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Paul Ryan Shamelessly Slanders Mitt Romney

Rebranding himself as an anti-poverty crusader, Ryan forgets a few key things he did

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Paul Ryan has removed himself somewhat from the partisan battleground of the movement to focus on a higher calling: fighting poverty.  Jonathan Chait, Kevin Drum and Jared Bernstein have already taken their crack at this latest turn by the Ayn Rand disciple whose famous budget plan would eviscerate food stamps, Medicaid and other spending on the poor. But one more word needs to be said on this: a defense of Mitt Romney.

To hear Ryan and his allies tell it, the Wisconsin congressman was utterly appalled by the heartless campaign-trail comments by the man who selected him to be his running mate, and sees his current mission to address poverty as a reaction in part to Romney’s crude one-percenterism:

Then he joined the GOP ticket with Mitt Romney, who was cast by Democrats as an out-of-touch plutocrat. Romney’s characterization of lower-income Americans — the “47 percent” — as “victims,” “dependent upon government” and unwilling to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” was particularly devastating.

Priebus, a fellow Wisconsinite who has known Ryan since their College Republican days, said that image will not stick to the affable, down-to-earth Ryan. “Paul’s his own person. He can be at the Kenosha County fair drinking Miller Lite in shorts and a T-shirt,” Priebus said. Fighting dependence and improving opportunity “were always things that were on his agenda.”

…Four advisers who worked with him on the campaign said he was mortified by Romney’s 47-percent remarks. Two of those advisers said Ryan spoke directly to Romney about it in mid-September 2012, soon after Mother Jones posted a video of the $50,000-a-plate Florida fundraiser where Romney seemed to write off nearly half the population as unreachable by Republicans. “I think he was embarrassed,” Woodson, the civil rights activist, said of Ryan. “And it propelled him to deepen his own understanding of this.”

Oh, that clueless plutocratic Willard Mitt! Where could he have ever gotten it in his head to say such a thing? Well, maybe he was inspired by the guy who said this:

"Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes. So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers."

Or the guy who said this:

"Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state. Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers."

Yes, given that this fellow seems to have planted such notions in the head of Romney (who, after all, had previously done quite a bit to help the less fortunate as governor of Massachusetts), Ryan really should track that guy down and let him know what he thinks of his callousness. I hear he can often be found working out in the House of Representatives gym.