Paul Ryan

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Paul Ryan
A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.
Official portrait for the 113th Congress, 2013
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1999
Preceded byMark Neumann
Chairman of the House Budget Committee
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byJohn Spratt
Personal details
BornPaul Davis Ryan
(1970-01-29) January 29, 1970 (age 44)
Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Janna Little
ChildrenLiza
Charles
Samuel
ResidenceJanesville, Wisconsin
Alma materMiami University
ReligionRoman Catholic
WebsiteCongressional website
Paul Ryan (Facebook)
Paul Ryan on Twitter
 
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For other people named Paul Ryan, see Paul Ryan (disambiguation).
Paul Ryan
A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.
Official portrait for the 113th Congress, 2013
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1999
Preceded byMark Neumann
Chairman of the House Budget Committee
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byJohn Spratt
Personal details
BornPaul Davis Ryan
(1970-01-29) January 29, 1970 (age 44)
Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Janna Little
ChildrenLiza
Charles
Samuel
ResidenceJanesville, Wisconsin
Alma materMiami University
ReligionRoman Catholic
WebsiteCongressional website
Paul Ryan (Facebook)
Paul Ryan on Twitter
Paul Ryan official portrait.jpgThis article is part of a series about
Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan

Paul Davis Ryan (born January 29, 1970) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who has served as the United States Representative for Wisconsin's 1st congressional district since 1999 and as Chairman of the House Budget Committee since 2011. He was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2012 election.[1][2]

On August 11, 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he had selected Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate.[3] Ryan was officially nominated at the Republican convention in Tampa on August 29, 2012.[4] On November 6, 2012, Romney and Ryan were defeated in the general election by the incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, although Ryan won reelection to his congressional seat.[5]

On December 10, 2013, Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray announced that they had negotiated a two-year, bipartisan budget, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.[6][7] The budget agreement was the first to pass Congress with the two chambers controlled by different parties since 1986.[8]

Early life and education

Ryan was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the youngest of four children of Elizabeth A. "Betty" (née Hutter) and Paul Murray Ryan, a lawyer.[9][10][11] A fifth-generation Wisconsinite, his father was of Irish ancestry and his mother is of German and English ancestry.[12] One of Ryan's paternal ancestors settled in Wisconsin prior to the Civil War.[13] His great-grandfather, Patrick William Ryan (1858–1917), founded an earthmoving company in 1884, which later became P. W. Ryan and Sons and is now known as Ryan Incorporated Central.[14][15] Ryan's grandfather was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin by President Calvin Coolidge.[16]

Ryan attended St. Mary's Catholic School in Janesville, where he played on the seventh-grade basketball team.[17] He attended Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, where he was elected president of his junior class, and thus became prom king.[18] As class president Ryan was a representative of the student body on the school board.[19] Following his second year, Ryan took a job working the grill at McDonald's.[19] He was on his high school's ski, track and varsity soccer teams and played basketball in a Catholic recreational league.[20][21][22] He also participated in several academic and social clubs including the Model United Nations.[19][20] Ryan and his family often went on hiking and skiing trips to the Colorado Rocky Mountains.[10][16]

When he was 16, Ryan found his 55-year-old father lying dead in bed of a heart attack.[16][19] Following the death of his father, Ryan's grandmother moved in with the family, and because she had Alzheimer's, Ryan helped care for her while his mother commuted to college in Madison, Wisconsin.[19] After his father's death Ryan received Social Security survivors benefits until his 18th birthday, which were saved for his college education.[23][24][25]

Ryan majored in economics and political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,[26] where he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.[19] He often visited the office of libertarian professor Richard Hart to discuss the theories of these economists and of Ayn Rand.[19][27] Hart introduced Ryan to the National Review,[19] and with Hart's recommendation Ryan began an internship in the D.C. office of Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten where he worked with Kasten's foreign affairs adviser.[19][28] Ryan also attended the Washington Semester program at American University.[29] Ryan worked summers as a salesman for Oscar Mayer and once got to drive the Wienermobile.[16][27][30] During college, Ryan was a member of the College Republicans,[31] and volunteered for the congressional campaign of John Boehner.[27] He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta social fraternity.[32] Ryan received a Bachelor of Arts in 1992 with a double major in economics and political science.[26]

