Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand Problem

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REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

I am fairly certain that when Paul Ryan first decided to publicly share his admiration of Ayn Rand, he could not have imagined it would lead to him speed-walking to his SUV to avoid a young Catholic trying to give him a Bible and telling him to pay more attention to the Gospel of Luke. But that’s what happened Friday morning in downtown Washington after Ryan spoke to the surprisingly smallish crowd gathered for Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Conference.

These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.” (Why Ayn Rand is the GOP’s godless philosopher.)

Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”

Rand’s influence on Ryan’s politics is also the subject of a new ad produced by the religious group American Values Network, which hopes to run the spot in Ryan’s district. It’s a stinging attack, and again, one that was wholly unanticipated by the Republican rising star. (Is Paul Ryan a coward?)

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