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Paul Ryan

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Paul Ryan currently serves the First Congressional district of Wisconsin

Paul D. Ryan, Jr. (born January 29, 1970) has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1999, representing the First Congressional District of Southeastern Wisconsin. He is currently the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and is best known for his 2011, 2012 "Path to Prosperity" budget blueprints and his 2010 deficit reduction plan Roadmap for America's Future. Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney announced on August 11, 2012 that he had chosen Ryan as his running-mate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin battleship in Norfolk, Virginia.[1] Ryan lost his V.P. bid in 2012 but retained his congressional seat against challenger, Rob Zerban.[2]

Rep. Ryan is the primary author of the "Path to Prosperity" blueprint embodied in the the FY 2013 House Budget Resolution, also known as the "Ryan budget." The Ryan budget passed the House on April 15, 2011 by a vote of 235-193.[3] A motion to proceed to debate in the Senate on May 25, 2011 failed by a 40-57 margin, with five Republicans voting no[4]. The Ryan budget would slash the top tax rate for corporations and individuals from 35% to 25%, while implementing massive cuts in social safety net program spending. It would repeal Obamacare, cut Medicaid, transform Medicare into a voucher system, cut student loans, end the Earned Income Tax Credit program for the poor, and reverse Wall Street financial reforms covering "too big to fail" financial institutions. [5] President Barack Obama offered an alternative deficit reduction plan and a comparison of the two programs can be found here.

Rep. Ryan was chosen to give the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. [6]

Rep. Ryan was a vocal supporter of the 2008 Wall Street bailout and convinced fellow Republicans to vote for the bill. His impassioned speech in support of the $800 billion plan earned him a place in Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. While the Tea Party arose, in part, as an angry response to the expensive bailout, Rep. Ryan has positioned himself as a defender of the movement's calls for fiscal responsibility.

See also Roadmap for America's Future.

Contents

Reinhart-Rogoff Error Explodes Empirical Evidence for Austerity

In 2010, Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff released a study (“Growth in a Time of Debt”) that presented empirical evidence from 44 nations over a 200 year time span to demonstrate that countries with a public debt over 90 percent of GDP have much lower average growth rates than other nations. The study has been cited by Ryan and many other politicians to justify their continued push for cuts during an economic downturn.

When a team of economists at UMass Amherst got a hold of the data used by Reinhart and Rogoff, they uncovered numerous errors. In 2013, they released their own report which found that "coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics lead to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and GDP growth." Adjusting for these errors, the Amherst team contends that "the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent." [7]

Time and time again, economists tried to replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results, but to no avail. Now, Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin at UMass Amherst show us why. One mistake, admitted by the authors and gaining the most attention, is an Excel spreadsheet error. Check out the screen shot of the year. As the authors put it: "A coding error in the RR working spreadsheet entirely excludes five countries, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark, from the analysis. [Reinhart-Rogoff] averaged cells in lines 30 to 44 instead of lines 30 to 49... This spreadsheet error... is responsible for a -0.3 percentage-point error in RR's published average real GDP growth in the highest public debt/GDP category." Belgium, in particular, has 26 years with debt-to-GDP above 90 percent, with an average growth rate of 2.6 percent (though this is only counted as one total point due to the weighting above). [7]

Mother Jones dubbed it "the Excel Error Heard Round the World.” But there are multiple errors in the study detailed here by financial writer Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute. [8]

Study Used to Justify Harmful Cuts and High Unemployment

It is hard to understate the importance of the flawed Reinhart-Rogoff study. It has been cited around the globe by academics, politicians, and the mainstream media. In the United States, it is one of Paul Ryan's favorite justifications for his draconian Path to Prosperity budget, for GOP rejection of further stimulus, and the Fix the Debt crowd's frenzied calls for urgent action. Simpson-Bowles, Pete Peterson and "Fix the Debt" have all cited this study to justify harmful cuts and a stalemate on stimulus currently condemning millions to mass unemployment.

Ties To Pete Peterson

The economists both have ties to Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson. As the Center for Media and Democracy detailed in the online report, "The Peterson Pyramid," the Blackstone billionaire turned philanthropist has spent half a billion dollars to promote this chorus of calamity. Through the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Peterson has funded practically every think tank and non-profit that works on deficit- and debt-related issues, including his latest 2012 astroturf supergroup, "Fix the Debt.” Reinhart, described glowingly by the New York Times as "the most influential female economist in the world," was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics founded, chaired, and funded by Peterson. Reinhart is listed as participating in many Peterson Institute events, such as their 2012 fiscal summit along with Paul Ryan, Alan Simpson, and Tim Geithner, and numerous other Peterson lectures and events available on YouTube. She is married to economist and author Vincent Reinhart, who does similar work for the American Enterprise Institute, also funded by the Peterson Foundation. Kenneth Rogoff is listed on the Advisory Board of the Peterson Institute. The Peterson Institute bankrolled and published a 2011 Rogoff-Reinhart book-length collaboration, "A Decade of Debt," where the authors apparently used the same flawed data to reach many of the same conclusions and warn ominously of a "debt burden" stretching into 2017 that "will weigh heavily on the public policy agenda of numerous advanced economies and global financial markets for some time to come." (Note that not everyone associated with the Institute touts the Peterson party line.)

Economists Continue to Make Errors Defending Themselves

From the Huffington Post: [9]

In a detailed response to Herndon, Reinhart and Rogoff copped to some mistakes, including an error in creating a formula in Excel. But they stood by the general gist of their paper, that high debt is associated with slower economic growth. They suggested that Herndon's paper backed up that view, in fact.

And yet the mistakes just keep coming: In their response, Reinhart and Rogoff said that small differences in economic growth add up over time, saying a country growing one percent too slow for 23 years would end up with an economy 25 percent smaller than it should have been. But Phil Izzo of the Wall Street Journal points out that, actually, a growth deficit of one percent per year for 23 years would leave an economy 20 percent smaller, not 25 percent.

Reinhart acknowledged the growth-rate error to the WSJ's Izzo, but said the number didn't mean much; she was only trying to illustrate a broader point, that small changes in growth have big effects over time.

On the Campaign Trail for Romney/Ryan 2012

Romney/Ryan Lose 2012 Bid for the Presidency

On November 5, 2012 Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan lost their bid for the presidency. President Barack Obama is expected to win 332 votes in the electoral college to Mitt Romney's 206 electoral votes. The popular vote was 51% for Obama, and 48% for Romney.

Ryan Loses His State, County, City and Ward in 2012 Presidential Election

In 2010 Ryan won his congressional seat with 68.2 percent of the vote. In 2012 he won with 54.9 percent of the vote. Even though his district was dramatically more Republican he suffered a 14 percent slide in his support as his district got to know more about his record.[10]

John Nichols from The Nation reports:

Ryan, whose selection as Romney’s running mate was once considered key to carrying Wisconsin for the Republicans, turned out to be a miserable addition to the ticket. Not only didn’t he help win the state, he couldn’t even win his hometown of Janesville, which went overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and surrounding Rock County, which gave the Romney/Ryan ticket just 39 percent of the vote.
It was even worse in Ryan's “safety” race for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seven-term congressman kept his seat, thanks to partisan redistricting that grabbed off a chunk of Republican Waukesha County and attached it to Ryan’s southeastern Wisconsin district. Yet, despite the machinations that made his 1st District decidedly more Republican, prevailed by the narrowest margin of his career -- over Democratic challenger Rob Zerban.
Ryan ran especially badly close to home, losing Janesville and the portion of Rock County that is in the 1st. It wasn’t even that close: Zerban won almost 52 percent to Ryan’s 46 percent.[11]

Ryan Wins Congressional Seat in 2012, But Suffers 14% Slide

In 2010 Ryan won his congressional seat with 68.2 percent of the vote. In 2012 he won with 54.9 percent of the vote. Even though his district was dramatically more Republican after redistricting, he suffered a 14 percent slide in his support apparently as his district got to know more about his record.[12]

Ryan's PAC Donated to Richard Mourdock

In June of 2012 Paul Ryan's leadership PAC, Prosperity PAC, donated $5,000 to Richard Mourdock's Indiana Senate campaign. The donation was made after Mourdock won his primary. Mourdock has come under criticism for stating in a debate on October 23, 2012 that "I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."[13]

Ryan Criticized for Photo-Op at Soup Kitchen

On October 13, 2012 Paul Ryan went to a soup kitchen in Ohio on his way to the airport. He arrived after food had been served, the people had left, and the soup kitchen was empty. Ryan entered the kitchen and began to wash a few dishes, with the press taking pictures. He later came under criticism from the director of the facility, and some Catholic groups for his action. James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United said “Representative Ryan tried to use the poor, and those who serve them, as a political prop. From a man who has done so much to undermine the work of public-private partnerships and faith-based groups, this is an incredibly cynical move.”[14]

The president of the facility, Brian J. Antal, also publicly criticized Ryan's move. He said that Ryan's campaign did not go through the proper channels, that they "did not have permission". He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”[15]

Ryan Dodges Fox News Questions on the Cost of the Romney Tax Plan

Chris Wallace asks Paul Ryan about Romney Tax Plan

On Sunday, September 30, 2012 Paul Ryan was interviewed on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Wallace repeatedly asked Ryan about the specifics and the cost of the Romney's tax plan. Wallace asked: "independents say that if you cut those tax rates it will cost $5 trillion is that true?" Ryan responds with: "not in the least true." "How much would it cost?" Wallace inquires again. Ryan does not provide a number, but continues to state that it would be "revenue neutral".

Wallace is citing a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center which says that the Romney/Ryan tax cut plan would cost almost $5 trillion over 10 years. Romney and Ryan's claim that the plan would be revenue neutral has been addressed by the study. "[They] found that Romney would have no choice but to eliminate popular middle-income deductions if he wanted to cut rates and maintain revenue neutrality. The authors of the report specifically rejected that lowering tax rates would encourage economic growth, citing estimates from the Congressional Budget Office."[16] The authors of the study state: "Our major conclusion is that any revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers."[17] The popular middle-class tax deductions that would have to be eliminated include: "the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC and child tax credit."[17]

In an interview with A conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, WTDY's Charlie Sykes, Ryan explained his refusal to get into the specifics of the Romney tax plan with Fox. "I didn't want to get into all of the math on this because everyone would start changing the channel."[16] Sykes did not press him further.

Ryan: 60 percent are Takers not Makers

On October 5, 2012 Mother Jones uncovered a 2010 interview with Rep. Paul Ryan in which he states "Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes... So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers in America and that will be tough to come back from that. They'll be dependent on the government for their livelihoods [rather] than themselves."[18]

This statement is being compared to Mitt Romney's "47%" comment, which has garnered much criticism. On September 17th, 2012, Mother Jones leaked footage of a Romney fundraiser from May of that year. The $50,000-a-plate fundraiser [19] was held on May 17th in Boca Raton at the home of Marc Leder, CEO of Sun Capital Partners. [20]

In the leaked video, Romney states that his campaign is not concerned with "47% of people, who will vote for the president no matter what." Romney says that these 47% "Are dependent on Government...believe the government has a responsibility to care for them...believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it." Romney later equates this group to "people who pay no income taxes" and says "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility for their own lives." [21] In another segment of the video, released shortly afterward, Romney discussed the infeasibility of any two state solution between Israel and Palestine. [22]

Ryan Requested ACA Funds

According to a report by Lee Fang of The Nation Paul Ryan requested funds from the Affordable Care Act despite being a vocal critic of the bill, and vowing to repeal it if elected with Mitt Romney as vice president. "Paul Ryan is barnstorming the country, promising to repeal every provision of health care reform if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected this November" but, "On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan's district... The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as health care reform or Obamacare."[23]

No Ryan Bounce

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released on August 21, 2012 “suggest[s] a minimal bounce for Romney (if at all) after this month’s Ryan pick.” The poll shows Obama/Biden with 48%, and Romney/Ryan with 44%, only slightly changed from July’s 49 to 43 margin. “The poll suggests that – so far – the pick has had less of an impact on voters than previous running mates have had.” [24]

Stimulus Money

In an August 16, 2012 interview with Cincinnati’s television station WCPO, Rep. Ryan said “I never asked for stimulus” and that he “did not request any stimulus money.” These statements contradict information that the Associated Press gathered in 2010, four letters from Rep. Ryan requesting stimulus funds for his district from Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Ryan’s spokesperson Brendan Buck explained the contradiction by saying that the letters were written as a “constituent service.”[25] Later in the day, after the interview aired on television, Rep. Ryan told reporters that it was a mistake that his office had requested stimulus funds after voting against it.[26]

Rep. Todd Akin's “Legitimate Rape” Controversy and Ryan’s Record

Rep. Todd Akin

In an August 19, 2012 interview aired on St. Louis television station KTVI-TV, Akin was asked his views on whether women who became pregnant due to rape should have the option of abortion. He replied:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try :to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some :punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.[27]

The comments initiated a storm of controversy and calls for Aiken to leave the race.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, issued a joint statement saying they ‘disagree’ with Akin's remarks and ‘would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.’ But as many pointed out, this represented a shift in policy for Ryan, who in the past had repeatedly opposed abortion access for rape victims and worked closely with Akin in the House, even praising him during the Missouri Senate primary. In 2010 Akins and Ryan co-sponsored a bill that would narrow access to abortion for rape victims receiving Medicaid (excluding pregnancies not arising from ‘forcible rape,’ such as cases of statutory rape or those caused when a woman is drugged or has limited mental capacity), and in 2009 the pair co-sponsored a bill declaring a fertilized egg has the same legal rights as a human being, which not only would ban abortion but also turn many forms of birth control into a murder weapon.”[28]

In October 2012, Rep. Roger Rivard, a Republican State Representative in Wisconsin, came under fire for comments he made during an interview. Rivard told a local newspaper that his father once told him "some girls rape easy." Rivard says his father was trying to warn him against having premarital sex, and that the comment was in reference to the possibility of a woman claiming to be raped after having consensual sex.[29] The day after the comments started to garner criticism Paul Ryan's campaign told reporters that Ryan has withdrawn his endorsement of Rep. Rivard.[30]

Ryan Blames Obama for GM Plant that Closed Under Bush

At a campaign stop in August 2012, Rep. Ryan criticized President Obama, blaming him for the closing of the GM plant in Rep. Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. "I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he'll keep that plant open... One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs. The president's terrible energy policies are costing us jobs." He referred to it as "one more broken promise" from the Obama administration.[31] Rep. Ryan's statements have been criticized after it was pointed out that the GM plant actually closed during President George W. Bush's last year in office.[32]

Ryan and Romney “Haven’t Run the Numbers” on Their Budget

In his first one-on-one interview after being chosen as Romney’s running mate, Rep. Ryan sat down with Fox News’ Birt Hume. “Asked by Hume when the Romney plan would balance the budget, Ryan said he didn't know because ‘we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan.’”[33]

This admission contrasts with Ryan’s image as a policy wonk who rose to prominence after introducing his own budget, which became the Republican’s alternative to President Obama’s budget.

Fundraiser with Sheldon Adelson

Rep. Ryan held a fundraiser in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 14, 2012 with billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The press was not allowed to cover the event, and the Romney/Ryan campaign justified this decision by calling the event a “finance event” rather than a fundraiser.[34] Adelson has committed to spending $100 million to defeat President Obama in the lead up to the November 2012 election.[35] Adelson has also been under scrutiny lately when his casino empire became “the subject of a federal investigation into whether his company, Las Vegas Sands, bribed Chinese officials to help him expand into the mainland.”[35]

This meeting with Adelson and other G.O.P. donors highlights the fact that Rep. Ryan is expected to help boost fundraising. The Romney/Ryan campaign said that within 24 hours of the announcement of Rep. Ryan being picked as Romney’s running mate, they raised $3.5 million.

RNC Convention: Controversy Surrounds Ryan's Speech

Paul Ryan gave a keynote speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on August 29, 2012. Numerous assertions Ryan made in his speech have come under scrutiny. A contributor to Fox News wrote an article deeply critical of Ryan's speech, saying "Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech." [36]

Blaming Obama for GM Plant Closing

Ryan criticized President Obama for failing to keep the Janesville GM auto plant open, even though it closed before President Obama took office.[37] The plant closed in December of 2008 putting 2,800 workers out of a job, Obama was sworn in to office in January 2009. [38] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared on several news networks where he was grilled about similar statements. [39]

The US Credit Rate Downgrade

Ryan criticized President Obama for the United States' credit rating being downgraded during the debt ceiling crisis in August 2011. Ryan put the blame on Obama, despite the fact that is was the "political brinksmanship" of Republicans in the House threatening to not raise the debt ceiling that prompted Standard and Poor's credit agency to downgrade. S&P explained: The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.[40]

Medicare Costsavings

Ryan was critical in his speech of changes President Obama has made to Medicare, saying that the $716 billion in Medicare cost reductions built into the Affordable Care Act was "raiding" Medicare.[37] These reductions are not benefit cuts for Medicare recipients, they are cost savings from private insurers, hospitals and providers. Ryan himself has cited growth in Medicare spending as a key contributor to the deficit. He voted against the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plant because it did nothing to fix the single biggest driver of the nation's debt -- Medicare. [41] According to the Washington Post, the exact same amount would have been cut from Medicare in his own budget, which most Republicans in the House voted for. [42]

Simpson Bowles Commission

Ryan "derided the president for walking away from the Simpson Bowles commission deficit-cutting recommendations", but Rep. Ryan, who sat on the committee, voted against the committee's recommendations because they raised taxes but didn't address Medicare spending[43][44] Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has called this vote "Ryan's Biggest Mistake" "Ryan voted no for intellectually coherent reasons. He argued that the single biggest contributing factor to public debt is the unsustainable growth of Medicare. Yet the Simpson-Bowles plan did nothing to restructure Medicare, and it sidestepped health care issues generally. Ryan said that it was silly to come up with a debt-reduction proposal that didn’t fix the single biggest driver of the nation’s debt." [41]

Strong to Protect the Weak

Rep. Ryan invoked his Catholic faith in his speech when he said that "the greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak."[45] Despite this statement, many including the Conference of Catholic Bishops have criticized Rep. Ryan's proposed budget for its massive cuts social programs that help the poor. In an interview, Rep. Ryan's former parish priest was critical of the Ryan budget and its effect on the poor and unemployed in Janesville, Wisconsin, he said "you can't tell somebody that in ten years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death."[46]

Rep. Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" Budget Proposal

Ryan announced his budget proposal in an April 5, 2011 press conference and in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. With Democrats controlling the Senate, the proposal is not expected to become law in the near future, but it is illustrative of a widely supported Republican agenda. Ryan claims the national debt would be $1.1 trillion less over the next five years than under the Obama's budget, [47] but his assumptions and numbers have been called into question. [48]

The plan would mostly privatize Medicare, and convert Medicaid from a guaranteed benefits program to a block grant state-managed program that would likely limit eligibility and benefits. Medicare and Medicaid currently account for 25 percent of the federal budget, but spending on those health programs and Social Security is expected to grow substantially in coming years; Ryan's plan is one of the first to suggest substantial reforms to these programs.[49] Defense spending and Social Security are mostly unchanged from President Obama's proposed budget.

Ryan's plan would reduce the top income tax rate for both individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent, repeal estate taxes, and institute a national sales tax that would likely have the greatest impact on America's poor-and middle-class. The plan's budget calculations rest on the assumption that the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") will be repealed (even though the Congressional Budget Office has said the healthcare reforms will produce budget gains over the next decade). The plan does not confront spending on the military and America's two wars (the most expensive parts of the federal budget).

The full plan can be found here. Ezra Klein has a brief summary of the "Path to Prosperity" here. The Congressional Budget Office has its analysis of the plan's budgetary impact (but not a cost estimate) here.

"Path" Assumes Incredible Growth and Focuses Only on Spending, Not Raising Taxes to Increase Revenue

The "Path to Prosperity" does not consider raising revenue to reduce the deficit, with Ryan saying "I do want higher revenues but I want to get them through economic growth," and that "if you raise revenues you take the pressure off of spending." [50] However, critics such as Paul Krugman say Ryan's assumptions for economic growth reflect a "belief in the impossible:" the projections assume "unemployment will plunge right away; that by 2015 it will be down to the levels at the peak of the 1990s boom (and far below anything achieved under the sainted Ronald Reagan); and that by 2021 it will be below 3 percent, a level we haven’t seen in more than half a century."[51]

On April 1, 2011, just before Ryan's budget was released, the International Monetary Fund released an assessment of the US' deficit problems and determined "the federal government can restore fiscal balance by raising all taxes and cutting all transfer payments immediately and for the indefinite future by 35 percent." (Read the IMF report here). The "Path," though, not only focuses exclusively on the spending side of the equation, but actually decreases taxes.

Krugman also points out that most of the "savings" from Ryan's ambiguous and severe spending cuts will not be directed at reducing the deficit, but financing the very large tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy. [52] Considering that Ryan's assumptions on economic growth and employment rates are unrealistically rosy, the fall in revenue will likely be even larger than the plan anticipates. Krugman writes "the bottom line is obvious: this is not the budget of a deficit hawk. It’s the budget of a deficit exploiter, someone who is trying to use fears of red ink to push through a political agenda that includes major losses of revenue."[52]

Ryan Cites Flawed Analysis by the Heritage Foundation

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed supporting his "Path to Prosperity," Ryan writes:

"A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage’s analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year."

The Heritage Foundation Analysis was called "simply outlandish" by The Economist. [53] David Weigel at Slate writes "Heritage sees unemployment falling, by 2018, to the lowest level since the roaring 20s -- and then going lower!" [54] The Economist points out "when the Obama administration projected a 5.9% unemployment rate in 2015 falling to 5.3% by the end of the decade, the Congressional Budget Office chided it for excessive optimism. . . [the Heritage Foundation's] assumption, in other words, [is] unrealistic enough to be considered somewhat bizarre. Everyone puts a positive spin on their policy proposals. But fundamentally worthy policies shouldn't need to promise laughably overoptimistic outcomes to win support.[53] Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, told TPMDC that analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office "is what they use on the budget side -- as a matter of procedure, any numbers from the Heritage Foundation or anybody else are essentially worthless . . . You can assert whatever you want to assert, but you can always find some half-baked tax think tank that will make up any number you feel like."[55]

Paul Krugman also points out that the Heritage analysis Ryan relies on assumes "housing investment in 2015 would be back to its level in 2006 — at the height of the housing bubble," and would continue rising. "You can’t have this kind of housing boom without massive borrowing," Krugman writes. [56]

Matthew Yglesias points out that the Heritage Foundation also predicted in 2001 that President George W. Bush's tax cuts "would lead the country into a brave new era of prosperity." [57]

Medicaid Reforms

The "Path" aims to turn Medicaid into a "block grant" program that gives state governors wide discretion on how it is spent. Healthcare advocates say this will lead to reduced benefits and make fewer people eligible for the program.[49]

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post points out that, even though Ryan lists Medicaid under "welfare reform," two-thirds (67%) of Medicaid payouts go towards seniors and the disabled, not the poor. This is despite the fact that seniors and the disabled are only 25% of Medicaid's members. [58] Klein notes that Medicaid is 20 percent cheaper than a private-insurance plan, and that converting Medicaid into block grants is not intended to reduce costs, but to limit eligibility and benefits. [58]

Food Stamps

The "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," otherwise known as the food stamp program, is treated the same as Medicaid: block grants to states, indexed for inflation and population growth.[59]

Medicare Slowly Eliminated

Voucher.jpg

Ryan's "Path" would phase- out traditional pay-for-service Medicare, the government program providing health insurance coverage to persons 65 and older, and replace it with government subsidies for the elderly to obtain healthcare through private insurers. According to Ryan, "this is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model." [60] The plan would be phased-in and only take effect for persons currently under age 55.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that seniors will be paying on average 68% of their health care costs by 2030, more than twice as much than under current law.[51] The economist Dean Baker points out seniors would end up spending most of their income on healthcare. [61]

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing the plan, Ryan writes: "starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy. Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options."[60]

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) points out that this is an unfair comparison: members of Congress are only expected to pay 28% of their health care costs, in contrast to the 68% seniors will be paying under Ryan's "Path." What's more, with seniors' medical costs being even higher than the broader population, and the amount of the voucher fixed and not based on healthcare costs, the difference is even more striking. He writes: "when the plan takes effect in 2022, the average senior would receive $8,000 to buy insurance. Plans for Members of Congress cost $9,012 in 2010. What kind of health care plan will $8,000 buy in 2022 for our sickest and oldest seniors, when $9,000 can't buy a plan for a Member of Congress today?"[62]

With healthcare costs rising, the Medicare reforms have been criticized by Democrats such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md, who says "all the risk of increased costs will be borne by seniors." He says "they're ending Medicare as we know it. They take away the Medicare guarantee for seniors." [63]

Ryan has claimed the "Path's" Medicare proposal resembles the one he developed with Alice Rivlin, Brookings scholar and former advisor to President Bill Clinton, but Rivlin has said she does not support Ryan's plan. [64] Rivlin says she does not want to eliminate Medicare entirely, and would increase the value of the vouchers at GDP+1 (inflation plus productivity growth (which is what GDP represents) plus one additional percentage point). She also states that she supports upholding the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), particularly in regards to its promotion of research and pilot programs aimed at reducing healthcare costs. [65]

Ambiguous Cuts to Non-Discretionary Spending

Paul Krugman writes "the biggest source of supposed savings in the plan isn’t actually health care, it’s an assumption that federal spending on everything except health and Social Security can somehow be squeezed, as a percent of GDP, to a small fraction of current levels . . . Ryan is assuming that everything aside from health and SS can be squeezed from 12 percent of GDP now to 3 1/2 percent of GDP. That’s bigger than the assumed cut in health care spending relative to baseline; it accounts for all of the projected deficit reduction, since the alleged health savings are all used to finance tax cuts. And how is this supposed to be accomplished? Not explained. This isn’t a serious proposal; it’s a strange combination of cruelty and insanely wishful thinking." [51]

Religious Groups Criticize Ryan's Budget

Rep. Ryan, a Catholic, has received sustained criticism from many religious leaders and religious groups over his budget proposal and its treatment of the poor. In April of 2012 nearly 90 faculty and staff from the Jesuit Georgetown University "called Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to task for his misuse of Catholic social teaching in defending his budget, which hurts the poor." In a letter that they wrote to Ryan, they say "In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love."[66]

In June of 2012 a group of Catholic nuns went on a "two-week bus tour through nine swing states to protest the Ryan budget proposal, contending that it undermined Catholic teachings to serve the poor and vulnerable." [67] The nuns visited Rep. Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin on their tour, "to drop off an alternative faithful budget proposal they say better reflects their Catholic values" to Ryan's office there.[68]

"The U.S. Conference of Bishops similarly denounced [Ryan's] spending plan in the spring, arguing that it “fails to meet” the moral principles of the Catholic Church." [69]

Other Criticisms of the "Path to Prosperity"

In response to claims that Rep. Ryan was "courageous" for confronting budget issues with difficult cuts, Chris Van Hollen said:

“To govern is to choose, and it is not courageous to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies, and other big money special interests while slashing our investments in education, ending the current health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, and denying health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans. That’s not courageous, it’s wrong.”[70]


Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes that Ryan's plan is expected to "shrink federal spending to about 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2015 and to 14.75 percent of GDP by 2050 — the lowest level since 1951, a time when Medicare and Medicaid did not exist."

