TAMPA, Fla. — In an Aug. 29 speech at the Republican National Convention, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called for fiscal responsibility as a key part of a moral response to the needs of the poor and unemployed.
Ryan — who is Catholic — outlined obligations that constitute “the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time as on the day of America’s founding.”
“We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone,” he said at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as he formally accepted his party’s nomination for vice president.
“And the greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak,” he continued. “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.”
In his address, the congressman criticized President Barack Obama’s policies and voiced support for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who will officially become the Republican nominee for president today, Aug. 30.
Ryan explained that despite their differences in generation, career path and religion, he and Romney “come together in the same moral creed.”
“We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope,” he said. “Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life.”
He connected these moral obligations to prominent issues facing America, including a struggling economy, high levels of unemployment and the mounting national debt.
Pointing to the 23 million people who are unemployed or underemployed and nearly one in six Americans who are living in poverty, Ryan questioned why the next four years would be any different without a change in leadership.
The vice-presidential nominee said that he and Romney would implement policies aimed at “generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years” and address the $16 trillion in debt that the U.S. currently faces.
“We need to stop spending money we don’t have,” he said.
Ryan also emphasized the need to “protect and strengthen Medicare,” which he described as an “obligation we have to our parents and grandparents.”
He criticized the 2010 Affordable Care Act for its “more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country” and charged that the Obama administration had funneled more than $700 billion out of Medicare to help pay for the health-care reform law.
Ryan gained national attention last spring amid debate over his proposed budget, which included significant spending cuts in an attempt to move towards balancing the federal budget.
Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Calif., who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote letters to Congress raising concerns that the proposed cuts in programs for the poor were “unjust” and would harm the most vulnerable.
Since then, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Ryan’s local prelate, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis., have all spoken up to defend Ryan’s reputation as a Catholic layman who takes his faith seriously, adding that there is room for debate among the faithful about how to solve these types of economic issues.
Ryan has responded to criticism of his budget by arguing that the poor are harmed most by the extreme federal debt. He contends that “big government” approaches to poverty have not worked and says that his ideas will help boost the economy and reduce poverty.
Ryan also commented on Romney’s Mormon faith, which has drawn some attention throughout the election.
He said that while the two candidates attend different churches, the “best kind of preaching” in any church “is done by example.”
“And I’ve been watching that example,” he said. “The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best.”
Ryan stressed that despite their differences in faith, he and Romney share an understanding of the “great moral ideas” that are “essential to democratic government,” as well as the conviction that “our rights come from nature and God, not from government.”