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Sunday, October 21, 2018

The least popular member of the Romney/Ryan ticket is back—but he never really went away.

Paul Ryan is about the same age as Richard Nixon was when Tricky Dick was nominated to be Eisenhower’s running mate. And though Eisenhower/Nixon won, easily — twice — you can expect that Tricky Paul is going to linger over the American political scene for as long as Dick did.

The formerly proudly Randian congressman went from being hidden for much of the last few weeks of the presidential campaign to being hidden as a member of the leadership team that couldn’t get House Republicans to pass Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” to resolve the “fiscal cliff.”

But when it came time to pass the Senate’s negotiated compromise bill, he did the same thing he did when it came time to pass George W. Bush’s unfunded Medicare, TARP and the auto rescue. Paul Ryan couldn’t hide. He voted yes.

And the far right noticed.

But Ryan is always looking ahead.

Like many white men in their forties, Ryan thinks listening to music that came out in the 70s and working out makes him endlessly relevant. So you knew that the congressman from Wisconsin would continue to march down the well-traveled path of constantly pandering to the right, yet voting with the establishment on the rare occasions when votes matter.

Within days of his “fiscal cliff” cave, after Ryan’s other 2016 rival, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), roasted Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans for delaying aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, Ryan was back. He voted no with the rest of the Tea Partiers who believe hurricanes are God’s way of saying, “Be rich!”

There’s the Paul Ryan the far right loves —  the Paul Ryan who doesn’t believe that the government should be there to help people in need. The Paul Ryan who thinks that poor kids who want to do trivial things like “eat” and “see a doctor” are hurt by receiving aid, because before you know it, they’ll be lounging on the safety “hammock.”

When Republicans accuse the left of class warfare and nurturing jealousy, consider how Paul Ryan views the poor. He suggests they’re leading lives of “dependency and complacency” (as if big oil and defense contractors are not). To him, the problem is that the poor have it too easy. And he can fix that.

Remember that the Ryan budget – his masterpiece, his Atlas Shrugged that would allow the rich to go Galt as the poor sink down into pre-New Deal squalor — would cut funding by 62 percent for disaster aid and insurance as part of the biggest transfer of wealth from poor and middle class to the rich in modern U.S. history.