News · Press Release

DCCC MEMO: House Speaker Paul Ryan

TO: Interested Parties
FR: Meredith Kelly, DCCC National Press Secretary
DA: Friday, October 23, 2015
House Speaker Paul Ryan

Following a humiliating month of infighting, backbiting, false starts, torrid allegations, national embarrassments, and general chaos, House Republicans appear to have settled on the next Speaker of the House: Paul D. Ryan from Wisconsin.

After adamantly claiming he didn’t want the job, Congressman Ryan had a change of heart following extensive wooing and closed-door bargaining to get the House Freedom Caucus on board with his Speaker bid. As part of this effort, Ryan agreed to several of this ultra-conservative group’s demands, including a promise to not pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

Now that Ryan is their Heir apparent, below are three key takeaways about his potential Speakership:

  1. Ryan Will Not Be Able To Govern Any Better Than John Boehner: Boehner’s time as Speaker was plagued by legislative chaos, party infighting, and dysfunction. Paul Ryan’s tenure is likely to be the same. The problem wasn’t Boehner’s leadership, the problem was, and still is, that the ultra-right wing controls the Caucus.

There is much political salesmanship about Paul Ryan and his ability to bring unity to House Republicans. To be clear: capitulating to the Freedom Caucus is not unity. As expert after expert has already noted, Ryan might get a temporary honeymoon, but the first time he tries to compromise or buck Tea Party Orthodoxy, he will get run over by the extreme right, just like everyone else.

  1. Ryan Is Extremely Conservative: One of the misguided narratives coming out of Paul Ryan’s run for Speaker is that he is some sort of middle-of-the-road, Main Street, moderate Republican. Nothing could be further from the truth. While he may have cut legislative deals in the past, he authored one of the most reckless and irresponsible budgets in history. Beyond that, he also has a long record of being:
    • Anti-Senior
    • Anti-Student
    • Anti-Woman
    • Anti-LGBT
    • Anti-Immigration
    • Anti-Working Family

A more detailed snapshot of his record is included below, but this Associated Press headline from when he was named as Mitt Romney’s 2012 Vice President best sums it up: “Tea Party Gets Its Man In Ryan For Vice President.”

  1. Ryan Will Be The Face Of The House GOP, Which Politically Benefits Democrats: Most Americans don’t know who the Speaker of the House is, and it would take a multi-million dollar ad campaign to educate voters about who they are and what they stand for. Thankfully for Democrats, this happened in 2012. As VP, Ryan was subject of millions of dollars of television advertising showing voters exactly where he stood on key issues.TV ads on:

By reminding voters who Ryan is, every House Republican in battleground districts across the country will be held accountable for his views and why they stand with him.

Beyond The “Ryan Budget,” Here Is A Snap Shot of Congressman Ryan’s Reckless Ideology:

Bad For Seniors

  • 2014: Ryan Said he wanted to reform Social Security to allow investing “a generous portion” of Social Security money in the stock market
  • 2005: Sponsored a bill diverting a “considerably larger” percentage of Social Security funds to private accounts than the Bush-era plan for which he ultimately voted; Bush official called Ryan’s plan “irresponsible”
  • 2014: Said Bush plan didn’t go far enough and that it included “much smaller personal retirement accounts” than his plan

Bad For Working Families

  • 2014: Said he wanted the Federal Reserve to stop focusing on “maximum employment”
  • Repeatedly stated that “30 percent” of Americans want the “welfare state” while only “70 percent” want the American Dream; Defended Romney’s 47% comments, said people should not be offended
  • 2010: Voted against initial version of 9/11 first responders health care bill, then missed final vote, but said he would have voted against final passage had he been present—called the bill “deeply flawed” and “a new health care entitlement”
  • Repeatedly referred to low-income Americans as “takers” who live lives of “deficiency”
  • 2011: Said the safety net should “not become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency”
  • Repeatedly voted against raising the minimum wage throughout his career
  • 2014: Advocated “docking assistance” for those who miss a class with their welfare case manager

Bad For Women

  • 2012: Ryan opposed legal abortion in cases of rape and incest—only believed in life of the woman exception, stating in 2012, “the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life”
  • Co-sponsored at least three bills and voted for one amendment redefining rape as “forcible rape” for purposes of limiting abortion funding; said “rape is rape” when asked to explain the inclusion
  • 2012: Co-sponsored a bill requiring women considering an abortion to have an ultrasound
  • 1998: Did not oppose allowing states to decide criminal penalties for abortions
  • 1998: Supported overturning Roe v. Wade
  • Co-sponsored at least six personhood bills
  • Repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood
  • Repeatedly voted against Lilly Ledbetter and Paycheck Fairness Acts

Bad For LGBT

  • 1999: Voted for amendment prohibiting adoptions by same-sex couples living in DC
  • Repeatedly voted for constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage
  • 2011: Voted to uphold DOMA
  • 2010: Voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Repeatedly voted against expanding  hate crime laws to cover offenses based on a victim’s sexual orientation

Hypocrite in Chief

  • Called sequester a “victory” and “the kind of thing we’ve been looking for years”
  • Called the Recovery Act a “monstrosity” passed through “political patronage,” but wrote letters to Secretary of Energy endorsing Wisconsin stimulus projects and fought for millions in stimulus funds for local GM plant
  • Lamented the downgrading of U.S. debt widely reported as caused by him and other Tea Party Republicans

Tea Party Radical

  • Associated Press: “Tea Party Gets Its Man In Ryan For Vice President.”
  • Bloomberg: “Ryan Bipartisan Image Based More on Style Than Substance”
  • Expressed disappointment in “small” size of Bush Tax Cuts for which he voted
  • 2006: Voted for law overturning child safety lock requirement on handguns
  • 2005: Voted for bill characterized by The Hill as “most outrageous anti-immigrant and anti-Latino legislation of the past decade”

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