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April 26, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan's Whittington Lecture

Today, Rep. Ryan delivered the Whittington Lecture at Georgetown University.  The text is available here.  Among other things, the lecture has an admirably civil and warm tone (I didn't hear the talk itself), which I confess I might have had difficulty in maintaining, in the wake of the snooty and dismissive letter he received by way of welcome from a number of Georgetown faculty.  Besides the regrettably-common-but-still-simplistic identification of the current state of social-welfare programs with policies clearly mandated by a conscientious application of Catholic Social Teaching, the Georgetown letter snarkily charged that the Ryan budget proposal "appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”   Ryan has made clear that his alleged devotion to Rand is an "urban legend", and elaborated:

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.  [RG:  Nor me!

Because -- like most of those who have criticized the Ryan budget -- I actually don't know everything about it, or everything about its implications, or everything about the soundness of its empirical premises and predictions, I don't presume to endorse it uncritically or dismiss it out of hand.  It does seem to me, though, that Ryan is entirely right (a) to challenge the so-tired idea that Catholic Social Teaching maps neatly onto the social-welfare, spending, and taxation proposals and priorities of the Democratic Party (just as "subsidiarity" is not merely "devolution" or "small government," "solidarity" and "community" are not Catholic baptisms of statism and bureaucracy) and (b) to insist that those charged with authority in the political community are morally obligated to address the challenge of our "debt-fueled economic crisis."  As he says, of course, "how we do this is a question for prudential judgment, about which people of good will can differ."  There is, however, nothing Catholic about election-oriented complacency (see, e.g., the Senate's indifference to its obligation to pass a budget at some point) in the face of mounting debt, the weight of which can only crush the hopes and opportunities of young people, children, and future generations.  Ryan critics who stop at criticism, without at least proposing, for consideration and debate, feasible changes in course that they plausibly and in good faith believe would respond to the challenges he identifies, are not, in my view, serious.

Posted by Rick Garnett on April 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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Hi Professor Garnett,

First of all, I agree completely with you that the debate over the debt and how to help those most hurt by it is a wide open issue according to CST. Certainly I don't advocate every policy that the Dems may come up with regarding how to fix the debt problem, although I do think that tax reform is a necessary proponent of any fix. And yes, that would be in part to correct the overreach in cutting rates for the very wealthy in this country.

Having said that (and I'm really not trying to disagree to disagree) but I don't see anything that wrong with the letter from the GU faculty to Rep. Ryan. It may not be correct in the interpretation of CST but I don't think it's over the top and it certainly isn't as snarky as, say, your typical George Weigel column. Secondly, I saw the clip on Fox earlier this week (I only watch cable news to make sure the world didn't end while I was watching Detroit Tigers games) and Rep. Ryan misrepresented the USCCB's concerns on the budget, saying that Bishops Blaine and Pates were only speaking for themselves, instead of the USCCB as a whole. Even the Pelosis and Bidens of the DEMS would have to strectch to match that misrepresentation.

If Rep. Ryan continues to advocate tax reform, real entitlement reform and deep cuts to our military spending to reduce the footprint in the Middle East, South Korea and Europe that we can no longer afford, then I'll be with him. Until then, I'll remember that he voted for Medicare Part D (which has never been paid for) and for not directly funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but rather adding them to our nation's credit card.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Apr 26, 2012 3:10:23 PM

If they would be "remiss in [their] duty to [Ryan] and [their] students if [they] did not challenge [Ryan's] continuing misuse of Catholic teaching," then they have been "remiss in their duty" for not calling out Pelosi, et al, for their "misuse of Catholic teaching."

Or at least that would seem to be the implication anyway...

