Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Other than the fact that someone appears to have stolen all his ties and he doesn’t own a sharp razor, America doesn’t seem to know a lot about him.
But it if you look at his policies, you’re not going to like him.
He’s against abortion even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
He wants to cut taxes on the rich and corporations, while gouging programs like food stamps that help the poor.
Ryan is hailed by fellow Republicans as a kind of economic whiz kid. But he’s actually a fool. He blames FDR for making the Depression worse, when, in fact, FDR reduced unemployment from 25 percent to 10 percent. And he voted against Obama’s stimulus program and said, over the weekend, that it didn’t do any good, when, in fact, even John McCain’s former economist, Mark Zandi, has acknowledged that the stimulus program (insufficient as it was) created 2.7 million jobs.
And, as Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out, Ryan believes in voodoo economics—the theory that if you just cut the taxes on the rich and corporations, the economy will somehow take off all on its own.
Ryan has called Social Security and Medicare part of a “collectivist system” and is intent on destroying them.
He insists that Americans will have to work beyond the age of 65, and he wants us to invest some of our retirement savings on Wall Street. He also wants to replace Medicare with a voucher system for the private insurance companies. This would end up costing seniors more than $6,000 a year!
Still, he’s a better snake oil salesman than Romney, a better peddler of the myths of unbridled capitalism.
Not that these ideas have helped his constituents in his Wisconsin district, who lost between 30 and 54 percent of their manufacturing jobs while he’s been in office voting for free trade agreements, as Roger Bybee has reported for The Progressive (“The Truth About Paul Ryan”).
When Romney chose the Janesville Republican, Ryan might as well have said that he can see China from his back porch because that’s where plenty of those jobs have gone.
But don’t underestimate Ryan. He’s got the personal skills that Romney lacks, and he does retail politics very well.
Unless Obama hammers home the pitfalls of the Ryan approach, Ryan will be a winner for the rightwing, and a winner for Wall Street, whether he helps Romney get to the White House or not.
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter