Though Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan claims that the Republican ticket “will not seek to transform America into something it was never intended to be,” as a Congressman, Ryan advanced legislation that he himself admitted would profoundly alter the fabric of American society.
Throughout his career, Ryan advocated for privatization of Medicare and Social Security as a means of restructuring society to more closely resemble the extreme laissez-faire system envisioned by authors like Ayn Rand. In a 2005 speech to the Atlas Society, an Ayn Rand appreciation group, Ryan explicitly said Republicans should “change the dynamics in this society”:
Health savings accounts, personal accounts for Social Security, these are the things that put the individual back in the game, that break the back of this collectivist philosophy that pervades, you know, 90 percent of the thinking here in this town [...]
[W]e have to go back to Ayn Rand. Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works…. I think, if we win a few of these right now, if we switch health care to an individual, consumer-based system, in moving Social Security to an individually pre-owned, pre-funded retirement system, just those two things right there, will do so much to change the dynamics in this society, will do so much to bring more people into the side of transparency in government, than anything else we can do.
Indeed, it’s hard to overstate how much of a break Ryan’s budget proposals are with the American political tradition. His dramatic spending cuts would crowd out almost every part of government other than the military and Social Security.
Ryan’s budget is such an ambitious attempt to change American society that Newt Gingrich (no stranger to extremism) called it “right-wing social engineering.” He would slowly dismantle the New-Deal era institutions that spread economic risks across everyone — the rich, and poor, the healthy and the sick — and shift all of the economic costs and risks onto the individual.