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In a 2012 presidential campaign marked by vague promises regarding domestic and foreign policy, August 11th was a day that put ideas front and center. The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential candidate brought a man with a strong, clear ideology into the mix. Whereas Romney has distanced himself from the work he did as an elected official, Ryan stands proud of over a decade of policy proposals and a radical vision for reshaping American institutions.

One of the most interesting parts of Ryan is the disconnect between the teachings of his Catholic faith, and the political and economic ideology he has developed. Firstly, let's go over Ryan's positions, and then the considerable criticism from Catholic circles.

Ryan's views on social issues is much in line with conservative Catholic teaching. He has voted against abortion rights every single time the issue has come up (literally, he has always had a 0% NARAL rating), and co-sponsored bills like the Sanctity of Life Act, stating that the "life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent... at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood." (bill text) His belief is that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment is applicable to zygotes and fetuses, from the moment of conception.

His record on gay rights includes voting to ban gay adoption in the District of Columbia and a desire for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He wishes to use the Pledge in its current incarnation, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State gives him their lowest possible grade- 0%.

The conflict is not in his beliefs on social issues, it is with his economic worldview. I will not overplay Ryan's association with author Ayn Rand and her philosophical school of Objectivism, though in 2009 he said "I think Ayn Rand did more than anybody to build a moral case for capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.” (source)

Individualism is the big word here. Ryan wants to create an economic system where collectivism is dismantled, and individualism is triumphed as the way forward. His budget (which will become the single most important collection of public policy in this campaign) looks to end taxation of the wealthy, as well as taxes on capital gains and many other sources of government revenue. This is coupled with a reshaping of Medicare and Medicaid that addresses the rapid increase in healthcare spending, but does nothing to address the rise in healthcare costs (the ACA did some work towards the latter, Ryan doesn't seem bothered by it at all). What this will likely lead to is the elderly and poor being given a wholly inadequate amount of money to try to buy increasingly expensive private insurance. His reform of Social Security would put a large percentage of people's payroll taxes into private accounts.

In a great irony, these private, market-based accounts would mean

"by 2050, every single stock or bond in the United States would be owned by a Social Security account. This would mean that the portfolio managers at the Social Security Administration would more or less control the entire means of production in the United States." (source)
There is a great bit more to be said about Paul Ryan's budget plan and entitlements reform (it's vague, unrealistically hopeful about our future economy, and its premise of crushing debt isn't solved by the plan). But let's talk about what Catholic clergy think about his plans.

In reaction to his budget plan, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a news release stating “a just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons.” (source) When Ryan came to speak at the Jesuit Georgetown University, dozens of faculty and administration quote the bishops' release, adding "We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few." (source) (PDF)

And most importantly, Catholic nuns, Catholic organizations, and many other faith groups (including the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations) published a detailed budget, dubbed the 'faithful budget.' (full text here) (PDF) It is not only a sharp contrast to the Ryan budget, it appeals to the ideas of human dignity, shared responsibility, and shifting priorities away from war and defense spending, in favor of increasing foreign aid and cooperation.

My issue with Ryan is that he uses his religious faith in a wholly inconsistent way. In his introduction, Mitt Romney said "A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life." (source)

I take exception to that statement.

Originally posted to Neutral Politics on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

    by Kazmarov on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:04:45 PM PDT

  •  Just like Romney. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lina, Kazmarov, blueoasis, allergywoman

    He's a Mormon when convenient as well.

    From the LDS Articles of Faith:

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    Also, I can kill you with my brain.

    by Puffin on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:19:12 PM PDT

    •  See my comment below (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Puffin

      And the Repugs could say regarding our President, what denomination does he belong to?  Does he go to Church every Sunday?  etc. etc.

      This line of attack is a non-starter imho.

      Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

      by EdMass on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:28:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cafeteria Catholic, in reverse. (8+ / 0-)

    Usually those accused of picking and choosing certain Catholic teachings only pick the liberal views, and ignore the more conservative ones(birth control, for one). Ryan does the opposite.

