The Paul Ryan Revival Project: Dark Passions Edition

A contemplative Rep. Paul Ryan (R.Wisc.).Ron Sachs/Zuma

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Over the weekend, Politico ran a story reminding us that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)—you know, the serious, adult, courageous, wonky, Republican hero of Medicare-privatizing, Medicaid cost-shifting fame—is still around, and has opinions:

Ryan said he is committed to taking on the president’s “class warfare” rhetoric—dark passions he thinks President Barack Obama is trying to gin up among voters as he bids for a second term as commander in chief.

“The rhetoric is what I think is really dangerous because the class warfare rhetoric, it speaks to bad emotions within people,” Ryan said in an interview. “It speaks to dark emotions—anger, envy, fear—those are powerful emotions, and I suppose they can be manipulated to good political ends, but it’s reckless, in my opinion, and it divides people.”

It’s true that Obama seems prepared to make 2012 about protecting working class Americans and making the rich poney up some extra tax dollars. But the president’s rhetoric, infused with urgent calls to close the yawning inequality gap through a more equitable tax structure, hasn’t masked that fact. Of course Obama is playing politics by placing a tax hike on the rich at the center of his legislative and electoral strategy. Raising taxes on the rich is popular. At least Obama hasn’t been afraid to call his plan what it is.

Meanwhile, Ryan continues to talk as if his undeserved enlightened reformer-halo puts him above the political fray. But screwing over poor people could be called “class warfare,” too. Ryan’s budget plan featured $771 billion in cuts to Medicaid spending and slashed $750 billion from a host of other programs serving low-income Americans. Overall, those reductions comprised almost two-thirds of the $4.5 trillion in cuts his plan would have enacted over the next ten years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

If Ryan is going to be stepping back into the spotlight through interviews like the one he gave Politico, he should be ready to explain how his vision of America is any less political, reckless, and divisive than Obama’s.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend