Republican Party

Paul Ryan Talks like a Maker, but Lives Like a Taker

Privatizing Medicare Ryan wants to sell us on the evils of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public education, the environment and whole bunch of other things that just get in the way of the rich getting richer.

He would like us to believe that he is the personification of “rugged individualism”.  He would like us to see him as a walking billboard of how it’s possible to live well and prosper while resisting “the culture of dependence on government.”

His father was a lawyer who died when Ryan was sixteen.  That was a tragedy that no one should have to experience.

His brother explains how Paul pulled himself up by the bootstraps following the tragic death of his father.

Paul went to work at McDonald’s and began to pull his own weight, and becomes class president the same year,” said his brother Tobin. “It is remarkable that he chose a path of individual responsibility and maturity rather than letting grief take a different course.” He added: “Some of his political views did begin to coalesce around the time of my father’s passing.

His brother went on to explain how young Paul was influenced by Ayn Rand‘s novels; conservative economist Milton Friedman,  along with “Austrian School”  economist, Frederick Hayek and Hayek’s professor/ mentor; Ludwig von Mises.

This all sounds like a conservative who also lived what he preaches.  There is more to this story, as Joan Walsh said succinctly:

Ironically, Ryan came to national attention trying to dismantle the very program that helped him go to the college of his choice, pushing an even more radical version of President Bush’s Social Security privatization plan, which failed.

He has since become the scourge of the welfare state, a man wholly supported by government who preaches against the evils of government support.

Ryan attended  Joseph A Craig High School, a public high school.  He went on to Miami University – a public university. At least some of his tuition was paid with social security survivor benefits.  One cannot begrudge Ryan for doing what others have done.  One can question how this corresponds with the rugged individualism he professes to believe in.  One can also wonder how Paul Ryan can turn his back on other people facing the same circumstances, but unlike him, will be on their own.

After he graduated from college, Paul Ryan relied on the public purse for his salary and his health care when he was a congressional staffer, a speech writer for Jack Kemp, a staffer for Sam Brownback, and during the past 14 years as a member of congress. In Ryan’s language, that would make Paul Ryan a “taker”.

Paul Ryan relied on the public education system he now holds in contempt.  If it wasn’t for the programs he claims to despise, what are the odds that the rugged individualism he preaches about would have led to his status as Mitt Romney’s running mate?  Social Security survivor benefits made college a possibility for Paul Ryan and others.  Yet, Ryan would deny the same help other young people would need just as desperately.  That says many things about Paul Ryan’s character – none of them good.

Ryan intends to destroy Medicare and turn it into a voucher system for anyone who is 55 or younger, increasing health care costs for seniors to the tune of $6000 a year.  Of course, the program will remain for seniors who are currently Medicare patients, including Paul Ryan’s mother, who is currently living in Rick Scott’s Florida.

As someone who relied on public schools to educate him, social security to pay his college tuition, a public salary throughout his work life; Paul Ryan is the epitome of hypocrisy every time he speaks of the merits of pulling one’s self up by their bootstraps.

Yet there is still more to this story. For a period, Paul Ryan worked in the family business, which on the surface would mean he at least had a moment or two living in the world of private enterprise.

From the Company’s Website:

Today, with a heavy concentration of private work, a great deal of our work involves the paving of internal and entrance roadways for housing, industrial, and commercial developments.

That’s today. Between 1910 and 1970, the company was engaged in building the rural Interstate Highway System. In other words, not only was Paul Ryan dependent on the government in one form or another throughout his life; his family’s fortune came from what some on the right refer to as “make work” projects.

I’ll grant that he probably is the good family man President Obama spoke about on Monday.   I’ll even grant that he’s a good son making sure that his own mother’s interests as a Medicare patient are protected while denying other people’s mothers the same consideration.

However, the inconsistencies between Paul Ryan’s life and his ideals about self-reliance are impossible to overlook.  Of course, Ayn Rand who also benefitted from social security and Medicare would probably applaud him.

Image from

Adalia Woodbury

Former contributor.

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