interview with National Review Online’s Robert Costa
, Rep. Paul Ryan denies
that he is, as Paul Krugman claimed
in the New York Times
, “an Ayn Rand devotee,” calling such descriptions of
his political philosophy “an urban legend”:
“I, like millions
of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed
them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School
and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at
Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is
therefore an Objectivist.”
“I reject her
philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human
interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If
somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then
give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit
of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
Ryan also mentions
Pope Benedict XVI’s statements on global economics in defending his proposed
Ryan cites Light of the World, a
book-length interview of Pope Benedict XVI, as an example of how the Catholic
Church takes the global debt problem seriously. “We are living at the expense
of future generations,” the pope says. “In this respect, it is plain that we
are living in untruth.” Ryan takes those words seriously. “The pope was really
clear,” he says.
Today Ryan delivered a
high-profile lecture at Georgetown Universityafter being criticized by
more than 90 members of the university’s faculty for his “continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget
plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens
protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the
The letter from the Georgetown faculty also links the
Ryan budget with Randian thought, stating “In short, your budget appears to
reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward
religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”
At the National Catholic Register, Ryan gives a
detailed defense of his budget, particularly against charges that it is
contrary to Catholic social teaching:
Our budget ends
welfare for those who don’t need it, but strengthens welfare programs for those
who do. Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking
point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most. When
solidarity and subsidiarity are in balance, civil society is revitalized, not
displaced. We rightly pride ourselves on looking out for one another and
government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant
government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.
Our budget averts
the looming debt-fueled economic crisis, which would hurt the poor the first
and the worst. It lifts the debt and frees the nation from the constraints of
ever-expanding government. And it promotes economic growth and opportunity,
with bold reforms to make the tax code fair and equitable and a credible,
principled plan to prevent a debt crisis from ever happening.
Our budget has
been criticized for giving tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
It does no such thing. Instead of taking more and more from the paychecks of
working Americans, the House budget proposes a comprehensive reform of the tax
code to make it fair, simple and competitive. We would lower rates for everyone
across the board. But revenue would still rise every year under our budget
because our economy grows and because our budget proposes to eliminate
special-interest loopholes that go primarily to the influential and well-off.
Washington should not micromanage people’s decisions through the tax code.
Basic economics and basic morality both tell us that people have a right to
keep and decide how to spend their hard-earned dollars.