Ryan’s Hope

Rep. Paul Ryan (D-Wi) sat down to talk with James Pethokoukis of the Enterprise Blog. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, showed an insight that explains why he is one of the most popular conservatives in government. Here are a few of his answers.

Jimmy P asked Ryan about Occupy Wall Street, business and the path for the economy to prosper.

“Our answer is upward mobility – not begrudging people who become successful, but making it easier for people to find success, to bring those rungs of the economic ladder within reach of people who’ve never scaled it before. Grow the pie vs. redistribute slices of a shrinking pie. That’s what our society has always prided itself on. That’s the American system we’ve had… It would be a shame to get rid of it and transform it into a social democracy model like you have in Europe, which simply means bitter austerity and shared misery.”

P: “Do you see income disparity as something that needs to be ‘fixed’ in any way?”

Ryan: “As a person in government, I don’t see it as my job to try and micromanage the outcome of people’s lives. I see it as trying to advance the premise of equality of opportunity and getting people as much opportunity to improve themselves as possible… The whole premise of this argument is wrong. The economy is not a zero sum system. One man’s gain does not necessarily come at another man’s loss…Wealth is created.”

P: “What do you want to do to accelerate income mobility?”

Ryan: “End the corporate welfare and crony capitalism, number one. Number two, have entrepreneur focused policies. Stop rigging the rules for the powerful and well established. We want to have a tax system that is pro entrepreneur, pro small business, and not designed to erect barriers of entry to competition. On entitlements, means test them. Don’t subsidize higher income individuals nearly as much as everyone else, scale those back to a safety net.”

Ryan concludes: “Education is at the heart of it all, but the culture is, too. Moral relativism has done so much damage to the bottom end of this country. The bottom fifth has been damaged by the culture of moral relativism more than by anything else, I would argue. If you ask me what the biggest problem in America is, I’m not going to tell you debt, deficits, statistics, economics – I’ll tell you it’s a moral relativism. Now is it my job t fix that as a congressman? No, but I can do damage to it. It’s the job of parents to raise their kids… But let’s not ignore it. These things go beyond statistics, they go into the culture. As a policymaker, I simply make that as an observation, not that I have an answer and a bill I can pass in Congress to fix that.”

Perhaps that is why people are so frustrated today. They want an instant answer to a problem that has rooted itself deep into society. The values and morals, the right and wrong of our forefathers have evaporated. Until we get some of that back we will continue to wander.

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