By James J. Devine
There is something obscene in comparing Tea Party darling Paul Ryan to Teddy Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy, because those great Americans believed in this country and they had faith in government’s ability to be a force for good in people’s lives.
Teddy Roosevelt advocated a national health policy and progressive measures to curb the power of corporations as insurance for the personal freedom of individual citizens.
Roosevelt prohibited corporate political contributions and demanded accountability from the rich.
He even proposed a steep inheritance tax to prevent the erosion of democracy through the creation of economic dynasties, or what his nephew Franklin Roosevelt called “economic royalists.”
John F. Kennedy expanded unemployment benefits for nearly three million Americans by $800 million, provided cities aid to improve housing, allocated funds to construct the national highway system started by Eisenhower, protected rivers and streams from pollution, and he raised farmers’ incomes, social security benefits and the minimum wage.
Kennedy pushed a stimulus program through Congress to kick-start the American economy creating 420,000 construction jobs, raising minimum wages by $175 million, sending $400 million to local governments and $200 million in extra welfare payments to 750,000 children and their parents.
Roosevelt and Kennedy were masters over the world of intellect, while Ryan is enamored with religious mysticism that rejects the pursuit of scholarship, science and history.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal, formed upon conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection, was aimed at helping middle class citizens and attacking the emergence of a plutocracy.
John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier sought to eradicate poverty, civil injustice and ignorance by raising America’s eyes to the stars, unleashing our minds and opening our hearts.
Progress and prosperity are not zero-sum games, because in reality one person’s gains are not dependent on losses of other participants in society.
This is true because the whole of society is greater than the sum of its parts. Roosevelt and Kennedy both knew that together, we can all be winners.
This lesson is lost on the modern Republican Party.
Willard Romney and Paul Ryan believe it’s every man for himself, and since they are millionaires that means there is no reason to share the wealth.
Ryan’s wife was a Washington DC tax attorney who worked as a lobbyist with PriceWaterhouseCooper’s lobbying arm and Williams & Jensen.
Ryan wants to privatize Social Security, replace Medicare with a voucher program and sell the Postal Service to private investors.
He subscribes to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of self-interest and rejects Christian charity and American unity as social doctrines.
With Paul Ryan looking out for you, you are on your own. He’s no Jack Kennedy and he’s no Teddy Roosevelt.
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