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Ryan Family Fortune Built on Public Works Projects

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Paul Ryan’s great-grandfather started a construction company to build railroads and, eventually, highways. According to the Web site of Ryan Incorporated Central, the company was “founded in 1884 [3]with a single team of mules building railroad embankments in Southern Wisconsin.” And in the 1800s, railroad construction was subsidized by the federal government. Mid-century, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law, providing taxpayer dollars to fund the construction of a transcontinental railway. All railroads thereafter connected to, and benefited from, that public investment.

At the turn of the century, Ryan Inc. turned to road building. A subsidiary family corporation, Ryan Incorporated Southern, states on its Web site [4], “The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later [and] was mostly Highway construction.” The $119 billion spent by the federal government [5] on the Interstate Highway System was, by one account [6], “the largest public works program since the Pyramids.”

And, according to the Ryan Inc. Web site, the company completed [3] “some of the original work at what would become O’Hare Airport” in Chicago. Originally, O’Hare Airport was a manufacturing base for World War II transport planes. In other words, it’s likely that construction project, too, was paid for by tax dollars. A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts [7] with the federal government since 1996 , including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million [8].

When President Obama said that we succeed in America “because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together,” he was actually speaking in more general terms — about manufacturing companies that ship their goods on our railways and highways and thus indirectly benefit from that public infrastructure. With a net worth of up to $3.2 million and ranking as the 124th richest member of Congress, Paul Ryan very directly and very significantly benefited from the federal spending he now rails against.

Or does he? What’s funny is that Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects [9]. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil [10], an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes. Yet Ryan wants to gut financial aid [10]for college students, food stamps for hungry families [11], Medicaid [12],Medicare [10] and Social Security [10] — the very things that have, historically, helped poor families climb the ladder of opportunity in America.

http://www.alternet.org/print/election-2012/ryan-family-fortune-built-public-works-projects-romney-campaign-mocks

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Most of these politicians are out of touch with the common folks while pretending to be in touch with them.


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