The Truth About Paul Ryan’s Arguments and Budget
The Romney campaign is making a major effort to reach out to the Tea Party, grassroots conservative activists, and Ron Paul’s libertarian supporters. They’ve not only invited Rand Paul to speak at the Tampa convention, they’ve also scheduled a “Tribute to Ron Paul” video to be shown to the delegates. However, these are mere crumbs: the video is not likely to highlight Paul’s more interesting positions, such as his vociferous opposition to the American empire and its endless wars.
No, the real cake, complete with quasi-“libertarian” frosting, is Paul Ryan, whose addition to the ticket opens up the prospect of having Ayn Rand, the late novelist and philosopher of “Objectivism,” become a campaign issue. I can’t wait for someone to accuse the Republicans of endorsing “terrorism” on the grounds that The Fountainhead, Rand’s best-selling 1943 novel, climaxes with the hero blowing up a home for mentally challenged orphans. Oh wait …
That some “libertarians” are ready, willing, and able to swallow this guff, I have no doubt. They claim Ryan “gets the free market.” Well, whoop-de-doo! So does the Chinese Communist party, these days.
However, he doesn’t really “get it” at all, not even to the extent that the heirs of Deng Xiaoping do, because he thinks we can still have an overseas empire and a “limited” government, with low taxes and “free” enterprise. The Chicoms — to use right-wing Republican phraseology — are “isolationists,” i.e. their foreign policy amounts to minding their own business and making as much money as possible. Ryan, on the other hand, is all about maintaining “American leadership” in the world, and the way he tells it, “leadership” is a polite euphemism for domination.
In a speech before the Alexander Hamilton Society — where else? — Ryan gave full-throated expression to what American foreign policy would look like under his watch, and while the vice-presidency is an office with little power, from the tone of the speech the office of the Vice President in a Republican administration would once again become a nest of neocons lobbying for more and bigger wars.
Ryan may be a neocon drone, but he’s no Dan Quayle: he realizes, as he put it in his talk to the Hamiltonians, that “our fiscal policy and our foreign policy are on a collision course; and if we fail to put our budget on a sustainable path, then we are choosing decline as a world power.”
Translation: we can’t have an empire, given our present financial straits. So what’s the solution? To any normal American, who never wanted an empire to begin with, the answer is simple: give up the imperial pretensions to “global leadership,” and tend to our own ill-used and leached-out garden. Ryan, however, is a creature of Washington, and this is unthinkable inside the Beltway: it would be a most grievous blow to the self-esteem of these worthies if they had to exchange the imperial purple for a plain republican cloth coat. Why, no Serious Person would even suggest such a thing! So instead of stating the facts, he makes up some of his own:
“Our fiscal crisis is above all a spending crisis that is being driven by the growth of our major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In 1970, these programs consumed about 20 percent of the budget. Today that number has grown to over 40 percent.
“Over the same period, defense spending has shrunk as a share of the federal budget from about 39 percent to just under 16 percent — even as we conduct an ambitious global war on terrorism. The fact is, defense consumes a smaller share of the national economy today than it did throughout the Cold War.”
This is a flat out fabrication. As David Callahan of Reuters put it:
“Ryan is wrong — and misleading — when he argues that defense spending is shrinking. He says that defense as a percentage of GDP has declined from its ‘Cold War average of 7.5 percent to 4.6 percent today.’ What he doesn’t say is that this share is up from the 1990s. Defense spending ranged between 3 percent and 3.4 percent of GDP from 1996 to 2001, according to budget data from the Office of Management and Budget. Likewise, while Ryan says that such spending as a percentage of all federal outlays is down from 25 percent three decades ago to 20 percent today, he doesn’t mention that defense spending constituted just 16 percent of federal outlays in 1999.”
The infamous Ryan budget wants to raise military spending and declares any cuts off limits because, don’t you know, it’s a “strategic” matter, and not a question of dollars-and-cents. But what is this grand “strategic” vision he wants to throw money at?
Author: Justin Raimondo