From all the press coverage over the weekend, you would think that Paul Ryan was at the top of the Republican ticket. For those of us who have been having an intellectual battle with Libertarians for the past few years, it seems like this election might really be a referendum on the Koch Brothers Anarcho-Capitalist philosophy. Certainly Ryan is their favorite politician and water carrier as the Times points out this morning.
Less well-known are Mr. Ryan’s close ties to the donors and activists who have channeled Tea Party anger into a $400 million political machine, financed by a network of conservative and libertarian donors that now rivals, and occasionally challenges, the Republican establishment behind Mr. Romney.
Mr. Ryan is one of a very few elected officials who have attended the Kochs’ biannual conferences, where wealthy donors sit in on seminars on runaway government spending and the myths of climate change.
But it would be a mistake to focus on just Ryan’s efforts to bring an Ayn Randian philosophy to government where the Vice President would lecture the welfare “looters and moochers” in the language of John Galt, “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.” Ryan’s view of America as the continuing unpaid policeman of the world is pure Neocon, as the Wall Street Journal points out with pride this morning in a piece called “Paul Ryan’s Neocon Manifesto”.
Also, that he believes in free trade, a strong defense, engagement with our allies—and expectations of them. Also, that he wants America to stay and win in Afghanistan. Furthermore, that he supports the “arduous task of building free societies,” even as he harbored early doubts the Arab Spring was the vehicle for building free societies.
It tells us also that Mr. Ryan has an astute understanding of the fundamental challenge of China. “The key question for American policy makers,” he said, “is whether we are competing with China for leadership of the international system or against them over the fundamental nature of that system.”
But as Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman points out this morning, the Ryan-Romney continuation of Neocon vision is a one way trip to nowhere.
Mr. Ryan professes to be a defense hawk, though the true conservatives of modern times — Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Robert A. Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, even Gerald R. Ford — would have had no use for the neoconconservative imperialism that the G.O.P. cobbled from policy salons run by Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites three decades ago. These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion “defense” budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global policeman.
Indeed, adjusted for inflation, today’s national security budget is nearly double Eisenhower’s when he left office in 1961 (about $400 billion in today’s dollars) — a level Ike deemed sufficient to contain the very real Soviet nuclear threat in the era just after Sputnik. By contrast, the Romney-Ryan version of shrinking Big Government is to increase our already outlandish warfare-state budget and risk even more spending by saber-rattling at a benighted but irrelevant Iran.
Ryan may be put forth as the soul of midwestern Catholic probity, but even in this pose, questions are being raised.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.
The congressman on Monday denied profiting from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector. His office said he had no control over the trades.
Public records show that on the same day as the meeting, Ryan sold stock in troubled banks including Wachovia and Citigroup and bought shares in Goldman Sachs, Paulson’s old employer and a bank that had been disclosed to be stronger than many of its rivals.
If Ryan’s excuse that this was not insider trading was that the trades were executed by his representative, can he swear that he had no communication with that representative after the meeting with Bernanke and Paulson? Ryan has boasted that he is an active investor and trader. Why all of a sudden does he act like his assets are in a blind trust? He will need to answer these questions.
As I said at the top, I welcome the addition of Ryan to the ticket. Romney was a total mushburger on policy, hoping to coast to the Presidency on Obama animosity. He realized that strategy was not working and has now thrown his fate to the ideas and pocketbook of the Koch Brothers. The election will decide whether we live in a democracy or an oligarchy;in a 21st Century world or a 19th Century fantasy.