Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) belittled progressives during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday.
“Progressivism is well-intentioned but it is also -- in my humble opinion -- arrogant and condescending,” Ryan said, according to a transcript. “Instead of helping people make their own decisions, it makes those decisions for them. It makes Washington the center of power and politicians the center of attention.”
While Ryan had harsh words for progressives, he conceded their "vision proved compelling."
"The Left keeps winning elections,” Ryan continued. “Why? Well, you can see the appeal. In uncertain times, people look for security. Progressives seem to have an answer … the progressive state offers a sense of security. But it’s a false sense of security because government can’t keep all its promises.”
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is the de-facto spokesperson for the GOP on fiscal austerity. In March, the House passed Ryan's budget, which would balance the federal budget in 10 years by slashing spending on safety-net programs for the poor. The text of his budget cited a well-known study from Harvard economists on government debt that was recently repudiated by a group of scholars at the University of Massachusetts, who said the study had “serious errors."
Despite the blow to Ryan's austerity argument, he declared on Wednesday that “we have to stop spending money we don’t have."
After defining conservative principles, Ryan said the Republican Party "must go" into "our inner cities, our barrios and our poor rural communities" and "demonstrate our full vision of freedom and community.”
“This vision is our response to progressivism,” he said.