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With Romney-Ryan, GOP Becomes Grand Old Private-Equity Party

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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.

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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."

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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 like them.

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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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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