"Yet, Medicare and Medicaid would actually fare better than most of the rest of the budget. Perhaps the single most stunning piece of information that the CBO report reveals is that Ryan's plan "specifies a path for all other spending" (other than spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest payments) to drop "from 12 percent [of GDP] in 2010 to 6 percent in 2022 and 3½ percent by 2050." These figures are extraordinary. As CBO notes, "spending in this category has exceeded 8 percent of GDP in every year since World War II."Defense spending has equaled or exceeded 3 percent of GDP every year since 1940, and the Ryan budget does not envision defense cuts in real terms (although defense could decline a bit as a share of GDP). Assuming defense spending remained level in real terms, most of the rest of the federal government outside of health care, Social Security, and defense would cease to exist." [71]

House Votes on "Path to Prosperity"

Ryan's budget passed the Republican-controlled House on April 15, 2011. No Democrats voted for the bill and four Republicans voted against it.[72]

Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) voted against the budget in part because it continues funding America's ongoing wars in the Middle East. While Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) also opposed President Obama's alternative proposal, he wrote that he voted against Ryan's bill because:

"My home state of West Virginia has the highest percentage of Medicare beneficiaries in the country, and I cannot support a plan that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees. Unfortunately, Medicare is on a path to bankruptcy unless action is taken. However, I am not convinced that such a dramatic overhaul of benefits for future retirees is necessary to save the program." [73]

Roadmap For America's Future

Visit the Roadmap for America's Future SourceWatch entry for information on Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap."

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has said "Ryan's Roadmap . . . is a timebomb for [the Republican party]: It doesn't just privatize Medicare, but it holds costs down by giving seniors checks that won't keep up with the price of health care. It privatizes much of Social Security. It cuts taxes on the rich while raising them on many in the middle class." [74] Despite raising taxes on nearly 90% of Americans and cutting entitlement programs, the Roadmap's massive tax cuts for the rich are expected to result in a budget deficit of between $1.3 and 2 trillion over the next decade. [75] [76]

Rep. Ryan and the Koch Brothers

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Koch Industries has been one of Ryan's top contributors throughout his career[77]. The company's PAC and employees have given him $65,000 in donations during his Congressional career. This makes Koch Ryan's biggest energy-related donor.[78]

The Koch's political arm Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has also embraced Ryan. Ryan has made dozens of appearances at AFP events and rallies in Wisconsin and in Washington, DC. In 2008, he was granted the Wisconsin AFP chapter's "Defending the American Dream" award[79], handed to him by then County Executive Scott Walker. AFP touted their ties to Ryan while applauding his ascent into the limelight as Mitt Romney's VP pick: "We have been proud to work with him on restoring economic freedom to our nation."[80]

Rep. Ryan and Ayn Rand

"The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand", April 2011

Rep. Ryan has cited author Ayn Rand as one of his biggest inspirations. [81] "In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. 'The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,' he told the group. 'The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.'" [81]

In 2005 Rep. Ryan gave a speech at a “Celebration of Ayn Rand” event planned by the Atlas Society, “an objectivist research and advocacy organization” that promotes Rand's philosophies. In the speech he said “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”[82]

After making statements about how influential Ayn Rand has been to him, Ryan attracted criticism from faith leaders pointing out that Rand was an atheist, and her views directly conflict with those of the Catholic Church. In an attempt to deflect the criticism, Ryan distance himself from Ayn Rand’s philosophies in subsequent interviews. “’I reject her philosophy,”’Ryan told Robert Costa of the National Review. ‘It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview.’” [83]

Congressional Record

Ryan Voted for Obama's 'Fiscal Cliff' Plan

"After Senator John McCain’s failed presidential bid in 2008, he repaired to the Senate to become a thorn in President Obama’s side. His running mate, Sarah Palin, used her considerable clout on the right to rally her fervent supporters against Mr. Obama and Democrats. But when the vice-presidential hopes of Representative Paul D. Ryan were dashed this Election Day, he returned to the House of Representatives and last week helped pass a bipartisan tax deal sought by Mr. Obama."[84]

Ryan voted in favor of President Obama's so-called "Fiscal Cliff" plan on January 1, 2013, which passed by a margin of 257 to 167 in the House.

2 Bills Passed in 14 Years

During his 14 years in the House, Paul Ryan has sponsored some 71 bills or amendments,[85] only two of which were ultimately enacted into law.[86] 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.[87][88]

Social Security Privatization

In 2005, Rep. Ryan and Rep. John Sununu introduced the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005.[89] The plan would have allowed workers to funnel a portion of their 12.4 percent payroll-tax contribution to a private account. They worked hard to convince George W. Bush to embrace the plan. From the New Yorker: "The release of the Social Security proposal was a turning point in Ryan's career. Bush could have chosen to push a bipartisan idea, such as immigration reform, as the first domestic proposal of his second term. But, during the 2004 campaign, Ryan, with such allies as Kemp and Ferrara, kept up pressure from the right to force the White House to make a decision on Social Security... Bush, urged by Karl Rove to keep his distance from Ryan's plan, released a far more cautious proposal, with smaller accounts and less expensive transition costs. He spent months on a national tour promoting it, as Ryan had in Wisconsin. Democrats savaged the plan. Bush's poll numbers sank, and the plan was effectively dead by the fall." [90] Had the bill passed retiree savings would have evaporated in the 2008 financial collapse.

2008 Wall Street Bailout

Rep. Ryan was a major supporter of President George W. Bush's $800 billion Wall Street bailout, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Division A of Pub.L. 110-343). Ryan rallied Republican votes for the bill, managing to overcome the instincts of many fiscal conservatives.

