Paul Ryan’s Same Ol’, Same Ol’

The mainstream media is selling House Speaker-in-waiting Paul Ryan as someone who can bring some order to Congress, but it’s likely to be the same old status quo of influence-peddling that has infuriated Americans across the political spectrum, write Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Only in a world where Cosmopolitan magazine can declare the Kardashians “America’s First Family” and the multi-billionaire loose cannon Donald Trump is perceived by millions as the potential steward of our nuclear arsenal could about-to-be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan be savaged as insufficiently right-wing.

This is after all a man who made his bones in Congress and the Republican Party as an Ayn Rand-spouting, body-building budget-buster slashing away at the body politic like a mad vivisectionist, as well as an anti-choice, pro-gun zealot who never met a government program he liked (except the military, whose swollen budget he would increase until we are all left naked living in a national security state).

Rep. Paul Ryan, with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire. (Photo credit:

Rep. Paul Ryan, with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire during Campaign 2012. (Photo credit:

But the former vice presidential candidate is widely cited among many of his colleagues as a likable enough chap who is polite to his elders in the hierarchy of Congress, and this makes the more rabid bomb-throwers seethe. To them, that chummy, self-enlightened pragmatism as well as his past embrace of immigration reform qualify him as a so-called RINO, a Republican in Name Only, a “squish.”

Time makes ancient good uncouth, as the poem goes, and in the words of Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog, “Nowadays if you are guilty of having ever supported ‘amnesty’ your other heresies will be uncovered, however old they are. The other way to look at it, of course, is that the GOP continues to drift to the Right, making yesterday’s ideological heroes suspect.”

The House Freedom Caucus, the fractious faction of radical right-wingers gerrymandered into a permanent demolition squad, successfully conspired to bring down House Speaker John Boehner and his designated successor Kevin McCarthy. They have for the moment agreed to support Paul Ryan’s speakership, but not with the unanimity that would constitute an official endorsement.

Further, it seems that for their support to continue once he takes the job Ryan must pledge to curtail some of his powers and enable the insurgents to continue to wreak havoc on the day-to-day business of the House without fear of punishment by the grown-ups.

There’s a paradox to all this. Despite his ideological kinship with the anti-government crowd, Paul Ryan is the embodiment of the troika of money, power and politics that corrupts and controls the capital, the very thing the tea partiers detest.

Ryan is “a creature of Washington,” Red State’s Erick Erickson wrote. “He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.”

He’s a master at the insider cronyism that defines Washington today. Just look at Ryan’s choice as his new chief of staff: David Hoppe, the personification of the supreme K-Street lobbyist, his footprints stamped all over the tar pit of Washington patronage, his hands chapped from rubbing at the prospect of the big bucks corporations pay for government favors.

A 29-year veteran staffer on Capitol Hill, he’s a poster child for the revolving door through which members of Congress and their staffs rotate in the endless cycling between public service and private lucre. In Hoppe’s case, the rush of air from the revolving door would jumpstart the windmill in a Dutch landscape painting.

The indefatigable journalistic sleuth David Sirota went digging into federal records this week and reports that, “Hoppe has lobbied for such major financial industry interests as insurance giant MetLife, the National Venture Capital Association and Zurich Financial Services.”

Hoppe also has scurried along the inner corridors and back rooms of government for the investment firm BlackRock. Imagine: this man will now be sitting right there beside the Speaker of the House after working for a company which, Sirota writes, “could be affected by efforts to change federal financial regulations and which could benefit from a recent proposal to shift military pension money into a federal savings plan managed in part by the Wall Street giant.”

What’s more, Hoppe has lobbied for Cayman Finance, “whose business ‘promot[ing] the development of the Cayman Islands financial services industry’ could be affected by legislation to crack down on offshore tax havens.” The big tax avoiders must be licking their corporate chops.

Hoppe’s other clients have included the “free-trade” promoting and job-busting US Chamber of Commerce, recently outed as perhaps the tobacco industry’s most influential champion not only in Washington but the entire world. And then there are Sony, AT&T, Amazon, Delta Airlines and the candy and food behemoth Mars, as well as the Lebanese al-Mawarid Bank.

