Paul Ryan says that he read her books as a youth but was not influenced by her. In April, he gave an interview to National Review in which he repudiated Rand entirely. In the interview, he called reports of his adherence to Rand's views an "urban legend" and said that he was more deeply influenced by his Roman Catholic faith and by Thomas Aquinas.
But that's not the way he was talking in 2005, when he gave a speech to the Atlas Society, a group dedicated to promoting Rand's beliefs.
Is Paul Ryan for or against Ayn Rand?By Gary Weiss, Special to CNN
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
His father’s death also provoked the kind of existential soul-searching that most kids don’t undertake until college. “I was, like, ‘What is the meaning?’ ” he said. “I just did lots of reading, lots of introspection. I read everything I could get my hands on.” Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand. After reading “Atlas Shrugged,” he told me, “I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to check out this economics thing.’ What I liked about her novels was their devastating indictment of the fatal conceit of socialism, of too much government.” He dived into Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.
In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. “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,” he told the group. “The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” To me he was careful to point out that he rejects Rand’s atheism.
When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been misunderstood. “Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature,” he said. “As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy.” He added, “Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.” But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan, in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.
THE NEW YORKER
The Political Scene
Fussbudget: How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P.by Ryan Lizza August 6, 2012
But Ryan has distanced himself from Rand in recent years, for obvious reasons. While she provides a sweeping justification for capitalism and the free market, many of her positions give Republicans pause. Rand supported abortion, opposed religion and was for the most part anti-war. She hated the idea of “duty.” She did not like Ronald Reagan.
What Ayn Rand says about Paul Ryan
Posted by Rachel Weiner at 03:29 PM ET, 08/13/2012 The Washington Post
“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.
Ryan enjoys bantering about dusty novels, but it’s not really his bailiwick. Philosophy, he tells me, is critical, but politics is about more than armchair musing. “This gets to the Jack Kemp in me, for the lack of a better phrase,” he says — crafting public policy from broad ideas. “How do you produce prosperity and upward mobility?” he asks. “How do you attack the root causes of poverty instead of simply treating its symptoms? And how do you avoid a crisis that is going to hurt the vulnerable the most — a debt crisis — from ever happening?”
Ryan cites Light of the World, a book-length interview of Pope Benedict XVI, as an example of how the Catholic Church takes the global debt problem seriously. “We are living at the expense of future generations,” the pope says. “In this respect, it is plain that we are living in untruth.” Ryan takes those words seriously. “The pope was really clear,” he says.
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
Ryan Shrugged: Representative Paul Ryan debunks an “urban legend.”
By Robert Costa April 26, 2012 4:00 A.M
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 8/14, 11:29am)