President Obama took direct aim in his inaugural address at the Randian rhetoric that animates the politics of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his conservative followers in the House and around the country, arguing that the United States is "not a nation of takers."
For Ryan, the country is divided between "takers" and "makers." He generally puts the number of the former at around a third, with the remainder in the producing category. The dichotomy has been a regular part of his rhetorical repertoire for years, and was elevated during the presidential campaign as Ryan sought the vice presidency.
Ryan argues that social insurance programs that are central to Western welfare states sap the citizenry of ambition. Obama took direct aim at that contention on Monday. "The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great," he said.
(For a look back at Ryan's "makers" and "takers" rhetoric, see HuffPost's election season mashup below the slideshow)
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