Editor's note: In light of Rep. Paul Ryan's new role on the GOP White House ticket, we wanted to re-run an exclusive interview with Paul Ryan that appeared in the June installment of Townhall Magazine on what's become a hot topic in this race: his budget.
Rep. Paul Ryan, a Catholic, has taken heat from various members of the Catholic Church on his proposed budget. He answers those critics here in an exclusive interview with S.E. Cupp for the June issue of Townhall Magazine.
When GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin presented his proposed budget this year, it wasn’t surprising that Democrats didn’t like it. The president, in fact, called it “thinly-veiled Social Darwinism.” But what was surprising was the push-back he received from the Conference of Catholic Bishops and some scholars at Georgetown University, who asserted that it was contrary to Catholic teaching. S.E. Cupp asked Ryan, himself a Catholic, about the uproar in a recent exclusive interview:
S.E. Cupp: The Conference of Catholic Bishops called the proposed cuts in your budget “unacceptable” and “unjustified and wrong,” and said the budget “fails to meet [Catholic] moral criteria.” How can Catholics have such divergent views on the same issue?
Paul Ryan: These are matters for prudential judgment, and people of good will can have a difference of opinion on these important issues. There’s plenty of room to disagree on how best to advance the common good and the principles of the Social Magisterium. I cannot claim exclusive justification for my application of Catholic social teaching. What I can say is that I believe the reforms in the House-passed budget are in complete accord with Catholic social truths as I understand them.
As a congressman and Catholic layman, I really feel that Catholic social truths are in accord with the “self-evident truths” our Founders bequeathed to us at our nation’s founding: independence, limited government and the dignity and freedom of every human person. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, it’s my job to apply these enduring principles to the urgent social problems of our time: an economy that is not providing enough opportunities for our citizens, a safety net that is failing our most vulnerable populations, and a crushing burden of debt that is threatening our children and grandchildren with a diminished future.
We cannot continue to ignore this problem. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has rightly termed such irresponsible debt burdens as “living in untruth … at the expense of future generations.” In approaching this problem as a lay Catholic in public life, I have found it useful to apply the twin principles of solidarity (recognition of the common ties that unite all human beings in equal dignity) and subsidiarity (respect for the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groups such as families, businesses, schools, local communities and state governments).
Our budget incorporates solidarity by recognizing a critical role for government in providing a strong safety net for those in need. And it restores the balance between solidarity and subsidiarity by returning a lot of power to individuals, to families and to communities. We are a nation that prides itself on looking out for one another—and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.
Some Catholics seem to mistake the preferential option for the poor for a preferential option for Big Government. When you look at the results of that approach—one out of every six Americans in poverty today, many of them mired in programs whose outdated structures often act as a trap that hinders upward mobility—that’s just not consistent with how I understand my Catholic faith. We need to break down the barriers to opportunity and attack the root causes of poverty. Informed by constitutional oath and my Catholic faith, this is a moral obligation I take very seriously.
S.E. Cupp: I’ve written before about the Catholic identity crisis. Catholics voted for Obama 56 percent in 2008. In large numbers they support government-subsidized contraception. Is the pushback against your budget really just another in a long line of betrayals among Catholics of doctrinal orthodoxy?
Paul Ryan: Again, Catholics can have our differences when it comes to applying our principles to the problems of the day. I can’t speak for those who have reached different conclusions than I have on some of these questions. But what I can say is that this president’s breathtaking expansions of government power represent a threat not just to people of faith but to the sacred rights of all Americans. As Americans, we believe the Declaration of Independence had it right: The laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle us to certain rights, and among those is the right to freedom of conscience as protected by the First Amendment.
When the president decided to force religious institutions to pay for services that violate their conscience, he claimed for government the power to “balance” our inalienable, God-given rights against new “rights” invented by government. All liberty-loving Americans—not just Catholics and other people of faith— are threatened by such an unprecedented and illegitimate power grab. If government is no longer the protector of your natural rights, but the creator of new rights, then government will win and freedom will lose wherever the two collide.
