Note this excerpt from an NYT editorial this AM on the impact of Ryan’s budget on vulnerable families:
More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan…come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.
Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”
Mr. Ryan responded that he was helping the poor by eliminating their dependence on the government. And yet he has failed to explain how he would make them self-sufficient…
What struck me was the Times’ complaint that the new VP candidate “failed to explain how he would make them self-sufficient.” Such a complaint reveals an important misunderstanding of the agenda that Rep Ryan, the Tea Party, and now the Romney ticket are embracing. It’s there in the numbers and it’s there in the rhetoric.
The point is that they wouldn’t do anything to make anyone more self-sufficient. That’s up to the individual. The heart of their theory of what’s hurting America is that government is trying to do things that people should do for themselves. That extends to health care, regulation, jobs programs, college aid, even retirement security.
There’s hypocrisy and confusion here for sure. A majority of Tea Partiers strongly support Medicare, for example, and as I wrote about here, Ryan’s WI district has benefitted from lots of government help. And then there’s all those tax breaks for wealthy people, oil companies, multinational corporations, and so on.
But to understand the rhetoric, the policy positions, the thrust of the R’s campaign, it doesn’t make sense to ask them, “OK, I see the cuts in spending and taxes that rob the government of the oxygen it needs to function, but what are you going to do about X?!” They’ll invoke “market forces,” supply-side fairy dust, the great American entrepreneurial spirit, and the magic that happens once government gets out of the way.
I call it YOYO economics (you’re-on-your-own) and contrast it with WITT economics (we’re-in-this-together) and Ryan’s entry into the race very much amps up this dimension of the debate.