With his speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Paul Ryan attempted to reposition himself as someone other than the millionaire son of privilege and career politician that he is.
The Republican vice presidential nominee made the break with himself by talking about "guys I went to high school with [who] worked at that GM plant" in Janesville. Like a lot of other guys, and gals, across America, those guys lost their jobs when a multinational corporation shuttered a productive plant.
The problem is that Ryan's has never taken the side of those guys, and of all the working Americans who will march Monday in Labor Day parades from Janesville to Detroit to Toledo and Pittsburgh.
Technically, Ryan has represented Janesville in the US House of Representatives since 1999. But the House Budget Committee chairman's real designation has always been Paul Ryan, R-Wall Street.
Janesville used to be a major manufacturing center. Now it has fallen on hard times. Like so many manufacturing communities in the Great Lakes region, it has been rocked by the outsourcing of US jobs. That's not Ryan's concern, however. Since his election to the House in 1998, Ryan has voted for free-trade pacts -- including the extension of most-favored-nation trading status to China -- that have been absolutely devastating to his hometown and other communities in his southeastern Wisconsin district.
So how has Ryan kept getting re-elected? He's a smart politician. At election time, he spends millions of dollars collected from Wall Street speculators and CEOs to tell his constituents that he really is determined to save their jobs -- or, at the very least, to find them new jobs. He cuts lovely television ads on the assembly lines of the factories that remain in operation and promises to fight for working families.
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