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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

As the Republican presidential campaign attempts to move on from the secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney addressing a private fundraiser in Florida, an obscure recording of Paul Ryan reveals that the Republican vice presidential nominee likewise preaches a different vision when the media isn’t watching.

The audio recording, recently rediscovered by Vincent Miller of  America Magazine, is a speech delivered by Ryan to the objectivist Atlas Society in 2005. (It can be found on the Atlas Society’s website.) While the speech has been cited for containing Ryan’s declaration that Ayn Rand was the reason he got into public service, closer scrutiny shows that Rand is also the inspiration for Ryan’s policy decisions.

“It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are,” Ryan told the Atlas Society crowd.

“The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it,” he later adds, “is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”

Ryan went on to explain how he and his fellow Randians can “break the back of this collectivist philosophy that really pervades, you know, 90 percent of the thinking” in Washington. The first step is to “focus on big-ticket items,” such as Social Security.

According to Ryan, Social Security is a “collectivist,” “welfare-transfer system,” that Congress can only fix by transitioning it to “an individually pre-owned, pre-funded retirement system.” In other words, by privatizing it.

If Social Security is “personalized,” as Ryan put it (to knowing laughter from the audience), then “every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist,” which will create “that many more people in America who are not going to listen to the likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class warfare-breathing demagogues.”

Given all of this rhetoric, it’s no surprise that Ryan has tried to put his plan into action on multiple occasions. As Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur explains, in 2004 Ryan and Republican Senator John Sununu co-sponsored legislation that introduced private accounts in such a financially irresponsible way that even the Bush administration opposed it.

Ryan tried to privatize Social Security again in 2010, as part of his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” As Paul Van de Water, a Social Security expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told Kapur, Ryan’s plan “would have made deep cuts in guaranteed Social Security benefits and impaired the program’s solvency by diverting a large portion of payroll taxes into private accounts that would primarily benefit high earners.”

Neither measure succeeded, and Romney has not even hinted at any plan to privatize Social Security. Given that Ryan views every fight as a battle between individualism and collectivism, however, there can be little doubt that he’d still promote privatization in a Romney-Ryan administration.

Ryan also targeted Medicare in his speech to the Atlas Society. His current plan — which would supplant Medicare for seniors with a voucher system — is unpopular enough as it is. In 2005, however, Ryan went even further, suggesting that the system should be entirely privatized:

When you take a look at the seeds that have been planted in this Medicare law, there is a situation that we hope will materialize and we think that this law gives us a great chance of doing it – whereby Boomers are coming into retirement with an HSA that has resources in it, so that when they come to retirement they’ll pick among catastrophic plans that are private-provided from which to choose from Medicare, and they’ll have their HSAs come in underneath that.

And so you’ll have a consumer-directed system not only for those who are under 65 in America but for those who are over 65 in America. That is the way to save Medicare not only from bankrupting the federal government because of its incredible growth, but also to bring this system to a defined contribution, individually driven, consumer-directed health care system. All those seeds, all those provisions are in this Medicare law, but they’re just delayed because of their enactment dates.

Which makes Ryan’s mock outrage that President Obama is “raiding” the collectivist system that he’d like to do away with even more ridiculous.

Throughout the 2012 campaign, pundits from both sides of the aisle have pleaded for the Romney-Ryan campaign to lay out a specific vision for the future. Ryan’s Atlas Society speech — and Romney’s stunning fundraiser remarks — help explain why they don’t do so. Those private moments expose how Romney and Ryan really view America, and it’s a vision most voters do not share.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber


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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
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  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
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  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
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