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August 21, 2014 1:32 PM Paul Ryan Sends a Big, Big Message

By Ed Kilgore

At a time when the closest thing to an argument between Republicans is between traditional Wall Street conservatives still obsessed with reducing top rates on the wealth-engorged very rich, and “reformicons” who think, say, a boost in the child tax credit benefiting middle-class folk might be a better idea at this particular moment, Paul Ryan has sent a big, unmistakable message, via the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack: screw “reform,” he’s with the moneybags. Totally aside from Ryan’s own possible presidential ambitions and general influence within the GOP, that matters a great deal because he’s about to take over the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee:

“If you know anything about me, I’m a person who likes to put out plans and be specific and run on those ideas,” Ryan told THE WEEKLY STANDARD during a phone interview. Ryan said he didn’t want to get ahead of himself about what he may or may not do next session, but he made it clear that he disagrees with some conservatives who are willing to accept a high top tax rate in order to increase the child tax credit….
Some conservatives have argued that reducing the top rate is less urgent now than it was during the Reagan administration, when the top rate was cut from 70 percent to 50 percent and then cut again from 50 percent to 28 percent. But Ryan says that cutting the top rate is “even more pressing now” than it was back then “because the American economy was so dominant in the global economy and capital was not nearly as mobile as it is today.”

In other words, there’s a global “race to the bottom” going on, and the U.S. has nothing to offer corporations if we don’t keep up with the craven competition. Sorry kids and parents; Daddy Warbucks comes first.

Aside from the impact of Ryan’s statement on the debate within the GOP, it’s possible to view this as an argument between the supposed twin poles of Ryan’s own philosophy: the Catholic Church and Ayn Rand. Catholics are famously interested in encouraging families. Ayn Rand struggled to depict children in her novels, grubby little irrational deadbeats that they were (can’t remember for sure if John Galt had any kids; but I don’t seem to recall their welfare being discussed much in his million-word radio address). So Paul Ryan is showing his true colors in all sorts of ways.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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