Today is

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crony Capital Pouring Into Ryan's Campaign

Last week, Congressman Paul Ryan slapped together another one of his ideologically driven rants, this time sharing his narrow view of "crony capitalism" and its effects on the so-called free markets. As usual, when the public-payrolled Ryan has a message for his monied base, his medium of choice is either the Wall Street Journal or Forbes. This time, Ryan chose Forbes for his awkwardly titled essay Down With Big Business, a title that would normally raise the hairs on the backs of most of his tax sheltered campaign donors. Like most of Ryan's policy novels, he takes overwhelmingly logical and moral left-wing talking points and justifies them and resolves them with either Randian individualism, a tax cut or a wildly deregulated free market. In this sense, Ryan takes "truth to power" and turns it on its head.

Even the folks at one of his hometown media lapdogs, the unsolicited chamber of commerce newsletter otherwise known as the Janesville Messenger, must have buckled over with intestinal gas blockage when they read the caption "Down with Big Business" in the same breath with the name of their savior. Paul Ryan's down with big business? No way! They re-published it but not until it was re-titled to a more palatable "The Scourge of Crony Capitalism" in their Sunday edition. No doubt, since Ryan blames government policies for attempting to stifle the free market's natural tendency to defeat the competition at any costs, (buy-outs, undercutting competitors and corruption are all merely free market tools), his backhanded attack on Big Business then becomes understandable and forgivable among his supporters.

Ryan also has a knack for out-of-congressional-body narratives when he reflects on the consequences of his own legislative dysfunction. "Congress and government are the problem" is his usual defense. It's not his fault he never has anything to do with it. When Ryan gets even a small whiff of the political compromises necessary to accomplish the people's work, he quickly slaps together a rigidly obtuse and off-topic thesis meant to not only defend his incumbency, but to offer himself an escape hatch from making the tough choices. See, it's always their fault for not embracing his ideals. Paul Ryan is different, he's not like the rest of the crony congress is the message. But back away from his self-serving hyperbolic views and there can be only one obvious and reasonable conclusion: he simply does not work well with others.

In "Down with Big Business," Ryan rambles through a timeline of government free market reforms beginning with the Carter Administration and up and through the 90's, but he conveniently leaves out his own tenure in congress. He finally proclaims that government must get away from pro-business policies and instead adopt a pro-market approach. It's the capital trickling down from Big Business onto their pro-business cronies in Washington that's the problem. He's right on that account. Buying into Congress is one of the world’s best investment values. Despite all of his self-serving prosody, unless Ryan can prove his is the only campaign chest filled with "free market" dollars, he is a willing and eager participant in the pro-business crony capitalist system. Again, it's that out-of-congressional-body experience.

Ryan, much like most of Congress, has collected millions in campaign donations from some the biggest players in American business. So what's the problem with that you say? After all, others in congress do the same. True, but Ryan is one among only a few who repeatedly postures to separate himself from the rest of the crony politicians, even from his own "we lost our way" conservative party. Again and again. He's not one of them either.

For good or bad, while the rest in Congress are grappling with the biggest problems of the day under some of the worst fiscal and economic conditions we've seen in decades, it is Ryan who isolates himself and by extension his district. In the meantime, he is collecting Big Business donations while chattering meaningless pro-market rhetoric on stages and forums outside his district. That doesn't help our current local situation or create jobs. Ryan might win points and capital from his silver-spooned base for this hardline partisanship, rigid ideology, obstruction and presentational stagecraft, but he is also an extremely weak team player. Much like Sarah Palin.

As it stands, "Down with Big Business" is nothing more than another campaign ad by Ryan to extricate himself out from the TARP's downside at the same time jumping on the coattails of left-wing "corporate/government corruption" populism. A pontificating exclamation at a time when Ryan's hometown constituents continue to lose their jobs, drop their unaffordable health insurance and face bankrupt certainty. When it comes to his district, he's got other priorities... himself.

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