News analysis: Paul Ryan's Hayekian roots lead to 'Ryanism' approach; Dems, GOP differ on philosophies

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 22 2012 1:32 p.m. MDT

His explanation for the $700 billion TARP vote was that he felt the country was on the cusp of a deflationary spiral, which could have created a Depression and led to a big government agenda and a "complete evisceration of the free market system we have." Therefore, a vote for TARP was a vote to prevent that. Likewise, with the auto bailout, he said Josh Bolten from the George W. Bush administration said the auto companies would either get a bailout or TARP, and Ryan said he voted for the bailout in order to keep it from expanding.

The proper name for Ryan's beliefs, then, could be "Ryanism," Arthur C. Brooks wrote at the American Enterprise Institute.

"'Ryanism' celebrates private entrepreneurship, demands lower taxation and is willing to take on the hard issues of structural reform to programs, including out of control entitlement spending," Brooks said. "It seeks to protect the social safety net by limiting it to the truly indigent and not to allow it to become a source of middle class entitlement (as it has over the last few decades). It does not 'end Medicare,' but rather makes changes to the system for those under age 55 so the program is solvent and does not rob our children. It is unashamed of America's powerful position in the world and recognizes that military spending is — when pursued prudently and not wastefully — a public good and not just another government boondoggle."

In other words, Brooks said, the Ryan approach is "conservative and, very likely, workable."

On the other side of the aisle, Obama cannot be considered a true Keynesian either, economist Veronique de Rugy wrote, since the president's desire to let the Bush tax cuts expire for households making more than $250,000 per year goes against the philosophy. Although Keynesian economics would recommend against raising taxes in a recession, Europe has done so as part of its austerity measures, and Obama would prefer to do likewise, she said.

"Tax increases (private-sector austerity), especially in times of economic contractions, are never a good idea or a good way to promote growth. That's true even in a Keynesian model," de Rugy wrote. "Yet, we aren't hearing anti-austerity advocates complain loudly that Europeans are raising taxes. Where are the headlines saying, 'Europe needs to stop raising taxes?' Instead, we read that spending, and the lack of it, is to blame for austerity. Maybe that's because acknowledging that austerity through spending cuts and tax increases has produced terrible results in Europe makes it hard to continue calling for tax increases — even if only on the rich — in the U.S.'s weak economy."

The two campaigns — Romney/Ryan and Obama/Biden — may not be faithful adherents to the Keynesian and Hayekian philosophies, but both campaigns have worked to differentiate their versions of government, the role it should play in the lives of U.S. citizens and what the debate should be about this election season.

During a speech in Roanoke, Va., in July, Obama laid out his philosophy, saying, "Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," Obama continued. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable Americans system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Romney pushed back, saying "The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn't build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn't build McDonald's, that Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft, you go on down the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn't build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to ever entrepreneur, every innovator in America and it's wrong."

What the president said demonstrates the philosophical difference between the campaigns, Romney said.

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