Ryan's impassioned speech in support of the bailout ("If we fail to do the right thing, heaven help us - if we fail to pass this I fear the worst is yet to come") earned him a featured spot in Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story. [91]

John Nichols writes: "There was nothing fiscally responsible -- let alone necessary -- about the bailout. Indeed, it was such a bad deal that it spawned a popular revolt that gave rise to the tea party movement. Now Ryan positions himself as the champion of the tea party's call for debt relief." [92]

Health Care Votes

Ryan voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), and also voted in favor of repealing the bill, despite the independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office declaring that repeal will add $230 Billion more to the deficit. [93]

Rep. Ryan has accepted over $660,000 in contributions from the insurance industry and over $1 million from the healthcare industry (Health Professionals $431,013, Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $230,592, Hospitals/Nursing Homes $180,477, Health Services/HMOs $161,392). [94]

War Votes

On October 10, 2002 Rep. Ryan voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, also known as the Iraq War Resolution.[95] The bill authorized military action in Iraq. Rep. Ryan went on to "ratif[y] every troop escalation and every supplemental appropriation" for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the war is a major contributor to the U.S. deficit.[96]

Carl Cameron a Fox News reporter, asked Rep. Ryan how he would respond to critics who question his weak national security resume. Rep. Ryan responded by citing his support of the Iraq War. He said "I've been in Congress for a number of years... That's more experience than Barack Obama had when he came into office." He went on to say "I voted to send people to war."[96]

Offshoring of U.S. Jobs

Rep. Ryan voted to allow "permanent normal trading relations with China" in 2000, the most significant trade vote of the decade. Since establishing free trade with China between 2001 and 2010, 2.8 million U.S. jobs were lost or displaced according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing.[97] Rep. Ryan voted for H.R. 4444, To Authorize Extension of Nondiscriminatory Treatment (Normal Trade Relations Treatment) to the People’s Republic of China, on May 24, 2000.[98]

Ryan was not in Congress to vote on NAFTA, but he voted for an expansion of NAFTA called the Central American Free Trade Agreement CAFTA in 2005. (Roll Call 443, H 3045, 07/28/2005)[99] He also voted for the South Korea, Panama, and Colombia Free Trade Agreements. (H.R. 3080, Vote 24, 10/12/11[100]; H.R. 3079, Vote 23, 10/12/11[101]; H.R. 3078, Vote 22, 10/12/11[102])

Unions

Ryan opposed the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress, which would make it easier for workers to form a union (Roll Call 118, H 800, 03/01/2007)[103]; and voted for a two month waiting period for a unionization vote after a petition is filed to allow for management intimidation. (Roll Call 869, H 3094, 11/30/2011)[104]

Support for the Patriot Act

Rep. Ryan voted for the 2001 USA Patriot Act.[105] Ryan also voted to re-authorize the USA Patriot Act in 2006.[106]

Abortion

Ryan has received endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) for a 100 percent pro-life voting record[107] "I support the rights of the unborn child. Personally, I believe that life begins at conception, and it is for that reason that I feel we need to protect that life as we would protect other children." [108], Ryan wrote in a 2009 op-ed. The Congressman also cosponsored the Federal Abortion Ban, which criminalizes abortion and prescribes a two-year prison sentence for doctors in some cases, and the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which defines life as beginning at fertilization and could outlaw some birth control and in vitro fertilization.[109]

Taxes On The Rich

In 2001 Rep. Ryan voted for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001[110], the first of two bills commonly referred to as "the Bush tax cuts." He also voted for the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003[111], the second of the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts have continued to add billions to the national debt. Rep. Ryan voted on August 1, 2012 to extend the Bush tax cuts for another year.[112]

Rep. Ryan has consistently argued that the rich ought to pay low taxes so that they can stimulate growth and economic mobility by creating jobs and investing their wealth. Yet studies show that income mobility in the United States is actually considerably lower than in many other industrialized countries. According to data gathered by the Economic Mobility Project, "in America, you’re more likely to stay rich if born rich, and stay poor if born poor, than you are in most European countries." [113]

Insurance Industry Regulation

In 2010, John Nichols wrote in the Capital Times that Ryan "was one of just 19 members of the House who voted against a proposal to strip antitrust exemptions for insurance companies. According to the American Medical Association, most local markets in the U.S. are dominated by a single insurer. What that means is that there is no real competition, a circumstance that allows big insurers to impose radical rate hikes." [114] Rep. Ryan has accepted over $660,000 in contributions from the insurance industry. [94]

Other Issues

Rep. Ryan and his Constituents

"Paul Ryan Labor Day Parade", September 2011

Since introducing his "Roadmap to America's Future" Budget, Ryan has come under increasing scrutiny by many of his constituents, accusing him of ignoring their concerns and focusing more on the national political stage than on the concerns of the people he represents. Wisconsin Jobs Now, a "coalition of community groups, neighborhood associations, faith based organizations and labor united in an effort to bring good jobs to Wisconsin now" repeatedly attempted to meet with Ryan on employment issues, but was rebuffed. In August of 2011 "a handful of unemployed constituents organized a sit-in in GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's office in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while 100 protesters picketed outside...In the end, Ryan's staff had police remove the protesters from the office, which was done peacefully." [115] Wisconsin Jobs Now released a statement saying "While unemployment in his district remains high, Paul Ryan is dodging his constituents and their repeated attempts to schedule meetings with him to address the jobs crisis. When asked to meet, Rep. Ryan replies with a form letter stating that his schedule is full and inviting participation in a telephone ‘conference call meeting’ instead. To top it off, the only public appearance that Ryan has scheduled is outside his district and requires people to pay $15 for the chance to ask him a question."

Rep. Ryan's "Fan Club"

  • Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, said at a rally in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin that "If there was a Paul Ryan fan club, I'd be president."[116]
  • Dick Cheney said in an interview: "I worship the ground that Paul Ryan walks on. I think he's an enormously talented individual and he deserves all the support we can provide him. I hope he doesn't run for President because that would ruin a good man."[117]
  • Glenn Beck said to Rep. Ryan in an interview "I love you." He went on to say, in response to Rep. Ryan's views on progressivism: "Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh... I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody ‑‑ I need to find out more about you, Paul. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody...that is articulating the problem in this country and knows what the root is like you have." After Rep. Ryan ended the interview, Beck's producer jokes that "[if] you weren’t already married, I think you would have proposed to him... I think you would have proposed to him then. I saw the look in your eye."[118]
  • Grover Norquist said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” that if elected Rep. Ryan would influence economic and tax policy in a way "similar" to the way Vice President Dick Cheney helped guide national security matters during George W. Bush’s administration.[119] Norquist said "I think that [Rep. Ryan] would certainly have a large footprint. I was actually publicly an advocate of not having Ryan be the vice presidential nominee, not because I don’t think Ryan’s key or important, but because I think he’s so key and important."[120]

Views on Progressivism

In 2010 Rep. Ryan did an interview with Glenn Beck in which they talk about progressivism[121]:

Beck: It’s a cancer.
Rep. Ryan: Exactly. Look, I come from ‑‑ I’m calling you from Janesville, Wisconsin where I’m born and raised.
Beck: Holy cow.
Rep. Ryan: Where we raise our family, 35 miles from Madison. I grew up hearing about this stuff. This stuff came from these German intellectuals to Madison‑University of Wisconsin and sort of out there from the beginning of the last century. So this is something we are familiar with where I come from. It never sat right with me. And as I grew up, I learned more about the founders and reading the Austrians and others that this is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says, no, no, no, no, no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute and regulate your rights. It’s a complete affront of the whole idea of this country and that is to me what we as conservatives, or classical liberals if you want to get technical.
(later in the interview)
Rep. Ryan: "What I’ve been trying to do is indict the entire vision of progressivism because I see progressivism as the source, the intellectual source for the big government problems that are plaguing us today and so to me it’s really important to flush progressives out into the field of open debate... So people can actually see what this ideology means and where it’s going to lead us and how it attacks the American idea."

