Cross-posted from The Nation
The ticket Republicans will nominate in Tampa next week is uniquely
connected to the "vulture capitalist" constituency, and uniquely
committed to protecting the interests of today's robber-baron class.
Paul Ryan grew up in a wealthy family with a Republican bent and all the right political and corporate connections.
He could easily have made his way into the private sector -- doing
business with family and friends, as have generations of wealthy Ryans.
But Paul was always the starry-eyed, perhaps wild-eyed, idealist. He read Austrian economic texts and far-right authors with a passion, committing to memory the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and his intellectual heart-throb, Ayn Rand.
Reading Rand, the newly minted Republican vice presidential contender
once said was "the reason I got involved in public service."
Ryan has since tried to distance himself from Rand's militant atheism
and even more extreme attitudes regarding the least among us. But his
older brother, Tobin, told reporters: "Paul can still quote every verse out of Ayn Rand."
Rand's greed-is-good thinking plays well with hedge-fund managers,
private equity players and the "vulture capitalist" class that enjoys
taking a break from pillaging to plod through novels about, well, guys
But as the youngest Ryan child, Paul got a little mavericky. Much as
he talks up the private sector, Paul Ryan forged a career in the public
sector. He's worked as a Congressional aide and congressman -- with brief
breaks as a conservative "think tank" associate and a speech writer for
Jack Kemp's 1996 presidential campaign -- since leaving college.
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But older brother Tobin followed the more traditional route for sons of privilege.
As Fortune magazine notes, Tobin Ryan is a full partner with Seidler Equity Partners,
a California-based "private equity investment firm that partners with
visionary executives to grow their businesses." Before he went to
Seidler, Tobin worked with a politically connected Wisconsin-based private equity firm, King Capital (founded by former Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Steve King,
who served as finance chair for Paul Ryan's Congressional runs). He
also put in a stint with Bain & Company, the consulting firm where Mitt Romney says he "enjoyed working with a team of people to arrive at ideas and solutions" for what Texas Governor Rick Perry described as "vulture capitalist" interventions.
Tobin Ryan joined the Bain & Co. team after Romney moved to the
private-equity firm that the consulting firm spawned, Bain Capital. But
the connection has raised eyebrows, and spawned plenty of headlines, in
the financial press.
The Ryan brothers are, in Tobin's words,
"very close." Indeed, they live "about a three-wood away from each
other" in the town where the Ryans have for decades been a pre-eminent
(construction and contracting) business family. Tobin, a frequent media
spokesman and surrogate for his brother, refers to Paul's first US House
race as "our first campaign."
"So we've now got a former private equity executive running for
president alongside the brother of a current private equity executive,"
observes Fortune senior editor Dan Primack.
And Paul Ryan, like Mitt Romney, is politically committed to the
aiding the masters of the universe who run the private-equity empires
that now so dominate the US economy.
The "Roadmap for America's Future"
budget plan that Ryan wrote in 2010--the document that, arguably,
launched into orbit as a Republican star--pledges to change tax policies
to create "an enhanced investment climate."
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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
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