This past Saturday, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his choice for vice-president. Two weeks before the Republican national convention, Romney hopes that his selection will reset his campaign and refocus attention on the economy rather than the tax returns he refuses to make public.
Mitt’s choice of Ryan was well received among Republicans and Democrats alike. Ryan was the author of the now infamous “Ryan Budget” that took great steps to shrink the size of the national government, provide tax cuts that disproportionally favors the wealthy, and defunds various social programs—it’s no wonder Republicans love him.
Democrats on the other hand see this as an opportunity to point out the vast differences between the two parties. President Obama will be able to expose the Republican plan for what it is: an all-out assault on the poor and middle class.
You see, Paul Ryan is first and foremost a libertarian who hailed Ayn Rand as his hero and mentor saying “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”
Rand was a 20th century libertarian author (and prophet to some) who centered on the idea that selfishness is a “virtue”. She described altruism as “evil,” and condemned Christianity for sympathizing with the poor. Ryan was forced to distance himself somewhat from her philosophy in 2012 (Republicans don’t mix well with atheists), but the influence can’t be so easily washed away.
The corporate media is already calling the 2012 election a clash of ideologies regarding the government’s role in society. The republicans prefer low taxes and few social programs, small government, but one that is friendly toward business. Democrats by comparison are… also friendly towards business, but at least they still recognize the plight of the poor. The Republican ticket seems to consist of a very wealthy businessman and a man who wants to make him wealthier.
Paul Ryan’s controversial budget raises taxes on the poorest of Americans while lowering them on the richest, it would also end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system. Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more than 1 million poor students, privatize social security which he characterizes as a “ponzi scheme” and, of course, repeal Obamacare. Unless you’re a rich man, you stand to lose.
Like most politicians these days, Paul Ryan was bought a long time ago by the energy industry. He’s received $65,000 from the Koch Brothers alone, $432,181 from natural resource companies which includes close to $250,000 from oil and gas. It’s no surprise then that the congressman has rejected the effects of climate change. It should also come as no surprise that his budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion (small government indeed).
Since the coming of Reaganomics over thirty years ago, the wealthy in the United States have never had it so good, but that doesn’t mean team Romney don’t want to try and make it even better. But for those who think putting a businessman in charge will miraculously repair the economy, consider this: there have only been two successful businessmen in the last hundred years to be elected president; the first being Herbert Hoover and the other being George W. Bush. The first one had the Great Depression start under his watch, the other brought on the Great Recession.
During the occupy movement last year, the 99%’s slogan that referred to the greed of the banking industry was “Never have so many been screwed by so few”. If Romney manages to win the White House, those words will merit repeating.
*Photo under Creative Commons license.