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Apr 26, 2012 3:28:48 PM

Ed, thanks. I guess I was just rubbed the wrong way by the "here's a copy of the Compendium, maybe this will help you (you dummy)" aspect. And, we'll have to disagree about the relative snark-levels. With respect to the recent letters from Bishops Blaine and Pates, I am not sure why it's a Pelosi-esque misrepresentation to point out that the letters did not come from the Conference as a whole. What am I missing? All the best, R

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 26, 2012 3:34:00 PM

Hi Professor Garnett,

I think what you're missing (and perhaps I could be wrong on this) is that letters such as those from Bishops Blaine and Pates do represent the USCCB as a whole and Rep. Ryan stated that was not the case. My understanding is that such letters are always representative of the USCCB as a whole.

Thanks again for respomnding and providing this and I do intend to read the lecture tonight (no Tigers game and the Lions don't pick until tomorrow!).

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Apr 26, 2012 3:37:17 PM

Ed, in all candor, I am just not sure. I imagine it depends. I doubt that these letters "speak for" (or purport to) the entire conference -- perhaps the entire relevant committee? -- but, in any event, they clearly are not doctrine, and don't have the weight of, say, a Pastoral Letter, etc. In any event, I think I agree that the better response is not "that's just one bishop" but is "with all due respect, I believe that my budget does faithfully operationalize the Church's social teachings, and that the authors of the letters have failed to appreciate all of the relevant facts", or something like that. Best, R

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 26, 2012 3:42:25 PM

The Georgetown faculty letter is pretty annoying, I have to agree.

Your post, however, seems to assume that Paul Ryan is serious about the budget. If he, for example, promises to close billions worth of tax loopholes but can't actually name any of them, is Ryan "serious" by your lights? Is it "serious" to cut trillions from programs for low-income people and cut taxes on the wealthiest of us, while leaving the defense budget untouched?

And finally, the USCCB recently criticized Ryan's budget, but I'm pretty sure they didn't propose an alternate plan, so I guess that criticism is, in your view, "not serious."

Posted by: william brennan | Apr 26, 2012 4:17:32 PM

I hope its proper but I just wanted to link a post I did on who this speech honors each year

http://opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com/2012/04/important-overlooked-aspect-of-paul.html

Posted by: jh | Apr 26, 2012 4:28:56 PM

Brennan, I didn't endorse the Ryan plan, but yes, whatever its all-things-considered merits, I'm willing to call it "serious." And, if it makes you happy, I'll change my statement to: "With the exception of Bishops, Ryan critics who stop at criticism, without at least proposing, for consideration and debate, feasible changes in course that they plausibly and in good faith believe would respond to the challenges he identifies, are not, in my view, serious."

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 26, 2012 4:29:41 PM

"If he, for example, promises to close billions worth of tax loopholes but can't actually name any of them, is Ryan "serious" by your lights?"

Ryan has said that the task of determining which tax loopholes should be closed is beyond the purview of the House committee he chairs, i.e. the Ways and Means Committee writes the tax laws, they would have the task of enacting tax reform. Supposedly, Ryan has his eye on becoming chair of Ways and Means, so I suspect he has some pretty good ideas of what he'd do. Also, it's not exactly a big secret which loopholes are the biggest revenue-losers: home mortgage, charitable contributions and interest. The universe of options is pretty small.

But this is what I don't get (and what irks me) about Catholic progressives who would jump on Ryan as unserious because he isn't specific on the tax cuts: they throw laurels at Pres. Obama for articulating tax "fairness" by articulating the so-called "Buffet Rule." But the "Buffet Rule" is simply a broad-stroke concept that no "millionaire" should pay less than his secretary in taxes. There is of yet (the President keeps promising its coming) any determinative legislative language that has been put on the table. So why is one deserving of condemnation as unserious for painting with a broad-brush on tax policy, but the other is lauded as the embodiment of Church teaching for doing the exact same thing?

Posted by: Josh | Apr 26, 2012 4:33:54 PM

With respect to the "snark" level; I don't know whether it's just the election year seeping in, but I've found a lot of "commentary" on things Catholic recently has taken the snark level up. For my own good, I've had to try to stop going to dotCommonweal because the posts are starting to read like nothing other than one of those solicitation you get from political candidates describing how the other side is responsible for just about every atrocity in history.

