Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. As a libertarian, I am quite disappointed in this choice, but mostly for very different reasons than most others would cite.
Paul Ryan, unfortunately, is a fake. I don’t agree with him on foreign policy or civil liberties, but I won’t even discuss that any further in this post. For now, I will just focus on his rhetoric and his prior stances on fiscal policy.
Ryan is thought of as a big fiscal conservative, or at least he is portrayed that way in the media and by other politicians. He is hailed by conservatives for his fiscal toughness. He is criticized just as much by the Democrats and those on the left. They will accuse him of all of these bad things because he supposedly doesn’t support their big government policies.
But, like most other politicians, you can’t just listen to the things they say. If they have a record, you have to actually look at it. Ryan supported most of the big government policies during the Bush era. In other words, he is really only a fiscal conservative when a Democrat is president, but even this is arguable.
Ryan supported the Medicare prescription drug bill that was pushed by Bush. You could call it Bushcare. It grew the unfunded liabilities by trillions of dollars. If any Democrat passed anything like this, Republicans would be screaming “socialism” at the top of their lungs, just as they have done with Obamacare.
Ryan also voted for TARP, which was the massive bailout of banks and financial institutions in 2008. Ryan also supported the bailout of GM and Chrysler.
Ryan also voted for “No Child Left Behind”, for Head Start, for Section 8 Housing, and for an extension of unemployment benefits. These are just a few of the major highlights. And again, I am only talking about fiscal issues. I am not talking about war and civil liberties, which are also fiscal issues, but are in a different category than regular welfare spending.
I’m sure I will have more to say on Ryan’s record in the future, but I think it is obvious for anyone who actually looks at his record to realize that Ryan is no fiscal conservative.
Even Ryan’s “Roadmap for America” is not anything close to resembling libertarianism or fiscal conservatism. It does not cut spending. It does not cut the debt. It only reduces the rate at which the debt would grow, and even this is based on some questionable assumptions.
But here is the really bad thing about Paul Ryan. He is widely considered as a fiscal conservative and a friend of the Tea Party. In other words, he is giving a bad name to fiscal conservatism and capitalism in general.
Paul Ryan could end up being like another Reagan (from a bad standpoint). The Democrats will make their ridiculous accusations that children will starve and old people will be forced to give up their medications and eat dog food. They will accuse Ryan (and Romney) of cutting government to the bone. Meanwhile, no such thing will be happening. Government will continue to grow. Then the Democrats will blame a bad economy on them, but not because of the growth of big government. They will say that capitalism has failed. They will say that cutting government spending doesn’t work. They will say that fiscal conservatism is bad for the little guy.
If we are going to have big government, I at least want it recognized as such. I want the big government policies to take the blame for a bad economy, as they rightly should. I don’t want smaller government blamed for a bad economy when nothing resembling small government has been tried.
This is actually another reason to think that Obama may actually be the lesser of the two evils. If we are going to have big government, at least let big government get the blame when things go bad.