Monday, August 13, 2012

For wonks only

Today I found myself reeling a bit when it comes to the political scene. Its all Ryan all the time. And my head is spinning with all the spin.

So I decided that I needed to slow down and take a look for myself. What I found is that there was an interesting exchange this past spring between Paul Ryan and the faculty at Georgetown.

The discussion seems to have started when Ryan suggested that he was not a devotee of Ayn Rand, but rather of Thomas Aquinas. Georgetown invited him to speak at a lecture series and a group of Jesuits and faculty there wrote him a letter just days before the visit.
Welcome to Georgetown University. We appreciate your willingness to talk about how Catholic social teaching can help inform effective policy in dealing with the urgent challenges facing our country. As members of an academic community at a Catholic university, we see your visit on April 26 for the Whittington Lecture as an opportunity to discuss Catholic social teaching and its role in public policy.

However, we would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” Catholic bishops recently wrote that “the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”

In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.

Cuts to anti-hunger programs have devastating consequences. Last year, one in six Americans lived below the official poverty level and over 46 million Americans – almost half of them children – used food stamps for basic nutrition. We also know how cuts in Pell Grants will make it difficult for low-income students to pursue their educations at colleges across the nation, including Georgetown. At a time when charities are strained to the breaking point and local governments have a hard time paying for essential services, the federal government must not walk away from the most vulnerable.

While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on “subsidiarity” as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help -- “subsidium”-- when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger. According to Pope Benedict XVI: "Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.”
And here is Rep. Ryan's speech. I know - its almost 25 minutes long. That's why I suggested all of this is only for the truly wonky. It helped me to listen to it all directly from his own mouth. I really wanted to see if - even though I disagree with him - I felt there was any genuineness to the man. Watch it yourself and see what you think. I'll give you my answer in the comments


  1. First of all, lets be honest...this guy is not bad at selling bullshit. He's much better at articulating this nonsense than Romney.

    But as he was talking so passionately about the federal debt being the most humungous challenge to America ever, 3 things kept shouting at me in my head.

    1. Ryan was part of the group that made the decision to go "all in" on obstruction of anything PBO did. Any shred of genuineness goes out the window for me when he talks about Obama being divisive when he helped hatch the plan that ensured it.

    2. Where was all this concern about the deficit when Bush was POTUS and Ryan voted FOR the massive tax cuts, medicare prescription drug coverage, and unnecessary war?

    3. But the two words that were literally screaming in my head the whole time were "tax cuts." If he's so damned committed to deficit reduction, why give the store away to the wealthy?

    So no, this guy is after power and doesn't give a damn about the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He's selling a game...and a lie.

    1. Oh...and #4: This is the guy that was the MOST intransigent on the debt ceiling negotiations. So that's pure baloney about the need for "reasoned discussion and compromise."

    2. To be fair, it was probably Eric Cantor among the leadership who was the MOST intransigent. But Ryan was right up there.

      Also, and # 5, these people who are supposedly concerned with the deficit and with wasteful government spending never seem to propose any cuts to the defense budget. Deficit reduction is not their highest priority. Their highest priority is tax cuts, especially capital gains taxes and estate taxes and corporate taxes. Their next highest priority is cutting social programs. The deficit is just the excuse they use for trying to obtain their budget priorities.

    3. You're probably right that Cantor was the #1 intransigent. Ryan would come in 2nd.

      And good point on #5. He didn't even mention defense spending.

    4. Re: defense spending. Wasn't Ryan the one that said the generals lied when they said they could reduce spending? I seem to remember a general getting upset about it.

    5. Oh he's so worried about the deficit, that his budget includes $9 billion in tax cuts for the rich, increased defense spending, and privatization of medicare, medicaid and social security -> which will cost $3 trillion in transfer costs to privatize these programs! AND, he has no plan in the budget for how to pay for it. Where do you think that $3 trillion will come from? Deficit financing maybe?? He, Romney and the entire GOP are frauds!

  2. Okay, the first few minutes display his "brown noser" reputation. It almost feels like he's looking for acceptance.

    Next, his historical revisionism is shameless! The divisive politics of the last three years of which he was a leader!

    He is a charlatan, but a smooth talking one, and we should not take him lightly.