Paul Ryan (1970- ) is an American Congressman from Wisconsin and Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president in the 2012 election. He is also the Republican’s top budget man in Congress. A geek with charm, he is one of the few who understands the budget inside out and can put it into English.
Ryan is hard right but his district in Wisconsin is centre right – a 90% white district that voted for Obama in 2008. Since his university days Ryan has spent most of his life in Washington, not Wisconsin. Wall Street money keeps him in office.
Ryan wants to take from the poor to give to the rich. He would gravely weaken the safety net that Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson put in place in the 1930s and 1960s so that he can cut taxes for the rich and keep defence spending high. Among Republicans all but ten are for the Ryan budget.
Ryan is rich. He is worth $5 million. He made his money the old-fashioned way: he married into it. His family lives in a mansion in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. When the General Motors plant there closed in 2009, unemployment went through the roof. Ryan did little.
Ryan is not honest. Not even by Fox News standards. After his speech at the Republican convention they ran a piece which said that Ryan:
set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.
Ryan had a black girlfriend at university. But the NAACP gives him 10 out of 100 on his civil rights voting record.
Ryan is a practising Catholic. But while the bishops like his extreme stand against abortion, they call the Ryan budget immoral. It is unnecessarily cruel to the poor and hungry. For example, it cuts food stamps rather than support for agribusiness.
Ryan is a follower of Ayn Rand. Rand saw selfishness as a virtue and condemned Christianity for wanting to help the poor. Ryan has read all her books and gives “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) as Christmas gifts:
I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.
Ryan is a fan of Rage Against the Machine. But Rage guitarist Tom Morello says Ryan is part of the machine he rages against:
You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that “Those people are undeserving. They’re … lesser.” Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff.
Ryan is endorsed by the NRA. When asked about gun laws and violent crime in cities, he said:
The best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities. Is to help teach people good discipline, good character.