Eric Lipton at The New York Times adds that Hoppe has worked for Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and as a registered foreign agent, “representing the governments of Kosovo and the Philippines.”

There’s even more. Hoppe’s listicle of paymasters continues, as reported by Lipton: “The more than 100 companies and trade associations he has represented over the last decade have paid $95 million in lobbying fees, according to records filed with the United States Senate clerk, for work that Mr. Hoppe and his colleagues have provided, to his firm [Hoppe Strategies], to Squire Patton Boggs, or to Quinn Gillespie & Associates, where he once served as president.”

And it turns out that Hoppe is just one of the network of Ryan pals who have turned their Capitol Hill experience into pay dirt. Catherine Ho at The Washington Post notes, among others, Ryan friend and former Senate staffer Tim McGivern, “a longtime AT&T lobbyist who last month joined the lobby firm Ogilvy Government Relations.”

Others in the Ryan orbit include two former aides of then-Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, the House majority leader who was found to be so deeply embedded in the money machinery of Washington’s crony capitalism that he was embarrassingly trounced by an obscure tea partier running against him in their Republican primary. (Now that successful challenger, David Brat, has endorsed Ryan. Oh, the temptations, the temptations ready for plucking!)

You get the picture. Paul Ryan, waiting to be crowned speaker of what was once called “The People’s House,” prepares for business-as-usual. Committed to the sad and sordid Washington game that has so angered Americans on every point of the political spectrum, he is about to be named one of its Most Valuable Players.

And if anyone tells you otherwise, just recall for them the testimony of one of Ryan’s own Republican colleagues, Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, who says he can’t support Ryan because, “If you’ve got problems with a man today, and the man tells you, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be a different person’ it doesn’t happen.”

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and Michael Winship is the senior writer of Moyers & Company and, Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. [This story originally appeared at


7 comments for “Paul Ryan’s Same Ol’, Same Ol’

  1. Mortimer
    October 30, 2015 at 05:39

    Google search Alvin Toffler’s 1964 Playboy interview of Ayn Rand.
    It caused me to liken her to Ms Mary Baker Eddy

    Both twisted sisters

    • Abe
      October 31, 2015 at 00:49

      “What is that? An Ayn Rand pin on your uniform? What kind of a man are you? You’re worthless and weak! You do nothing! You are nothing!”

  2. Abe
    October 29, 2015 at 19:16

    One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the closest one can get to an ideologist of the “greed is good” radical capitalism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some reports, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged – the creative capitalists themselves going on strike – is coming to pass in the form of a populist right. However, this misreads the situation: what is effectively taking place today is almost the exact opposite. Most of the bailout money is going precisely to the Randian “titans”, the bankers who failed in their “creative” schemes and thereby brought about the financial meltdown. It is not the “creative geniuses” who are now helping ordinary people, it is the ordinary people who are helping the failed “creative geniuses.”

    John Galt, the central character in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the novel. Before his identity is revealed, the question is repeatedly asked, “Who is John Galt?” Now we know precisely who he is: John Galt is the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, and for the ongoing federal government shutdown in the US.”

    – Slavoj Žižek, Guardian OP/ED, October 2013


    At a 2005 Washington, D.C. gathering celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth, Ryan credited Rand as inspiring him to get involved in public service.

    In a speech that same year at the Atlas Society, he said he grew up reading Rand, and that her books taught him about his value system and beliefs.

    Ryan required staffers and interns in his congressional office to read Rand and gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged as gifts to his staff for Christmas. In his Atlas Society speech, he also described Social Security as a “socialist-based system”.

    In 2009, Ryan said, “What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”

  3. Ethan Allen
    October 28, 2015 at 16:29

    It’s refeshing to see/read the voices of Mssrs. Moyers and Winship represented in the consortium of credible observers striving herein to provide an informed view; one that supports the notion that only an informed public can recognize and therefore choose eqitable representation.
    Indeed, the closing stanza of the James Russell Lowell poem cited….