Political philosophy

At a 2005 Washington, D.C. gathering celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth,[33][34] Ryan credited Rand as inspiring him to get involved in public service.[35] In a speech that same year at the Atlas Society, he said he grew up reading Rand, and that her books taught him about his value system and beliefs.[36][37] Ryan required staffers and interns in his congressional office to read Rand[37] and gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged as gifts to his staff for Christmas.[38][39] In his Atlas Society speech, he also described Social Security as a "socialist-based system".[40]

In 2009, Ryan said, "What's unique about what's happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it's as if we're living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault."[38]

In April 2012, after receiving criticism from Georgetown University faculty members on his budget plan, Ryan rejected Rand's philosophy as an atheistic one, saying it "reduces human interactions down to mere contracts".[41] He also called the reports of his adherence to Rand's views an "urban legend" and stated that he was deeply influenced by his Roman Catholic faith and by Thomas Aquinas.[42] Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, maintains that Ryan is not a Rand disciple, and that some of his proposals do not follow Rand's philosophy of limited government; Brook refers to Ryan as a "fiscal moderate".[43]

In August 2012, after Romney chose him as his running mate, the Associated Press published a story saying that while the Tea Party movement had wanted a nominee other than Romney, it had gotten "one of its ideological heroes" in the Vice Presidential slot. According to the article, Ryan supports the Tea Party's belief in "individual rights, distrust of big government and an allegorical embrace of the Founding Fathers".[44]

Early career

Betty Ryan reportedly urged her son to accept a congressional position as a staff economist attached to Senator Kasten's office, which he did after graduating in 1992.[28][45] In his early years working on Capitol Hill, Ryan supplemented his income by working as a waiter, as a fitness trainer, and at other jobs.[16][30]

A few months after Kasten lost to Democrat Russ Feingold in the November 1992 election, Ryan became a speechwriter for Empower America (now FreedomWorks), a conservative advocacy group founded by Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and William Bennett.[16][46][47] Ryan later worked as a speechwriter for Kemp,[48] the Republican vice presidential candidate in the 1996 United States presidential election. Kemp became Ryan's mentor, and Ryan has said he had a "huge influence".[49] In 1995, Ryan became the legislative director for then-U.S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. In 1997 he returned to Wisconsin, where he worked for a year as a marketing consultant for the construction company Ryan Incorporated Central, owned by his relatives.[19][46][50]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998, winning the 1st District seat of Mark Neumann, a two-term incumbent who had vacated his seat to make an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. Ryan won the Republican primary over 29-year-old pianist Michael J. Logan of Twin Lakes,[51] and the general election against Democrat Lydia Spottswood.[52] This made him the second-youngest member of the House.[19]

Reelected seven times, Ryan has never received less than 55 percent of the vote. He defeated Democratic challenger Jeffrey C. Thomas in the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 elections.[53] (In 2002, Ryan also faced Libertarian candidate George Meyers.) In 2008, Ryan defeated Democrat Marge Krupp in the 2008 election.[53] In the 2010 general election, he defeated Democrat John Heckenlively and Libertarian Joseph Kexel.

Ryan faced Democratic nominee Rob Zerban in the 2012 House election. As of July 25, 2012, Ryan had over $5.4 million in his congressional campaign account, more than any other House member.[54][55] Finance, insurance and real estate was the sector that contributed most to his campaign.[56] Under Wisconsin election law, Ryan was allowed to run concurrently for vice president and for Congress[57] and was not allowed to remove his name from the Congressional ballot after being nominated for the vice presidency.[58] Ryan was reelected in 2012 with 55% of his district's vote.[59]

Tenure

Ryan became the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee in 2007,[60] then chairman in 2011 after Republicans took control of the House. That same year he was selected to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address.[61]

Official U.S. Congress portrait of Ryan in 2011

During his 13 years in the House, Ryan has sponsored more than 70 bills or amendments,[62] of which two were enacted into law.[63] One, passed in July 2000, renamed a post office in Ryan's district; the other, passed in December 2008, lowered the excise tax on arrow shafts.[64][65] Ryan has also co-sponsored 975 bills,[63] of which 176 have passed.[66] 22 percent of these bills were originally sponsored by Democrats.[63]

In 2010, Ryan was a member of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Bowles-Simpson Commission), which was tasked with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit. He voted against the final report of the commission.[67]

In 2012, Ryan accused the nation's top military leaders of using "smoke and mirrors" to remain under budget limits passed by Congress.[68][69] Ryan later said that he misspoke on the issue and called General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to apologize for his comments.[70]

