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Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan official photo.jpg
62nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Assumed office
October 29, 2015
Preceded by John Boehner
Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – October 29, 2015
Preceded by Dave Camp
Succeeded by Kevin Brady
Chair of the House Budget Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by John Spratt
Succeeded by Tom Price
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 1999
Preceded by Mark Neumann
Succeeded by Bryan Steil (elect)
Personal details
Paul Davis Ryan Jr.

(1970-01-29) January 29, 1970 (age 48)
Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Republican
Janna Little ( m. 2000)
Education Miami University ( BA)
Awards US DoD Distinguished Public Service Award BAR.svg Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service
Website Speaker website
House website

Paul Davis Ryan Jr. (born January 29, 1970) is an American politician serving since 2015 as the 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was the 2012 vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party, running alongside Mitt Romney.

Ryan, a native of Janesville, Wisconsin, graduated from Miami University in 1992. He spent five years working for Republicans in Washington, D.C. and returned to Wisconsin in 1997 to work at his family's construction company. He successfully ran for Congress to represent Wisconsin's 1st congressional district the following year, replacing an incumbent Republican who ran for Senate. Ryan would represent the district for 20 years. He chaired the House Budget Committee from 2011 to 2015 and briefly chaired the House Ways and Means Committee in 2015 prior to being elected Speaker of the House following John Boehner's retirement.

Ryan was a major proponent of privatizing Social Security in the mid-2000s. In the 2010s, his proposals " The Path to Prosperity" and " A Better Way" advocated for the privatization of Medicare, block granting of Medicaid, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and significant tax cuts. As Speaker, he was instrumental in the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. His other major piece of legislation, the American Health Care Act of 2017, passed the House but failed in the Senate by a single vote. Ryan did not seek re-election to the House in the 2018 elections.

Early life and education

Paul Davis Ryan Jr. was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the youngest of four children of Elizabeth "Betty" Ann (née Hutter), [1] who later became an interior designer, [2] and Paul Davis Ryan, a lawyer. He is a fifth-generation Wisconsinite. His father was of Irish ancestry and his mother of German and English descent. [3] One of Ryan's paternal ancestors settled in Wisconsin prior to the Civil War. [4] His great-grandfather, Patrick William Ryan (1858–1917), founded an earthmoving company in 1884, which later became P. W. Ryan and Sons and is now known as Ryan Incorporated Central. [5] [6] Ryan's grandfather, Stanley M. Ryan (1898–1957), was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. [7] [8] In 2018, while filming a segment for the PBS series Finding Your Roots, Ryan learned that he is 3 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. [9]

Ryan attended St. Mary's Catholic School in Janesville, where he played on the seventh-grade basketball team, [10] then attended Joseph A. Craig High School, [11] where he was elected president of his junior class, and thus became prom king. [12] As class president Ryan was a representative of the student body on the school board. [13] Following his second year, Ryan took a job working the grill at McDonald's. [13] He was on his high school's ski, track, and varsity soccer teams and played basketball in a Catholic recreational league. [14] [15] [16] He participated in several academic and social clubs including the Model United Nations. [13] [14] Ryan and his family often went on hiking and skiing trips to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. [17] [8]

Although Ryan's father was not a lifelong heavy drinker, staying sober for nearly twenty years after his first stint in rehabilitation, he had become an alcoholic by the time Ryan was a teenager. Ryan later commented that his relationship with his father, whom he revered as a young child, had grown distant due to his drinking, stating that "[alcohol] made him more distant, irritable and stressed ... whiskey had washed away some of the best parts of the man I knew." [18] When he was 16, Ryan found his 55-year-old father lying dead in bed of a heart attack, something Ryan later partially attributed to heavy alcohol consumption. [8] [13] [19] Following the death of his father, Ryan's grandmother moved in with the family. As she had Alzheimer's, Ryan helped care for her while his mother commuted to college in Madison, Wisconsin. [13] From the time of his father's death until his 18th birthday, Ryan received Social Security survivors benefits, which were saved for his college education. [20] [21] [22] His mother later married widower Bruce Douglas (1933–2002). [2] [23]

Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, [24] where he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. [13] He often visited the office of libertarian professor Richard Hart to discuss the theories of these economists and of Ayn Rand. [13] [25] Hart introduced Ryan to National Review, [13] and with Hart's recommendation Ryan began an internship in the D.C. office of Wisconsin U.S. Senator Bob Kasten where he worked with Kasten's foreign affairs adviser. [13] [26]

Ryan attended the Washington Semester program at American University. [27] He worked summers as a salesman for Oscar Mayer and once got to drive the Wienermobile. [8] [25] [28] Ryan was a member of the College Republicans, [29] and volunteered for the congressional campaign of John Boehner. [25] He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta social fraternity. [30]

Early career

Betty Ryan reportedly urged her son to accept a congressional position as a legislative aide in Senator Kasten's office, which he did after graduating in 1992. [26] [31] [32] In his early years working on Capitol Hill, Ryan supplemented his income by working as a waiter, as a fitness trainer, and at other jobs. [8] [28]

A few months after Kasten lost to Democrat Russ Feingold in the November 1992 election, Ryan became a speechwriter for Empower America (now FreedomWorks), a conservative advocacy group founded by Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and William Bennett. [8] [33] [34]

Ryan later worked as a speechwriter for Kemp, [35] the Republican vice presidential candidate in the 1996 United States presidential election. Kemp became Ryan's mentor, and Ryan has said he had a "huge influence". [36]

In 1995, Ryan became the legislative director for then-U.S. Congressman Sam Brownback of Kansas. In 1997 he returned to Wisconsin, where he worked for a year as a marketing consultant for the construction company Ryan Incorporated Central, owned by his relatives. [13] [33] [37]

U.S. House of Representatives


Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998, winning the 1st District seat of Republican Mark Neumann, a two-term incumbent who had vacated his seat to make an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. Ryan won the Republican primary over 29-year-old pianist Michael J. Logan of Twin Lakes, [38] and the general election against Democrat Lydia Spottswood. [39] This made him the second-youngest member of the House. [13]

Paul Ryan with Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin Reince Priebus and his wife in 2008

Reelected eight times, Ryan has never received less than 55 percent of the vote. He defeated Democratic challenger Jeffrey C. Thomas in the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 elections. [40] In the 2008 election, Ryan defeated Democrat Marge Krupp. [40]

In the 2010 general election, he defeated Democrat John Heckenlively and Libertarian Joseph Kexel.[ citation needed] In 2012, under Wisconsin election law, Ryan was allowed to run concurrently for vice president and for Congress [41] and was not allowed to remove his name from the Congressional ballot after being nominated for the vice presidency. [42] He faced Democratic nominee Rob Zerban. As of July 25, 2012, Ryan had over $5.4 million in his congressional campaign account, more than any other House member. [43] [44] [45] He was reelected with 55 percent of his district's vote [46] and 44 percent of the vote in his hometown, Janesville. [47]

Zerban again challenged Ryan in the 2014 House election. [48] Ryan won with 63 percent of his district's vote. [49]

In the 2016 Republican primary election, Ryan faced businessman Paul Nehlen, who had been endorsed by Sarah Palin. [50] Because of Nehlen's support for Trump, Trump publicly thanked him on Twitter and later told The Washington Post that Nehlen was "running a very good campaign", even though he did not endorse him. [51] [52] [53] On August 5, 2016, Trump endorsed Ryan's re-election after pressure from fellow Republican leaders. [54] In the August 9, 2016 primary election, [55] Ryan overwhelmingly defeated Nehlen, taking over 84 percent of the vote. [56] In the November general election, Ryan faced Democrat Ryan Solen [56] and won with 65 percent of his district's vote. [57]

Pre-Speaker congressional tenure (1999-2015)

Official U.S. Congress portrait of Ryan in 2013.

