“Americans have a choice to make. A choice that’s going to determine our country’s future. Will it be the future that looks like the America we know? One of greater opportunity, greater prosperity? Or more of what we’re seeing today? Debt, doubt, and decline. Americans, not Washington, should decide.” – Rep. Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin.
Social and economic conservatives successfully put tremendous public pressure on Mitt Romney to choose Paul Ryan as his running mate, but why? Who is he and where does he stand on conservative issues?
Ryan, a champion of cutting government spending and reining in the costs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid, has been touted by fiscal conservatives as the man who best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election.
42-year-old Ryan, the well-spoken Republican Congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin has emerged as a leading figure on the right and a champion of reduced government spending.
Ryan, who is serving his seventh term in Congress, has earned the admiration of conservatives for the tough, government-slashing budget proposals he’s put forward since becoming chairman of the House Budget Committee last year. But when he first arrived in Washington as a freshman lawmaker in 1999 at only 28 years old, budget shrinking wasn’t exactly in style.
In 2008, he released his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which described his sweeping vision for how to make America’s main entitlement programs of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid solvent. The plan made him a hero among conservative circles, and Ryan eventually remade it as his “Path to Prosperity” plan.
Ryan, an Ayn Rand fan, ably articulates a conservative vision for economic growth; a mark that Romney occasionally misses as he dodges the subject of his own personal wealth. “I think [Obama] looks at the economy as a fixed pie, and that it’s government’s role and duty to redistribute the slices in the name of equity versus our belief, which is ‘Let’s just grow the pie’ and have an opportunity in our society for upward mobility — a society defined by upward mobility, not equal outcomes,” he toldEsquire magazine last year. “Under our view, we want to make sure people can get the opportunity to make the most of their lives, but that necessarily means that under the kind of economic-freedom system that we have had, you will have different outcomes of people’s lives. And that’s fine.”
Ryan, who spent his early political career working for Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and the late Republican Congressman Jack Kemp, grew up the fourth child in a Roman Catholic family in Janesville that has lived in the town for five generations. He worked in his family’s construction business after earning his degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. His father died when he was only 16, which prompted soul-searching that led Ryan to discover the works of Rand, who is still a major influence on him. He and his wife, Janna Little, have three children.
“The conservative base of the party is so concerned about Obama and his approach to government that they are going to vote for Romney,” said John Brabender, who was Rick Santorum’s chief strategist during his nominating fight with Mr. Romney. “The question is, are they going to make 10 phone calls to their friends and relatives because they care so passionately? That’s going to be somewhat of a challenge.”
But the loud, public calls on Mr. Ryan’s behalf underscored the wariness with which conservatives have treated Mr. Romney. They suggest that some conservatives remained eager for Mr. Romney to demonstrate that he is, in fact, one of them.
But, an economic conservative wouldn’t have been enough to help Romney. Ryan possesses more.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s voting record is pro-life and pro-family – saying he would never vote for abortion, making a solid pro-life pledge.
During the 2010 elections, Ryan told The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, “I’m as pro-life as a person gets.” He responded to a controversial “truce” that Mitch Daniels of Indiana had put forward saying social issues should be put on the back burner, and repudiated it.
Ryan said he is equally adamant about both his conservative fiscal views as well as his position that every unborn child has the right to live.
“I write as an unswerving proponent of both free market choice and the natural right to life,” Ryan wrote in a Heritage Foundation piece called “The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom.” “It is unfortunate that ‘life’ and ‘choice’ were ever separated and viewed as alternatives.”
Ryan continued: “I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect. I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” The freedom to choose is pointless for someone who does not have the freedom to live. So the right of “choice” of one human being cannot trump the right to “life” of another. How long can we sustain our commitment to freedom if we continue to deny the very foundation of freedom—life—for the most vulnerable human beings?”
“All conservatives should find it easy to agree that government must uphold every person’s right to make choices regarding their lives and that every person’s right to live must be secured before he or she can exercise that right of choice,” he said then.
In the opinion column, Ryan also defended his pro-life stance — providing a historical recounting of how the Supreme Court realized African-Americans are persons but failed to recognize that fact about unborn children.
“Now, after America has won the last century’s hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect. I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human,” he writes.
He also released a statement to LifeNews explaining his solid pro-life views:
“Healthy debate should take place within the Republican Party on specific policies, but it is a false choice to ask which natural right we should discard: ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is not a menu of options,” Ryan says.
“All planks – economic liberty and limited government; keeping our nation secure; championing America’s founding truths and the dignity of every human person – are rooted in same timeless principles, enshrined in our Founding and the cause of our exceptionalism,” Ryan added. “The American family must remain at the core of our free society, and I will remain ever-vigilant in its defense.”
The National Right to Life Committee, in tracking the votes Ryan has cast in Congress on important pro-life issues, has crafted a perfect 100% pro-life voting record.
In fact, in 78 votes the NRLC has tracked where Ryan voted on key pro-life issues, he never voted against pro-life interests during his career in the House of Representatives. Ryan has voted to prevent taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research and to ban the horrific practice of partial-birth abortion.
Ryan has taken a tough pro-life position against the Obama HHS mandate, saying, “This is much, much bigger than about contraception. This is about religious freedom, First Amendment rights, and how this progressive philosophy of fungible rights of a living breathing constitution really clashes and collides with these core rights that we built our society and country around.”
Representative Ryan was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on January 29, 1970. A fifth-generation Wisconsin native, Ryan was the youngest of four children born to Paul Ryan Sr., who worked as an attorney, and Betty, a stay-at-home mom.
In April 2000, Ryan proposed to Janna Little, a native Oklahoman, at one of his favorite fishing spots, Big St. Germain Lake in Wisconsin. Later that year, the two were married in Oklahoma City. The Ryans reside in Janesville with their three children, Liza, Charlie and Sam. The family are parishioners at St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
Upon entering Congress in January of 1999, Ryan was the youngest member of the freshmen class at the age of 28. Prior to running for Congress, Ryan served as an aide to Republican Senators Robert Kasten Jr. and Sam Brownback, former U.S. Rep. and Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp, and as a speechwriter for Education Secretary William Bennett.
Ryan is a graduate of Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville and earned degrees in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. He is an avid outdoorsman and is a member is of his local archery association, the Janesville Bowmen.