As of mid-2012, Ryan had been on seven trips abroad as part of a congressional delegation.[71]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Constituent services

In fiscal year 2008, Ryan garnered $5.4 million in congressional earmarks for his constituency, including $3.28 million for bus service in Wisconsin, $1.38 million for the Ice Age Trail, and $735,000 for the Janesville transit system.[73] In 2009, he successfully advocated with the Department of Energy for stimulus funds for energy initiatives in his district.[73] Other home district projects he has supported include a runway extension at the Rock County Airport, an environmental study of the Kenosha Harbor, firefighting equipment for Janesville, road projects in Wisconsin, and commuter rail and streetcar projects in Kenosha.[74] In 2008, Ryan pledged to stop seeking earmarks.[74] Prior to that he had sought earmarks less often than other representatives.[74] Taxpayers for Common Sense records show no earmarks supported by Ryan for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.[73] In 2012 Ryan supported a request for $3.8 million from the Department of Transportation for a new transit center in Janesville,[74] which city officials received in July.[75]

Ryan was an active member of a task force established by Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle that tried unsuccessfully to persuade GM to keep its assembly plant in Janesville open.[76] He made personal contact with GM executives to try to convince them to save or retool the plant, offering GM hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded incentives.[76]

Following the closing of factories in Janesville and Kenosha, constituents expressed dissatisfaction with his votes and support.[77] During the 2011 Congressional summer break, Ryan held town hall meetings by telephone with constituents, but no free, in-person listening sessions. The only public meetings Ryan attended in his district required an admission fee of at least $15.[78][79] In August 2011, constituents in Kenosha and Racine protested when Ryan would not meet with them about economic and employment issues, after weeks of emailed requests from them.[77][78][80] Ryan's Kenosha office locked its doors and filed a complaint with the police, who told the protesters that they were not allowed in Ryan's office.[77][78][80] Ryan maintains a mobile office to serve constituents in outlying areas.[81]

Political positions

In the 111th Congress, Ryan sided with a majority of his party in 93% of House votes in which he has participated, and sided with the overall majority vote of all House votes 95% of the time.[82]

Ryan has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 91/100.[83] The 2011 National Journal Vote Ratings rated Paul Ryan 68.2 on the conservative scale, being more conservative than 68% of the full House, and ranked as the 150th most conservative member based on roll-call votes.[84]

Fiscal, education, and health care policy

Ryan voted for the two Bush tax cuts (in 2001 and 2003),[85] the 2003 bill that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit,[86][87] and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion bank bailout.[88][89] Ryan was one of 32 Republicans in the House to vote for the auto industry bailout.[90][91][92] A number of commentators have criticized Ryan's votes for what they believe were deficit-causing policies during the George W. Bush administration as being inconsistent with fiscal conservatism.[88][93][94][95] In 2011 President Barack Obama criticized Ryan as being "not on the level" for describing himself as a fiscal conservative while voting for these policies, as well as two "unpaid for" wars.[96] Columnist Ezra Klein wrote in 2012 that "If you know about Paul Ryan at all, you probably know him as a deficit hawk. But Ryan has voted to increase deficits and expand government spending too many times for that to be his north star."[97]

Obama initially viewed Ryan as a Republican who could help to reduce the federal deficit. Speaking of Ryan's budget proposal, Obama called it a "serious proposal" and found both points of agreement and disagreement, saying "some ideas in there that I would agree with, but there are some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about because I don't agree with them."[98]

In 1999, Ryan voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which repealed certain provisions of the Depression-era Glass–Steagall Act that regulated banking.[99] Ryan sponsored a 2008 bill that would repeal the requirement that the Federal Reserve System reduce unemployment.[62] Ryan voted to extend unemployment insurance in 2002, 2008 and 2009, but has voted against further extensions since then.[100] Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.[101] Ryan also voted against the Credit CARD Act of 2009 and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Ryan characterized as "class warfare".[102]

Ryan voted against the 2010 health care reform act supported by Obama and congressional Democrats in 2010,[87][103] and to repeal it in 2012.[104][105]

In 2004 and 2005, Ryan pushed the Bush administration to propose the privatization of Social Security. Ryan's proposal ultimately failed when it did not gain the support of the then-Republican presidential administration.[19]

