You don't have to be a conservative from Wisconsin to appreciate Congressman Paul Ryan. From his well-articulated opposition to the President's Government-run health care plan to his bold statements against both the TARP bailout and debt-inflating American Economic Recovery Act of 2009, Paul has positioned himself as a star-in-the-making in the Republican Party. Now a sixth-term congressman from the Wisconsin 1st District who is up for reelection in 2010, Paul has cemented his position in congress as a passionate advocate for fiscal responsibility. Already a ranking member of the Committee on The Budget, he is also a member the far-reaching House Ways and Means Committee, and belongs to the Subcomittees on Oversight and Health. Born on January 29, 1970. He was raised in Janesville, Wisconsin and graduated from Joseph A Craig high school. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Miami, Ohio in 1992 and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. It was after this that Paul began to hone his political skills, first working as an aide to Senator Bob Kasten in 1992, then as a legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas from 1995 to 1997. In between he also contributed as a speechwriter for the late Jack Kemp's vice presidency run in 1996, while writing additional speeches for former drug czar William Bennett. He finally staked his claim in the 1st congressional district in 1998 when he ran for the seat vacated by Republican conservative (now gubernatorial candidate) Mark Neumann when Neumann retired to run for a second time against Russ Feingold in the Wisconsin Senate race. Paul beat out Democrat challenger Lydia Spottswood that year for the congressional district seat and the rest has been history. He has beaten challenger Jeffery Thomas in the 4 terms since, Marge Krupp in the 2008 election; and the rest, as they say, is history! Paul currently lives with his wife, Janna, and their 3 children; Liza, Charlie, and Sam, at their residence in Janesville only a few blocks from the neighborhood where he grew up. This week, Paul was willing to give me some time out from his hectic schedule to give me a bit of an insider's perspective on the issues facing him in the House of Representatives through the 2010 election.
1. IF YOU WERE CHARGE OF AUTHORING THE FEDERAL BUDGET FOR THE COMING YEAR, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU WOULD DO TO REDUCE THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT AND BEGIN THE PROCESS TOWARD REDUCING AND ELIMINATING OUR NATIONAL DEBT?
Well, I’m currently the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee and one of the responsibilities I have is to offer an alternative budget to that proposed by the President. If the American people have their say, hopefully I will be authoring the federal budget in the next fiscal year as Chairman of the House Budget Committee. As I’ve done in the past, I would put forward a budget that reins in spending, gets our debt and deficits under control, and promotes policies which get companies hiring and the economy growing.
The budget for the federal government, just like for businesses and families, sets priorities and forces difficult – but critical – decisions. This year, for the first time in modern history, the Majority will fail to even propose a budget, which is a total abdication of responsibility and especially troubling given the enormity of our fiscal challenges.
Congress has failed to address the urgent need to control Federal spending, reform our entitlement programs, and spur job creation and economic growth. I’ve put forward a comprehensive reform plan – ROAD MAP FOR AMERICA – focused on tackling our generation’s greatest challenges: fulfill the mission of health and retirement security, lift our crushing burden of debt, and restart the American engine of growth and prosperity.
2. NOW THAT GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE REFORM HAS BEEN PASSED, DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE REPUBLICANS DID A SATISFACTORY JOB OF STATING FREE MARKET ALTERNATIVES TO THE PLAN? COULD CERTAIN CONCEPTS HAVE BEEN STATED DIFFERENTLY?
I introduced one of the first comprehensive health care reform proposals this session called the Patients’ Choice Act, a free-market alternative to fix what’s truly broken in health care. The Patients’ Choice Act secures universal access to affordable health coverage, not by expanding government, but by reinforcing the role of consumers – patients – in a truly competitive marketplace.
Democrats control the White House and Congress – and decided early on to shut Republican and the American people out of the legislative process. The entire health care debacle was a missed opportunity for true patient-centered reforms that attacked the root-drivers of health inflation. Alternative reforms were rejected, the government-run overhaul was jammed into law, and the American people are already feeling the costly consequences of this deeply flawed law.
