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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 22, 2015

 

Road to Dystopia

by Tom Sullivan

Rep. Paul Ryan seems to have cleared the hurdles to replacing John Boehner as Speaker now that a “supermajority” of the House Freedom Caucus has agreed to support Ryan for the job, if not to endorse him outright. Ryan is not far right enough for enough of them to prevent that. So uncertainties remain reports the Washington Post:

Ryan could still decide not to serve as speaker, and some conservative activists have engaged in a vigorous campaign to cast doubt on his record, which might give some members cold feet before votes are cast next week.

This was not the job Ryan wanted, after all. Perhaps, as Shakespeare put it, Ryan will have greatness thrust upon him. Peter Dreier disabuses Salon readers of any notion that the selfie-admiring Ryan was either born great or achieved greatness:

Let’s start with Ryan’s outrageous hypocrisy. Ryan worships at the altar of novelist Ayn Rand, the philosopher of you’re-on-your-own selfishness, whose books have been required reading for his Congressional staffers. Like Rand, he consistently demonizes people who improve their lives with the help of government. Ryan seems to be unaware of how much his own family and his own financial success has been influenced by “big government.”

Despite Ryan’s persistent attacks on government spending, his family’s construction business has been anchored in building roads on government contracts. Despite his worship of private-sector entrepreneurs, he’s spent his entire career as a government employee. Despite being a crusader against anti-poverty programs, Ryan is a millionaire who made his money the old-fashioned way: by marrying a woman who inherited a fortune.

Good luck keeping the Freedom Caucus in line. They still want the ability to hold a "no confidence" vote over the new Speaker's head. The conservative media was mocking him after the preconditions Ryan set for taking the Speaker's gig included eliminating this lever:

At one point on Drudge Report, headlines blared: "KING PAUL: PLEDGE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO ME," "DO IT BY FRIDAY," "HE'S A DEM FAVORITE," "OBAMA'S NEW PARTNER," 'F' conservative rating," and "WANTS TO SCRAP THOMAS JEFFERSON'S RULE."

“[Ryan] wants to get elected after it is made impossible to get rid of him, then he will really get into specifics ... Amnesty anyone?” Red State founder Erick Erickson wrote. “This would be a terrible, terrible deal for House Conservatives. It would gut their ability to pull the House Republicans to the right.”

That would be bad, of course. Politico cites a study by the Center for Responsive Politics that examined the funding behind the House Freedom Caucus. In addition to the usual "banking and auto dealerships that traditionally support Republican candidates," the caucus receives funding from the Kochs and the Club for Growth. Pulling House Republicans further right is just what they have in mind:

The analysis, based on a review of campaign and leadership PAC donations reported by each caucus member during his or her time in Congress, shows that the Club for Growth, the free-enterprise advocacy group that claims 100,000 members, has contributed $1.77 million, or about 1 percent of the more than $175 million the caucus members raised in total. The club was the No. 1 donor for 11 members — more members than any other benefactor.

[snip]

Koch Industries, the closely held oil and gas conglomerate out of Wichita, Kansas, contributed $599,400 over time to members now aligned with the caucus. The company’s PAC, combined with individual contributions from Koch employees, ranked as the top contributor only to Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. But the analysis showed that it spread around enough money to be the second-biggest donor overall to caucus members. The analysis did not cover the wide network of political groups marshaled by the Koch brothers that collectively have evolved as a major funding source for Republican candidates.

If the Rand-loving Ryan is not the darling of these characters, what sort of libertarian utopia do they have in mind now? The recent past president and CEO of the Koch-funded Cato Institute is John Allison. The former head of BB&T was influential in funding “Moral Foundations of Capitalism” courses in colleges, where Atlas Shrugged is the principle text. Now Paul Ryan is not right enough?

Whether by happenstance or by design, Republicans seem bent on taking the country on the Road to Dystopia, sans Crosby, and definitely sans Hope.