OK, so Paul Ryan’s budget numbers don’t add up.
But there’s another critical bit of arithmetic that has been working just fine for him, though you won’t read anything about it in the lengthy New York Times magazine profile now available on the newspaper’s web site.
Ryan is portrayed as the Miller Lite-sipping, regular guy NFL-watching, ribs-chomping, charmingly wonky, politically courageous future of the Republican Party.
Give me a break.
What the New York Times did not find newsworthy or illuminating is Ryan’s own money trail.
When you pull back the curtain on the slickly constructed down-home image, a starkly different picture emerges. Ryan, it turns out, is a magnet for Wall Street and hedge fund campaign cash.
As Politico and the Wall Street Journal have reported, members of the financial and insurance industries have been Ryan’s key backers since he first?? ran for reelection?? in 2000. The country’s commercial banks’ PACs and employees spent nearly $60,000 on his campaign. His top contributor that year was Bank One, which was later gobbled up by JP Morgan Chase.
In 2002, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors contributed $10,000 to Ryan – the maximum allowed by law. He also formed his own PAC that year, with the help of supporters from Goldman-Sachs and the Securities Investment Association.
The bankers’ and hedge funds’ generosity has continued – among his top recent contributors is billionaire Chicago-based hedge fund operator Ken Griffin, of Citadel Investment Group, who gave Ryan $5,000. Griffin has also contributed $150,000 to Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports Mitt Romney, and another $800,000 to the Karl Rove super PAC, American Crossroads.
Over the years, as Ryan rose to head the House Budget Committee, Politico reports that he became one of the top fundraisers in the House, and he has shared his largesse with other Republican candidates.
Another of Ryan’s top financial boosters is Paul Singer, who runs Eliot Financial hedge fund. Ryan paid Singer back when he was one of only 32 Republicans to vote for the auto bailout, a vote that angered Ryan’s fans in the Tea Party. But the bailout boosted Ally Financial; the financial arm of General Motors – in which Singer’s hedge fund had a major stake, the Nation reports.
Hedge funds, banks and insurance companies groups stand to profit handsomely from Ryan’s scheme to privatize Social Security as well as Ryan’s continuing austerity blitzkrieg and plan to strip government of its regulatory power.
Seen from the perspective of his successful fundraising, Ryan isn’t a politician courageously pursuing unpopular policies to dismantle the New Deal and subsequent social programs (like turning Medicare into a voucher program); Ryan is actually acting as a faithful servant of the Wall Street bankers and hedge-fund money men who insist that the federal government’s budget be balanced – as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.
Ryan is also serving his corporate masters when he spreads collective amnesia about the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, preaching the same gospel of deregulation that got the country into the mess we’re in. But Ryan wants you to believe he’s one of us because he digs ribs and roots for the Packers.
The man who would be vice president embodies a pretty twisted definition of political courage – protecting Wall Street while crushing the economic security of the little people.
Martin Berg is the editor of WheresOurMoney.org.