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An April Fools' Day Joke? Paul Ryan Proposes a Budget

More of the same from Paul Ryan

A full repeal of the ACA? Check. Cuts in food assistance? Check. Medicaid cuts? Check again. All these cuts add up in Ryan's mind to economic growth and a balanced budget. It boggles the mind. 

I think I've plumbed the depths of the impoverished libertarian vision; what I find baffling about Ryan's proposal is its purported moral (and even religious) message. It seems like nothing more than a mobilization of the Calvinist distinction between the damned and the Elect. And what a wonderful world in which to be one of the latter. Has conservative Catholicism crossed over to the side of radical puritanism?  

About the Author

Robert Geroux is a political theorist.



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Wha ....? I thought Ryan was going to try to play nicer after he and Patty Murray (D-Wash) passed that mini-budget deal in January. Guess the honeymoon's over.

Here's what I don't get: There is a whole lot of waste in government. For example, the USDA and FDA duplicate some meat and poultry inspection efforts (and some bad stuff gets through the cracks anyway). So why doesn't Ryan form a latter day Truman Commission to find and eradicate these excesses before he starts hacking holes in the safety net? Streamlining government oversight agencies and procedures could save real money and contribute to deficit reduction.

Cutting needy people off government programs doesn't save anything; it just shifts the cost of caring for these people to local communities, churches, and hospitals, entities which may not be able to bear the cost. You cut everybody off Medicaid and food assistance in Detroit, for example, and how is the city going to deal with that?

April Fool's joke, maybe?

The real joke is that the media treats Paul Ryan's Ayn-Rand-Dream-of-Life as if it anything more than delusional thinking.

The only appropriate response to this kind of narcissism is to ignore Ryan.  Trust me, it'll make him crazier and crazier, and therefore increasingly less electable.

I have noted this Calvinistic strain running through libertarians that divides the world into makers and takers, deserving and the undeserving, and the producers and moochers. It magically removes any obligation that they have to respond to the needs of their brothers and sister. In fact, it creates an obligation not to help them for that would interfere with the judgement of Mammon.

Has conservative Catholicism crossed over to the side of radical puritanism?

Paul:  do remove your tongue from both cheeks before you hurt yourself.

Jean:  The latter-day Truman Commission you propose might be a good idea.  The question is who'd be on the commission, because if Ryan himself had the freedom to choose, he'd select a panel which would merely rubber-stamp his preconceived notions.

Also, no member of Congress ever agrees to kill a project that benefits his or her own district, no matter how economically sensible it is in the big picture.  They'd need a layer of deniability like the military base-closing commission.

Yes, different times, Angela. I like to think some bipartisan commission like the one Truman formed could exist today, willing to go visit governmental operations on the ground, make observations, ask hard questions, and give 'em hell. But it takes energy, will, intelligence, and a deep sense of responsibility for stewardship of the public's money. Do we have four or five people in Congress with those attributes willing to work across party lines?

I wonder how much Ryan pays Robert Sirico to write this nonsense for him?

Ryan professes to admire Hayek's Road to Serfdom which he read as an undergraduate. He should re-read it since he has forgotten Hayek's endorsement of a universal health plan -- on the grounds that none of us can predict and prepare for health emergencies.

Next time I hear someone talk about "takers" and "personal responsibility," I'll ask them to envision this scenario:  You start a new job and pay for health insurance through payroll deductions.  And you buy your first car, which you also dutifully insure.  

A month later you're in a traffic accident which totals your car and lands you in the hospital. Of course, you do have health insurance and auto insurance--but you've paid premiums for both for only one month, so what you've paid is a mere fraction of the benefits your insurance companies are obligated to pay on your behalf.  Doesn't that make you a moocher?

Our cavemen ancestors didn't have insurance as we know it.  But they banded together for their collective good (which is what insurance is) when they realized that a dozen men with spears could bring down a woolly mammoth more easily than one man could alone; and that a woman could more easily give birth and tend for a baby with the aid of other women than by herself.  When Pope Francis visits the United States, I hope he meets Paul Ryan and reminds him that one cannot be both a Catholic and a follower of Ayn Rand.

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