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute notes that on "'education, training, employment, and social services,' the Ryan budget would spend 33% less" than Obama's budget plan over the next decade.[106] In particular, the Ryan plan tightens eligibility requirements for Pell Grants and freezes the maximum Pell Grant award at the current level. According to an analysis by the Education Trust, this would result in more than 1 million students losing Pell Grants over the next 10 years. Additionally, under Ryan's plan, student loans would begin to accrue interest while students are still in school.[107][108][109] Ryan states that his education policy is to "allocate our limited financial resources effectively and efficiently to improve education".[110] Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic said that Ryan's vision on education policy is to "cut and privatize".[109]

Ryan voted for the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.[111] Ryan is a supporter of for-profit colleges and opposed the gainful employment rule, which would have ensured that vocational schools whose students were unable to obtain employment would stop receiving federal aid.[109] Ryan is a supporter of private school vouchers and voted to extend the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in 2011.[109] The National Education Association teachers' union has criticized Ryan's positions on education.[111][vague]

Ryan has consistently supported giving the president line-item veto power.[62]

In the fall of 2013 Ryan suggested using discussions regarding raising the federal debt ceiling as "leverage" to reduce federal spending.[112][113]

Ryan supported a group of three budget reform bills that were considered in the House during the 113th United States Congress. Ryan supported the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2013, a bill that would require the Congressional Budget Office to provide a macroeconomic impact analysis for bills that are estimated to have a large budgetary effect.[114] He also supported the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2014, a bill that would modify the budgetary treatment of federal credit programs.[115] H.R. 1872 would require that the cost of direct loans or loan guarantees be recognized in the federal budget on a fair-value basis using guidelines set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.[115] H.R. 1872 would also require the federal budget to reflect the net impact of programs administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.[115] The changes made by H.R. 1872 would mean that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were counted on the budget instead of considered separately and would mean that the debt of those two programs would be included in the national debt.[116] These programs themselves would not be changed, but how they are accounted for in the United States federal budget would be. The goal of H.R. 1872 is to improve the accuracy of how some programs are accounted for in the federal budget.[117] Finally, Ryan supported the Baseline Reform Act of 2013, a bill that would change the way in which discretionary appropriations for individual accounts are projected in CBO's baseline.[118] Under H.R. 1871, projections of such spending would still be based on the current year's appropriations, but would not be adjusted for inflation going forward.[118] Arguing in favor of H.R. 1871, Ryan said that "families don't get automatic raises every year. Neither should Washington."[119] Ryan said that these three budget reform bills "are an important step toward restoring fiscal discipline in Washington."[116] Ryan said that he thought "by improving the budget process, we can get a better handle on our spending problem."[116]

Budget proposals

Ryan speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. in March 2014.

On May 21, 2008, Ryan introduced H.R. 6110, the Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2008, commonly referred to as the "Ryan budget".[120] This proposed legislation outlined changes to entitlement spending, including a controversial proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher program for those currently under the age of 55.[19][121][122] The Roadmap found only eight sponsors and did not move past committee.[19][123]

On April 1, 2009, Ryan introduced his alternative to the 2010 United States federal budget. This alternative budget would have eliminated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and imposed a five-year spending freeze on all discretionary spending.[124][125] It would have also phased out Medicare's traditional fee-for-service model; instead it would offer fixed sums in the form of vouchers for those under the age of 55, with which Medicare beneficiaries could buy private insurance.[126] Ryan's proposed budget would also have allowed taxpayers to opt out of the federal income taxation system with itemized deductions, and instead pay a flat 10 percent of adjusted gross income up to $100,000 for couples ($50,000 for singles) and 25 percent on any remaining income.[125] It was ultimately rejected in the Democrat-controlled House by a vote of 293–137, with 38 Republicans in opposition.[127]

On January 27, 2010, Ryan released a modified version of his Roadmap, H.R. 4529: Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2010.[128][129] The modified plan would provide across-the-board tax cuts by reducing income tax rates; eliminate income taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest; and abolish the estate tax, and Alternative Minimum Tax. The plan would also replace the corporate income tax with a border-adjusted business consumption tax of 8.5%.[130] The plan would privatize a portion of Social Security,[131][132] eliminate the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance,[132] and privatize Medicare for those under the age of 55.[131][132] Chief actuary of Medicare Rick Foster compared Ryan's "Roadmap" with the 2010 healthcare reform in congressional hearings, stating that while both had "some potential" to make healthcare prices "more sustainable", he was more "confident" in Ryan's plan.[133]