Posted by: Josh | Apr 26, 2012 5:10:32 PM

I wonder if it is politically feasible to propose and pass a budget that comes significantly close to what would significantly conform to Catholic Social Teaching. American capitalism and Catholic Social Teaching don't seem to me to be reconcilable. As I have argued before, even the most liberal of Americans would not accept a bedrock principle of Catholic Social Teaching—the living (or just) wage.

**********
2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. "Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good." Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.
**********

What politician, liberal or conservative, would endorse the idea of different pay for the same work, based on one employee having a greater need than another?

I really wonder if it isn't pointless for any American Catholic politician, left of right, to claim to be guided by Catholic Social Teaching. It seems to me that when John Paul II and Benedict XVI have criticized capitalism, they are criticizing pretty much the kind of capitalism we have in the United States.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 26, 2012 5:48:00 PM

David, you would wind up with your scalp nailed to the wall by the EEOC faster than you could say Bob's your uncle if you did that.

I think you are quite right that neither left nor right really is particularly close to CST. But, we have to pass a budget, so in the current political crisis what do we do?

The Compendium, which the Georgetown profs helpfully provided, states:

"Solidarity without subsidiarity, in fact, can easily degenerate into a “Welfare State”, while subsidiarity without solidarity runs the risk of encouraging forms of self-centred localism. In order to respect both of these fundamental principles, the State's intervention in the economic environment must be neither invasive nor absent, but commensurate with society's real needs."

What does this mean in the current political climate? We can go back and forth with conservatives invoking the first half of the above quote and liberals the second.

You are right that one side or the other claiming the CST mantle and anathematizing the other is probably not a fruitful way of proceeding.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Apr 26, 2012 6:17:04 PM

Rick,

You say: "Ryan has made clear that his alleged devotion to Rand is an 'urban legend' . . . "

Was Paul Ryan not a speaker at the Ayn Rand Centenary Conference?
http://ayn-rand.info/cth-61-1315-AynRandCentenaryConference.aspx

And did he not say there, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand."

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 26, 2012 6:37:45 PM

From Paul Ryan's Facebook page:

Favorite Books
Mere Christianity & The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis;
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand; The Road to Serfdom - F.A. Hayek;
The Way the World Works - Jude Wanniski

2009 Videos
"I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build the moral case for capitalism . . . "
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1188874849092

"Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism . . . "
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1191939045695

Sometimes things that people claim are urban legends actually turn out to be true.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 26, 2012 6:59:08 PM

Ah, the internets!

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 26, 2012 7:05:58 PM

"We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function."
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=9417

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Apr 26, 2012 10:30:16 PM

David:

Being sort of a bookish person myself, I've been influenced by many books, some penned by people with whom I do not share a worldview but appreciate their arguments for particular points of view. I think that Hayek makes some terrific points about how as the state becomes larger and more intrusive of free institutions--that cannot be fully grasped or understood with the tools of techno-expertise--our liberties tend to diminish. Do I accept his philosophical naturalism? Of course not.

So, when Congressman Ryan writes on his Facebook wall that he has been shaped by C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity--whose first five chapters is a brief against naturalist accounts of morality--as well as Rand's case for capitalism, he is doing what we all do: we read differing points of view in order to become better equipped in understanding ourselves and our world.

Have we grown so accustomed to the echo chambers in which we reside that we can't imagine that someone who disagrees with us is as rich and complex as we think ourselves to be?

Posted by: Francis J. Beckwith | Apr 26, 2012 10:41:11 PM

The Georgetown faculty should send a copy of the Constitution to President Obama. Perhaps they could also explain to him that crucifixion as advocated by his EPA administrators has not yet been approved by Catholic Social Thought.

Posted by: Patrick Molloy | Apr 27, 2012 12:07:21 AM

While I don't believe for a minute that Paul Ryan is a follower of Ayn Rand in the sense of being an atheist and an "Objectivist," his praise for her work and his invoking of her ideas can't be dismissed with the wave of a hand as an "urban legend." It is simply too well documented—including on Ryan's own Facebook page! If Ryan (and Robert Costa of National Review) had said something along the lines of what Francis Beckwith says above, that would be one thing. But to imply Atlas Shrugged is a "dusty novel" that Ryan read in his youth and put behind him is just disingenuous.

