James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Paul Ryan and the future of the GOP

December 14, 2009

This  commentary from  GOP thought leader Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin really sets the intellectual and political framework for where the GOP might be headed.  He goes after Crony Capitalism, the melding of Big Money, Big  Business and Big Goverment. This is what’s next. Here are some important bits:

1)  Since bringing us back from the precipice however, the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP] has morphed into crony capitalism at its worst. … No longer concerned with preserving overall financial market stability, Treasury’s walking around money continues to be deployed to reward the market’s Goliaths while letting its Davids suffer.

2) Washington is working hard to nationalize other sectors of our economy too. The House Finance Committee is pushing a massive financial “reform” bill, effectively creating banking utility companies. The Treasury Department has effectively nationalized the housing finance sector, with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac demonstrating how fast big businesses, through a federally blessed and backed oligopoly, can fall. Now, on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, health care and energy lobbyists continue to fall over themselves to cut their deals–knowing that if they aren’t at the table, they’ll be on the menu.

3) Big businesses’ frenzied political dealings are not driven by party or ideology, but rather by zero-sum thinking in which their gain must come from a competitor’s loss. Erecting barriers to competition is a key to maintaining advantage and market share. With Washington leading the way, it makes sense for the big boys to redirect their resources to their lobbying shop and government affairs office. They’re far less interested in expanding the economic pie than with making certain that they get their slice.

4) For every encroachment into the market by the federal government–under the guise of “reform”–there exist pro-market alternatives that Republicans must articulate and passionately defend. University of Chicago’s Luigi Zingales, who has written extensively on the issue of crony capitalism, reminds policymakers that the path forward requires “adopting a pro-market, rather than pro-business, approach.”

Comments

Ryan seems like a very solid citizen, very bright, engaging, good political demographics (Midwest, Catholic, etc.) He’d be open to criticism for having no executive experience, however (not that certain current office holders have been held to that criterion.)

Posted by nonono | Report as abusive
 

I’ve never heard of this guy but he seems to be making the right noises. Whether or not the GOP can take his writings and transform them into a coherent political platform in time for 2012 is debatable. Ronald Reagan had a complete political philosophy and was ready to act upon it in 1980. It didn’t hurt that his opponent was a hapless and deeply unpopular president. Obama, for all his faults – and they are numerous AND increasing – will be a formidable opponent in 2012 should the economy continue to improve to the extent it has recently. GOP’s best hope is to take out some Democrats in 2010 and split Congress, derailing Obama’s more radical agenda. In the meantime, develop a political philosophy and stick to it! Mr. Reagan could do it and he was a winner. It can happen again.

Posted by gotthardbahn | Report as abusive
 

I am from Wisconsin and very close to Paul Ryan’s district.
My opinion is that Rep Ryan is a very good man; never a hint of professional
or personal misconduct. He comes from a highly respected local family. He is perhaps the best informed member of Congress on financial affairs. He has always been a deficit hawk although his voice opposing deficits was muted during the Bush years. To my knowledge he never opposed financing the Iraq war off budget. He used to talk about putting Social Security money into a lockbox; no mention of this in recent years. He is an excellent “national congressman”. In the Wisconsin tradition he not so good about “bringing the federal bacon back to his district”. Despite a few concerns I will continue to support him.

Posted by drdj | Report as abusive
 

Ryan is very solid and is very smart. Always a joy to hear from him.

Posted by clark redick | Report as abusive
 

So Democrats giving the big boys walking around money to get through some bad times is bad, but Republicans setting up barriers to competing with the big boys is good. Democrats setting up some rules to control bad behavior by the big boys is bad, but Republicans tearing them down so the big boys don’t have to do anything productive except pad their pockets at others’ expense is good.

This is an economic plan? Seems Ryan forgot the other 319 millions people here. It will be fun to watch the lies the GOP has to spin up to make this sound like anything more than fly attractant.

 

“This commentary from GOP thought leader Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin really sets the intellectual and political framework for where the GOP might be headed.”

If so then the GOP is headed for utter hypocrisy. This is the same Paul Ryan who helped add $15.5 trillion to future federal government obligations by voting for Medicare part D (no dedicated source of funding). He talks a good game but check his voting record (I could go on and on). Actions speak louder than words.

Posted by Mark A. Sadowski | Report as abusive
 

The point is to have an efficient and productive economy. Perpetuation of unproductive or stagnant but politically connected large companies will not do it. Development of large scale nationalized state controlled enterprises like Fannie Mae or some national healthcare boondoggle will not do it. Far better that businesses have to compete intensely with each other and with international competitors on the basis of products and performance rather than on the basis of Congressional pull. The Republican party needs to divorce itself from established corporate or state power players and make itself the party of competitive free enterprise, small frugal and limited government, low taxes and regulation, strong national defense directed to America’s interests not as world policeman, and an open society governed by freedom of conscience and religion. American under Obama is entering into an era of corrupt government entwined business like that depicted in Atlas Shrugged. Let the Democrats do their thing as the party of crony capitalism, nationalized and shackled enterprise, high taxes and regulation, weak national defense controlled by global opinion and the celebration of the state over individual conscience and religion.

