Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7 Fun (And Not-So-Fun) Facts About Paul Ryan

There is a joke in there, somewhere...

So some of you may have heard that Romney picked a running mate this past weekend, Paul Ryan, a Representative from Wisconsin.  And you may have wondered, who is that guy with the creepy eyes that I may, or may not have heard of before?  Well, we have some answers for you, below the fold...

1.Paul Ryan once drove an Oscar Mayer Weinermobile-  Yes this is true.  For a guy who rails against the government, Ryan has spent most of his life happily ensconced in the warm bosom of government work.  One of his few non-government jobs was working one summer in college driving around in a truck shaped like a huge hot dog.  Which actually, is kinda cool.

2. Ryan thinks Medicare should be replaced with coupons- Which is not very cool at all.  Everyone loves coupons, except when you are forced to trade your health care in for them.  It is estimated that Ryan's plan would raise the cost of health care for seniors by about $6,000 a year.  So then seniors be forced to use a lot more coupons in everyday life as well.

3. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all died in their 50s-  Paul Ryan is only 42, and works out avidly. "Nuff said.

4.  He is a big fan of Ayn Rand-  Though Ryan has now slowly, and carefully backed away from such  gushing fandom of the author and her novel Atlas Shrugged, he has stated on the record on many occasions how much the author has changed his life. He has also stated that it is required reading for all staffers in his office. My opinion of the novel is encapsulated by this quote:

There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kid’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.” – Kung Fu Monkey

5. Ryan went to college because of Social Security-  Though he hates entitlement programs, and would love to gut them, Ryan himself is a success story because of entitlement programs.  As mentioned before, Ryan's father died when Ryan was 16, and Ryan received Social Security death benefits until he was 18.  Ryan has stated that he saved up those checks, and used them to help enroll himself in college when the time came.  Yet Ryan would love to cut the Pell Grant program, which also helps struggling students go to college.  No wonder nuns hate him.  Which leads to number 6...

6. Nuns hate him-  They hate him so much, they toured across country to let other people know how much they hate him.  For some odd reason, the nuns believed that the Ryan plan to cut the food stamp program so that the richest 1% could get a tax cut was anti-Christian. 

Catholic Bishops are supporting the nuns efforts to call out Christian politicians on their budget-cutting hypocrisy.  "In an April release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops called on Congress and the Administration to protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and put the poor first in budget priorities," the CNN report added. 
According to the teachings of Christ, the rich are supposed to help the poor, not cause them more suffering in the name of tax cuts for themselves and trickle-down economics.

7. He believes that fertilized eggs are people- Ryan has co-sponsored legislation that states that life begins as soon as an egg is fertilized.  When such amendments have been put to the vote of the people, they have been continually voted down, even in the reddest of states, like Mississippi. Such legislation would outlaw all abortion, even in the cases of rape or incest, or if the mother's life was in danger, as well as many in vitro procedures.

So to sum it up, Paul Ryan is an avid fan of Ayn Rand's "I got mine!" philosophy of government.  He thinks of himself as self-made,rails against the government, all the while relying on the government for most of his life.  He believes that government should stay out of everyone's way, and out of their business.  In a break with Rand however, he believes that the government should stay up the reproductive tracts of women as much as possible.  In other words, Ryan is very much in lockstep with modern Republican beliefs.


  1. Hey do you remember how the jerk who seduces the sister in Dirty Dancing tries to give Baby a copy of The Fountainhead? That was my formative introduction to Ayn Rand.

  2. And if you have a burning need to know more about Paul Ryan (or just really like to count things) there's a great piece on 5 "radical" policies in his budget plan: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/08/paul-ryan-roadmap-most-radical-ideas.php?ref=fpa

  3. I don't remember the Dirty Dancing character, but that fact tells me everything I need to know about him. For more, delete the spaces after http: //nymag.com/thecut/2012/08/paul-ryan-is-your-bad-libertarian-ex-boyfriend.html

  4. A couple of responses here:

    1) So for someone who believes in small government and wants to advance those beliefs and put them into practice, how should one go about doing so? You seem to imply that there is some irreconcilable conflict between a belief in small government and actually working in government to put those beliefs into practice. That small government conservatives, if they want to be really pure, should just stay out of government altogether. Which would of course result in big government liberals actually running the government. I'm sure you would like that, but it's a completely self-defeating strategy for a small government conservative.

    2) Ah yes, premium support. That radical right-wing idea that was endorsed by Jimmy Carter's deregulation czar Alfred Kahn, former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, researchers at the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, and Bill Clinton's Medicare Commission led by Democrat John Breaux. Oh, and did I mention that Ryan's most recent Medicare proposal was put together in collaboration with respected Democratic Senator Ron Wyden? Democrats like to point to past Republican/conservative support for the individual mandate, but don't like to talk too much about the Democratic "heritage" (pun intended) of premium support.

    3) I sincerely hope that Ryan lives well past his 50's. 'Nuff said.

    4) I have never read anything by Ayn Rand, but I know many smart, sensible people who are neither emotionally stunted nor socially crippled who have and were influenced by her work. I have no idea who Kung Fu Monkey is, but based on my own personal experience the fact that someone read Atlas Shrugged and really liked it is not enough to make me worried about their mental well-being or fitness for public service.

    5) So Ryan is being disingenuous by wanting to cut Pell Grants because he received Social Security death benefits? This argument would make more sense if he received Pell Grants to go to college.

    6) Nuns hate him for being anti-Christian? Hmmm, I would have thought that hating someone for being a conservative is itself pretty anti-Christian. Maybe the nuns need to brush up on their Catechism. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the nuns also fail to recognize that government programs are not the only way to help the poor. They should know, seeing as the Church runs Catholic Charities and all.

    7) This is my favorite one. Nuns disagree with his spending policies! Followed by, OMG Ryan believes life begins at conception. Which of course is (presumably) the exact position of the nuns that hate him. So, listen to the nuns on the budget! On abortion - huh, what nuns? Why should we listen to them? Separation of church and state!!

  5. 1) I think the problem is in complaining, as many conservatives do, about career politicians, and then becoming them. Conservatives generally act like private experience is more useful than public in governance. That's probably not true, as far as effectiveness goes. Jimmy Carter was far less effective than LBJ, for example. You could argue that the only way W was effective in getting his agenda passed was because he had Cheney and a ton of his father's people who all had extensive government experience. I certainly don't think anybody should stay out of government, but I think it's hypocritical to argue that private experience is so much better and then spend all your time gaining public experience.

    2) Just like Obamacare is a radical left-wing idea conceived by the Heritage Foundation and openly advocated as a federal program by Romney? But importantly, Obama doesn't support it, and none of those Democrats advanced the idea when they had the opportunity. Unlike Romney and Romneycare/Obamacare.

    3) Me too. Just not as VP or President.

    4) Try reading it sometime, then come back to me.

    5) He's against social security, too. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-marans/ryan-budget-fasttracks-so_b_845775.html

    6) The nuns know that public programs aren't the only way to help the poor, it's a lot of what they themselves do. I'm sure they go to confession, so any negative thoughts they have should be something they work out.

    7) Pragmatism :-) That said, he's pretty right-of-center on abortion, as this week has shown everybody.