Further distancing himself from Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan says he no longer would describe programs like Social Security as “collectivist” as he did in a speech before the Randian Atlas Society in 2005.
“I don’t think of it like that,” Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Saturday when asked about his past remarks.
In his address to the Atlas Society, audio of which recently was posted online, Ryan called for privatizing Social Security in terms familiar to Rand’s followers, saying it was part of a broader “fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
“Social Security right now is a collectivist system,” he said. “It’s a welfare transfer system.”
He described Medicare and Medicaid in the same speech using similar language, offering up an early preview of his 2010 plan to replace “socialist based” Medicare with a privatized structure.
“Autopilot will bring more government, more collectivism, more centralized government, if we do not succeed in switching these programs and reforming these programs from what some people call a defined benefit system, to a defined contribution system,” he said. “From switching these programs — and this is where I’m talking about health care, as well — from a third party or socialist based system to an individually owned, individually pre-funded, individually directed system.”
Ryan frequently cites Rand as one of his biggest influences, but he’s been careful since ascending to national prominence to distance himself from parts of her broader philosophy that rankle the GOP base — such as her atheism — and aspects which are less palatable to a general election voter, like her view that virtually all social welfare programs are tyrannical.
Ryan’s shift away from his Rand fanboy status has been a key part of his transition to a national GOP figure.
“Those novels, I thought were interesting, but her philosophy, which is quite a bit different, is something I just don’t agree with,” Ryan told FOX News after being selected as Romney’s running mate.
Many true Randians, however, say Ryan was never truly one of them. An official at the Atlas Society, Edward Hudgins, told TPM that Ryan warned them in 2005 that he didn’t fully embrace their views before agreeing to speak to their members.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.