Posted by student1776 | Report as abusive
 

Sadowski is right, Ryan at his core, as can be told from his voting record during the Bush years, is a statist, big government man. Votes for Medicare Part D and the bailouts in 2008 made it clear as if it weren’t already. He is dangerous because of the attention he receives as a beacon for the GOP. There is hardly a constitutional bone in his body.

Posted by Wisconstitutionalist | Report as abusive
 

Ryan is just another big-government elephant.

I want someone who really knows how to reduce government to its limited constitutional role. Target #1 is eliminating fiat money and the printing presses of the Federal Reserve. We have a template in Hepburn v. Griswold and ultimately in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by Austrian School | Report as abusive
 

From what I can tell Ryan has a bright future. He is not perfect from a small government conservative’s viewpoint but he’s smart as hell, young, and moving in the right direction in that regard. He is also strong on making and explaining complex economic policy- maybe the best there is. He has a bright future if he can assure people that he won’t be supporting any crazy, larded up, unpaid-for, government expanding bills into the future.

Posted by mxt | Report as abusive
 

I agree with several of the posts here. Ryan talks a good game now but did nothing to stopand was complicit in the treasonous crimes of the Bush regime! He is NOT to be trusted!

 

Guys, guys, guys……..we have to start somewhere. Who in congress is without some faults? If we keep applying a “faultless” litmus test to everyone we’ll be left with no one. Ryan at the very least on the right track here. I agree with the above stated opinion that if the GOP moves in a real,rational, populist direction, that we can recapture both houses of congress by 2012. That will make Obama irrelevant even if he is re-elected. The people are still yearning for national leadership and Obama is proving to be nothing but a stuffed suit with a teleprompter. I can see Ryan taking him out in 2012. Maybe John Thune as well. He’s real solid.

 

Ryan is far too well informed and intelligent for the star struck followers of Caribou Barbie. It’s a shame that our political leadership is soon to be determined using the same qualifications as it takes to win American Idol. Leadership ability, record of success as a legislator, and knowledge of the nations problems and the solutions to them are mere distractions. Photogenics, ability to read a prepared speech (likely written by others) and “coolness” are fine for local television anchors but practically irrelevant when leading the nation.

Posted by festusbanjo | Report as abusive
 

I don’t know, American Idol, for all its faults, has produced some real talent. And it surely be an improvement on current American political leadership pwhich seems straight out of competition on “Big Brother”.

Posted by moderateGuy | Report as abusive
 

You lefties kill me with the “treasonous crimes” BS. Your whole world is one big bumper sticker. If you guys only had one fact straight it would be amazing. One day maybe your stupid rhetoric will match reality. If you weren’t so stupid it would be funny. Instead you’re just dangerous because some of you actually vote.

 

I have had an eye on Paul Ryan since last election. He seems to be the brightest mind on our economic issues today, challenging old assumptions and creating new and innovative solutions that break the mold of left and right thinking. A Jack Kemp disciple, and it shines through brilliantly. He’s not about Republicanism or Conservativism, but about America and all that is good about it. This guy can lead the nation back to its greatness, I am confident. He seems hesitant to want to jump into the presidential fray, but maybe he’s just being coy. I hope so. I’m from New Jersey and he has my support.

Posted by Ryan for President | Report as abusive
 

Rep. Ryan has been on the front lines defending free-market principles. We need more MOCs like him.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive
 

Big Labor + Big Business under an insecure man pushing for Big Government built on progressive ideals in the past has created fascist governments in Germany and Italy. Let’s call a spade a spade and wake up the reality that fascism is on the march in our nation. Read Liberal Fascism before you reply and educate yourself about what fascism is- I’m not ‘spewing hate’, I’m pointing out that the policies of our current administration and the rhetoric coming from Washington smacks of fascism.

 

I can’t support any “populist” candidate, since, by definition, a “populists” sacrificies policy for votes. It is simply lowering ones’ self to the lower common denomionator, rather than educating and elevating the public. Politicians that follow just voters cannot lead – current president is case in point.

Posted by harrassee | Report as abusive
 

Given that every economic prescription that’s been pushed by the Republicans for the last 60 years has been shown to be a disaster, through the systematic dismantling of every economic regulation put in place through the bitter experience of the Great Depression, his current prescriptions are simply dressing a pig in a prom dress. And I don’t see anything they’re pushing now that isn’t a continuation of the very worst Republican President and Congress in history’s policies that got us in this mess.

Remember the old bit of Republican wisdom (one of thousands) – “Deficits don’t matter.” From Reagan, to Bush Sr., to Bush Jr., to Karl Rove and all the rest of the gang at Fox News. And now they want to come back to power because of their acumen regarding economics? Give me a break!!!