S.E. Cupp: You’ve made a compelling argument before that economic decisions have moral implications... that balancing a budget, for example, is a moral obligation, and that when we’re fiscally responsible, we can be a more generous and philanthropic society. Is that message being heard?
Paul Ryan: The American people are ahead of the political class when it comes to responsible budgeting and the looming debt threat.
I’m confident people see through these empty promises and false attacks from a president that refuses to show leadership. What we’re showing with our budget is that it is not too late to restore the “American idea.” It is not too late to take those principles that made us such an exceptional nation in the first place—liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-government, government by consent of the governed—and apply them to the problems of the day so we can get back to the opportunity society that made this nation the greatest on earth.
The safety net in this country—bolstered by families, communities and government—is threatening to unravel. It is not only our stagnant economy and the debt-fueled economic crisis ahead that threatens society’s most vulnerable. We’re also seeing the displacement of a vibrant civil society by an everexpanding central government. Reforms must aim to repair our social safety net and revitalize institutions of meaning where Americans have always looked out for one another. We want the safety net to be there for people who truly cannot help themselves, and for those temporarily down on their luck so that they can get back on their feet on to lives of self-sufficiency. We want an opportunity society that promotes upward mobility with people reaching their potential and making the most of their lives. This is what our budget debates are really about at their core, yet this is not the debate the president or his party’s leaders seem willing to engage in.
S.E. Cupp: Do you draw a distinction between the tone Catholic scholars at Georgetown took with your budget and the tone of the Catholic Church writ large?
Paul Ryan: I’ve been making a serious effort to explain how the truths of Catholic social thought impact our budget, claiming neither a monopoly on the social teachings nor that persons of good faith must agree with every application of my beliefs to specific policy questions. I have invited those with different views to dialogue about the facts. Pope Benedict’s example of charitable debate with politicians, philosophers, scholars and clergy outside of the faith should inspire our own Catholic dialogue on how the Social Magisterium furthers the common good and well-being of all Americans.
S.E. Cupp: What message do you have for Catholic voters as they mull over their options in the 2012 presidential election?
Read the rest of S.E. Cupp's interview with Ryan in the June isssue of Townhall Magazine--order now!
The DNC is headed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Paul Ryan is now second-in-command for the GOP in 2012.
Here's a flashback to part of an epic showdown between the two back in 2010. Americans sent a wave of Republicans to the House that year.
Over the next several weeks, you'll probably learn everything there is to know--and then some--about Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, whom Mitt Romney tapped to be his running mate on the GOP presidential ticket. Here's a head start on some of the more personal facts about Ryan, which will undoubtedly get lost in the deluge of political attacks. This collection of items probably won't sway votes one way or the other, but it may remind Americans that Ryan is relatable:
1. He does P90x. P90x is an intense workout program that you can order and do in your home--and it's also intensly popular. Ryan was the "unofficial leader" of a group of congressmen who took on the workout challenge, according to The Wall Street Journal, and even Democrats occasionally joined the group. In fact, Ryan told Politico's Mike Allen in a YouTube video posted in 2010 that he led the workouts with Democrat Bart Stupak. See? A bipartisan leader who gets things done.
2. He's been known to listen to grunge music, reports Politico. Stereotype that.
3. Ryan worked three jobs when he came out of college, according to an interview he did with Politico's Mike Allen--one of those jobs was as a fitness trainer. You can listen to the interview below (and hear Ryan sing more of P90x's praises...have you bought the DVDs yet?).
4. His budget sense and sound conservative fiscal policy inspired a popular tumblr (which turned budget lines into pickup lines), though he definitely did not ask for or endorse it.
5. He wrestles catfish--yeah, you've got to read more about it here.
6. His wife's family was "Oklahoma Democratic royalty," according to The New York Times.
From Townhall Magazine's August feature, "Taxed Out!" by Helen Whalen-Cohen:
Philosophical conservatives and tax hawks have long argued that lower taxes bring in more revenue. The less that businesses and individuals are asked to pay to a particular government, the more inclined they will be to live and work within that jurisdiction. In that age-old debate, conservatives face off against liberal policymakers who believe that raising taxes raises revenue, regardless of changes in behavior.
