Paul Ryan Called for Ending Social Security in Speech to Ayn Rand Fans
When it came to light that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney regards 47 percent of the U.S. electorate as moochers for their use of government programs and tax credits, his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, ran as fast as he could from those remarks. Now, thanks to a 2005 Ryan speech that has recently come to light, Ryan may have to run from his own.
Romney, said Ryan, “was obviously inarticulate in making this point.” The point, Ryan said in an interview on Tuesday with KNRV in Reno, Nev., is that “what we’re trying to achieve is getting people off of government dependency and back to a job that pays well that gets them on the path of prosperity.”
So, what would be more articulate way of making that point? How about describing Social Security and Medicare as “collectivist” and “socialist” systems that must end, as Ryan did in a 2005 address he delivered to the Atlas Society, a group of Ayn Rand devotees, as reported Wednesday on the Web site of the Jesuit magazine, America (emphasis added):
In almost every fight we are involved in here, on Capitol Hill...it is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict: individualism vs. collectivism...That is why there is no more fight that is more obvious between the differences of these two conflicts than Social Security. Social Security right now is a collectivist system, it’s a welfare transfer system…..
Medicare, in Ryan’s view is no better. After complaining about the projected growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Ryan says, according to a transcript of a video of the speech, prepared by Vincent Miller, contributor to the America blog, In All Things, and Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton:
If we do not succeed in switching these programs, in reforming these programs from what some people call a defined benefit system, to a defined contribution system– from switching these programs—and this is where I’m talking about health care, as well -- from a third party or socialist based system to an individually owned, individually prefunded, individually directed system.
Lest you think Ryan’s voucher plan for Medicare, or for the privatization of Social Security, is simply ideological, think again. It’s also, in his view, about defeating Democrats. Privatization of health care and the safety net, in Ryan’s view, will turn laborers into capitalists, hence realigning their interests with those of the Republican right:
I would like to have more people on our team who are owners and believers in the individualist capitalist system than on the other side, and if every worker in this country becomes an owner of real wealth, of seeing the fruits of their labor come and materialize for their benefit, then that’s that many more people in America who are not going to listen to likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class warfare-breathing demagogues.
How different is that, then, from Mitt Romney’s notion that the 47 percent of the American public who pay no income tax (in most cases because they are low-income in an economy that was ravaged by Republicans), or who partake of government programs, will “vote for the president no matter what”?
David Koch’s Youthful Ward
Ryan’s speech to the Atlas Society was delivered just as Americans For Prosperity, the organization founded and funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, began organizing on the ground in Wisconsin. Ryan, already in Congress, saw the opportunity to ally with like-minded moguls who were building a get-out-the-vote and organizing infrastructure that was likely to benefit him.
As AlterNet reported, Ryan was the recipient of an award from the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity in 2008 -- an award presented him by a young county executive named Scott Walker, who is now the governor of Wisconsin. Ryan is also among the few elected officials ever invited to Charles Koch’s secret summits for wealthy donors.
As the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore reported in August, Americans For Prosperity embraced Ryan, now 42, practically from the moment of its founding:
“Paul was one of the first guys that we looked at and said, ‘Hey, that young guy could be the guy,’ ” said Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity’s president. “And when he put out the budget and defended it, that’s when they said, ‘He could go all the way.’ ”
As it turns out, Ryan’s association with the Kochs may very well have been the deciding factor in his selection as Romney’s running mate, assuring Romney of the enthusiastic support of Americans For Prosperity, which has pledged to spend $27 million on television advertising President Barack Obama in the 2012 campaign cycle.
But the question remains whether Ryan will continue to distance himself the “inarticulate” Romney, having the confidence that he could say it all so much better himself in 2016.