I have much respect for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for not being ashamed of his beliefs. His latest road map towards a balanced budget, and privatization of Medicare and the practical elimination of Social Security shows he’s not ready to hide behind the facade Republicans have been presenting the public. While your average Republican in office will decry cutting Medicare and Social Security to avoid the ire of the elderly who would find the cutting a difficult pill to swallow, they secretly want to eliminate both of them. Michelle Bachmann is another who is unafraid to come right out and say it but she, much like Palin, is more hot air than someone of solid policy and planning. At least Rep. Paul Ryan has the guts to create a road map that would, if implemented, ensure the Republican party would be out of power for a long, long time.
Don’t get me wrong, however: I’m with Krugman on this. I’m not in favor of the elimination of Medicare or Social Security as Ryan suggests. If it were truly up to me, we’d be heading towards an optimized single-payer system or a reasonably controlled open market system.
Having said that, I’m a bit confused as to Ryan’s understanding of his own principals on a different issue: TARP—the bailout of 2008 that many of the tea party movement have been moaning about. Here is a bit of Benjy Sarlin’s interview with Ryan
Ryan said his vote for the bailout was influenced by Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, a popular book among conservatives that argues that Nazism and other fascist movements were actually left wing in origin, and his belief that a second Depression would threaten capitalism—and rescue Obama’s presidency.
"I’m a limited-government, free-enterprise guy, but TARP… represented a moment where we had no good options and we were about to fall into a deflationary spiral,” he said. “I believe Obama would not only have won, but would have been able to sweep through a huge statist agenda very quickly because there would have been no support for the free-market system.”
How is passing TARP supposed to maintain a free-market system? TARP was a step towards more government meddling in the market, not less. I’m a bit concerned as to what Ryan’s definition of a free-market system is not so much because I want to make a Republican look bad but because of what I wrote in an earlier post about the disconnect between what people want and what they say they want. If, as I laid out at the beginning of this post, Ryan is a man of strong conviction and honesty, is he simply confused and misinformed about the free market?
We’re far from a free-market system and TARP was several step backwards from that. The bailed out firms are more dependent on government intervention than they were before the crisis began and the government started putting its hands in the mud.
The planned overhaul of US financial rules prompted Standard & Poor’s to warn on Tuesday it might downgrade the credit ratings of Citigroup and Bank of America on concerns that the shake-up would make it less likely that the banks would be bailed out by US taxpayers if they ran into trouble again.
The move came in spite of S&P admitting that Citi and BofA, two of the world’s largest lenders, had bolstered their balance sheets with fresh capital and improved performance in recent months.
For all of Ryan’s concerns about Obama’s huge statist agenda, he fails to understand that he, himself, was a part of the crafting of that statist agenda.