• He told Insight on the News on May 24, 1999, that the books he most often rereads are "The Bible, Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged."
• He told the Weekly Standard on March 17, 2003, "I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well... I try to make my interns read it."
• At the 2005 birthday party for Rand, Ryan said, "Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill... is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict -- individualism versus collectivism." As noted above, he also said there, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand."
• As I also noted above, in videos from 2009 on Ryan's Facebook page, he says, ""I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build the moral case for capitalism . . . " and "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism . . . "

Did Ayn Rand, better than anyone else, explain the morality of capitalism—or the morality of anything else, for that matter? Does one reach sound moral conclusions from "Objectivist" premises?

I know I have a tendency to be very partisan myself, and if I were a conservative Republican and a Ryan supporter, I would probably be looking for a way to reconcile Ryan's recent comments about Ayn Rand with his past endorsements of her ideas. But in this case, it takes some pretty fancy footwork to transmogrify documented facts into an "urban legend."

Some of the above is from http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/04/how-tell-paul-ryan-wants-be-veep-hes-rejected-his-former-idol-ayn-rand/51605/

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 27, 2012 9:45:37 AM

David, because I think Ayn Rand is turgid and Objectivism is deeply wrong, I suppose I'd rather it be the case that Rep. Ryan -- whom I admire and whose dedication to addressing what I think any reasonable person has to regard as a serious problem should be, I think, admired even by those who advocate different responses -- was not influenced by her at all. But, to be fair: A whole lot of smart teen-age boys of a certain age read Ayn Rand, and listened to Rush, and that shouldn't disqualify what they say and do later. It could be worse, after all - - he could have been strongly influenced by John Rawls! (I kid, I kid . . . sort of.)

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 27, 2012 10:17:40 AM

Rick,

If you could delve back into the Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, in one issue somewhere in the first half of the 1960s, you'd find a little picture of me and a story with me saying Ayn Rand was my favorite author. I read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, probably We the Living (although I don't remember it), and The Virtue of Selfishness (although I am not sure I finished it). But with Ryan it goes way beyond having been infatuated with Ayn Rand when he was a teenager. As I said, I am quite sure Ryan isn't an "Objectivist," and doubtless he has his own idea of what Atlas Shrugged is all about that he can reconcile in his head with Catholicism. But he's still promoting her work, appealing to her ideas, and (as of 2003 at least) giving copies of Atlas Shrugged as presents. His dismissing talk of his admiration for her work as an "urban legend" is simply disingenuous. Costa is less than candid in saying, "Ryan enjoys bantering about dusty novels, but it’s not really his bailiwick." It is clear that Atlas Shrugged is not a "dusty" novel to Ryan.

I am not making any claim (here, at least) that Ryan's admiration of Atlas Shrugged has caused him to come up with objectionable budget proposals. I am just saying that clearly there is an effort to distance him from Ayn Rand in a way that is not altogether honest. It's the kind of dishonesty that we tend to rationalize when "our side" is guilty of it and denounce when the other side does it, but it is dishonesty nevertheless.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 27, 2012 10:57:53 AM

David, fair enough. As we've seen, politicians often seem to find themselves in the position of having to (or, in some cases, of being allowed not to) disavow embarassing connections with unsavory people (like Bill Ayers?) A tough, non-partisan insistence on "honesty" in politics is one that could only do us good, and I hope that you will strongly encourage all those on your "side" to follow you in insisting on it.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 27, 2012 11:03:44 AM

"A whole lot of smart teen-age boys of a certain age read Ayn Rand, and listened to Rush, and that shouldn't disqualify what they say and do later."

Couldn't agree more. Of course, as a defense of Paul Ryan, this sentiment would require that he was a teen in 2009 ...