Ryan became the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee in 2007, [58] then chairman in 2011 after Republicans took control of the House. That same year he was selected to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address. [59] During his 13 years in the House, Ryan was the primary sponsor of more than 70 bills or amendments, [60] [61] of which only two were enacted into law. [62] 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. [63] [64] Ryan has also co-sponsored 975 bills, of which 176 have passed; 22% of these bills were originally sponsored by a Democrat. [65] [62]

Ryan was a "reliable supporter of the [George W. Bush] administration's foreign policy priorities" who voted for the 2002 Iraq Resolution, authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq. [66]

In 2010, Ryan was a member of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Bowles-Simpson Commission), which was tasked with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit. He voted against the final report of the commission. [67] In 2012, Ryan accused the nation's top military leaders of using " smoke and mirrors" to remain under budget limits passed by Congress. [68] [69] Ryan later said that he misspoke on the issue and called General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to apologize for his comments. [70]

Speaker of the House (2015-present)

Speaker Ryan (left) shakes hands as he ascends to office following the retirement of Speaker John Boehner (right).
King Salman of Saudi Arabia speaks with Ryan in April 2016

On October 8, 2015, a push by congressional Republicans to recruit Ryan to run to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House was initiated. [71] Boehner had recently announced his resignation and stated his support for Kevin McCarthy to be his replacement, which received wide support among Republicans, including Ryan, who was set to officially nominate him. [72]

McCarthy withdrew his name from consideration on October 8 when it was apparent that the Freedom Caucus, a caucus of staunchly conservative House Republicans, would not support him. This led many Republicans to turn to Ryan as a compromise candidate. The push included a plea from Boehner, who reportedly told Ryan that he was the only person who could unite the House Republicans at a time of turmoil. [71] Ryan released a statement that said, "While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate." [73] But on October 9, close aides of Ryan confirmed that Ryan had reconsidered, and was considering the possibility of a run. [74] [75]

Ryan confirmed on October 22, that he would seek the speakership after receiving the endorsements of two factions of House Republicans, including the conservative Freedom Caucus. [76] [77] Ryan, upon confirming his bid for the speakership, stated, "I never thought I'd be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve -- I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker." [78] On October 29, Ryan was elected Speaker with 236 votes. [79] He is the youngest Speaker since James G. Blaine in 1875. [80] He named lobbyist John David Hoppe as his Chief of Staff. [81] [82]

As Speaker, Ryan became the leader of the House Republicans. However, by tradition, he does not normally participate in debate or vote from the floor except in matters of great importance or when his vote would be decisive. [83]

2016 presidential election

Ryan as Speaker of the House, 2017

After Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election on May 4, 2016, Ryan was hesitant to endorse him, stating on May 5 that he was "not ready". [84] Ryan and Trump met in private on May 12, releasing a joint statement afterward, acknowledging their differences but stating "we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground." [85] On June 2, Ryan announced his support for Trump in an op-ed in The Janesville Gazette. [86]

The following day, June 3, amid Trump's criticism of Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, Ryan said Trump's critique "just was out of left field for my mind," and voiced disagreement with him. [87] On June 7, Ryan disavowed Trump's comments about Curiel because he believed they were "the textbook definition of a racist comment". Nevertheless, Ryan continued to endorse Trump, believing that more Republican policies will be enacted under Donald Trump than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. [88] On June 15, after Kevin McCarthy stated during a conversation among Republicans, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump. Swear to God", Ryan interjected, "No leaks. This is how we know we're a real family here." [89]

On July 5, after FBI Director James Comey advocated against pressing charges against Clinton for her email scandal, Ryan said Comey's decision "defies explanation" and stated that "[d]eclining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent." [90]

Ryan shaking hands with President Trump prior to his address to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017.

In October 2016, following the Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy, Ryan disinvited Trump from a scheduled campaign rally, [91] and announced that he would no longer defend or support Trump's presidential campaign but would focus instead on Congressional races. He also freed down-ticket congress members to use their own judgment about Trump, saying "you all need to do what's best for you and your district." [92] Trump then went on to attack Ryan, accusing him and other "disloyal" Republicans of deliberately undermining his candidacy as part of "a whole sinister deal". [93] [94]

115th Congress

Ryan with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, December 2017

On February 7, 2017, Ryan told reporters a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be introduced "this year" amid speculation President Trump would not act toward doing so until the following year. [95] On March 9, Ryan gave a 30-minute lecture explaining the proposed replacement for the ACA, titled the American Health Care Act (AHCA). [96] On March 30, Ryan said that he did not intend to work with Democrats on repealing and replacing the ACA, reasoning their involvement would lead to "government running health care." [97] On April 4, Ryan confirmed renewed discussions of an ACA replacement, but warned that a replacement was in the "conceptual" stages of its development. [98] On May 4, the House narrowly voted for the AHCA to repeal the ACA. [99] On May 9, Ryan said that "a month or two" would pass before the Senate would pass its own ACA repeal and replacement legislation. [100] The Senate created several of its own versions of the act but was unable to pass any of them. [101]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Ryan suggested that candidate Trump should release his tax returns. [102] After Trump won the election, Ryan repeatedly blocked the House of Representatives from compelling Trump to release his tax returns. [103]

