Ryan’s been condemning “eat the rich” demagoguery for ages — head over to YouTube and just keep scrolling — but I don’t think he’s ever devoted a speech to the subject. Tomorrow that changes. James Pethokoukis gets a sneak preview:
1. “Instead of working together where we agree, the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators.
2. ”The House-passed budget was full of proposals to get rid of corporate welfare and crony capitalism. Why are tax dollars being wasted on bankrupt, politically connected solar energy firms? Why is Washington wasting your money on entrenched agribusiness? Why have we extended an endless supply of taxpayer credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of demanding that their government guarantee be wound down and their taxpayer subsidies ended? … Rather than raising taxes and making it more difficult for Americans to become wealthy, let’s lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive … The politics of division have always struck me as odd: the eagerness to take more, combined with the refusal to subsidize less.
3. “Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment. This has the potential to be just as damaging as his misguided policies. Sowing social unrest and class resentment makes America weaker, not stronger. Pitting one group against another only distracts us from the true sources of inequity in this country—corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.
His favorite line when riffing on this subject is that class warfare makes bad economics but terrific politics. Indeed it does. Two more data points from that new Times poll I linked in the previous post:
David Brooks lambasted The One in an op-ed this morning for trying to run next year as an angry fightin’ populist class warrior instead of the soothing pragmatist with the sharply creased pants that made Brooks’s heart soar three years ago. But eyeball those poll numbers again. Obama knows what he’s doing. Soothing pragmatism can’t explain 9.1 percent unemployment; telling people that the rich stole their money can, sort of, if you don’t think about it too hard. That’s also why you hear very little from Occupy Wall Street about how to generate jobs and economic growth and an awful lot about how the banksters who dominate the one percent aren’t sharing enough. (Minor footnote: Bankers are actually a small minority of the one percent.) Real economic solutions are brutally hard but class resentment is nice and easy, especially for a politician who’s desperate to win back middle-class voters. Ryan’s always been a solutions guy. Hence his distress.
Exit quotation from Captain Unity: “The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own.'”