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David Sirota
David Sirota
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Just a few years after the financial crisis, a new report tells an important story: Federal prosecution of white-… Read More.

Who Is Paul Ryan?


Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan admires Ayn Rand, and if you believe Republican Party mythology, Ryan is a messianic John Galt who will save America from a secret socialist conspiracy. Thus, in Rand fashion, it's worth asking: Who Is Paul Ryan?

The answer is simple: the GOP's presumptive vice presidential nominee is the 21st century's flesh-and-blood embodiment of political deception and media obfuscation.

Purporting to be a small-government budget hawk, Ryan publicly decries corporate welfare and says he wants "to get Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers." This has generated press coverage promoting Ryan as a great fiscal conservative. Yet, written out of the story is the fact that Ryan is a Huge Government Republican who voted for — and in some cases, still defends — the biggest examples of corporate welfare in American history.

Ryan, you see, was the Huge Government Republican who backed this era's massive corporate bailouts — the one who picked politically connected companies as winners and taxpayers as losers. He was the Huge Government Republican who regularly voted for profligate war spending bills — the ones that blew a gaping hole in the federal budget. And he is the Huge Government Republican now using his committee chairmanship to oppose serious cuts to the deficit-exploding corporate welfare still embedded in the bloated Pentagon budget.

Similarly, Ryan claims to be, and is billed in the press as, a libertarian-inspired acolyte of Rand — a man who supposedly values freedom and limited government. But as a Huge Government Republican, he has consistently voted to expand the surveillance state, endorse warrantless wiretapping and permit indefinite detention. Oh, and in contradiction to Rand's writings, he has also pushed to use the power of Huge Government to end a woman's right to choose an abortion.

Like so many Republicans, Ryan genuflects to the private sector and insinuates that the government is not a job creator.

It's funny coming from a guy who has spent most of his adult life as a federal employee and whose family's construction company brags of building its fortune off government highway contracts.

Ryan labels himself an opponent of "crony capitalism" and is often promoted by reporters as someone who can help Mitt Romney thwart the Washington insiders who corrupt our politics. Somehow, we are expected to ignore the fact that Ryan has spent the vast majority of his adult life in Washington; that his wife served as a top pharmaceutical and oil lobbyist in Washington; and that, as Newsweek reported in 2011, he tried to insert special provisions into federal law that would boost his personal oil investment portfolio.

Then there are Ryan's budget proposals, whose central premises are that Medicare must be gutted and Social Security must be turned over to Wall Street because we allegedly don't have enough revenue to fund them. In response, the press often credits Ryan's blueprint for being courageous and honest. Yet, in the very same plans, Ryan proposes to severely deplete public revenues by eliminating all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends, meaning that, according to The Atlantic magazine, Mitt Romney would pay a 0.82 percent tax rate on his $21 million annual earnings.

Republican powerbrokers, of course, hope you never learn any of this. They hope you and an obsequious press don't bother to review Ryan's congressional votes or his legislative history. They are hoping, in other words, that when you see Ryan's boyish Midwestern visage, you won't see the real Ryan — and you won't see what his ascent to vice president might mean for the future of America.

David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He co-hosts "The Rundown" on AM630 KHOW in Colorado. E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
It amazes me how Canada has prospered in the last 11 years. I have family in the GTA and back in 2001, the Canadian Dollar was worth something like US$.62. I could go to a bank and exchange US$100 for CAN$160. I just got back from a trip there and I was able to exchange US$100 for CAN$95. Forgetting all the "feel good" news from the politicians and "we are number one" statements. The exchange rate drives home to me how bad the United States finances are and I see no hope in site. I have been squirreling away Canadian Dollars for years and I expect them to only get more valuable. We will keep printing United States Dollars until they are worth as much as a post World War I Reichmark.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Aardvark
Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:40 AM
Just noticed the comment I originally posted is gone. Censorship or just an innocent screw-up by Hmm. Given the subject matter, I have my suspicions.

I wish I could remember what I wrote, or saved a copy, so I could easily post it again. From what I recall it went something like this:

The selection of Ryan to the ticket isn't surprising if you know anything at all about him and who is pulling the strings in the Republican Party these days.

Ryan completes the Koch brothers wet-dream Plutocrat ticket. There have been rumors that David Koch himself made a monetary deal with Romney in order to get Ryan on the ticket. Ryan and Romney will do whatever the fascists in the top 0.5% want to help them get richer and screw over everyone else. Romney/Ryan will complete the hostile takeover of our country by the corporatists who don't like democracy (all the "rabble" being allowed to vote and such) and turn us back into a feudal system where we are all slaves to the corporate elite. To borrow a famous phrase by Upton Sinclair, When Fascism comes to America it will be carrying a Romney/Ryan 2012 sign.

To the subject of this article, Republicans have devolved into major-league hypocrites who are detached from fact and reality. They will say anything, even if it contradicts what they said just 5 minutes earlier, just to spin their latest talking points to their political advantage. They know that their Kool-Aid drinking followers are too stupid to question anything they spew forth and have absolutely no ability to experience the slightest cognitive dissonance with the two conflicting thoughts floating around the empty space in their heads. That's why they like Ryan, despite the fact that he is a fraud and corporate puppet who doesn't care at all about the deficit he helped create.
Comment: #2
Posted by: A Smith
Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:56 AM
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