This line of attack is not unique to Ryan, although he may well be the first vice presidential candidate to have stated it so baldly. Others, like Newt Gingrich and Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, have said pretty much the same thing about Social Security and unemployment benefits. The problem with demonizing programs like these and labeling tens of millions of Americans welfare queens is that the claim is false and those who have paid into the system all their lives damn well know it.
As for Social Security and other safety-net programs being "collectivist," that's shorthand for "Soviet," a little dog-whistle to the folks who keep calling Barack Obama a "socialist," which any socialist of any stripe can explain he is not, and tying him—retroactively—to the commies.
Ryan knows his remarks of 2005 mark him as an extremist. And he's been distancing himself from them ever since, well, ever since he began running for vice president.
Of those words, Ryan said in a Saturday night interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "I don't think of it like that." He is just concerned that younger workers today will get a "negative" rate of return on their Social Security "investment."
The reporter missed an opportunity by choosing not to explore exactly how Ryan's thinking has changed and what changed it in the seven years since he poured out his heart regarding his love for the philosophy of devil-take-the-hindmost economics.
What revelation turned him around? What specifically, besides Rand's atheism, shifted his views about her Social Darwinist economic perspective? Why did the politics that enamored him from his high school days right up through 2009 suddenly become anathema to him?
Perhaps, most important of all, why is it that the Path to Prosperity, his tax-and-spending blueprint, still looks so much like a big step down the Randian path if he doesn't "think of it like that"?