Economist and columnist Paul Krugman criticized Ryan's plan as making overly optimistic assumptions and proposing tax cuts for the wealthy.[134] Krugman further called the plan a "fraud" saying it relies on severe cuts in domestic discretionary spending and "dismantling Medicare as we know it" by suggesting the voucher system, which he noted was similar to a failed attempt at reform in 1995.[134] In contrast, columnist Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in the National Review, argued that Ryan's plan would lead to less debt than current budgets.[135] Economist Ted Gayer wrote that "Ryan's vision of broad-based tax reform, which essentially would shift us toward a consumption tax... makes a useful contribution to this debate."[136]

In subsequent years, Ryan also developed budget plans that proposed privatizing Medicare for those currently under the age of 55,[137] funding Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through block grants to the states,[19][138][139] and other changes.

On April 11, 2011, Ryan introduced H.Con.Res. 34, a federal budget for fiscal year 2012.[140] The House passed this Ryan Plan on April 15, 2011, by a vote of 235–193. Four Republicans joined all House Democrats in voting against it.[141][142] A month later, the bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 57–40, with five Republicans and most Democrats in opposition.[143]

Ryan with President Obama during a bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform, February 25, 2010

On March 23, 2012 Ryan introduced a new version of his federal budget for the fiscal year 2013.[144] On March 29, 2012, the House of Representatives passed the resolution along partisan lines, 228 yeas to 191 nays; ten Republicans voted against the bill, along with all the House Democrats.[145] Ryan's budget seeks to reduce all discretionary spending in the budget from 12.5% of GDP in 2011 to 3.75% of GDP in 2050.[146]

Ryan has proposed that Medicaid be converted into block grants but with the federal government's share of the cost cut by some $800 billion over the next decade. Currently, Medicaid is administered by the states, subject to federal rules concerning eligibility, and the amount paid by the federal government depends on the number of people who qualify. His plan would also undo a Reagan-era reform by which the federal government prohibited the states from requiring that a patient's spouse, as well as the patient, deplete all of his or her assets before Medicaid would cover long-term care.[19][138][139][147]

An analysis by the CBO showed that the Ryan plan would not balance the budget for at least 28 years, partly because the changes in Medicare would not affect anyone now older than 55.[148] Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, praised the budget for making tough choices. Walker believes it needs to go even further, tackling Social Security and defense spending.[149] In contrast, David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, has declared that Ryan's budget "is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices" and would "do nothing to reverse the nation's economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse".[150] Ezra Klein also criticized the budget for making "unrealistic assumptions".[146] The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities was highly critical of Ryan's budget proposal, stating that it would shift income to the wealthy while increasing poverty and inequality.[151]

Parts of the 2012 Ryan budget were criticized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for its proposed cuts to housing and food stamp programs.[152][153] Faculty and administrators of Georgetown University challenged what they called Ryan's "continuing misuse of Catholic teaching" when defending his plan,[154][155] but Ryan rejected their criticism.[156]

In March 2013, Ryan submitted a new budget plan for Fiscal Year 2014 to the House. It would set to balance the budget by 2023 by repealing Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and institute federal vouchers into Medicare. [157] Ryan has cited health care, education and food safety as examples of "runaway" federal spending.[158] This budget, House Concurrent Resolution 25, was voted on by the House on March 21, 2013 and it passed 221-207.[159] In 2014, Ryan released a refresh of this plan which would reduce spending by 5.1 trillion over a decade; balancing the budget by 2024.[160]

On December 10, 2013, Ryan announced that he and Democratic Senator Patty Murray had reached a compromise agreement on a two-year, bipartisan budget bill, called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The deal would cap the federal government's spending for Fiscal Year 2014 at $1.012 trillion and for Fiscal Year 2015 at $1.014.[161] The proposed deal would eliminate some of the spending cuts required by the sequester ($45 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in January 2014 and $18 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in 2015).[161] The deal offsets the spending increases by raising airline fees and changing the pension contribution requirements of new federal workers.[6] Overall the fee increases and spending reductions total about $85 billion over a decade.[162] Ryan said that he was "proud" of the agreement because "it reduces the deficit – without raising taxes."[163]