Posted by Matthew Bright | Report as abusive
 

I for one think the GOP is on the rebound and will win races where a conservative actually runs. In North Dakota, our moderate/Olympia Snowe Republican John Hoeven has bowed out of the race. Fortunately we have a conservative fellow that has taken the torch to challenge Senator Dorgan. Paul Sorum is a conservative who really makes some sense when it comes to the economy. I know at least five Democrats who have said they will vote for Sorum because they’re very concerned about their small business’. If the GOP runs economic conservatives like Mr. Sorum then I really believe they will win big in 2010.

Posted by Patrick Aaron | Report as abusive
 

Ryan gets it. What other time in our lifetimes will Republicans get the chance to be the party running against big business, especially Goldman, Sachs? Given all the other issues the Dems are handing Republicans, 2010 could be a slaughterhouse if the Republicans handle the big business issue correctly.

Posted by ranfin | Report as abusive
 

Paul Ryan has been an abysmal failure in congress. He has never not voted to increase the public debt. If you don’t believe me go and check out his voting record.

Posted by Mark A. Sadowski | Report as abusive
 

I’m glad to see that finally someone is coming out with an explicit message that being pro-markets does not mean toadying up to big business. The biggest businesses love big government, because they can use it to stay big, get bigger, and keep competitors away.

Posted by Foobarista | Report as abusive
 

Ryan was one of the chief people on the GOP side pushing TARP. If that was not crony capitalism, then what is?

Posted by TE | Report as abusive
 

I too have been watching for a solid conservative fiscal to come to the forefront in this heated political climate. Ryan is as solid as they get. We would never have a viable candidate if we start applying perfect voting one up or down someone’s political scale. We do need a candidate with a clean background and experience. Ryan has both and the man bears watching and support for the office of President.

Posted by Ryan Fan | Report as abusive
 

I do wish Ryan would run for the Senate one day. By gaining national name recognition as a up and coming GOPer in the House he would have an easier time with winning the primary and then the general for a Senate seat. Hell who knows if this country is still around in 15 to 20 years he then would have a great jumping off pt for a presidential run.

Posted by gabe | Report as abusive
 

Paul Ryan is a massive liar. He speaks for things that he consistently votes against. He has always voted against fiscal responsibility. I cannot understand the ignorance of those who speak in favor of his candidacy. They themselves must be the liars.

Posted by Mark A. Sadowski | Report as abusive
 

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to reform the GOP. It’s a fool’s errand. The GOP is the biggest impediment to conservative rule. It is a sham party that exists merely to provide the illusion of choice. The history of the GOP since Franklin Delano Stalin is one of uninterrrupted surrender negotiations. Dump the GOP and we can have a conservative party.

Posted by Rick | Report as abusive
 

Paul Ryan would be my pick for president in 2012.

I don’t know if it’s the best time for him to consider a run.

I do know that he has shown now for several years that he is head and shoulders above any in congress in grasping the big economic picture. I am a regular watcher of the Fed hearings and I have seen him on CNBC several times. If the wolves don’t get him he has a tremendous future. I just hope he doesn’t have to sell his soul.

Posted by J | Report as abusive
 

As some have mentioned, Ryan does not have a perfect voting record. He supported Medicare Part D due to inclusion of HSAs, something that he has always championed (he still regrets the vote).

However, he is extremely intelligent and personally friendly, and has a great staff with great ideas. If the GOP puts Ryan out front, the future could be bright.

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive
 

If Ryan ever regretted the vote on Medicare Part D, he must have a short memory. The difference between he and the Democrats in root philosophy in health care is zero. That is why they both put forth Health Care bills. Why? They both believe in the unconstitutional interference in health care by the government using taxes, tax credits to one group so that another benefits. Sounds like a statist to me. Does Ryan’s bill have surface differences. Sure it does. But once you allow an unconstitutional interference, it will end up growing ever larger.

To those who think that the GOP must start somewhere. How about with constitutional laws? If both parties, including Ryan, continually ignore the Constitution, in time human nature leads you to the same place. That we “must start somewhere” and “not be too picky about voting records” has been a hallmark call for the GOP for decades. Where did it get the country? What percent of of GOP in Senate and House voted for Medicare Act of 1965? Two shy of 50%. That is dangerously close to a majority. And over 40 years ago. On a bill often decried by GOP apologists as one-sided vote. When again did the GOP lose its small constitutional government compass? A Republican, incidently from Wisconsin, even helped write the Medicare 1965 bill.

from an AMA article on it see below excerpt: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/ mm/369/medicare.pdf

The Byrnes Bill
In contrast to the largely Democrat-backed King-Anderson bill, Republicans in Congress lent their general support to the Byrnes bill. “The bill was submitted by Congressman Thomas W. Byrnes of Wisconsin. Like Eldercare, it called for coverage of hospital and physician services for the aged through the purchase of private insurance. Administration, however, was to be federal. Financing was to come two-thirds from general revenues and one third from deductions on the individual pension checks of those who voluntarily chose to
participate in the program.” (Campion 274)

Posted by Wisconstitutionalist | Report as abusive
 

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