Paul Ryan, like so many of us, sees others' faults and ambiguities very clearly, but not his own. He is critical of President Obama for being "intellectually lazy." And then sidesteps his own intellectual dishonesty.
Ryan comes from Janesville, Wisconsin, where federal government spending programs saved the city. Ryan Lizza has been to Janesville, has tracked Paul Ryan's career, has spoken with Ryan's supporters. One of these supporters, John Beckord, explains to Lizza how Janesville became so prosperous.
There was one more success story that Beckord wanted to share. A few years ago, he had a melanoma that was treated with a radioactive isotope; this isotope is administered to fifty-five thousand patients a day but has a half-life of sixty-six hours after manufacture, so it must be delivered quickly. The isotope, known as a medical tracer, is made outside the United States by a complicated process requiring highly enriched uranium from nuclear reactors. The government offered twenty-five-million-dollar matching grants to companies that could devise a way to produce the material domestically, without using enriched uranium. “Two of the four companies that won that competition, incredibly, are going to build plants in our county, and one of them is going to be in Janesville,” Beckord said. In May, the federal government announced that it would contribute more than ten million dollars to the new facility, which could employ some hundred and fifty people. ...Ryan Lizza, New Yorker
As so often happens, Republicans embrace the theory but deny the facts. Very much like one of Ryan's admirers -- Mitt Romney -- Paul Ryan has a very narrow, very blindered view of the country (and the town) that gave him so much.
The current Presidential campaign centers on the debate about the government’s role in the economy. Ryan, by forcing Republicans to embrace his budget plan, has helped shape this debate. Obama, on July 13th, told a crowd in Virginia, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He added, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
To Ryan, Obama’s words were anathema. In a conversation three days later with James Pethokoukis, a conservative blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, he had harsh criticisms for the President. “His comments seem to derive from a naïve vision,” Ryan said, that is based on “an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government, not the people.” Obama’s “big-government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth,” he said, and amount to “a statist attack on free communities.”
When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been misunderstood. “Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature,” he said. “As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy.” He added, “Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.” But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan, in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville. ...Ryan Lizza, New Yorker
I'd put it more harshly than Lizza does. I'd say that Ryan, like so many of his fellow Republicans, sees government as good only when it's good for them... exclusively. Somehow (look at Ryan's privileged upbringing in Janesville) they believe that they are more deserving -- and that attitude is what many Americans see in every Republican campaign this year. Paul Ryan (and, god knows, Mitt Romney) are sons of privilege turned standard-bearers for notion that government should be the handmaiden of the privileged.