Some conservative Republicans objected to Ryan's budget proposal. Republican Raul Labrador criticized the "terrible plan," saying that "it makes promises to the American people that are false. Today the Democrats realized they were right all along, that we would never hold the line on the sequester." Other conservatives were more positive: “It achieves most of the things we would like to see when we have divided government,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.).[6]

Ryan's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 included deep cuts to domestic spending to reduce projected federal deficits by about $5 trillion over the next decade. In releasing the budget, Ryan stated "We have to stop spending money we don't have." According to the White House, Ryan's 2014 budget proposal would increase taxes on middle-class families by an average of $2000, while cutting taxes for the richest Americans.[164][165]

Social, environmental, and science issues

In 2010, Ryan described himself as being "as pro-life as a person gets"[166] and has been described as an "ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights".[167] As of 2012 according to Bloomberg, Ryan has co-sponsored 38 measures in the U.S. Congress that restrict abortion.[168] The National Right to Life Committee has consistently given Ryan a "100 percent pro-life voting record" since he took office in 1999. NARAL Pro-Choice America has noted that Ryan has "cast 59 votes" (including procedural motions and amendments which don't have co-sponsors[168]) "on reproductive rights while in Congress and not one has been pro-choice".[169] He believes all abortions should be illegal, including those resulting from rape or incest, and only makes an exception for cases where the woman's life is at risk.[170][171]

During Ryan's 1998 campaign for Congress, he "expressed his willingness to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions," telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time that he "would let states decide what criminal penalties would be attached to abortions", and while not stating that he supports jailing women who have an abortion, stated: "if it's illegal, it's illegal."[170] In 2009, he cosponsored the Sanctity of Life Act, which would provide that fertilized eggs "shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood" and would have given "the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories … the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions".[172][173][174]

Ryan has also supported legislation that would impose criminal penalties for certain doctors who perform "partial-birth abortions".[167] Ryan voted against continued federal aid for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs.[167][175] He also opposed giving over-the-counter status for emergency contraceptive pills.[87][176] Ryan was one of 227 co-sponsors of the 2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act bill in the House of Representatives that would have limited funding for federally funded abortions to victims of "forcible rape". "Forcible rape" was not defined in the bill, which critics said would result in excluding date rape, statutory rape, or other situations where the victim had diminished mental capacity. The language was removed from the bill before the House passed the bill, the Senate did not vote on the bill.[177]

Ryan opposes same-sex marriage, had previously supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, opposed the repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy, voted against same-sex couples adopting children in Washington D.C., and voted against a bill that would expand federal hate crime laws to cover offenses based on a victim's sexual orientation .[167][171][178] Unlike most of his fellow Republicans, Ryan voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, which would've prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[167] The Human Rights Campaign, a GLBT rights organization, has frequently given Ryan a 0/100 rating on its legislative scorecard.[179] During Paul Ryan's 2012 vice presidential bid, he was endorsed by two gay conservative organizations, GOProud[180] and the Log Cabin Republicans.[181] On April 30, 2013, Ryan came out in favor of same-sex couples adopting children. He also said he had always supported civil unions. He also said that if the US Supreme Court declares the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, then he believes it will become a federalist issue for states to decide same-sex marriage.[182][183]

Ryan has supported the rights of gun owners and opposed stricter gun control measures.[167][184] He voted against a bill for stronger background check requirements for purchases at gun shows and supports federal concealed-carry reciprocity legislation, which would allow a person with a permit to carry a concealed firearm in one state to carry a firearm in every other state, a top National Rifle Association (NRA) priority.[184] Ryan, who owns a rifle and a shotgun, is an NRA member, has received an "A" rating from the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action and has been endorsed by the organization every cycle he has been in Congress.

Ryan favors a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning. He also voted to withdraw federal funding of NPR.[167]

In the past, Ryan supported legislation that would have allowed some illegal immigrants to apply for temporary guest-worker status, including one bill that would provide a pathway to permanent residence status (a Green Card) for such immigrants. However, more recently Ryan "has adopted a firm anti-amnesty, enforcement-first stance" on illegal immigration.[185] Ryan voted against the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children if they attend college or serve in the military, and meet other criteria.[174] He also voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006.[87][186] Ryan has said "we must first secure the border and stem the flow of illegal immigration, and then work to increase legal immigration through an enforceable guest worker program" before pursuing a "piecemeal" reform such as the DREAM Act.[187]

