Just How Libertarian Is Paul Ryan?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Mitt Romney’s new running mate, has been hailed as the closest thing to a libertarian on the Republican ticket since Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). “Ryan is going to be very attractive to the broad libertarian voters,” the Cato Institute’s David Boaz told Buzzfeed. But aside from his Ayn Rand-reading, entitlement-busting ways, just how libertarian is Ryan?

Thankfully, MoJo‘s Josh Harkinson made this handy Venn diagram showing the various flavors of American libertarianism, from cranky Ron Paulism to traditional free-market and social liberalism. Sticking Ryan on the diagram shows that while he has a lot in common with small-government, antitax libertarians, he has a lot in common with mainstream conservatives. He has supported extending the Patriot Act, voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and voted for the bank bailout—all big no-nos for old-school libertarians.

Ryan is hardly the purists’ pick, but as Reason noted before Romney tapped him, “For advocates of limited government, Ryan remains one of the most important allies in Congress.”

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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