Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, the GOP presumptive nominee’s campaign announced minutes ago. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan serves as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district and is Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Romney, whose approval rating has been dropping fast as President Obama opens a seven to nine point lead in some mainstream polls, needed to change the conversation and focus of the campaign, and will personally make the announcement this morning at a press conference on board the USS Wisconsin, as he kicks off a four-state bus tour. Besieged by questions about his taxes and unable to recover from Obama’s attacks, no doubt the Romney campaign is looking forward to some new and young blood — and Ryan fits that prescription.
Ryan, who is only 42, married, and has three children, is a Roman Catholic. If elected, Paul Ryan would be the fourth-youngest vice president in U.S. history, with only Dan Quayle (1989), Richard Nixon (1953), and John C. Breckinridge (1857) preceding him.
Congressman Ryan has been labeled a “rising star” since John Boehner became Speaker of the House, but as early as 2007 was one of the self-described “young guns.” Ryan is extremely popular among Republicans and the radical religious right wing, including the Tea Party and Evangelicals.
MAKING THE CHOICE
NBC News late last night noted that Ryan’s “budget plan — which would substantially transform Medicare and Medicaid — is a lightning rod.”
In fact, Democrats argue that Ryan’s selection marks an opportunity to highlight Ryan’s desired changes to Medicare, which include giving future seniors a voucher or premium support to help pay for their health insurance. Under Ryan’s plan, future seniors would have the choice of using the voucher/premium support to purchase private insurance or through Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service model.
“We’ve spent 18 months trying to make House races about their plan for Medicare and Mitt Romney just did it for us overnight,” said one Democratic operative.
Also last night, The Washington Examiner wrote:
Romney might have been hinting at the selection when he described his intended running mate to NBC’S Chuck Todd.
“I certainly expect to have a person that has a strength of character,” Romney said. “A vision for the country, that, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean I happen to believe this is a defining election for America; that we’re gonna be voting for what kind of America we’re gonna have.”
And The Weekly Standard last night pointed to their May interview with Ryan, in which he stated:
“It’s very clear from his [Romney's] last three or four speeches – and he’s very involved in writing these, setting this message – that he wants to bring this to a choice. Not just a referendum on Obama’s bad stewardship but on the American idea itself and a choice of two futures. It seems clear to me – because he’s embraced the kind of economic reforms we need to get the American idea back on track and prevent a debt crisis – that he is willing to bring this thing to the clear, clean choice it needs to be to give to the country. And that he’s ready to do that. And that for all the risk-aversion stories that have been written about him he seems to me that he’s gotten himself in the mindset of understanding the moment we are facing and the need to bring this real clear conversation to the country about the choice they have to make. And that these founding principles are really important. And so I really feel like – this is probably not the election he thought he was going to run, say two years ago when he first decided to run, but I think he’s become extremely comfortable and accepting of what it is and what it needs to be. Everything he says and does gives me a sense of that.”
But NBC News notes:
- Ryan’s budget plan has become a lightning rod, and it will be a focus of Democratic attacks in the fall. The most controversial component of the plan is that it significantly transforms Medicare, which is regarded as the government’s most popular program.
- In addition to Medicare, Ryan was one of the driving forces to partially privatize Social Security after George W. Bush’s victory in the 2004 presidential election.
- There are also holes in Ryan’s budget-hawk armor: He voted for some of the biggest drivers of the deficit/debt — the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, all of which weren’t paid for. Moreover, Ryan voted against the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles recommendations.
- Has never held statewide office and has no foreign-policy experience. Both could be liabilities.
- As a member of Congress, Ryan currently works in — and is a relatively high-profile member of — one of America’s least popular institutions.
- And while Romney has criticized Obama for not having private-sector experience, the same is largely true of Ryan: As the New Yorker has written, Ryan briefly worked for his family’s business as a “marketing consultant,” but most of his adult life has been spent as a congressman, congressional aide, or speechwriter/analyst at Jack Kemp’s Empower America think tank.
