Paul Ryan... Empty Suit?
Far right faux "populists" are easily mobilized by Wall Street-- a kind of mega-astroturfing. That's what the Tea Party movement essentially was. Many in the media think it was the masses of the far right that forced Paul Ryan down Romney's throat. Many on the far right think so as well. Ryan, as we've been warning for almost a decade, is Wall Street's golden boy and they are determined that he will be their very own anti-Christ in Washington and the harbinger of a new era of full-blown American plutocracy. A well-scrubbed marketing shill, Ryan has always been one thing: a well-compensated mouthpiece for Wall Street. GOP consultant Roger Stone claims the Koch brothers bought Ryan the VP slot for $100 million at the July 22nd fundraiser David Koch and Ryan fan-girl Julia Koch held for Romney at the Koch Hamptons estate.
Koch pledged $100 million more to C-4 and Super PAC efforts for Romney for Ryan's selection.
The upside of Ryan's selection is clear. Romney, distrusted by party conservatives, won't have to worry about his right flank or the base throughout the fall as John McCain did, theoretically leaving Romney free to seek independent swing voters in the middle. The downside is Ryan may be so tattooed by the Democrats for his "extreme" positions that Romney's ability to win these votes may be limited. The shift of the debate from jobs and the economy to entitlement funding is not beneficial to the Republicans as it will allow the campaign to play out on the Democrats strong suit issue.
Meanwhile the idea of Ryan as a radical is laughable. Ryan put forth a budget proposal which did nothing to curtail Social Security and military spending. His famous budget allows the deficit to continue to grow. Ryan has worked almost his entire adult life (the last twenty years) cashing a government check in D.C. Ryan supported the auto and bank bailouts, voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 and for increasing the debt ceiling in 2011. Ryan voted for the Iraq War resolution in 2002, keeping troops in Iraq indefinitely, against withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Balkans in 1999 and for the authorization for use of military force against Afghanistan in 2001. He also voted for the re-authorization of the Patriot Act in 2006 and 2011 and for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 which allows the federal government to arrest and incarcerate a US citizen without bail, charges or a trial.
The idea of Paul Ryan as a libertarian is a joke. Ryan is a big government, Washington DC Republican who votes to fund foreign interventionism and the erosion of our civil liberties. Ryan began his political career as an acolyte of one of my heroes, Rep. Jack Kemp. Yet Ryan has wandered far from Kemp's genuine concern about the poor and disadvantaged. Ryan has become more of a faux deficit hawk and less of a pro-growth proponent.
Sunday night, when Romney's campaign responded to Todd Akin's deranged TV interview about legitimate rapes, they issued a statement that they couldn't have possibly run by Ryan or his handlers:
“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement. A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
That's certainly at odds with Ryan's voting record. He's been absolutely consistent in refusing to recognize an exemption in his anti-Choice mania for rape or incest. In fact, his positions on the topic have been exactly the same as his pal Todd Akin's.
That shouldn't really surprise any serious Ryan watchers though. The fake wonk also plays the part of the fake man of principle. We've talked a lot about Ryan's role in forcing Republicans to switch their votes from anti-TARP bailout to pro-TARP bailout. There would have never have been a TARP bailout without the efforts and tactics of Paul Ryan. He's never been either. Chris Hayes' MSNBC show on Sunday dug up the video of him defending Bush's request for stimulus spending. Hayes could have won the Chopped Grill Master Grand Prize for how he handled Ryan's hypocrisy on the show. (Watch it above.)
Long before he became one of the right’s most vocal critics of the idea that government spending could help boost the flagging economy, Rep. Paul Ryan offered a forceful, full-throated defense of stimulus spending-- when then-President George W. Bush wanted it in 2002.
Ryan has denounced the 2009 Recovery Act signed by President Obama as “a wasteful spending spree” and “failed neo-Keynesian experiment,” and-- as the Huffington Post pointed out this morning-- dismissed as “sugar-high economics” the idea that government spending, through measures like payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, can help shore up a faltering economy.
But in 2002, when then-President Bush was seeking a roughly $120 billion package of tax cuts, tax incentives for business and unemployment benefits to jump-start the economy, Ryan offered a vigorous defense of the plan. “What we're trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan said in video that aired today on Up w/ Chris Hayes. The remarks came during a House debate on the measure on Feb. 14, 2002.
Ryan’s comments reveal a strikingly different economic analysis than the one he has become known for in recent years as the “intellectual leader” of the Republican Party and, now, Mitt Romney’s running mate. In 2002, Ryan argued that unemployment would remain at elevated levels even after the economy began to recover, and that aggressive stimulus would be a necessary and effective antidote.
“What we're trying to accomplish here is the recognition of the fact that in recessions, unemployment lags on well after a recovery has taken place,” Ryan said at the time. “We have a lot of laid-off workers, and more layoffs are occurring. And we know, as a historical fact, that even if our economy begins to slowly recover, unemployment is going to linger on and on well after that recovery takes place.”
Ryan’s advocacy of stimulus spending wasn’t limited to Washington, either. When he returned home to face constituents, he used similar language to make the case for the Bush stimulus bill. “You have to spend a little to grow a little,” Ryan told constituents at a town hall in Wisconsin in January 2002, according to the Journal-Times, a local newspaper. “What we're trying to do is stimulate that part of the economy that's on its back."
One day we'll find out who, specifically, writes the nonsense Ryan reads out in the service of Wall Street banksters, who, in turn, get their media outlets to term him the intellectual giant of conservatism. Til then... Stop Paul Ryan.