The Making of Paul Ryan’s Big Ideas

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Where does Paul Ryan get his ideas? The nation’s most famous budget wonk, recently added to Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket, is more than a number cruncher. He is a conservative reformer on a mission to overhaul–critics say devastate–the role and size of the federal government. To hear Ryan tell it, his mission is about more than a reflexive “get government off our backs” instinct. It’s about a vision of government and society drawn from a range of intellectual influences: libertarian thinkers like Ayn Rand, free-market economists like F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas, and others. “He does add another dimension” to the ticket, says Ed Feulner, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Paul Ryan is more of a movement conservative, more a product of the conservative movement” than Mitt Romney. In this week’s issue, I zoom in on some of Ryan’s favorite thinkers look at how their ideas have influenced the political vision he could bring to the White House in January. Subscribers can read the story here.