Ryan opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act, stating that "it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse."[188]

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the Sierra Club, and other environmentalists have criticized Ryan's record on environmental issues, with Ryan earning 3 percent on the LCV 2011 National Environmental Scorecard.[189] He opposes cap and trade and opposed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.[190] In an 2009 editorial, Ryan has accused climatologists of using "statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change" and he criticized the EPA's classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.[190] Ryan supports a 10-year $40 billion tax break for the petroleum industry, and has proposed cutting funding for renewable energy research and subsidies.[191]

Ryan has spoken out against a "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work."[192]

War on Poverty report

In February 2013, Ryan began touring low-income neighborhoods and speaking on efforts to reform federal anti-poverty programs.[193]

On March 3, 2014, as Chairman of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, Ryan released a report titled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later, asserting that some of 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans have not provided the relief intended and that there is little evidence that these efforts have been successful.[194] In the report, Ryan advances the argument that federal antipoverty programs suffer from defects that "penalize families for getting ahead" and that "the complex web of federal programs and sudden drop-off in benefits create extraordinarily high effective marginal tax rates," both of which "reduce the incentive to work".[195] At the core of the report are recommendations to enact cuts to welfare, child care, college Pell grants and several other federal assistance programs.[196] In an appendix titled "Measures of Poverty", when the poverty rate is measured by including non-cash assistance from food stamps, housing aid and other federal programs, the report states that these measurements "[have] implications for both conservatives and liberals. For conservatives, this suggests that federal programs have actually decreased poverty. For liberals, it lessens the supposed need to expand existing programs or to create new ones."[194][196] According to an article in the Fiscal Times, several economists and social scientists whose work had been referenced in the report said that Ryan either misunderstood or misrepresented their research.[197]

Foreign and military policy

Ryan has been described by Larry Sabato as "just a generic Republican on foreign policy".[198][199]

Ryan voted in 2001 and 2004 to end the embargo on Cuba,[200][201][202][203] but later reversed his positions, and, since 2007, has voted for maintaining the embargo.[203] In 2008, Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "If we're going to have free trade with China, why not Cuba?"[202]

Ryan was a "reliable supporter of the [George W. Bush] administration's foreign policy priorities" who voted for the 2002 Iraq Resolution, authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq.[71] Ryan also voted for the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.[71] In May 2012, Ryan voted for H.R. 4310,[citation needed] which would increase defense spending, including spending for the Afghanistan War and for various weapon systems, to the level of $642 billion – $8 billion more than previous spending levels.[204]

In 2009, Ryan termed the Obama administrations' "reset" of relations with Russia as "appeasement".[205] Daniel Larison of The American Conservative wrote that Ryan "seems to conceive of U.S. power abroad mostly in terms of military strength" and "truly is a product of the era of George W. Bush".[205]

In 2011, Ryan pointed to his support for over $10 billion in cuts to national security spending as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that included $50 billion in near-term budget cuts and a sequestration system to force further budget cuts.[206] In 2012, Ryan explained his support for defense spending sequestration in the hope that this would open common ground with the Democrats on deficit reduction.[207] In January 2013, he said that sequestration would likely occur because the Democrats offered no alternative.[208] Ryan's comments have led defense industry leaders to pin their final hopes on the chance that Congress will at least allow the Pentagon to reprogram the coming cuts.[209] In March 2013, Ryan outlined a budget that provided $2 trillion less for defense over a ten-year period than the platform he had run on the previous fall.[210]

2012 vice presidential campaign

Mitt Romney with Paul Ryan after introducing him as his running mate, for the 2012 presidential election, in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 11, 2012

Dan Balz of The Washington Post wrote that Ryan was promoted as a candidate for Vice President "by major elements of the conservative opinion makers, including The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Weekly Standard and the editor of National Review".[211]

On August 11, 2012, the Romney campaign officially announced Ryan as its choice for Vice President through its "Mitt's VP" mobile app[212] as well as by the social networking service Twitter,[213] about 90 minutes before Romney's in-person introduction.[citation needed] Before the official announcement in Norfolk, Virginia, it was reported that Romney made his decision, and offered the position to Ryan on August 1, 2012,[214] the day after returning from a foreign policy trip through the United Kingdom, Poland and Israel.[215] On August 11, 2012, Ryan formally accepted Romney's invitation to join his campaign as his running mate, in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk.[216] Ryan is the major parties' first-ever vice-presidential candidate from Wisconsin.[217]

