Paul Ryan’s Ideology

Matt Miller writes, “The crucial thing to understand about Ryan is that he is not a fiscal conservative. He’s a small-government conservative. These are very different things.”

I don’t think that’s quite right. It’s true that Paul Ryan doesn’t care about the deficit, of course. But a small-government conservative wouldn’t vote for No Child Left Behind, and the USA PATRIOT Act, and the invasion of Iraq, and change the law to preserve the current course of war spending, and warrantless wiretapping, etc.

Kevin Drum looks at the big picture:

Ryan’s budget didn’t spring forth immaculately from the forehead of Zeus. It’s pretty much the same as his 2011 budget. Which in turn is pretty much the same as his 2010 budget. Which in turn is just a nicely formatted version of everything he’s been saying for the past decade.

I’m so tired of Paul Ryan I could scream. Every year we get a slightly different version of the same old thing, and every year we have to waste entire man-years of analysis in order to make the same exact points about it. And the biggest point is that his budget would forceenormous, swinging cuts in virtually every domestic program, especially those for the poor. If this bothers Ryan, he’s had plenty of time to revise his budget roadmap to address it.

But he hasn’t. He knows perfectly well that his budget concentrates its cuts on the poorest Americans. It’s been pointed out hundreds of times, after all. If he found that troublesome he’d change it. Since he hasn’t, the only reasonable conclusion is that this is exactly what he intends. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

Like all other Republicans, Paul Ryan is a Southern Strategy conservative.

He sees the role of the government as rewarding good, wealthy people, and targeting out groups, such as foreigners and the poor. Empirical arguments about tax cuts and economic growth, about the causes of the current deficit and long-term debt, are completely irrelevant to him.

Conservatism in the US is about identity, not about policy. Ryan’s record and proposals show that he doesn’t care about fiscal imbalances or about the size of government. He cares about who it helps and who it targets.

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