    New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
    They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
    Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
    Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
    Nor attempt the Future’s portal with the Past’s blood-rusted key.

    ….warns us all that the present occasion requires that “Nor attempt the Future’s portal with the Past’s blood-rusted key.”
    As Usual,

  4. Mortimer
    October 28, 2015 at 08:03

    (from the authors) “This is after all a man who made his bones in Congress and the Republican Party as an Ayn Rand-spouting, body-building budget-buster slashing away at the body politic like a mad vivisectionist, as well as an anti-choice, pro-gun zealot who never met a government program he liked (except the military, whose swollen budget he would increase until we are all left naked living in a national security state).”

    With Ryan we get Objectivism and AuthoritaRYANism

    The police state is near can’t be far off… .

    –The noun authoritarianism is most often used in a negative context, to describe a government with absolute control over the population. This kind of government uses military threats, suppression of a free press, and disinformation to manage the people over whom it rules.–

  5. peter Loeb
    October 28, 2015 at 05:28


    Perhaps it may seem antique to many but I wonder if Mr. Ryan
    soon “The Speaker”, has come to grips with real (not “virtual”)

    Many who do not follow the ins and outs of Washington politics
    as anybody’s “wonk” may suddenly be surprised that
    their social security checks are in danger. Or that their
    veterans benefits (nowadays the “third rail” of politics)
    may be affected. Or that their own Joe or Billy
    will be deployed to far-off nations to spread “Democracy”.
    (In a town hall meeting some time ago of a conservative
    representative, several presumably conservative
    attendeees were heard to say: ” I just don’t want
    to go to anymore funerals…”

    Will the above affect the number of usually conservative
    voters’ enthusiasm about re-electIng the ultra-
    conservative representative they currently have?

    No one knows.

    As a party which has also collaborated on foreign wars,
    the Democratic party may find itself similarly compromised.

    Will “Black Lives Matter” just blow away? Not the structure
    but the continual exercise of uneccessary fatal force
    not only on black lives in America but alsoon those of darker
    hues worldwide?

    The answers to the above doubts cannot be “answered”
    at this time of course.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  6. Zachary Smith
    October 27, 2015 at 22:31

    A big “Thank You” to the authors here. Paul Ryan is a horrible person, and will also be a dreadful speaker for people who believe in good governance. I’ve read some stuff about the guy recently.

    But in any rational look at the spectrum of American political views, it is hard to imagine attaching the words “moderate” or “moderate conservative” to Ryan on any issue except perhaps his clothing preferences and his haircut.

    Let’s start with Ryan’s outrageous hypocrisy. Ryan worships at the altar of novelist Ayn Rand, the philosopher of you’re-on-your-own selfishness, whose books have been required reading for his Congressional staffers. Like Rand, he consistently demonizes people who improve their lives with the help of government. Ryan seems to be unaware of how much his own family and his own financial success has been influenced by “big government.”

    Despite Ryan’s persistent attacks on government spending, his family’s construction business has been anchored in building roads on government contracts. Despite his worship of private-sector entrepreneurs, he’s spent his entire career as a government employee. Despite being a crusader against anti-poverty programs, Ryan is a millionaire who made his money the old-fashioned way: by marrying a woman who inherited a fortune.

    The man teamed up with Todd Akin to sponsor a bill which would make abortion impossible.


    In 2008 the Big Banker candidate had his way cleared by the very fortunate opposition ticket of the Geezer and Caribou Barbie. By 2012 BHO was such an obvious failure that more severe measures were taken to make sure he was reelected. First, by some kind of miracle he had no primary opposition. Where was Bernie Sanders then? Next, another miracle happened – a Mormon Bishop who had gotten rich as a professional business looter teamed up with a toxic extreme right-wing disciple of Ayn Rand. Against that pairing, even the nobel peace laureate suddenly didn’t look so awful.

    Now Ryan is being touted as some sort of savior. Not very bloody likely!

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