"An Extreme Choice" -- What Two of Wisconsin's Leading Progressive Journalists Think About Mitt Romney's Pick of Paul Ryan
Continued from previous page
I think it’s a question as to whether he’s going to help in places like Florida, because of his assault on Medicare. And you and John were just talking about Ayn Rand. I mean, Ryan says that Medicare and Social Security are part of a collectivist system. I mean, this is really part of the whole Republican agenda now for the last 70 years to repeal the New Deal. And Ayn Rand and Ryan are just, you know, giving the ideological justification for that. But it’s a frontal assault, and I think the more he gets his ideas out, the more—unless Obama really takes him on head on—and he did a little bit in that clip, but sometimes he doesn’t—you know, this is not going to be good for the progressive agenda.
And what bothers me is that Obama has a tendency to want to play things toward the middle or meet people halfway. And, for instance, in the budget negotiations with Boehner a couple years ago or last year, he was open to a grand bargain. And even some of his staffers have said he’d be open to a grand bargain again. Well, yesterday, Ryan was talking on 60 Minutes about a compromise on issues like Medicare and Social Security. Is that really what we’re going to get to here? I should hope not.
AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols, there’s another Randian who’s had tremendous influence on the U.S. economy?
JOHN NICHOLS: Alan Greenspan, former head of the Fed. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Who was close to her personally.
JOHN NICHOLS: Oh, yeah. There’s a picture of Ayn Rand and Greenspan in the Ford White House. She came to the White House with him back in the '70s, or at least to an appointment event of some kind. So, look, there's an influence here, and I think we should not underestimate it. But I have to also suggest that there’s a cynicism in Paul Ryan. I’ve known Paul for a long time, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s very easy to get along with, very easy to talk to. If he was sitting on this show, you might disagree, but you’d have a real dialogue, much more so than you could have with many conservative Republicans.
But the fact of the matter is, while he talks about really not liking government, really being opposed to government, the truth of the matter is, he voted for two unfunded wars—and put on a credit credit card, not paid for. He voted for the bank bailouts, for TARP, for the auto industry bailouts, for Medicare Part D, which was a very badly constructed initiative, very, very costly. So for all his talk about wanting to balance budgets, the fact of the matter is, what he seems to really want to do is empower Wall Street. He gets huge amounts of money from many of the same interests that we might talk about with the Fed and the banks and other folks. And it happen—
AMY GOODMAN: You could say that there was a conflict of interest here: Mitt Romney chooses someone, Paul Ryan, who puts forward a plan that would enormously personally benefit Mitt Romney personally.
JOHN NICHOLS: Oh, my gosh. You know, the thing is, people look at Ryan’s budget plan, and they say, "Well, it attacks Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security." At least to some extent it does. It begins a deconstruction of them. But what it really does, fascinatingly enough, is return full-scale supply-side economics. Ryan’s plan doesn’t balance the budget for 28 years. Ryan’s plan really is all about massive tax cuts for very, very wealthy people, for multinational corporations, and the beginning of a redistribution of federal spending from funding programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security into Wall Street and the insurance companies. His notion of using vouchers to, you know, help people, quote-unquote, "buy their Medicare" or "buy their Medicaid," what that’s going to do is make insurance companies a whole lot richer. So, the fact of the matter is, here’s a guy who gets immense amounts of money from Wall Street, the banks, the Koch brothers, who is proposing a budget under the guise—