The day has finally come when I am older (by one year) than a US vice-presidential nominee.
The conservative establishment is crowing about Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. The Wall Street Journal tells us today that Ryan “appeals to conservatives.”
An item in The Daily Caller really gives those of us on the right something to think about in regard to Ryan:
A recent column in which blogger Matt Lewis questioned the conservative credentials of Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, got a lot of attention on our Web site. A number of Daily Caller readers have commented about Ryan, saying he has cast votes they disagree with, particularly in favor of the $700 billion TARP bailout for Wall Street, the auto bailouts and the taxes on AIG bonuses.
Here’s how Lewis put it:
Though he talks like Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, some of Ryan’s most high-profile votes seem closer to Keynes than to Adam Smith. For example, in the span of about a year, Ryan committed fiscal conservative apostasy on three high-profile votes: The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP (whereby the government purchased assets and equity from financial institutions), the auto-bailout (which essentially implied he agrees car companies — especially the ones with an auto plant in his district—are too big to fail), and for a confiscatory tax on CEO bonuses (which essentially says the government has the right to take away private property — if it doesn’t like you).
While Ryan’s overall voting record is very conservative, the problem with casting these high-profile votes is that they demonstrate he is willing to fundamentally reject conservatism when the heat is on.
Because it is impossible to believe the highly intelligent and well read Rep. Ryan was unfamiliar with conservative economic principles, one must conclude he either 1). Doesn’t really believe in free market economics, or 2). Was willing to cast bad votes for purely political purposes.
I asked Ryan about these criticisms during a phone interview this week. Here’s what he had to say:
The DC: As you’re getting more attention, besides the criticism that you’re getting from the Democrats, I’ve also started to see some critical comments of you from the right over your votes for TARP, the auto bailout, and the tax on CEO bonuses. How often do you hear that in your home state, how often do you hear it on the Internet, and what do you tell people when they criticize you on those things?
Ryan: You know I don’t hear it here at home that much. You’ve got to remember Obama won my district. Dukakis and Gore won my district. Clinton won my district. So I don’t come from, you know, a red area. So I think it’s important to keep in mind where I come from. I don’t hear that here.
TARP. I’ll take one at a time. I believe we were on the cusp of a deflationary spiral which would have created a Depression. I think that’s probably pretty likely. If we would have allowed that to happen, I think we would have had a big government agenda sweeping through this country so fast that we wouldn’t have recovered from it. So in order to prevent a Depression and a complete evisceration of the free market system we have, I think it was necessary. It wasn’t a fun vote. You don’t get to choose the kind of votes you want. But I just think as far as the long term objectives that I have — which are restoring the principles of this country — I think it was necessary to prevent those principles from being really kind of wiped out for a generation.
Auto. Really clear. The president’s chief of staff [Josh Bolten] made it extremely clear to me before the vote, which is either the auto companies get the money that was put in the Energy Department for them already — a bill that I voted against because I didn’t want to give them that money, which was only within the $25 billion, money that was already expended but not obligated — or the president was going to give them TARP, with no limit. That’s what they told me. That’s what the president’s chief of staff explained to me. I said, ‘Well, I don’t want them to get TARP. We want to keep TARP on a [inaudible]. We don’t want to expand it. So give them that Energy Department money that at least puts them out of TARP, and is limited.’ Well, where are we now? What I feared would happen did happen. The bill failed, and now they’ve got $87 billion from TARP, money we’re not going to get back. And now TARP, as a precedent established by the Bush administration, whereby the Obama administration now has turned this thing into its latest slush fund. And so I voted for that to prevent precisely what has happened, which I feared would happen.
Heritage Action ranks Ryan’s conservative effectiveness at 76 percent (on a scale of 1 to 100). All of the GOP House Members from South Carolina score an average of 20 points higher than Ryan.
As House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan has been a team-player with the House leadership that pushed through an increase in the debt ceiling and an omnibus bill that allowed for ObamaCare funding.
At least it’s going to be tough for the media and the Democrats to give Ryan the Quayle-Palin- George W. treatment by smearing him as ‘stupid.’ People both sides of the aisle are raving about how smart Ryan is.
People are excited about Ryan for lecturing Obama on-camera about ObamaCare. That’s great.
Ryan’s vaunted budget plan focused on straightening out our economic mess in — oh — 10,20,30 or possibly 40 years. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul came up with a plan that straightens the mess out within FIVE years. Paul got minimal support for his effort. Ryan got his plan through the House, and aggressively pushed in the Senate by McConnell & company. It’s so much easier to back Ryan’s plan over Paul’s. Ryan’s plan put the tough decisions off for a decade or more. Paul was making leaders make tough votes NOW.
The #1 mission this November is to get Barry Obama OUT of 1600 Penn. The Romney-Ryan team is our best option for accomplishing that mission. But what happens after we get them in?
It’s important for Tea Partiers and other conservatives to ensure we have authentic conservatism down the ballot. In North Carolina, we need to hold Council of State and General Assembly candidates’ feet to the fire. The same goes for our delegation to Congress.
On one hand, I am glad that Romney did not pull Paul, Rubio, DeMint or anyone else of that stripe from the Senate. We need those guys where they are. The Senate has been a huge problem for a while. Getting DeMint & co. some more help in 2012 can reverse that.
In the NC governor’s race — as in the presidential race — we are stuck with some less-than-thrilling choices. But — for the sake of the country — we need to use those cards and play for the win in November.