Even if he still likes Rand now, that shouldn't disqualify his ideas from a fair hearing, but can't we agree that (1) Rand's apparently central place in the development of his thinking bears on how we should understand Ryan's policy proposals, and (2) his current claim that his interest in Rand is merely an "urban legend" is a fabrication?

Also, does anyone know what is the earliest date that Paul Ryan publicly expressed an interest in or reliance on CST?

Posted by: william brennan | Apr 27, 2012 11:05:04 AM

Brennan: "Of course" . . . whatever. This Rand business matters to you a lot more than it matters to me. I don't think Ryan's relationship with Rand's work -- whatever it is (and, I admit, I think David has shown that the relationship continues to have more substance than the "urban legend" thing would have suggested) -- tells us much about whether his proposed budget is a better solution to our current challenges than is, say, the President's (i.e., cynically propose budgets that get rejected unanimously) or the Senate's (illegally do nothing for three years). I'm game for Simpson-Bowles, are you? Instead of carping about Rand, "can't we agree" that it is stupid and immoral to, for cynical election-year reasons, just do nothing in the face of the (obvious) need to get our taxation, spending, promising (entitlements and pensions), and growth into a better balance? Also, "can't we agree" that the "Catholic Social Thought, conscientiously applied, requires whatever it is that Rep. Pelosi would propose, if she proposed something, and rules out whatever it is that any 'conservative' -- whether it's Ryan or someone else -- proposes" meme is garbage?

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 27, 2012 11:12:53 AM

So I guess this means Dinesh D'Souza, Andrew Breitbart, Andy McCarthy et al. are right: Obama's prior affection for turgid crits and their "apparently central place in the development of his thinking" makes him President Roberto Unger. Or at the very least we should ask how schoolyard Marxism and Critical Theory influence his policy proposals.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 11:51:12 AM

Mike,

I would say the whole Ayn Rand issue is utterly irrelevant to evaluating Paul Ryan's economic proposals. They're either good economics or bad economics. The same goes for whomever one counts as those who influenced Obama's thought and his economic proposals. Assuming, merely for the sake of argument, that Paul Ryan's budget uncharitably and cruelly deprives the poor of needed aid, and that is a result of Ayn Rand's influence over Paul Ryan, it seems to me a waste of time to bemoan Rand's influence over Ryan. It's the budget that counts, not who influenced Ryan and how that influence is reflected in his budget proposals. Or suppose, just for the sake of argument, that Ryan has a huge part of the solution to the country's economic problems and that the country simply can't afford certain programs for the poor. It is irrelevant whether Rand was indifferent to the poor and her indifference influenced Ryan. It's not what's in Ryan's heart that matters. It's what's in the budget. Indifference to the poor is not a good thing, but if we simply can't afford to provide certain types of aid, then it's better to have someone who is indifferent enough to make heartless (but necessary) cuts than it is to have someone who is so "compassionate" that they destroy the economy by spending money we don't have.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 27, 2012 12:16:57 PM

I think that's more or less sound, David.

It seems to me that the question of whether or not Ryan is a "Randian" (or an "Objectivist") is a liberal cousin to the question of whether or not Obama is a "Marxist" or a "Kenyan anti-colonialist" It's a dogwhistle not an argument. Obviously each side has its elements committed to that sort of thing, but it seems that "respectable" commentators should avoid it. (This, in turn, tells us what we need to know about where public figures like Gingrich, Krugman, and Winters fall on that spectrum.)

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 12:33:08 PM

David,

My pretty childhood face has graced the pages of the Telegraph too, though a bit more recently than the 60s ; )

Glad to hear you are from the Queen City!

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Apr 27, 2012 1:58:19 PM

"Instead of carping about Rand, "can't we agree" that it is stupid and immoral to, for cynical election-year reasons, just do nothing in the face of the (obvious) need to get our taxation, spending, promising (entitlements and pensions), and growth into a better balance?"

