Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paul Ryan vs. the Congressional Black Caucus

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's federal budget proposal, which significantly curtails the growth of the welfare state and reforms Medicare, passed the House of Representatives last month. This month, Ryan met with the Congressional Black Caucus to exchange views on "social welfare." The CBC favors the opposite path—massive increases in taxes and spending.

As the NJ Star-Ledger noted in GOP attacks social welfare programs and finds a firm foe, "disagreement is about all they really agree on." The Star-Ledger wrote:

Not since Daniel faced off with the lion back in Biblical times has there been a meeting of such legendary antagonists as the one last week between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Congressional Black Caucus.

I left these comments:

What hyperbole!

In fact, Ryan and the Congressional Black Caucus are essentially on the same side. The second wants a bigger welfare state. The first wants a smaller welfare state. Both support a welfare state, in principle.

That said, Ryan at least leans in the right direction. Any rollback in the welfare state leaves more money in the hands of those who earned it. That's where it belongs. Forced wealth redistribution is criminal and immoral, whether done by Willie Sutton or government officials.

The fundamental premise behind the welfare state is that need equals an automatic claim on others' wealth and property. If you take responsibility for your own life, and work to satisfy your own needs, those who don't get to slap chains on you—and the more you earn the heavier the chains, as the "needy" proliferate like malignant cells. As proof, just read any headline, which tells us that poverty and need are at all-time highs, half a century after the Great Society's "War on Poverty," and despite more government spending than ever before. And here is the CBC, proposing once again to attack the productive to satisfy the growing need.

It's time to attack the welfare state at its root. Need is not a license to steal. We are not our brothers' keepers. Every individual has a right to live for his own sake, and has the moral obligation to respect others' rights to their lives and property. No one has the right, nor should anyone have the power, to impose on anyone else the unchosen obligation to satisfy the needs of another.

No, the welfare state isn't going away anytime soon. But we should at least try to restrain it. It's time to go to bat for the productive people who are forced to carry the welfare state on their backs, in addition to carrying their own weight. That is what Ryan is attempting to do, at least in part. For that, he deserves some credit.

The pro-welfare state Star-Ledger called Paul Ryan "perhaps the worst possible GOP ambassador to the Black Caucus," apparently believing that black voters are irrevocably tied to dependence on government handouts. But, if less intrusive and less redistributionist—i.e., more rights-protecting—government is where the GOP wants to go, then the most right-wing members of their party like Ryan are just the kinds of Republicans to engage the Leftists Democrat factions like the CBC.
It's true that there's no way that Ryan could have made any headway with the CBC. Nonetheless, long term progress toward more liberty and less government requires reaching out beyond the choir. Ryan did just that. By meeting with the CBC, he was in effect getting his views out over the heads of the far Left CBC by cashing in on the coverage. In this way, Ryan had a chance to reach people who may not otherwise hear his message of smaller government, the failure of existing programs, and individual self-reliance and self-direction.

There are some that want the GOP to "move to the center"—meaning, to the Left—in order to gain voters. But in that case, what's the point of electing Republicans? What's needed is for GOPers to become more consistent advocates of individual rights and capitalism, and then expand their message to all voting segments of the population. I think Ryan made a good move in engaging directly with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Related Reading:

The Evil Genius of the Welfare State

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