If the behavior of businesses is any indication, however, the hawks are winning the battle. With pronounced tax policy differences among states, businesses are relocating from states with high taxes to ones with fewer taxes and more stability. The major taxes levied by states that affect business decisions are the corporate tax, the sales tax, the property tax and the state income tax—and these don’t include federal taxes businesses pay.
While other factors such as climate and local regulatory burdens do contribute to a buisness’ decision about where to set up shop, local taxes are an important factor.
New Jersey, New York and California all experienced massive business migration problems—some of the worst in the nation—that come with raising taxes on the most productive individuals. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these states made up some of the worst tax climates in the United States, according to the Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. Each year, the Tax Foundation ranks the 50 states based on their tax climate for individuals and businesses. This year, Rhode Island and Vermont came in 46th and 47th place, respectively, followed by California in 48th and New York in 49th place. New Jersey ranked dead last.
Just ask New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, who has been working diligently to fix the tax policies implemented by his predecessor. Once a bastion of wealth, the state of New Jersey bled out $70 billion between 2004 and 2008, as wealthy residents moved to states with less punishing taxes. New Jersey’s The Star- Ledger reported that the main cause was taxes:
“The study [by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College]— the first on interstate wealth migration in the country—noted the state actually saw an influx of $98 billion in the five years preceding 2004. The exodus of wealth, then, local experts and economists concluded, was a reaction to a series of changes in the state’s tax structure— including increases in the income, sales, property and ‘millionaire’ taxes.”
According to The Star-Ledger, the average income of a household that left New Jersey was $618,330, 70 percent higher than the residents who moved in replacing them. Those moving out were also more likely to be, among other professions, entrepreneurs. This is consistent with a 2011 Wall Street Journal report, which found that not only has New Jersey become too reliant on revenue generated by income taxes but that close to 40 percent of those taxes come from the wealthiest 1 percent of New Jersey residents. A study by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce had a similar message:
“The gross income tax currently accounts for about 36 percent of New Jersey’s revenues, and its volatility can be attributed to the increased concentration of earnings among top earners, coupled with tax policies over the past two decades which increased the top income tax rates, according to the report. … The upward rate means the tax burden falls more heavily on a relatively small number of high-income taxpayers whose business and investment incomes have been subject to heavy fluctuations—in some cases due to the cyclical nature of business and in other cases because of challenging economic times.”
As Michael Egenton, senior vice president at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce explains, business income is taxed as personal income, making the progressive income tax particularly punitive to business owners.
“It’s a tax on employers,” he tells Townhall. “At the end of the day, business people have to meet bottom line, so they end up doing less hiring, cutting hours, et cetera.”
For tax purposes, profits are considered a business owner’s taxable income. The exact dollar amount will change depending on the business cycle, but being taxed at a consistently high level means that business owners must strain to meet their bottom line instead of reinvesting and expanding.
Want more? Order the August issue of Townhall Magazine to read more of Whalen-Cohen's article.
Sounds like fun already ... the Tampa Bay Times released the names of some of the speakers slated for the RNC convention in Tampa later this month, and it looks to be a promising lineup. The Times reported that, as of now, it's unclear where these speakers are slotted, and the rest of the lineup--including the keynote speaker--remains unknown. Names so far include conservative powerhouses New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is also speaking.
Here's a portion of the Times report:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are among seven headline speakers announced today for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
The first look at featured speakers also includes South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
The keynote speaker and others will be named closer to the Aug. 27-30 event, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in announcing the headliners, whom he called "some of our party's brightest stars, who have governed and led effectively and admirably in their respective roles."
So far, the lineup looks off to a fairly good start. Conservatives will definitely be represented well--both socially, with the inclusion of Mike Huckabee, and practically, with competent and current gubernatorial voices like Martinez and Haley--and Rice remains a popular figure in the GOP.