In a May 18, 2017 news conference, Ryan said Congress' goal was "calendared 2017 for tax reform" and reported progress was being made in doing so. [104] In December 2017, both houses of Congress passed a $1.5 trillion tax bill called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Trump signed it into law on December 22. [105] The tax law is projected to add an additional $1.5 trillion to the national debt over a decade. [106] [107] In the weeks leading up to his retirement announcement, Ryan also championed a $1.3 trillion government-wide spending bill that boosted military spending significantly. [108] Politico noted that Ryan "clamored for austerity when he’s been in the minority, trashing Democrats as profligate budget-busters, but he’s happily busted budgets in the majority." [106]

During a June 12, 2017 news conference, Ryan expressed support for strong sanctions on Russia in response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections and its annexation of the Crimea, saying that Russia's actions were "unacceptable". [109] He urged Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional oversight committees to "do their jobs so that we can get to the bottom of all of this." [110] In July Congress passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia and giving Congress the power to overrule White House attempts to roll back sanctions. Both houses passed the bill with veto-proof majorities (98-2 in the Senate, 419-3 in the House), so Trump reluctantly signed it into law on August 2, 2017. [111] [109]

Ryan provided political cover for Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who many characterized as a source of the dysfunction in the committee as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. [108] Nunes accused the Obama administration of improperly “unmasking” the identities of Trump associates (which led Nunes' temporary recusal from the committee's Russia investigation), accused the FBI of misconduct, leaked the text messages of Senator Mark Warner (in an effort to misleadingly suggest impropriety on his behalf), and threatened to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. [112] [113] The House Intelligence Committee was one of few so-called "select" committees in Congress, which meant that it was up to Ryan to decide the chairman of the committee. [112]

Despite having favored comprehensive immigration earlier in his congressional career, Speaker Ryan prevented immigration legislation from being advanced in the House. [108] [114] When President Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) - which granted temporary stay for undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as minors - Ryan said DACA recipients should "rest easy" because Congress would solve the problem for them, but Ryan backed no bills protect DACA recipients. [115]

On April 11, 2018, Ryan announced that he would not run for re-election in November, saying "I like to think I've done my part, my little part in history to set us on a better course." In response Trump tweeted, "Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question." [116]

As House Speaker, Ryan allowed Rep. Steve King, who is prominent for making racially charged comments, to chair the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Rights. [117] [118]

After Republicans lost control of the House in the 2018 mid-term elections, Ryan, without evidence, suggested that there were irregularities about the election results in California. Ryan said that California's election system was "bizarre", "defies logic" and that "there are a lot of races there we should have won." After Ryan's remarks were reported on, Ryan's spokesperson said "The Speaker did not and does not dispute the results". [119]

Assessment of Speaker tenure

Following Ryan's retirement announcement, an article in The Washington Post stated that Ryan was "leav[ing] behind a legacy of dramatically expanded government spending and immense deficits, a GOP president unchecked, a broken immigration system, and a party that’s fast abandoning the free-trade principles that he himself championed." [108] According to the Associated Press, "Ryan will leave Congress having achieved one of his career goals: rewriting the tax code. On his other defining aim — balancing the budget and cutting back benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — Ryan has utterly failed." [107]

An article in The Washington Post described Ryan's relationship with President Trump as "friendly, if occasionally uneasy," adding that "Ryan did little to check the president or encourage oversight of his administration." [108] Critics[ who?] accused Ryan of normalizing Trump and of doing little to check him. [108] [120] Ryan supported Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, and did not support legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. [108] Ryan said that legislation to protect Mueller's investigation was not "necessary". [121]

Committee assignments

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ryan holds no chairmanship of any committee nor is he a member of any committee or subcommittee. Prior to his election, Ryan held the following assignments:

