Romney once had a more charitable view of people who needed government aid -- his rough draft for an op-ed celebrating the passage of Romneycare said withholding health care from the uninsured is "inhumane." We suggested it was one more meme the campaign picked up from right-wing blogs. But maybe it came from Romney's running mate.
We noted a while back Paul Ryan effusively praising Ayn Rand in a 2005 speech to the Rand enthusiast organization The Atlas Society -- despite his later insistence that she wasn't all that important to him. But now more audio from that talk has emerged, and Ryan also had some interesting things to say about Medicare and Social Security. He is not a fan. For instance: "Social Security right now is a collectivist system, it’s a welfare transfer system." Privatizing the program by turning it into a giant 401(k) would mean that "every worker, every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist. They will be an owner of society, they will be an owner and a participant of our free enterprise system, of our capitalist system."
Ryan's Rand-loving pals pestered him for tips for how to sell libertarian ideas to members of Congress. Moderator Ed Hudgins asked "what’s the most effective ammunition we have in our quiver...?" Ryan responded that it was attacking "collectivists" -- people who believe in guaranteed government benefits like Social Security -- with an "victimization argument." These "collectivists" talk down to people as victims in order to sell their programs, Ryan says. You can sell libertarian ideas by showing that their in the interest of the poor by saying they'll get richer with a stock and they are being demeaned by the status quo:
I think the victimization argument -- I think the fact that collectivists speak down to people as victims is not only an arrogant thing to do, but it produces poor results. So backing up this victimization class that collectivists try to produce, and showing the folks you're trying to convince that this is not only in their worst interests, but it's not dignifying and it's arrogant [on behalf of the lawmakers]. That seems to work. ... I always try to show how victimhood has gotten them nothing and how freeing people produces great results.
As National Memo's Joe Conason points out, there's one guy who wants credit for Romney's comments: Charlie Sykes, author of A Nation of Moochers. (The book's thesis is clear from its title.) The book's Facebook page posted a note August 21 pointing to a blurb Sykes got from Paul Ryan himself.
"Charlie Sykes’ A Nation of Moochers provides a much-needed wakeup call for a nation approaching two perilous tipping points: a moral one and a fiscal one. With our country facing unprecedented challenges and stark political choices, principled leaders will benefit from Sykes’ clear vision, keen insight and intellect. If we’re serious about getting our nation back on track, then we would be wise to follow the lessons laid out in A Nation of Moochers.” – Paul Ryan, Member of Congress
On Tuesday, Sykes celebrated the "47 percent" video, saying, "Of course, the MSM is treating this as if it were a horrific gaffe. But Romney appears to have been addressing the growing gap of the makers and the takers and the growing push to make more Americans dependent on the government."
Maybe Ryan had an influence on Romney? Ryan and Romney reportedly became close when they campaigned together for a week before the Wisconsin primary on April 3. "The two wonks bonded during the Wisconsin primary and got even closer after," a Republican strategist told National Journal in August. Romney made his "47 percent" comment May 17.
Ryan isn't talking like that now, of course. He told an AARP conference on Friday that he wants those transfer payments to keep on transferring for years to come. "The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds," Ryan said. "It weakens Medicare for today’s seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.