Paul Ryan In College: A Social Injustice Warrior With A Nasty Mentor

Are we really surprised by this?

Paul Ryan says he fantasized about cutting health care for the poor at his college keggers

... In a conversation with the National Review’s Rich Lowry on Friday, Ryan bragged about how conservatives now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take health coverage away from the most vulnerable Americans.

“So Medicaid,” Ryan told Lowry, “sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg. . . . I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time. We’re on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.”

Atrios is right:

If you were a Young Conservative back in the day (or today), of course you talked about cutting federal Medicaid support and sending it all to the states over beers. It's what the Republican party, the National Review, and 50% of the PBS Newshour told you was important.

This has been the Republican agenda forever. Of course Republican frat boys, thinking they were smart, would get drunk and talk about it.

And Ryan surely thought he was smart, or at least serious. Wikipedia tells us:

Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. He often visited the office of libertarian professor Richard Hart to discuss the theories of these economists and of Ayn Rand. Hart introduced Ryan to National Review....

A 2012 AP story notes that Ryan greatly valued those chats with Professor Hart:

As a college junior at Miami of Ohio, Ryan studied macroeconomic theory under Professor Richard Hart, a libertarian. Hart says they spent hours discussing the virtues of small government, individual responsibility and free-market capitalism.

In that 2009 commencement speech, Ryan credited Hart for creating "a vision quest in my mind to improve the economy of our nation."


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Just before the 2012 election, Bill Keller of The New York Times interviewed Professor Hart. As the kids say sarcastically, he seems nice.

The macroeconomics professor who helped shape Paul Ryan is a voluble, passionate supply-sider and self-described “hard-core libertarian” named William R. Hart, known as Rich. Listening to him, you can imagine that you are hearing what Paul Ryan would say if he were not inhibited by the demands of electoral politics. Hart is the opposite of politic....

Rich Hart does not speak for Paul Ryan, but he spent many hours talking to Ryan, his eager student, and regards the candidate as a good friend and kindred spirit. What they share is an enduring and astringent kind of Republicanism that rests on a reverence for self-reliance, a conviction that government assistance leads to crippling dependency.

Hart sees the election not as a difference of approaches but a clash of philosophies. “Do we want to become a sort of European socialist welfare state?” he asked when we chatted in his office, decorated with Elvis and Nascar memorabilia, with Paul Krugman’s economics textbook demoted to a doorstop. “Or do we want to be a free-market capitalist economy where people who are productive get rewarded for working hard and creating wealth? What happens with these European welfare states is, everybody’s equally poor. I much prefer a little income inequality.”

Yup, Hart -- who got his B.A. in 1969 and thus would have been in his mid-sixties in 2012 -- used a Paul Krugman book as a doorstop. How mature of him. Oh, and he thinks everybody in Europe is "equally poor," which would be news to a lot of very comfortable Europeans.

More from Keller:

Hart’s policy expectations for a Romney/Ryan regime are familiar from the campaign. They include rolling back environmental regulations that slow development of natural gas and coal. (“Not green energy,” he said with disgust. “Fossil fuel energy.”) They include entrusting health care for the poor, and as much else as possible, to the mercies of the states; requiring that Medicare compete in a voucher market; cutting marginal tax rates, of course. What is striking, talking to Ryan’s mentor, is not the policies but the fervor and the deep suspicion of the other side’s motives.

“My liberal friends say, well, Paul Ryan doesn’t care about the poor,” Hart said. “I would argue it’s the Democrats who don’t care about the poor. They’re the ones that make them wards of the state. And just write them welfare checks.”

This enslavement, as Hart sees it, is not well-intentioned nannying gone wrong, but cynical self-interest by liberal groups: “My view of the N.A.A.C.P. is, you can’t represent a group of downtrodden if you don’t have a permanent group of downtrodden to represent.”

And Professor Hart -- true intellectual that he is -- responded to a question about Mitt Romney's 47% remark with, ultimately, the same talking point you'd get from a Fox News pundit:

“I don’t know how I would have handled the 47 percent comment, if only because I would never have said such a thing,” Hart told me. “Although I understand the context of the remark given the dependency state that government policies have created for so many. Instead, I would have stressed from the outset the need for policies to end long-term dependency by so many on government handouts, policies that wean them off the taxpayer dole and make them productive elements of society — make them givers rather than takers.”

That's Paul Ryan's college mentor. That's the man who sent him on "a vision quest" back in his college days. So, yes, I assume beer really did make Ryan ruminate about being Scrooge when he grew up.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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