More updates on the shooting out of Wisconsin:
--The New York Post is reporting that the NYPD "dispatched extra officers to Sikh temples around the city" as a precaution.
--President Barack Obama has also issued a statement: "Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time,the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."
Looks like the GOP isn't standing for Sen. Harry Reid's bullying tactics. Reid recently suggested--without a shred of evidence he can share, apparently--that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes for quite awhile. Reports the AP:
Top Republicans on Sunday accused Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of lying by passing along an anonymous claim that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes for 10 years. Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a "dirty liar." Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, "I think he's lying about his statement of knowing something about Romney" and he contended Reid was "making things up to divert the campaign away from the real issues." Reid's spokesman, Adam Jentleson, contended that Republicans were trying to cover up for Romney and the aide repeated the Nevada senator's claims that the source about Romney's taxes is "credible." Other Democrats said Romney could clear up any confusion about his taxes by disclosing them to the public, and the issue was a main talking point on the Sunday news shows.
UPDATE (Guy) - Here's video of Priebus' exchange on This Week. The best part is when George Stephanopoulos seems taken aback by the term "dirty liar" and asks if the RNC Chairman will "stand by" that characterization. Priebus' reply? "I just said it."
Additional props to Priebus starting his answer with a series of slams on the economy, which is the issue Reid is trying to distract from with his pathetic stunt.
This is encouraging. The AP reports Mitt Romney thinks the Federal Reserve shouldn't employ another stimulus "to boost the still-sluggish economy":
The Republican presidential hopeful says he doesn't think another round of stimulus would help the economy, arguing that previous measures didn't work.
Romney tells CNN's "State of the Union" in an interview scheduled to air Sunday morning that business incentives are preferable to more government intervention. ...
Romney also doubled down on his vow to create 12 million new jobs during his first term, calling that goal realistic and achievable.
It's encouraging for conservatives to see that Romney's not tempted enough yet to go a big spending-George W. Bush route. I think this also presents a great opportunity to use an Obama line right back at the current president. Obama fondly said Romney is going to rehash old economic policies and concluded, "We tried that and it didn’t work."
Can't the same be said for the stimulus?
The Obama administration and the DNC have filed a lawsuit in Ohio, frustrated with a new procedure in the state to allow only military to vote up until the Monday before election day. Fox News reports:
Top Obama campaign officials told Fox News in interviews that the lawsuit in no way tries to restrict the voting rights of military members. All they are trying to do is even the playing field for all voters in Ohio by allowing early voting up until Monday for everyone, including members of the military, because they believe a two-tiered, early-voting process is unfair.
"Along with the DNC and Ohio Democratic Party, this campaign filed a lawsuit to reinstate equal, early-voting rights for all Ohioans -- rights the Republican-controlled legislature arbitrarily stripped away this past year," Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, told supporters in an email.
Out of all the battles to choose,this seems an awkward PR one. It seems awkward on a practical level, too, as expressed by the GOP camp (again from Fox News):
"I'm just outraged by this," Mike DeWine, the Republican state attorney general in Ohio, told Fox News. "I can't believe the Obama campaign and the state Democratic Party are actually saying there's no rational basis for a distinction between someone who is in the military voting and someone who is not in the military."
The difference in how much closer military can vote relative to the election than the general Ohio public? Three days, says Fox News.
The race for U.S. senator out of Indiana is one to keep a close eye on, since the GOP candidate, Richard Mourdock, was strongly backed by the tea party and managed to defeat establishment Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary. Rasmussen now has Mourdock narrowly leading his Democrat opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly, 42% to 40%.
The race has changed slightly since May, according to Rasmussen's numbers, when both candidates were tied at 42%. The poll shows 15% still undecided, while 3% prefer another candidate in the race.
The race was important enough that presidential candidate Mitt Romney stumped for Mourdock in Indiana today.
"This is a man that I want to see in Washington to make sure that we cannot just talk about changing things but actually have the votes to get things change,” Romney said, as reported by the LA Times.