One of the big questions since Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as is running mate is whether it would bring in small government conservatives and libertarians on the Romney bandwagon. Ryan is well-liked by people due to his “Roadmap For America’s Future” and his 2009 verbal destruction of Obamacare to the President’s face.
There are still a few questions regarding Ryan’s voting record in the House. He supported TARP, the auto bailout and the taxes on AIG bonuses. He also supported the NDAA and the PATRIOT Act. These are things conservatives and libertarians don’t support because they expand government power and ended up supporting crony capitalism.
Ryan’s defense of the some of these votes are very interesting. In a 2010 interview with The Daily Caller, Ryan points out voted against the original auto bailout because he didn’t want them to get the money. His reasoning for eventually voting for the bailout was because it was limited money at $17.4 billion. As Ryan put it, he was concerned it would become a “slush fund” with no limit if it were connected to TARP. It’s a strange reason, considering that Ryan eventually voted for TARP, however he deserves a bit a credit for his original no vote.
The vote Ryan probably regrets the most, is the one to put a tax on the AIG bonuses. It’s a key example of politicians reacting to a situation, instead of responding to it. Ryan himself admits he was angry and made a “snap judgement” on the bill. He makes a good point at saying TARP was becoming a new avenue of crony capitalism. This has been pointed out several times in Peter Schweizer’s book, “Throw Them All Out,” which everyone should read. It’s nice Ryan says he made a mistake, even if hindsight is 20/20.
The decision to vote for TARP is one of the most interesting, and logical, defenses out there. Ryan says it was to keep an even bigger government agenda from sweeping the nation, as well as, preventing a Depression. His key worry was to keep from happening, “a complete evisceration of the free market system we have…” This argument is actually something not many politicians have used.
In fact, it sounds a bit like the justification behind the Louisiana Purchase.
According to Harlow Unger’s book on President James Monroe called “The Last Founding Father,” President Thomas Jefferson wanted Monroe to tell the Spanish and French what American traders believe about New Orleans and Louisiana. As Jefferson said, “They have a natural…right to trade freely through the Mississippi,” and authorized $9 million to buy New Orleans. Congress authorized only $2 million. Monroe ended up paying $15 million.
Jefferson wasn’t sure whether to approve the purchase because he believed it violated the Constitution. As Unger writes, he apparently had problems the Constitution, “did not grant the government authority to acquire foreign territory…” Jefferson decided to approve the measure because Napoleon was going to back out of the sale.
Ryan’s defense of the TARP bill sounds a bit Jefferson’s defense of the Louisiana Purchase. Both sacrificed their constitutional beliefs to make sure something worse didn’t happen. In Jefferson’s case it was losing out on Louisiana and New Orleans and possibly never getting a shot at it again. In Ryan’s case, it sounds he was worried about another New Deal coming which would have increased the government even more.
Someone should ask Ryan about his votes for the PATRIOT Act and the NDAA. This type of information is important and we need to hear why Ryan did what he did.
To steal a line from Dan McLaughlin, Paul Ryan is a good pick for Mitt Romney because, while he’s not a complete Tea Party pick, he does hold more Tea Party values than Chris Christie. He’s also got a defined budget which isn’t perfect, but better than what the Democrats have. Which is nothing.