Caucus memberships

Constituent services

In fiscal year 2008, Ryan garnered $5.4 million in congressional earmarks for his constituency, including $3.28 million for bus service in Wisconsin, $1.38 million for the Ice Age Trail, and $735,000 for the Janesville transit system. [125] In 2009, he successfully advocated with the Department of Energy for stimulus funds for energy initiatives in his district. [125]

Other home district projects he has supported include a runway extension at the Rock County Airport, an environmental study of the Kenosha Harbor, firefighting equipment for Janesville, road projects in Wisconsin, and commuter rail and streetcar projects in Kenosha. In 2008, Ryan pledged to stop seeking earmarks. Prior to that he had sought earmarks less often than other representatives. [126] Taxpayers for Common Sense records show no earmarks supported by Ryan for fiscal years 2009 and 2010. [125] In 2012, Ryan supported a request for $3.8 million from the Department of Transportation for a new transit center in Janesville, [126] which city officials received in July. [127]

Ryan was an active member of a task force established by Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle that tried unsuccessfully to persuade General Motors to keep its assembly plant in Janesville open. He made personal contact with GM executives to try to convince them to save or retool the plant, offering GM hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded incentives. [128] Following the closure of factories in Janesville and Kenosha, constituents expressed dissatisfaction with Ryan's voting history. [129] During the 2011 Congressional summer break, Ryan held town hall meetings by telephone with constituents. The only public meetings Ryan attended in his district required an admission fee of at least $15. [130] [131]

In August 2011, constituents in Kenosha and Racine protested when Ryan would not meet with them about economic and employment issues, after weeks of emailed requests from them. His Kenosha office locked its doors and filed a complaint with the police, who told the protesters that they were not allowed in Ryan's office. [129] [130] [132] Ryan maintains a mobile office to serve constituents in outlying areas. [133]

2012 vice presidential campaign

Mitt Romney with Paul Ryan after introducing him as his running mate, for the 2012 presidential election, in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 11, 2012

Dan Balz of The Washington Post wrote that Ryan was promoted as a candidate for Vice President "by major elements of the conservative opinion makers, including The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Weekly Standard and the editor of National Review". [134]

On August 11, 2012, the Romney campaign officially announced Ryan as its choice for Vice President through its "Mitt's VP" mobile app [135] as well as by the social networking service Twitter,[ citation needed] about 90 minutes before Romney's in-person introduction.[ citation needed] Before the official announcement in Norfolk, Virginia, it was reported that Romney made his decision, and offered the position to Ryan on August 1, 2012, [136] the day after returning from a foreign policy trip through the United Kingdom, Poland, and Israel. [137]

On August 11, 2012, Ryan formally accepted Romney's invitation to join his campaign as his running mate, in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk. [138] Ryan is the first individual from Wisconsin [139] as well as the first member of Generation X [140] to run on a major party's national ticket.

Also in August 2012, the Associated Press published a story saying that while the Tea Party movement had wanted a nominee other than Romney, it had gotten "one of its ideological heroes" in the Vice Presidential slot. According to the article, Ryan supports the Tea Party's belief in "individual rights, distrust of big government and an allegorical embrace of the Founding Fathers". [141]

According to a statistical-historical analysis conducted by Nate Silver, "Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900" and "is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee [for vice president who previously served in the Congress] was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center" of any vice presidential candidate chosen from Congress since the turn of the 20th century. [142]

Political scientist Eric Schickler commented that while Ryan "may well be the most conservative vice presidential nominee in decades," the NOMINATE methodology "is not suited to making claims about the relative liberalism or conservatism of politicians" over a long time span. [143] A USA Today/ Gallup poll found that 39% thought Ryan was an "excellent" or "pretty good" vice presidential choice, compared to 42% who felt he was a "fair" or "poor" choice. [144]

Ryan formally accepted his nomination at the 2012 Republican National Convention on August 29, 2012. [145] In his acceptance speech, he promoted Mitt Romney as the presidential candidate, supported repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), [146] said that he and Romney had a plan to generate 12 million new jobs over the ensuing four years, and promoted founding principles as a solution: "We will not duck the tough issues—we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others—we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles." [146]