According to a statistical-historical analysis conducted by Nate Silver, "Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900" and "is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee [for vice president who previously served in the Congress] was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center" of any vice presidential candidate chosen from Congress since the turn of the 20th century.[218] This analysis, using the DW-NOMINATE statistical system,[218] has been described as "one of the more statistically rigorous approaches to Ryan's congressional voting record".[219] Political scientist Eric Schickler commented that while Ryan "may well be the most conservative vice presidential nominee in decades," the NOMINATE methodology "is not suited to making claims about the relative liberalism or conservatism of politicians" over a long time span.[219] A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 39% thought Ryan was an "excellent" or "pretty good" vice presidential choice, compared to 42% who felt he was a "fair" or "poor" choice.[220]

Ryan formally accepted his nomination at the 2012 Republican National Convention on August 29, 2012.[221] In his acceptance speech, he promoted Mitt Romney as the presidential candidate,[222] supported repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),[222] said that he and Romney had a plan to generate 12 million new jobs over the ensuing four years,[222] and promoted founding principles as a solution: "We will not duck the tough issues—we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others—we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles."[222]

The speech was well received by the convention audience and praised for being well-delivered.[223][224] Some fact-checkers noted that there were important factual omissions and that he presented details out of context.[225][226][227][228] Conservative media (including Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post,[229] the Investor's Business Daily,[230] and Fox News[231]) disputed some of the fact-checkers' findings. Politifact.com rated 33 of Ryan's statements which it suspected of being false or misleading as True: 10.5%, Mostly True: 18%, Half True: 21%, Mostly False: 36%, False: 9%, and Pants on Fire: 6%.[232]

On October 11, 2012, Ryan debated his Democratic counterpart, incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, in the only vice presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle.[233][234]

Romney and Ryan lost the 2012 presidential election, but Ryan retained his seat in the House of Representatives.[235][236] Ryan attended the second inauguration of Barack Obama out of what he said was "obligation",[237][238][239] where he was booed by a group led by a lawyer with the Voting Section of the Department of Justice.[240][241][242]

In 2014, he published The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.

Personal life

Ryan married Janna Little, a tax attorney,[23] in 2000.[243] Little, a native of Oklahoma, is a graduate of Wellesley College, and George Washington University Law School.[23] Her cousin is former Democratic Representative Dan Boren, also of Oklahoma.[244] The Ryans live in the Courthouse Hill Historic District of Janesville, Wisconsin.[20] They have three children: Liza, Charles, and Sam.[245] A Roman Catholic, Ryan is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Janesville, and was an altar boy.[246][247]

Because of a family history of fatal heart attacks before age 60, Ryan pursues an intense cross-training fitness program called P90X.[248] He is "fairly careful" about what he eats[16] and makes his own bratwurst and Polish sausage.[11]

In a radio interview Ryan said that he had run a marathon in under three hours;[249] he later stated that he forgot his actual time and was just trying to state what he thought was a normal time.[250] His one official marathon time is recorded as slightly over four hours.[251][252]

Ryan is a fisherman and bowhunter, and a member of the Janesville Bowmen archery association.[23] He is a fan of the Green Bay Packers.[253] His musical preferences include Beethoven, Rage Against the Machine, and Led Zeppelin, and he reportedly will whisk past reporters, ignoring them, while listening to this music on his IPod.[254][255]

Awards and honors

Electoral history

YearOfficeDistrictDemocraticRepublicanOther
1998U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictLydia Spottswood43%Paul Ryan57%
2000U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictJeffrey Thomas33%Paul Ryan67%
2002U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictJeffrey Thomas31%Paul Ryan67%George Meyers (L)2%
2004U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictJeffrey Thomas33%Paul Ryan65%
2006U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictJeffrey Thomas37%Paul Ryan63%
2008U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictMarge Krupp35%Paul Ryan64%Joseph Kexel (L)1%
2010U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictJohn Heckenlively30%Paul Ryan68%Joseph Kexel (L)2%
2012U.S. House of RepresentativesWisconsin 1st DistrictRob Zerban43%Paul Ryan55%Keith Deschler (L)2%
2012Vice-President of the United States-Joe Biden51%Paul Ryan47%James P. Gray (L)1%

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Further reading

Works about Ryan

Works by Ryan

External links