The Georgetown folks raised Rand, not me; I merely think his affinity for that sort of glib approach to difficult issues is potentially relevant to understanding his policy proposals, which, as I noted, should be given a fair hearing on their own merits. I tend to agree that it's foolish to let elction-year politics impede better policy-making, but that is nothing new. I believe, however, that the Rs have been significantly more obstructionist than the Ds over the last 3 years (while conceding that the Ds have not earned any profile in courage nominations). I think Simpson-Bowles sounded like a promising start and the idea that the CST = Pelosi's (or any politician's) agenda is, you are correct to say, garbage.

But I think (tentatively and based on your praise of Ryan's budget while being generally disapproving of the President's budget) that you believe that Paul Ryan's budget is "serious" in a way that the President's proposed budget is not. I don't get that; the President's budget proposal seems pretty "serious" to me -http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/the_case_for_shared_sacrifice.pdf

Posted by: william brennan | Apr 27, 2012 2:10:01 PM

Brennan -- my "disapproval" of the President's budget focused, you'll note, on the fact that it was introduced without any expectation or even aim of passing it (and that it received, if I remember, not a single vote). I'm not sure it's accurate to say, really, that I've "praise[d]" Ryan's budget, though I welcome it, and continue to think that a lot of the criticism of it fails to engage it, or to offer constructive counter-suggestions for solving the problems that I think Ryan is right to call attention to.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 27, 2012 2:15:22 PM

Rick Garnett:

Which budget are you talking about? The 2013 budget? Because the 0-414 vote in the House wasn't really on the budget Obama proposed. The vote was a gimmick by the Republicans, which they are, of course, perfectly entitled to do as the majority in the House. But let's not be disingenuous.

And do you really think Ryan's budget has any chance whatsoever of passing the Senate? If so, I have a bridge of popsicle sticks to sell you.

Posted by: Anonsters | Apr 27, 2012 2:57:16 PM

I remembered reading this a few weeks ago:
Bloomberg View: The Obama and Ryan Budgets Have a Lot in Common
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-12/bloomberg-view-the-obama-and-ryan-budgets-have-a-lot-in-common

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 27, 2012 2:58:01 PM

"[G]immick" is the word the White House used to describe the budget pulled from Obama's proposal in anticipation of its 0-414 defeat, which, being on the receiving end of a drubbing, it was perfectly entitled to use. But if that really was just theater and not the President's budget, which proposed budget amendment reflected the "actual" Obama plan?

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 3:56:08 PM

Mulvaney's amendment, defeated 0-414, is listed here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:1:./temp/~bdu3ZG::

The text of his amendment, 14 pages in House Report 112-423, is here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/T?&report=hr423&dbname=112&

The hard-to-link-to pdf of House Rpt. 112-423 is reachable through http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&sid=cp112SBczk&r_n=hr423.112&dbname=cp112&&sel=TOC_156144&

The President's 256-page budget is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview

I don't follow this issues very closely, but what actual evidence is there for your asserted "fact that [the President's budget] was introduced without any expectation or even aim of passing it"?

Doesn't the very fact that the measure was introduced by a Republican and defeated 0-414 suggest rather strongly that this was not a good-faith vote on the President's actual budget?

Posted by: william brennan | Apr 27, 2012 3:59:28 PM

Doesn't the very fact that the measure was introduced by a Republican because no Democrat had introduced a version of it suggest rather strongly that the President's budget was proposed without any expectation or even aim of it being passed?

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 4:07:43 PM

As Rep. Mulvaney said at the time, “Clearly, it must be [an] oversight. Clearly, my colleagues meant to offer the President’s budget. I thought I’d help my colleagues across the aisle out a little bit and offer the President’s budget. Which is exactly what this amendment is.”

http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/29/gop-rep-introduces-obama-budget-measure-gets-0-414-drubbing-video/

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 4:09:33 PM

"Doesn't the very fact that the measure was introduced by a Republican because no Democrat had introduced a version of it suggest rather strongly that the President's budget was proposed without any expectation or even aim of it being passed?"

What makes you think that no Democrat introduced a version of the President's budget?

