Paul Ryan: “This Is Not Theology…”

“You have to understand, one of our primary aspirations is to grow the economy, is to create jobs… We’re not demand-side Keynesians. So we don’t subscribe to that economic doctrine. And we think if you keep raising tax rates on producers on businesses, small and large, you’re going to lose economic growth and job creation. And so, you have to remember, this is not theology, it’s economic pragmatism.”
–Paul Ryan, from a May 2012 NPR interview, when the House Of representatives passed the “Ryan Budget”

I’m thrilled, personally, that it’s Ryan. The GOP ticket is now led by two unbelievably privileged and self-important white guys (are Billionaires for Bush still around to gin up Rapacious for Romney material?), but it’s even better than that. The Ryan Budget is such a gift to the Democrats that one might think the Angel of Moroni had dropped into their laps.

Unlike Romney, Ryan is anything but a cipher in respect to concrete policies. We know exactly what he thinks, and his entire party’s backing for his death’s-head budget means Obama doesn’t have to stretch at all to say, “This is their plan, folks. More for them, less for you. And the idea that this will grow the economy is just fairy dust.”

I’m most interested in the fairy dust part because, of course, Ryan maintains just the opposite. He insists that economic pragmatism, not faith in unseen things or a theological belief system, makes his growth-through-inequality formula viable. But in doing so, he specifically rejects and mocks the one economic lever—supply-side Keynesianism—that has been conclusively shown to allow sickly economies to grow their way out of slumps without ultimately leaving a crushing debt burden.

In contrast, the royalist approach—trickle-down—or whatever you want to call it has been conclusively shown not to do jack to revive an economy in the kind of doldrums ours has been experiencing. So it is an ardent belief in the efficacy of things unseen that Ryan/Romney are selling us. It is fundamentally theological at its core. It has its Church Fathers (von Mises, Hayek, Friedman) and its own cultic practices: many and various prescriptions for proper worship and devotion at the altar of Mammon.

From the prophetic point of view, one reason we know trickle-down is a pernicious and false doctrine is that many within the priestly cult are plainly corrupt.

Without going into the details—which are readily available—just how much do you suppose it has buttered the bread of countless third-rate intellectuals to go sell themselves and their “expertise” and honied media tongues to the Great Whore of Supply-Side Sheep Dip?

When the priests of the official cult don’t hesitate to sell themselves for money, it’s generally a good idea to kick the tires of the hoo-doo they are pushing.

Originally posted on Religion Dispatches.

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