2012 Congressional Race

While Rep. Ryan was campaigning for vice president, he also remained in the race for his Congressional seat. Wisconsin law allowed for Rep. Ryan to run for both seats simultaneously.[122]

Democrat Rob Zerban ran against Rep. Ryan to represent the 1st congressional district, but Ryan defeated him.

If Rep. Ryan would have won both elections, his vice presidential win would have voided his congressional win, and there would have been a special election to fill the vacancy in Congress.[123] However, some thought it would have been possible for Ryan to lose both elections even though he raised over twice the amount of money as his congressional challenger.[124][125]

"The Idea of America"


The Idea of America shows Paul Ryan with his family at a park. His son is wearing a Wisconsin Badgers shirt. The video shows Ryan talking about his view of the American Dream.

Controversies

Campaign Donation Controversies

Dennis Troha, businessperson from Kenosha, WI, (part of Ryan's district) was indited on federal charges of illegal campaign financing for his donations to then Governor Jim Doyle's gubernatorial campaign.[126] During this time, Troha was fighting for state approval of an off-reservation Indian casino project which would have made him approximately $88 million over 7 years. He later reached a plea agreement and plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges.[127] He was sentenced to six months probation.[128] [129]

Troha and his family also contributed approximately $60,000 to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's campaign. After the indictment, it was reported that Ryan donated that money to a local charity. It was also reported that Ryan called federal agencies on Troha's behalf in relation to the casino project. Ryan was also one of many politicians (from both parties) who were investigated for their support of a transportation bill that directly benefited Troha.[130]

"Lie of the Year" Controversy

In December 2011, Politifact named the claim that "Republicans voted to end Medicare" as its lie of the year. The decision was immediately derided by Paul Krugman[131] Media Matters[132], and other media outlets. Readers were allowed to vote in a contest to choose the lie of the year, and Ryan encouraged supporters through his PAC to support the claim[133].

House Budget Committee

Rep. Ryan is the Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

January 2011 House Budget Rules

In January 2011, newly-sworn in House Republicans (who had just taken control after the 2010 midterm elections) passed a number of new rules that will greatly empower Rep. Ryan in his role as Budget Committee Chair. [134]

The rules will make it easier for Ryan to almost unilaterally force reductions in spending, granting him what the Economic Policy Institute calls "“interim” authority to set committee allocations and revenue and spending levels for the remainder of FY2011 without any vote of approval. Using this power, Chairman Ryan is expected to slash the non-security discretionary budget for the remainder of this fiscal year by more than 20% relative to the president’s budget request (the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security will be exempted)." [135] The rules give Rep. Ryan the ability to refuse "Senate appropriations bills exceeding the levels set by Ryan could be ruled out of order in the House, essentially allowing the House Budget Committee chairman to hold the government’s operating budget hostage to his preferences or face a government shutdown."[135]

The 2011 rules overturn rules governing "reconciliation" (a procedure used to circumvent filibuster votes) that were aimed at avoiding increases in the deficit; under the new rules, Ryan has the power to pass a budget resolution for sweeping, unfunded tax cuts. According to EPI:

"Through the 1990s, reconciliation instructions (which originate from the budget committees) were intended and used as a tool to reduce deficits. In the early 2000s, the reconciliation process took a U-turn and was used to pass legislation first draining surpluses and the then increasing deficits. Notably, reconciliation was used to pass the unpaid for Bush-era tax cuts, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes added $2.6 trillion to the public debt between 2001 and 2010.
After watching surpluses turn to chronic deficits, the 110th Congress in 2007 ruled that budget resolutions would be out of order if they included reconciliation directives that would increase the deficit. But now that rule has been reversed, and Ryan has the power to pass a budget resolution instructing sweeping, unfunded tax cuts." [135]

According to the Washington Post, the rules "make it easier to increase the national debt by exempting trillions of dollars in GOP priorities from pay-as-you-go rules put in place by Democrats. For example, House Republicans could extend Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy past their 2012 expiration or create a significant new tax break for businesses without regard for the holes those policies would blow in the nation's finances."[134] The Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rules were instituted to prevent new legislation from widening deficits or squandering surpluses; any piece of legislation that increased mandatory spending or decreased revenue had to be fully offset with spending cuts and/or tax increases to ensure deficit-neutrality (unless granted an emergency designation). According to the Economic Policy Institute: "Under the new House rules, PAYGO has been replaced with a bizarre Cut-As-You-Go (CUTGO) rule, which requires that new mandatory spending be offset only by spending decreases and explicitly exempts all tax cuts from requiring offsets." [135]

EPI states that "[u]nder the new House rules and leadership of Chairman Ryan, it will be easier to pass massive unfunded tax cuts, easier to slash domestic investments, harder to pass routine legislation that tangentially increases mandatory spending, and impossible to use sensible reform of wasteful tax expenditures as offsets for public investments."[135]

Finances

Personal Finances

Rep. Ryan’s statement of economic interest shows “that last year Ryan, 42, and his wife had assets valued at $2.1 million to $7.8 million - figures that include a trust valued at between $1 million and $5 million that belonged to Janna after her mother died in 2010.”[136]

Rep. Ryan, like Romney, has released two years of his tax returns. According to their tax returns. Rep. Ryan and his wife “paid an effective tax rate of 15.9% in 2010 and 20% in 2011… In 2010, the Ryans paid $34,233 in federal taxes on $215,417 of adjusted gross income. In 2011, they paid $64,764 in federal taxes on $323,416 of adjusted gross income.”[136]

Rep. Ryan and his wife received a $2,543 tax deduction last year for land that they leased for drilling. “[T]he Ryans' investments include several companies that lease land and mineral rights to energy companies. Those holdings have resulted in some critics pointing out that Ryan's federal budget plan keeps a tax deduction for land owners who lease property for drilling. The Ryans' received a $2,543 deduction last year, and other family members in the partnership presumably would have also received deductions.”[136]

In 1987 "Ryan's maternal grandmother set up the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, which remains an important part of Ryan's finances with assets of up to half a million dollars, according to the congressman's 2011 financial disclosure statement."[137]

In his Statements of Economic Interest, Rep. Ryan also lists the Ryan Limited Partnership. This entity "was established in March 1995 by an aunt. Ryan's share of that is worth up to $500,000. Ryan makes no investment decisions in either partnership, the campaign spokesman said."[137]

Rep. Ryan’s Statements of Economic Interest:

Funding

Campaign Finances

Rep. Ryan has never had a challenger of any stature or a race of any signficance, yet in 2012 he is a top fundraiser in Congress.[138] "About $3 out of every $4 raised by Ryan since 2009 has come from individuals and groups outside Wisconsin." "In the past 3½ years, the Janesville Republican has raised $8.3 million - almost exactly as much as he had collected in his first six campaigns."[139]

Top 20 Career Contributors[140]

  • Northwestern Mutual ($89,300)
  • National Beer Wholesalers Association ($75,000)
  • AT&T Inc. ($74,850)
  • National Auto Dealers Association ($68,500)
  • National Association of Home Builders ($67,750)
  • Koch Industries ($65,500)
  • National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors ($65,000)
  • Abbott Laboratories ($61,700)
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($58,150)
  • Carpenters & Joiners Union ($57,500)
  • Credit Suisse Group ($52,200)
  • Investment Company Institute ($51,999)
  • American Bankers Association ($51,795)
  • Associated General Contractors ($51,200)
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance ($51,200)
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers ($50,943)
  • National Association of Realtors ($49,560)
  • United Parcel Service ($48,537)
  • Operating Engineers Union ($48,500)
  • Credit Union National Association ($44,050).