    Oh for crying out loud!

    by 4mygirls on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:22:09 PM PDT

    •  Cafeteria Catholic. Period. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Paul Ryan is a right-wing cafeteria Catholic, that is, and he should be called on it.

      A thief thinks everybody else is a thief; a liar thinks everybody else is a liar; and a Republican thinks everybody else is as selfish and heartless as they are.

      by rubyduby7 on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 09:30:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this. (8+ / 0-)

    I see this same disconnect among many of my conservative Catholic friends who cannot comprehend that demanding cuts to programs that aid the poor is in conflict with an ethic of valuing all life. They refuse to see that if we as a whole society supported poor women and their children, there would be less abortion. Nor do they connect food stamps to the mandate to feed the hungry. But they sure have the time and energy to scream persecution over insurance coverage for contraception.

    It makes me sick.

    •  A good recent article (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, historys mysteries

      On Patheos about a conservative, very much pro-life American who went to Canada and grew to appreciate their health system.

      The latter part talks about the fact that the more you support mothers and their children pre and post birth, the more likely people are to not have an abortion.

      "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

      by Kazmarov on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:31:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome to the slippery slope (0+ / 0-)

    Once we/they start adjudicating candidates on their personal faiths and strict adherence to same as a prerequisite for elected office then the debate for the future devolves into bickering, at best -- on the wrong issues.

    You've seen the reactions to countless Mormon diaries?  You recall the outrage regarding assaults on the President's faith? Yeah, Catholicism is a "high value target" here but still Catholics are an essential part of our coalition...

    There are too many real issues that face us to think this line of attack is going to help the re-elect.

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:24:31 PM PDT

    •  This has nothing to do (3+ / 0-)

      With the re-election of the incumbent president, nor the nature of your coalition. It is rather a critique on Ryan from an angle I felt was worth writing about.

      "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

      by Kazmarov on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:35:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  umm..."my coalition"? (0+ / 0-)

        Please do recall that both Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are Catholic.  And, based on their public statements are kinda proud of the fact.

        Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

        by EdMass on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:40:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  He believes in the dignity of human life (4+ / 0-)

    until it is born. Then a child with no means of support is to fend for herself. How can he call himself a Catholic if he goes against all of the teachings of his religion to take care of those in need.

    •  The Church created a lot of this. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BB Jam Fan, allergywoman

      By pounding so hard on abortion for years and years, they've put Catholics in a no-win situation.  Neither party represents all of the teachings on social justice (that includes the economic things that are viewed separately in this diary).  

      The bishops' statement from 2008 (I think) on Faithful Citizenship lays out everything and then pretty much says that Catholics must use a well-formed conscience to choose a candidate.  We have to weigh ALL of the issues and decide.  Personally, there are just too many negatives on the GOP side for me to concentrate solely on abortion.  It would be great if every child was healthy, wanted, and loved, and there are ways to work toward that outside of politics.  No law will end abortion.  I remember too well how it was before Roe...

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 05:02:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  His fealty to Ayn Rand strikes me as far greater (6+ / 0-)

    than his fealty to the Church.  And no, you can't push both at once without total contradiction and lack of integrity.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:29:31 PM PDT

    •  I've decided to let others (5+ / 0-)

      discuss Rand and Ryan in-depth. There are of course the additional religious issue in that religious are by their nature collectivist, and Rand viewed religion as weak and a subversion of individual will.

      Some Catholic critiques have invoked Rand, and I can see why they would.

      "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

      by Kazmarov on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 04:39:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  also . . . (2+ / 0-)

    paul ryan: human when convenient

    (tho my guess is, that seldom happens)

  •  Republished to Street Prophets. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries
  •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

    opposition to abortion & equal marriage trump every other issue for American Catholic Bishops.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 09:16:52 PM PDT

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