your bedroom.
B) He supports its use, but thinks the government shouldn’t help pay for it.
C) He says it should always be covered under private insurance plans.
D) He supported a federal Personhood Bill that defines life as beginning at fertilization, which would effectively ban may forms of birth control, such as the IUD.

Answers: (Follow links to read more.)

  1. D
  2. D
  3. D
  4. D
  5. D
  6. D
  7. D
  8. D


1–2 – You probably shouldn’t vote, or use sharp tools without adult supervision. But you have proven you’re smarter than Boston radio host Michael Graham. Way to go.

3–4 – You have clearly been reading the paper some and have proven yourself smarter than Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. But you need to do a little more reading.

5 – You’re doing pretty well, fellow citizen. Keep it up.

6–7 – With more people like you, newspapers and democracy will survive.

8 – You are wasting your time with this. You could be doing opposition research. Nice work.