Paul Ryan’s Chalkboard Cindy: A Tale of Tax and Tariff Woe

Am I the only one who cares that things are getting worse for Chalkboard Cindy instead of better under the “winning” strategies of Donald Trump and the GOP’s economic, tax and trade policies?

Maybe it is because I once was somewhat akin to Chalkboard Cindy that I have so much empathy for this simple cartoon outline introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan early in his PR campaign for the tax cuts enacted in 2018.

Ryan suggested Cindy was a single parent with a salary of about $30,000 per year. In my experience, that is the salary of a fast food restaurant manager or an executive assistant at an Atlanta regional business. Plus modest benefits.

He said Cindy could expect about $400 in tax savings.  I figure this as the equivalent of $7.69 per week in wage, or about a 19 cent per hour raise if Cindy were working a 40 hour per week job ( which, in low-level, exempt management positions, I -er- she, didn’t/doesn’t.)

At first I figured Cindy could get a new set of tires for her car. Then, remembering I paid about $1,000 for the new set I put on in 2015, I downgraded Cindy to a set of re-treads. Or one brand new tire.

But with gas at close to $3 per gallon as of yesterday, I must further downgrade Cindy’s situation.  Her tires, I am sure, are all bald, forcing her to drive in a dangerous situation, especially given nearly two weeks of tropical style rain showers.

Should those tires fail her on a drive to work, or she have an accident due to hydroplaning, Cindy becomes potentially unemployable.  If this happens, she may seek public benefits like food stamps, Section 8 housing assistance and Medicaid benefits. She goes from self-sustaining to welfare “queen” in a heartbeat. Or rather a tire mishap.

Providing she hadn’t already availed herself of such public benefits due to her already low salary and parental responsibilities.

Now we are headed into a trade war with our two closest neighbors over products our factories are no longer tooled or staffed to make at an ability to sustain product demand and at a cost that will keep consumer prices attractive.

But we will give China a bailout on ZTE by lifting a ban on using U.S. technology imposed because the Chinese cell phone maker has dealt with FIVE countries under U.S. sanction: Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and Sudan.

Trump is doing this because it will throw too many Chinese workers out of employment ( along with the fact that, according to, “The tech industry is a vast and intertwined network of developers, designers, distributors and the like” worldwide.)

Plus it can be “ a technological feat to navigate this network while also complying with American sanctions,” the news site adds.

What about Cindy’s job and how she has worked herself sick in order to support her child by driving around in the rain on bald tires for an extra 19 cents an hour?

At what point does she matter to Trump, Ryan, et al?

Maybe that was why Ryan made her a chalkboard outline instead of introducing a real-life Cindy during his PR campaign.

Because they don’t care about Cindy – or many of the rest of us.


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