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August 26, 2012 11:50 AM What Paul Ryan has in common with Marie Antoinette

By Kathleen Geier

Well surprise, surprise!

It turns out that Paul Ryan isn’t really the salt of the earth, son of toil, dude-out-of-a-Springsteen-song-type he is so fond he is so fond of portraying himself as. I know. Shocking, right?

As the L.A. Times headline reports “Despite working-class image, Ryan comes from family of wealth.” The story definitely deliver the goods. For instance:

In the year after his father’s death, Ryan’s maternal grandmother set up the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, which remains an important part of Ryan’s finances with assets of up to half a million dollars, according to the congressman’s 2011 financial disclosure statement. Ryan continues as the general partner running the entity for the family.
Court records indicate Ryan’s father left a probate estate of $428,000, though the number of assets existing outside the will or the probate remains unknown. Ryan was to receive $50,000 when he turned 30.
In addition to the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, Ryan also benefits from another family entity, Ryan Limited Partnership, which was established in March 1995 by an aunt. Ryan’s share of that is worth up to $500,000. Ryan makes no investment decisions in either partnership, the campaign spokesman said.

That all sounds pretty damn sweet to me (and I say that as something who never has inherited, and does not stand to inherit, a dime from anyone).

Not only did Ryan inherit wealth, he also made money the old-fashioned way: he married it:

Of the Ryans’ maximum estimated assets of $7.6 million, Janna’s holdings account for about $6.5 million. She is the daughter of Dan and Prudence Little, two lawyers in Madill, Okla., who over the years have overseen a vast network of land and oil and gas mineral rights in the Red River area straddling southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.
The wealth derived from Janna’s grandfather, Reuel Winfred Little, a self-made millionaire several times over in oil and gas interests and other ventures.

The LAT piece also notes that Ryan

was born into one of the most prominent families in Janesville, Wis., the son of a successful attorney and the grandson of the top federal prosecutor for the western region of the state. Ryan grew up in a big Colonial house on a wooded lot, and his extended clan includes investment managers, corporate executives and owners of major construction companies.

Ryan’s family connections have been instrumental, not only in providing with cushy jobs and comfortable upper crust lifestyle, but also in bankrolling his political career:

Ryan’s rise to political power and financial stability was boosted by family connections and wealth. The larger Ryan family has repeatedly helped the candidate along in his career, giving him a job when he needed one and piling up tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

It looks like Paul Ryan, like so many Republicans before him, is one of those dudes who was born on third base and is desperate to persuade the world he hit a triple. Yes, like practically every other teenager of his generation, he worked a few low-paid service jobs for some pocket change when he was in high school. But for him to distort that experience and try to pass himself off as “blue collar” is a grotesque masquerade. Historically, it calls to mind nothing so much as the antics of Marie Antoinette and the ladies of her court, who from time to time would amuse themselves by donning shepherdess drag and play-acting at being pure and simple folk, modest toilers of the earth.

I’m pleased to see that at least one major media outlet is calling Mr. Ryan on this piece of outrageous bamboozlement.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

Comments

  • biggerbox on August 26, 2012 1:00 PM:

    That's the problem with the GOP. To them, Ryan *is* working class. I mean, he only received $50K when he turned 30? Sheesh. Chump change.

    I think we need a new question for candidates to calibrate their economic status - not "have you ever flipped burgers", but "have you ever been afraid that you couldn't cover next month's rent?"

  • We're Watching Republican Hypocrisy on August 26, 2012 1:12 PM:

    Thank you for posting this. Well-written, with great turns of the language.

    Paul Ryan continually tells the poor and disadvantaged to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop demeaning themselves by accepting government assistance.

    Meanwhile---we know Ryan is the utlimate trust fund baby, his family had lucrative *federal* contracts from which to amass wealth. Ryan certainly had *for years* his lucrative legislator's *income* and *medical care* paid for by us--The American Taxpayers--and he works out to a buff finish at a *free gym* courtesy of us, The American Taxpayers.

    Charlie Pierce also nails the Republican (and Paul Ryan's) anti-government hypocrisy as the hurricane approaches them-- in his latest post:

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/hurricane-isaac-2012-12058876

  • ack ack ack on August 26, 2012 1:22 PM:

    Especially sweet deal for someone whose father's death bankrolled his college tuition via Social Security!

  • bleh on August 26, 2012 1:38 PM:

    biggerbox: you may need first to explain to them what it means to "pay rent."

  • c u n d gulag on August 26, 2012 1:48 PM:

    Mitt to the nation: 'Let them eat fake.'

  • MuddyLee on August 26, 2012 2:24 PM:

    It's always amusing to hear those with inherited wealth talking about individual responsibility, the evil-ness of the inheritance tax, the brilliance of Ayn Rand. It's not much of a big deal when a child of success like Ryan, Romney, Bush becomes successful is it? It's a big deal when somebody like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama becomes a success. Bring back the Clinton tax rates, bring back financial regulation, bring back unions, bring back state supported college educations.

  • Doug on August 26, 2012 3:52 PM:

    MuddyLee, simply, simplify! Just bringing back a 75% surcharge on ALL income over $2 million and the rest will follow.

