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What Exactly Does Paul Ryan Bring to the Party?

RP Siegel | Friday August 17th, 2012 | 2 Comments

Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate in hopes that he will deliver the Tea Party and possibly some of its evangelical hangers-on, and because he is one of the few Republicans with any ideas.

The “wonkish” forty-two year old conservative is smart enough to be embarrassed by the Bush years, but not honest enough to admit how many of today’s problems they created. The self-proclaimed budget hawk also doesn’t like to talk about his contribution to those problems: his votes in support of tax cuts, the Medicare prescription drug plan, the two questionable wars, and the multi-billion dollar TARP bailout, all of which contributed some five trillion dollars to our national debt. He claims that as a new kid in town, he wasn’t being true to himself. He told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker that he was “miserable during the last majority” and was determined “to do everything I can do to make sure I don’t feel that misery again.”

He didn’t seem to have any problem selling his shares in bank stocks though, the day in 2008 when he learned of the upcoming bank crisis in a confidential meeting. But once he gets his hands on the reins of power, he promises that he will begin to act with integrity and follow his principles.

And what exactly are those principles?

Ryan is a disciple of Ayn Rand’s cold-hearted philosophy that, as summarized by ThinkProgress, could be characterized as “a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism.” As such, Ryan cannot be expected to have much interest in or concern for the middle class or the poor. Rand was against any and all forms of support for the less fortunate, or government regulation of industry, claiming that law enforcement and defense were the only legitimate functions of government. She divided the world into two groups: a small group of producers or “providers,” whose hard work and ambition sustained everyone else in the far larger group of “parasites.” If alive today she would be the head cheerleader for the one percent. As it is, she is their number one justifier. Ryan swears by Rand and has been known to give out copies of her novel The Fountainhead as Christmas gifts. His vows to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare are consistent with these views. Ryan’s proposed Medicare reform would reduce the size of the budget, but, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would also cost its beneficiaries an additional $6500 per year.

On social justice issues, he is stridently opposed to gay rights, though he voted for the Employment Non-discrimination Act, after trying to kill it. The National Organization of Women calls the Romney-Ryan ticket, with its plan to defund Planned Parenthood and challenge a woman’s right to choose, “a disaster for women.”

You would think that these socially conservative positions would get rousing support from church groups and they do from some. But the Catholic Church, of which Ryan is a member, has expressed concerns over the way Ryan appears to be twisting church teachings on the treatment of the poor to justify his radical cuts to the social safety net. Ryan will square off against VP Joe Biden, who is also Catholic, but takes a far more liberal view.

Finally, and undoubtedly the most important, is Ryan’s position on global warming. Ryan is an avowed climate denier. His proposed budget retains $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil, while slashing spending on clean energy R&D and implementation. According to ThinkProgress, as a Congressman, Ryan “voted: to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E).”

As we struggle through what is likely to be the hottest summer on record, and after eight years of moving backwards on the issue under Bush, and four years of limited progress due to Republican obstructionism, we can ill afford another four years going backwards as the ice caps melt, the droughts and floods continue, other countries like China surge ahead in their development of clean technology, and the rest of the world looks on in horror, waiting for the United States of America to do its part.

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[Image credit: luna715L Flickr Creative Commons]

RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining format. Now available on Kindle.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


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  • Verne_J_Hostan

    Ayn Rand, like her or not, was the quintessential rationalist. Ryan’s views are a hodge podge that wouldn’t resonate with her. For example, Ayn advocated for women’s complete control of their own bodies – including fertilized eggs. Paul’s belief is that the embryo’s right trump the mother’s, even when the mother’s life is at risk. She also wouldn’t be mesmerized with Ryan’s utter lack of value creation – he hasn’t done anything other than being a pol (with a dismal record even there; only two bills proposed and passed in 14 years). Lastly, Ay was a staunch atheist – her view was that faith based proclamations and actions were total folly. Whereas Ryan is an enthusiastic bible pounder intent on imposing his views on others.
    We won’t find the key to Paul Ryan in Rand’s works. He’s a work unto himself…

    • Loss OfGravity

      How did Paul Ryan confuse a mediocre novelist with an Economist??!