Top Contributors by Industry (as of January 2011) [94]

  • Insurance $660,571
  • Retired $644,246
  • Securities & Investment $515,049
  • Health Professionals $431,013
  • Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $301,400
  • Real Estate $272,434
  • Commercial Banks $260,995
  • Automotive $250,150
  • Lawyers/Law Firms $248,716
  • Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $230,592
  • Oil & Gas $205,150
  • Accountants $201,602
  • Leadership PACs $194,699
  • Hospitals/Nursing Homes $180,477
  • General Contractors $175,400
  • Misc Finance $174,339
  • Health Services/HMOs $161,392
  • Building Materials & Equipment $160,449
  • Retail Sales $152,009
  • Telephone Utilities $151,305

Top Individual Contributors (as of January 2011) [94]

(total reflects both individual and PAC contributions)

  • Northwestern Mutual $70,300
  • National Beer Wholesalers Assn $70,000
  • AT&T Inc $65,350
  • National Auto Dealers Assn $63,500
  • National Assn of Home Builders $62,500
  • Koch Industries $60,500
  • Natl Assn/Insurance & Financial Advisors $60,000
  • American Bankers Assn $51,045
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield $48,650
  • Carpenters & Joiners Union $47,500
  • United Parcel Service $47,443
  • Abbott Laboratories $47,250
  • Associated General Contractors $46,200
  • Investment Co Institute $45,999
  • National Assn of Realtors $44,560
  • Credit Suisse Group $44,200
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance $41,200
  • SC Johnson & Son $41,092
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers $38,693
  • American Hospital Assn $36,025

Bio

Background

Ryan was born January 29, 1970 in Janesville, Wisconsin. His mother, Elizabeth A. “Betty” (née Hutter), and father, Paul Murray Ryan, a lawyer, had four children, Paul being the youngest.[141] When Ryan was 16 years old his father died of a heart attack. After his father’s death Paul received his father’s social security benefits, and saved them up to pay for college.[142]

As a junior at Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, Ryan was elected class president, which made him prom king and gave him his first political position, a seat on the school board representing his high school.[81] He graduated from Joseph A. Craig High School and went on to attend Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, graduating in 1992 with a double major in political science and economics.[81] In college he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. He often visited the office of professor Richard Hart to discuss the ideas of economists such as Friedman and Hayek, and the writings of Ayn Rand. Hart was a libertarian who introduced Ryan to the National Review.[81] Ryan also studied at the Washington Semester program at American University, where he played pick-up basketball games with NBC journalist David Gregory.[143] Although he often speaks of working for McDonald's and Oscar Mayer for short periods as a student, Ryan has never been employed in the private sector for any length of time.

Ryan started working for U.S. Senator Robert Kasten (R-WI) while in college. In his early years working on Capitol Hill, Ryan supplemented his income by working as a waiter, as a fitness trainer, and at various other side jobs.[144] A few months after Kasten was defeated by Democrat Russ Feingold in the 1992 election, Ryan became a speechwriter for Empower America (now FreedomWorks), a conservative advocacy group founded by Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and William Bennett. Ryan later worked as a speechwriter for Kemp, the Republican vice presidential candidate in the 1996 United States presidential election.[144] Kemp became Ryan's mentor, and Ryan cites him as a "huge influence.” Ryan later worked for U.S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas before returned to Wisconsin in 1997, where he worked for a year as a marketing consultant for Ryan Incorporated Central, his relatives' construction company.[81]

Ryan married Janna Little, a tax attorney, in December 2000.[142] An Oklahoma native, Little is a graduate of Wellesley College and George Washington University Law School, and a cousin of Representative Dan Boren of Oklahoma, a Democrat.[142] Janna Little “spent a decade in Washington herself, first as a congressional aide and then as a corporate lobbyist, whose clients included the cigar industry, a logging company, drugmakers, the health insurance industry and a nuclear power plant.”[145]

The Ryans live in a six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, two and a half story, Georgian revival style brick home in Janesville, Wisconsin [146] that used to be owned by the family that started the Parker Pen Company. They have three children: Elizabeth Anne, Charles Wilson, and Samuel Lowery.[147]

Congressional Career

He was first elected to the House in 1998 at the age of 28 running as a conservative in a heavily Democratic congressional district, when he defeated highly-profiled Lydia Spottswood 57%–42% to inherit the seat left by Mark Neumann.

He defeated perennial candidate Jeff Thomas in 2000, 2002 and 2004 by margins of 65%–34%, 67%–31% and 60%–38%. He was re-elected in 2008 by defeating Marge Krupp with 64% to 36% of the vote.

Ryan won the 2010 general election with 68% of the vote, defeating both Democratic nominee John Heckenlively (30%) and Libertarian nominee Joseph Kexel (2%).

Boards and other Affiliations

  • Member, Ducks Unlimited
  • Member, Janesville Bowmen, Incorporated
  • Board of Directors, Rock County Junior Achievement
  • Member, Saint Mary's Parish

Contact

DC Office:
1113 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4901
Phone:202-225-3031
Fax:202-225-3393
Web Email
Website

District Office- Janesville:
20 South Main Street, Suite 10
Janesville, WI 53545
Phone: 608-752-4050
Fax: 608-752-4711

District Office- Kenosha:
5712 7th Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: 262-654-1901
Fax: 262-654-2156

District Office- Racine:
304 6th Street
Racine, WI 53403
Phone: 262-637-0510
Fax: 262-637-5689

Campaign Contact Information

Official Ryan for Congress website

Ryan for Congress
P.O. Box 1919
Janesville, WI 53547

paul@ryanforcongress.com

Articles and resources

This is a profile of a U.S. Representative. (See the Wisconsin portal for all incumbents, candidates and blogs.)
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Sources

  1. Joe Peyronnin It's Romney/Ryan!, Huffington Post, August 11, 2012
  2. Associated PressDespite losing White House race, VP candidate Paul Ryan retains his US House seat in Wisconsin, The Washington Post, November 6, 2012, Accessed November 9, 2012
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