  • Patrick Star on August 26, 2012 3:56 PM:

    I read the article in the L.A. Times with great interest. Ryan and I have something in common - we're both Irish Catholics from Janesville, WI (I was born there, lived there briefly as a child, but my mom goes back a couple of generations). I always knew Ryan was from Janesville, but the article got me thinking about the Catholic cemetery in Janesville where my mom (and dad) are buried. Almost all Irish names - Murphy, Ryan, Fitzpatrick, etc., etc. My mother, God bless her, was a die-hard Democrat; Madly for Adlai (Stevenson), and a HUGE Kennedy fan. Paul Ryan and his family were far removed from the working-class Irish families I remember from my youth. Ryan now lives in probably the biggest mansion in Janesville - that would be fine if he advocated policies which help all Americans (a la FDR, Kennedys), not just the rich he sucks up to so much.

  • exlibra on August 26, 2012 4:06 PM:

    Ryan was to receive $50,000 when he turned 30. -- form the LA Times article.

    Obviously, someone in his family (whoever set that condition) didn't believe that Ryan could be trusted with that much money on reaching legal maturity and hoped that, by the time he turned 30, he'd have a bit more sense. Yet, here we are... He's 42, and *still* cannot be trusted to be anywhere near big sums, because math isn't his strong point (vide his "budget", which doesn't make any sense whichever way you look at it)

  • T-Rex on August 26, 2012 6:10 PM:

    Even Ayn Rand's heroes usually started with some inherited wealth, didn't they? The thought that anyone brilliant could possibly emerge from the "moocher" class didn't square with her pre-revolutionary Russian, Tsarist world view. There were the natural aristocrats, who were better than others from the cradle, and there were the rest, who deserved to be serfs. She was no Horatio Alger; none of her heroes had such modestly bourgouis goals in life.

  • del2124 on August 26, 2012 10:56 PM:

    I mean, I see your point, but Paul Ryan was the son of a successful Wisconsin lawyer. Marie Antoinette was the daughter of the Holy Roman Empress. They still don't really have anything in common.

  • Roddy McCorley on August 27, 2012 12:27 AM:

    But, you see, Paul Ryan is a Great American Success Story. Because, you see, Paul Ryan had the wisdom and foresight to carefully choose the right parents! If other people lack Ryan's wisdom and foresight and neglected to choose the right parents, then it's grotesquely unfair expect people such as Paul Ryan who did choose their parents wisely to bail them out.

    It's all about personal responsibility, people!

  • anon on August 27, 2012 9:12 AM:

    to del2124--you're *so* missing the point. It goes beyond biography--it's their views!!

    Good reads on how Paul Ryan IS Marie Antoinette.
    Excerpt:
    “...Faculty at Georgetown University wrote Ryan a letter last year that stated in part: "...your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love."
    “Ryan's budget proposals affects the support of seniors, cut assistance to programs aimed at combating childhood hunger, and would leave people who have lost their jobs without heat during cold winter months. This isn't hyperbole but reasoned analysis of his budget goals from non-partisan groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Ryan's plans would eventually end "everything from veterans' programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families," according to the CBPP.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-chuck-currie/paul-ryan-choice-lifts-up_b_1766818.html

    “Marie Antoinette may or may not have said “Let them eat cake,” but this is definitely the dismissive attitude towards the poor evidenced by Rep. Paul Ryan in his budget and its surrounding rhetoric, which is supported by all the Republican Presidential candidates...”

    http://www.care2.com/causes/rep-paul-ryan-is-marie-antoinette-video.html

  • 709LH on August 30, 2012 1:42 AM:

    Youve got to be kidding me. a 50K trust left to him makes him someone who didnt work for where he got?

    I see the finances listed as nice, but certainly not rich or extremely rich by todays standards.

    But once again those in the media figure if they say something long enough no matter how wild the accusation eventually everyone will believe. it.

    Well here is one person who doesn't and I would suspect most middle class people would look at it and also not think he was so rich.

    Then the other issue is what does it matter how well off he or Romney is?

    I want to know what their previous actions have been and what have they accomplished and this team seems like a good marriage of someone with 7 terms expereince in the Federal Government and the top of the ticket a successful businessman.

    90% of Romeny's company Bain succeeded, and I know having at one time been a very small business owner thats huge.

    So you just keep ranting about how rich these guys are, since to many of us it doesnt matter or its a plus.

  • 709LH on August 30, 2012 1:45 AM:

    Youve got to be kidding me. a 50K trust left to him makes him someone who didnt work for where he got?

    I see the finances listed as nice, but certainly not rich or extremely rich by todays standards.

    But once again those in the media figure if they say something long enough no matter how wild the accusation eventually everyone will believe. it.

    Well here is one person who doesn't and I would suspect most middle class people would look at it and also not think he was so rich.

    Then the other issue is what does it matter how well off he or Romney is?

    I want to know what their previous actions have been and what have they accomplished and this team seems like a good marriage of someone with 7 terms expereince in the Federal Government and the top of the ticket a successful businessman.

    90% of Romeny's company Bain succeeded, and I know having at one time been a very small business owner thats huge.

    So you just keep ranting about how rich these guys are, since to many of us it doesnt matter or its a plus.