Ryan vs. Obama on the embargo, I’ll take Ryan
Here at Babalu we're "intransigent hard-liners", that is to say we favor treating the evil totalitarian castro regime like, well like an evil totalitarian regime. We don't believe reinstating diplomatic relations will bring Cuba any closer to freedom. We don't believe "people to people contacts" will bring Cuba any closer to freedom. And we don't believe eliminating what's left of the embargo against Cuba will bring Cuba any closer to freedom. We've written about our reasons extensively over the years and have only backed political candidates that were in favor of maintaining and/or strengthening sanctions on the regime.
As a conservative I am very happy that Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan to be his running mate, but since the Saturday morning announcement it's been revealed that Paul Ryan has voted against the Cuban embargo in the past although he now claims to have evolved his position so that he's now in favor of it.
Back in 2008 I disqualified Mike Huckabee from receiving my vote in the GOP primary for a similar "evolution." However, I believe this is somewhat different. Our friends at Capitol Hill Cubans explain:
Upon arriving in Congress, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was an unconditional free trader. Thus, Ryan initially opposed sanctions towards practically any country in the world, including Castro's Cuba.
To his credit, Ryan's position has evolved over the years, as he learned of the brutal realities of the Castro brothers. Moreover, Ryan recognized the fact that trade with the Castro's totalitarian regime would be neither free nor fair, as it holds a monopoly over political and economic power. As such, the Cuban people would be denied the benefits of such trade, while their oppressors would unduly benefit.
I can relate to Paul Ryan's evolution as I had a similar one. I was an economics major in college and that's when I learned the virtues of free trade. I still believe free trade liberates people but the problem is that Cuba does not practice free trade. It practices controlled trade and the factors of production are state owned. This effectively inoculates the regime from those pesky liberating side effects of trade that are so dangerous to it. You need to really examine Cuba's situation closely to understand that. You have to have real appreciation of the regime and how it works and sadly 99.9% of people don't and thus the very flimsy argument that trade liberates is easy to adopt.
Back in 2009, George and I had the pleasure of talking about the embargo with Michael Moynihan of the Libertarian magazine, Reason on the Babalu Radio Hour. Of course Libertarians are strict free traders but they also despise the tyranny of dictatorships like the one in Cuba. Honestly, I think we won our friendly debate and if you listen to the interview you'll see that he seems to concede many points as he is forced to look at the Cuba issue as a practical rather than theoretical matter.
Capitol Hill Cubans reminds us that Ryan's evolution did not occur after being tapped by Romney:
In 2007, Ryan voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill by U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that sought to ease financing and other restrictions on trade with the Castro regime.
That same year, he opposed efforts to cut funding for Cuba democracy programs.
Moreover, Ryan publicly withdrew his name from a bill seeking to allow unfettered travel between the U.S. and Cuba.
Since then, Ryan has consistently opposed Congressional efforts to unconditionally lift sanctions towards Cuba.
In any case, Romney is going to be the nominee and Ryan is his man. The alternative in Obama/Biden is not an alternative for anyone who wants a hard line against the castro brothers.