PAUL RYAN’S POLITICAL POSITIONS ON CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUES
Paul Ryan is strongly anti-gay, having voted to constitutionally define marriage as “one man-one woman,” voting “yes” repeatedly on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and even voting to ban adoptions by gay people in Washington, D.C.
Paul Ryan earned a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights advocacy organization. Ryan has a 13% rating from the ACLU, and a 36% rating from the NAACP.
Last year, Congressman Ryan, who is also strongly anti-abortion, voted to ban any federal funds to pay for abortion, and has voted to restrict interstate transportation of minors to get abortions. Ryan, who has a 0% rating from NARAL, voted to prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and has voted against expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.
Paul Ryan has a 90% rating from the anti-gay hate group, Family Research Council (FRC), voting for nine out of the ten actions FRC supported.
Congressman Ryan scored a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition, which includes voting against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010,” voting against the funding of ObamaCare, and voting “yes” on the ludicrously-named “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” the GOP’s signature legislation.
In “Paul Ryan as VP Would Match Mitt Romney on Homophobia,” The Advocate notes:
One area where the two differ is on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Ryan voted in 2007in favor of the law, which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Romney was once also in favor of ENDA but changed his mind.
Romney told the Log Cabin Republicans in 1994 that he would sponsor ENDA if elected to the U.S. Senate. Then in 2006 he told National Journal that ENDA would “open a litigation floodgate and unfairly penalize employers at the hands of activist judges.” He dismissed ENDA, saying, “I don’t see the need for new or special legislation.”
PAUL RYAN’S BACKGROUND
Paul Ryan is the Chairman of the House’s Committee on the Budget, and he sits on the extremely powerful Committee on Ways and Means. Ryan is a member of the socially conservative and controversial Republican Study Committee caucus, which is often praised by the National Review, a highly-conservative publication known to often publish racist and bigoted authors.
The AP once reported that Ryan “was voted prom king and the ‘Biggest Brown-Noser’ of his 1988 high school class before leaving for college in Ohio.”
John Aravosis at AmericaBlog asks:
How important could God be to Paul Ryan if his number one inspiration for going into public life is the works of a militant atheist? Republican leaders always claim that God is their number one inspiration, and Jesus their favorite philosopher. Not a militant anti-religious activist.
Aravosis, who offers an extensive background on Ryan, adds that “what’s interesting to me is that he only has a bachelor’s degree.”
While that’s not, in the modern era it’s not at all uncommon for presidential candidates to have gone to graduate school as well (though, as the GOP now has disdain for a college education, per Rick Santorum, this likely won’t hurt Ryan with the Republican minions).
This also means that Ryan’s supposed “expertise” in economics and budgeting comes from undergrad courses in economics. Milton Friedman he ain’t.
The other problem with Ryan’s bio is that he has next to zero experience outside of Washington politics. His only real work experience outside of government (or “consulting” to the family business), is working as a waiter at Tortilla Coast, as a trainer at a gym, and driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
Congressman Ryan’s biography on Wikipedia states:
Born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan graduated from Miami University in Ohio. In the mid to late 1990s, he worked as an aide to United States Senator Bob Kasten, as legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, and as a speechwriter for former U.S. Representative and 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp of New York. In 1998, Ryan won election to the United States House of Representatives, succeeding the two-term incumbent, fellow Republican Mark Neumann.
Ryan currently chairs the House Budget Committee, where he has played a prominent public role in drafting and promoting the Republican Party’s long-term budget proposal. He introduced a plan, The Path to Prosperity, in April 2011 as an alternative to the budget proposal of President Barack Obama, and helped introduce The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal in March 2012, in response to Obama’s 2013 budget. Ryan is one of the three co-founders of the Young Guns Program, an electoral recruitment and campaign effort by House Republicans. He endorsed Republican presidential candidate, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney for the 2012 United States presidential election.
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