"The House Democrats’ plan looks very similar to the budget offered by President Obama. The Democratic House budget follows the president’s conceptual approach in many areas, including near-term growth initiatives, a higher income tax burden on upper-income individuals, corporate tax reform, replacement of the sequester cuts, and reforms to agriculture subsidies. The overall level of debt reduction achieved by the two proposals is comparable."

http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/2012/03/house-democrats-fiscal-year-2013-budget-details

Posted by: william brennan | Apr 27, 2012 4:37:03 PM

May I just interject one point with respect to Ryan's actual proposal and how influenced it is by Rand?

That point is namely that Ryan's proposal to reform Medicare is apparently so far to the right, and reflects such an extreme Randian, objectivist, individualism, that is has attracted the support of one Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon. That is telling, as it represents precisely one more Democratic vote than has been garnered by the President's own budget proposal, only because so far no Democratic senators have voted for it because they've refused to bring the budget to the floor for a vote in over some 1,000 days (contrary to their legal obligation).

So by all means let's obsess over some nefarious Randian influence on Ryan's "social Darwinistic" plans in order to ignore the failings of those on our own side of the political aisle.

Posted by: Josh | Apr 27, 2012 5:17:49 PM

"But I think (tentatively and based on your praise of Ryan's budget while being generally disapproving of the President's budget) that you believe that Paul Ryan's budget is "serious" in a way that the President's proposed budget is not. I don't get that; the President's budget proposal seems pretty "serious" to me -http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/the_case_for_shared_sacrifice.pdf"

This just takes the cake. You're knocking Ryan's proposal as "unserious" in contrast to the President's "serious" proposal, and as evidence link to a document from the White House. But it's amazing if you read the document, particularly the point on revenues. Mr. Sperling lists a host of bipartisan proposals that have called for raising revenue in contrast to the "intransigent" House Republicans who refuse to do so. Now what is mind-boggling about this is that when the President had an opportunity to seize the high ground in this argument by adopting the proposal of the Bowles-Simpson Commission - a commission formed and convened by the President himself, and which includes a tax reform plan precisely along the lines that has been advocated by Ryan (i.e. cut rate, delete exemptions and raise revenue) - he has TOTALLY ignored those recommendations. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, although he has articulated the so-called "Buffet Rule", it remains nothing but a broad formulation of policy, i.e. he has not as of yet forwarded any specific legislative language to be voted on.

The entire debate about who is or is not more "serious" is tiresome, but it certainly is rendered absurb by the kinds of silly talking points being linked to in Brennan's post. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by: Josh | Apr 27, 2012 5:25:45 PM

I just realized. This blog is incredibly irritating to read when it gets into politics, because both posters and commenters just follow their political leanings and throw everything else to the wind.

I hope this doesn't reflect the state of "Catholic legal theory."

Posted by: Anonsters | Apr 27, 2012 5:46:39 PM

Anonsters -- descriptively, I think you are wrong, or at least not entirely right. It's true that the temptation is hard to resist, but I'm pretty sure one is more likely to find people actually engaging the implications of the Gospel for law and policy, and following them where they lead (for example, we have "conservatives" here who worry about anti-immigrant laws and the death penalty, and "liberals" who are sensitive to the threats that anti-discrimination laws can pose to religious freedom) than is true at most other politically or religiously themed blogs.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 27, 2012 6:18:28 PM

"What makes you think that no Democrat introduced a version of the President's budget?"

The fact that no one did. An outside group declaring the House Dem budget to look "substantially similar" to the President's budget does not make it a "version." if it does, then cf. David's link earlier about how similar Obama and Ryan's budgets are. Perhaps, then, we all can agree on how Ryan's "version" of the Obama budget is a serious stab at solving our problems from the President and should be supported.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 27, 2012 9:40:40 PM

One would think that Catholic Legal theory would begin by recognizing the truth about the personal and relational essence of the human person created in The Image of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male and female. To deny the personal and relational essence of the human person is to deny the essence of The Blessed Trinity from The Beginning. Our call to Holiness, is a call to Perfect Love.

Posted by: N.D. | Sep 1, 2012 6:06:40 AM

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