The speech was well received by the convention audience and praised for being well-delivered. [147] [148] Some fact-checkers purported that there were important factual omissions and that he presented details out of context. [149] [150] [151] [152] Conservative media (including Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, [153] the Investor's Business Daily, [154] and Fox News [155]) disputed some of the fact-checkers' findings. rated 33 of Ryan's statements which it suspected of being false or misleading as True: 10.5%, Mostly True: 18%, Half True: 21%, Mostly False: 36%, False: 9%, and Pants on Fire: 6%. [156] On October 11, 2012, Ryan debated his Democratic counterpart, incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, in the only vice presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle. [157] [158]

Romney and Ryan lost the 2012 presidential election, but Ryan retained his seat in the House of Representatives. [159] [160]

Congressional Leadership Fund

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC, has been closely linked and aligned with Ryan. [161] [162] [163] Ryan has directed major GOP donors towards the CLF. [164] The CLF has a reputation for running racist ads. [165] In The Guardian's ranking of the five most bigoted ads during the 2018 election campaign, four of the five were ads by the CLF. [165] In 2018, the CLF was described as "the highest-spending super PAC seeking to sway House races in the upcoming midterms." [166]

Political positions

Ryan's political positions are generally conservative, with a focus on fiscal policy. [167] Ryan "played a central role in nearly all" the policy debates of the period 2010-2012. [167] In 2012, Ryan voted against the Simpson-Bowles commission proposal to reduce the deficit, because the proposal raised taxes and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. [168] While he is a self-proclaimed deficit hawk, Ryan's tenure of Speaker of the House saw a major expansion in government spending and a ballooning of deficits during a period of economic growth. [108] [114]

Ryan subscribes to supply-side economics and supports tax cuts including eliminating the capital gains tax, the corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the Alternative Minimum Tax. [169] [170] [171] Ryan supports deregulation, including the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999, which repealed some financial regulation of banks from the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933. [172] During the economic recovery from the Great Recession of the late 2000s, Ryan supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which authorized the Treasury to purchase toxic assets from banks and other financial institutions, and the auto industry bailout; Ryan opposed the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which expanded consumer protections regarding credit card plans, and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which strengthened financial regulation. [172] [173] [174]

In 2016, Ryan rolled out a set of anti-poverty proposals that "seek to expand work requirements for those receiving federal benefits, to give states and local jurisdictions a greater role in administering those benefits, to better measure the results of federal programs for the poor, and to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse." [175] Ryan believes federal poverty reduction programs are ineffective and he supports cuts to welfare, child care, Pell Grants, food stamps, and other federal assistance programs. [176] [177] [178] Ryan supports block granting Medicaid to the states and the privatization of social security and Medicare. [179] [169] [170] [180] Ryan supported the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare." [172] [181] [182] Ryan supported the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), the 2017 House Republican plan to repeal and replace the ACA. [183] [184] In 2012, The New York Times said Ryan was "his party’s most forceful spokesman for cutting entitlement spending." [167]

Ryan's non-fiscal policy positions were subject to additional national attention with his 2012 candidacy for Vice President. [185] Ryan is pro-life and opposes abortion rights. [186] [187] Ryan opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which provides that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. [188] [189] In 2012, Ryan supported civil unions and opposed same-sex marriage. [185] [190]

Ryan supports school vouchers, and supported the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 and its repeal the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. [191] [192] Ryan is unsure, and believes climate scientists are unsure, of the impact of human activity on climate change. [193] [194] Ryan supports tax incentives for the petroleum industry and opposes them for renewable energy. [181] [195] Ryan supports gun rights and opposes stricter gun control. [185] [196] Ryan supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [172] [197]

Following the 2018 Russia–United States summit, in which President Donald Trump stated that he believed Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Ryan criticized Trump for supporting Russia and advocated for more economic sanctions against the Russian government for the interference. [198]

History with Objectivism

At a 2005 Washington, D.C. gathering celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth, Ryan credited Rand with having inspired him to get involved in politics. [179] In a speech that same year at the Atlas Society, he said he grew up reading Rand, and that her books taught him about his value system and beliefs. [199] [200] Ryan required staffers and interns in his congressional office to read Rand [200] and gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged as gifts to his staff for Christmas. [201] [202] In his Atlas Society speech, he also described Social Security as a "socialist-based system". [203]

In 2009, Ryan said, "What's unique about what's happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it's as if we're living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault." [201]

In April 2012, after receiving criticism from Georgetown University faculty members on his budget plan, Ryan rejected Rand's philosophy as atheistic, saying it "reduces human interactions down to mere contracts". [204] He also called the reports of his adherence to Rand's views an " urban legend" and stated that he was deeply influenced by his Roman Catholic faith and by Thomas Aquinas. [205]

Personal life

Ryan with his wife and family on the Speaker's balcony at the U.S. Capitol, following his election in October 2015.

