Paul Ryan's Political Views
Paul Ryan Biography
Paul Ryan is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position he was elected to by his Republican colleagues in October 2015, after the resignation of John Boehner. Ryan represents Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District and ran as Mitt Romney's running mate during their unsuccessful campaign for the White House in 2012. Ryan has received a lot of attention in recent years for his plans for reducing the federal budget deficit. Ryan is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, a powerful role that allows him to set the agenda for hearing and deliberations about federal spending. A rising star in the Republican Party, Ryan has been mentioned by many as a potential future candidate for President and/or House Majority leader because of his visibility and the media attention he has garnered in recent years. This hub will attempt to take an unbiased look at Congressman Ryan's beliefs on the key political issues that will be debated in Washington leading up to the 2016 Presidential election - could Ryan's endorsement make the difference for one of the potential Republican presidential nominees in 2016?
Paul Ryan on the Issues
1. Taxes and Budget Deficits: The federal budget deficit is far and away the issue that Ryan has spent the most time focusing on as a Congressman, as he has released a number of comprehensive plans for cutting the federal budget deficit through massive cuts to government spending. Most recently, in March 2012, Congress passed Ryan's plan for reducing the deficit, which cuts federal spending by $5.3 trillion over the next 10 years while reducing tax rates for most individuals, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, and dropping the top corporate tax rate to 25%. Ryan explained the reasoning behind his plan as follows: We have one of the most predictable economic crises in this country coming,” he said. “It's a debt-driven crisis. And so we have an obligation – not just a legal obligation but a moral obligation – to do something about it." However, economists have pointed out that Ryan's budget plan may actually increase the structural federal budget deficit, as it relies on the assumption that tax cuts for wealthy Americans will inevitably lead to more economic growth, as this article from economist Tyler Cowen (a libertarian/non-partisan economist from George Mason University) explains. Additionally, Ryan voted against the comprehensive deficit reduction plan drafted by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, a report which he later criticized President Obama for not adapting. In essence, Ryan criticized President Obama for not enacting the recommendations of a report that Ryan himself voted against.
2. Jobs and Economic Growth: Like many of his Republican colleagues, Ryan has called for decreased taxes and federal regulation as a solution to the current unemployment crisis and lack of economic growth being experienced in the United States. As Ryan explains on his website: "we need to lower tax rates, to encourage economic activity and to allow our businesses to compete on a level playing field against those in countries where business tax rates are much lower."
3. Health Care: Ryan is a strong opponent for the health care bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2009. Ryan has repeatedly called for the law to be overturned, and his latest budget calls for additional changes to Medicare and other current government health programs, including gradually phasing our Medicare reimbursements in favor of vouchers than seniors can use to purchase their own private insurance. Ryan has called for the U.S. to get back "to a market-based, patient-centered [plan] where we bring free-market principles to help control costs, improve care and reduce the debt."
4. Global Warming and Environmental issues: Ryan has generally voted against environmental protections, receiving a 10% rating from the league of conservation voters and decrying environmental issues as part of the overall culture of regulation in Washington. Ryan does not have a publicly stated position on his belief about global warming, but he has consistently voted against measures designed to combat the effects of climate change as a Congressman.
5. Foreign Policy: While Ryan has called for consistent reductions in federal spending by nearly every government agency, a big exception is the Department of Defense. In March 2012, Ryan stated that he believed that generals were not giving Congress "their true advice" when they supported President Obama's budget, which called for slight reductions in defense spending due to the end of the War in Iraq and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan. Ryan voted for declaring the war in Iraq as part of the war in terror and against declaring an end date for the war, he also has been a strong supporter of Israel, co-signing legislation which urging recognition of "unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel."
6. Social Issues: Ryan is extremely conservative socially. He voted for the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and has a 0% rating from NARAL, indicating an extremely anti-choice voting record. Ryan called the Department of Health and Human Services's decision to require that some religiously based organizations provide contraception to employees who wanted them as an "affront to religious liberty" and a "contradiction to the core principles of our nation."
7. Immigration Policy: Ryan has called for comprehensive immigration reform, but has stated that any immigration reform should not allow for amnesty for citizens who have been in the U.S. illegally for many years (even if those citizens pay taxes and are law-abiding). Ryan also expressed opposition to the DREAM Act, which would have provided conditional residency to certain illegal immigrant of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, as well as creating paths for citizenship to illegal immigrants who joined the U.S. military.
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