Paul Ryan will take his star turn Tuesday night, presenting the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
While there has been some uncertainty about what Obama might say, there is no mystery about what the Wisconsin Republican’s response will be.
Ryan will say whatever Wall Street tells him to say.
Ryan’s got a reputation as a Republican “big ideas” guy. And, in fairness, he’s far more familiar with conservative economic theories than GOP talking heads like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But Ryan’s “big ideas” never deviate from the demands of his patrons in the executives suites of the biggest banks and the biggest multinational corporations.
The new chairman of the House Budget Committee has emerged as the GOP’s point man on “fiscal responsibility” issues. Yet he played such a key role in passing the Wall Street bailout of 2008 that he earned a feature spot in filmmaker Michael Moore’s expose of the bailout: Capitalism: A Love Story. Ryan rallied Republican votes for the measure when sincere conservatives wanted to vote “no” to the $800 billion giveaway.
There was nothing fiscally responsible—let alone necessary—about the bailout. Indeed, it was such a bad deal that it spawned a popular revolt that gave rise to the Tea Party movement.
Now Ryan positions himself as the champion of the Tea Party’s call for debt relief. But that’s not where Ryan is really coming from.
In fact, nonpartisan analysts say his form of “fiscal responsibility” would actually expand debts and deficits. Why? Because Ryan is not nearly so determined to address spending as he is to advocate for bailouts, privatizations and policy shifts that steer US tax dollars into the vaults of big banks, the accounts of speculators and the bonuses of CEOs.
Technically, Ryan represents Janesville, Wisconsin, a blue-collar town that voted for Barack Obama for president in 2008. But Ryan’s real designation ought to be: Paul Ryan, R–Wall Street.
Janesville used to be a major manufacturing center. But it has fallen on hard times. Like so many manufacturing communities in the Great Lakes region, it has been rocked by the outsourcing of US jobs. That’s not Ryan’s concern, however. Since his election to the House in 1998, Ryan has consistently voted for free-trade pacts—including the extension of most-favored-nation trading status to China—that have been absolutely devastating to the community and others in his southeastern Wisconsin district.