Republicans must not tire in their effort to repeal this costly misstep and advance true reform.
Paul Ryan, "The taxpayer's hero"
3. THE SENATE MAY BE WORKING ON A PLAN TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT WILL ALLOW THE EPA TO IMPOSE CAP-AND-TRADE-STYLE ENERGY TAXES. IF SUCH LEGISLATION IS PROPOSED AND DEBATED IN THE HOUSE, WHAT KIND OF A PLAN DO YOU AND OTHER REPUBLICANS HAVE TO DEFEAT IT?
The cap and trade bill passed the House last year by a seven vote margin after the Speaker successfully twisted the arms of her fellow Democrats to support it. Since then, this national energy tax has stalled in the Senate.
The goal of cap and trade is to lower global temperatures by a fraction of a degree over the course of the century. The bill would kill manufacturing jobs here at home, while our competitors have made clear that they have no intention to unilaterally impose similar harm to their economies. Studies have shown that for every one ton of carbon we reduce in our economy, countries like China and India would increase theirs by about three tons. Economically and scientifically, the cost benefit analysis of cap and trade doesn’t add up. It will put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage and as a result, we will see higher taxes and energy costs, more manufacturing jobs heading overseas, and more emissions in the atmosphere.
The American people have clearly rejected this misguided proposal, and it has thankfully stalled in the Senate. Yet there have been troubling reports that the President may have the Environmental Protection Agency proceed with capping emissions without any Congressional consent. Earlier this month, the Senate voted down a resolution of disapproval from Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases without Congress passing legislation by a vote of 47-53. Looking at how the Majority has rammed through the health care overhaul and legislation on financial services, it’s not out of the question.
4. ELENA KAGAN HAS BEEN NOMINATED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA TO TAKE JOHN PAUL STEVENS' SEAT ON THE SUPREME COURT. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF ELENA KAGAN AND IF THE HOUSE COULD HOLD CONFIRMATION HEARINGS, WHAT KINDS OF QUESTIONS WOULD YOU LIKE TO ASK HER?
As a member of the House, I won’t be taking part in the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan so I don’t want to speculate too much. I am sure that my colleagues in the Senate will ask many of the questions I would. With any Supreme Court Justice, Senators should look at a nominee’s experience, knowledge, and body of work and I am sure that we’ll hear these questions asked in the weeks ahead.
Paul's wife Janna and their 3 kids
5. FROM WHAT YOU SEE EVERY DAY, DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE MAJORITY OF YOUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES ARE UNITED IN THEIR EFFORTS AND COMPREHEND THE HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY THEY MAY HAVE TO TURN THIS CONGRESS AROUND IN THE FALL?
Absolutely, I see the next few elections as realignment elections, where we have a clear choice of two futures. We can either choose to reclaim the American idea and restore the founding principles that made our nation the envy of the world, or we can continue down the path of a European style, cradle-to-grave social welfare state – where higher levels of government spending and debt leave future generations an inferior standard of living.
More and more of our leaders are recognizing the critical importance of the next few elections. In the House, you see the ascension of a younger class of reformers in the Republican Party. Individuals like Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, Mike Pence – people who were back-benchers during President Bush’s Administration, who fought the decisions that were being made, but who have now ascended into positions of leadership, and they are going to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes if the American people entrust us with the Majority this fall.
It’s critical that we show people how we will be different from the current leaders in Washington, and that’s why we have to run on specific ideas. My experience with the Roadmap for America’s Future has taught me that the American people are ahead of the political class in Washington. They are ready to be talked to like adults. I feel that Republicans are returning to their core principles of limited government, individual freedom, free enterprise and if we present these ideas to the American people, I believe we can start restoring the American “idea” and get our country on the path to prosperity.
6. GIVEN THE POLITICAL CLIMATE THIS YEAR, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF BOLD ACTION WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TAKEN IN CONGRESS IF THE REPUBLICANS WIN HANDILY IN NOVEMBER?
