WASHINGTON -- Republicans have long accused President Barack Obama of engaging in class warfare, citing his effort to scale back the Bush tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest. Frustrated defenders of the president have long called on Democrats to make the case that the true class warriors are the ones looking to slash entitlements and inevitably expand income inequality by cutting corporate taxes, busting unions and pushing through trade deals that ship blue-collar jobs offshore.
Those who see the GOP's tax and spending policies as class warfare wouldn't be surprised to hear GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan call them that during a 2011 interview with the conservative Human Events. "We should not shy away from class warfare," Ryan said.
His response came after the Human Events interviewer brought up the topic.
"We know the Democrats' playbook," the interviewer said. "It's class warfare."
"Right," Ryan replied.
"Shake down the rich -- and it's been their playbook for the last 40 years," the interviewer continued. "Do you think Republicans are doing a successful job making the moral case for capitalism?"
"Not enough," Ryan replied. A few seconds later, he joined the war machine.
"We should not shy away from class warfare," Ryan said. "We should take this head on, which is, the president is preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment, and he's speaking to people in America as if they're fixed in some class. That's the European model. That's the model our ancestors left to come create an opportunity society, equality of opportunity, equal protection of the law -- not equality of outcome. Government's role is not to equalize the results of our lives. And we should take that on in a moral way and defend the system of upward mobility."
Dividing the country between those who are receiving government assistance and those who aren't are familiar themes for Ryan and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In a 2011 speech, Ryan suggested that 30 percent of Americans are "takers." "Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state," he said.
Earlier this year, Romney infamously said that 47 percent of Americans felt entitled to health care and food and housing.
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