Ryan married Janna Christine Little, [206] a tax attorney, [20] in December 2000. [207] Little, a native of Madill, Oklahoma and the granddaughter of Reuel Little who helped found the American Party to support the 1968 presidential campaign of George Wallace, [208] is a graduate of Wellesley College and George Washington University Law School. [20] Her cousin is former Democratic Representative Dan Boren (D-OK). [209] The Ryans live in the Courthouse Hill Historic District of Janesville, Wisconsin. [14] They have three children: Elizabeth "Liza" Anne, Charles Wilson, and Samuel Lowery. [210] [211] A Roman Catholic, Ryan is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Janesville. [212]

Due to a family history of fatal heart attacks before age 60, Ryan pursues an intense cross-training fitness program called P90X. [213] Ryan has always been a fitness enthusiast and was a personal trainer when he came out of college. About P90X, he said, "It works because it's called muscle confusion. It hits your body in many different ways. Pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, lots of cardio, karate, jump training. It has results, it works. It's a good workout." [214] [215] [216]

In a 2010 Politico interview he said that he weighed 163 pounds and maintained his body fat percentage between 6 and 8%. Tony Horton, creator of P90X, who has personally trained Ryan many times, reiterated the claim saying, "He is very, very, very lean. I know what 6 to 8 percent body fat looks like, and there's no fat anywhere on the man. I'm around 9 percent and he's much leaner than I am. He’s easily 6 to 8 percent body fat. You just have to eat right and exercise every day, and that’s what he does." [214] [215] [217]

In a radio interview Ryan claimed he had once run a marathon in under three hours; [218] he later stated that he forgot his actual time and was just trying to state what he thought was a normal time. [219] His one official marathon time is recorded as slightly over four hours. [220] [221]

Awards and honors

Electoral history

Year Office District Democratic Republican Other
1998 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Lydia Spottswood 43% Paul Ryan 57%
2000 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Jeffrey Thomas 33% Paul Ryan 67%
2002 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Jeffrey Thomas 31% Paul Ryan 67% George Meyers (L) 2%
2004 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Jeffrey Thomas 33% Paul Ryan 65%
2006 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Jeffrey Thomas 37% Paul Ryan 63%
2008 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Marge Krupp 35% Paul Ryan 64% Joseph Kexel (L) 1%
2010 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district John Heckenlively 30% Paul Ryan 68% Joseph Kexel (L) 2%
2012 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Rob Zerban 43% Paul Ryan 55% Keith Deschler (L) 2%
2012 Vice President of the United States United States of America Joe Biden 51% Paul Ryan 47% James P. Gray (L) 1%
2014 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Rob Zerban 37% Paul Ryan 63%
2015 Speaker of the House U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi 42% Paul Ryan 54% Daniel Webster (R) 2%
2016 U.S. House of Representatives Wisconsin's 1st district Ryan Solen 30% Paul Ryan 65% Spencer Zimmerman (I) 3%
2017 Speaker of the House U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi 43.6% Paul Ryan 55.2% Tim Ryan (D) 0.5%


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Further reading

Works about Ryan

Works by Ryan

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mark Neumann
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st congressional district

Preceded by
John Spratt
Chair of the House Budget Committee
Succeeded by
Tom Price
Preceded by
Dave Camp
Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
Succeeded by
Sam Johnson
Preceded by
Ron Wyden
Chair of the Joint Taxation Committee
Party political offices
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Bob McDonnell
Response to the State of the Union address
Succeeded by
Mitch Daniels
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Sarah Palin
Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Mike Pence
Political offices
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John Boehner
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Governor of state
in which event is held
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
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John Roberts
as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
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Otherwise Mike Pence
as Vice President
Current U.S. presidential line of succession
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Mike Pence
as Vice President
2nd in line
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Orrin Hatch
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