There is still a long way to go between now and November, but the first thing we have to do is get a grip on our nation’s debt and deficits, which have been primarily driven by government spending. In this session of Congress, the Majority has approved $1.8 trillion in spending increases and $670 billion in new taxes. They are doing this at exactly the same time we are running record deficits and we are seeing European countries, which followed a similar borrow-and-spend approach, coming undone.
I will continue to advance bold proposals that actually cut government spending, reform our entitlement programs, and modernize our tax code. These three things would go a long way to show the American people, the world and the markets that we are not accelerating our lurch towards a European-style social welfare state.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Delivers Weekly Republican Address June 2010
Rep. Ryan: “Talk about a recipe for disaster: Democrats are offering no budget, no priorities, and no restraints – yet all their taxing, borrowing, and spending continues unchecked.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says Washington Democrats’ unprecedented decision to cancel this year’s budget will wreak havoc on our economy and make it even harder to put people back to work. The House Budget Committee’s top Republican, Ryan says Democrats’ plan to continue their out-of-control ‘stimulus’ spending spree and raise taxes on middle-class families is a “recipe for disaster.” He also challenges President Obama and Washington Democrats to stop running out the clock and “make the tough choices they promised they would, put moral obligation before political expedience, and focus on what’s in the best interests of the next generation, not the next election.” With economists saying immediate fiscal discipline is needed to create jobs, Ryan notes that Republicans have already identified $1.3 trillion in specific spending cuts that could be implemented right now. Rep. Ryan is in his sixth term representing the people of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. President Obama will visit Southeast Wisconsin next week to discuss the economy. Text of the address follows; audio of the address is available here [mp3] and video of the address will be available here once the embargo is lifted. You can download the Weekly Republican Address here.
“Hello – I’m Paul Ryan – I work for the people of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District and I serve as the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. Yes, Congress does have a budget committee, but I’m afraid it hasn’t been very busy this year.
“In fact, this week the House Majority Leader announced that Democrats are canceling this year’s budget. Instead of reining in out-of-control spending that has pushed our national debt past $13 trillion, Democrats have made clear their intention to raise taxes on middle-class families to fuel their continued spending spree.
“Talk about a recipe for disaster: Democrats are offering no budget, no priorities, and no restraints – yet all their taxing, borrowing, and spending continues unchecked.
“With this budget failure – a first in the modern era – Democrats are missing a critical opportunity to provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to create private-sector jobs and boost our economy. This unprecedented budget collapse also sends a clear signal to American families struggling to meet their own budgets that Washington still doesn’t recognize the severity of its spending problem.
“Democrats say their decision is about what’s best for the future of our country. It’s not. With the political season upon us, Democratic leaders believe it’s better to take a pass than to pass a budget. While Americans ask ‘where are the jobs?,’ Democrats seem content to simply run out the clock and let their borrowing binge continue to drain resources from our economy.
“The debt is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy in the next 18 months. We have run out of road to kick the can down. If this is really about the future of our country, then leaders should make the tough choices they promised they would, put moral obligation before political expedience, and focus on what’s in the best interests of the next generation, not the next election.
“This is a time to make tough choices, not run from them. To that end, Republicans on the Budget Committee have already identified $1.3 trillion in specific spending cuts we would implement right now to make Washington do more with less and help small businesses put people back to work. These are specific, common-sense ideas, such as canceling unspent TARP bailout funds and ‘stimulus’ money, that would help us focus on creating more jobs, not more debt. We also propose reducing federal employment and freezing government pay. Instead of growing government, we need to restart the engine of economic growth.
“Of course, this is just a starting point. Much more needs to be done to set our nation on a sustainable economic course. We need to start reining in unnecessary spending now so that we can boost the economy and work together to address our nation’s long term fiscal challenges.
“It is our shared responsibility to take on the challenges before us to make sure that our kids and our grandkids have a better life. Let’s begin this important work today. Let’s make certain we do not simply retreat to the same failed policies. Let’s make the tough, forward-looking choices that will restore the promise and prosperity of this exceptional nation - and let’s do it together.
“Thanks for listening.”
More on Paul's campaign:
RYAN FOR CONGRESS