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Title: Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District representative since 1999.
Conservative First Ideology Category:
Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District was once viewed by pundits as the heir apparent to the conservative movement in America. He was young, energetic, and was supported by the grassroots conservative movement. He is well-known to be an avid admirer of Ayn Rand and her political and social theories, especially her most famous work Atlas Shrugged.
When Mitt Romney tapped Rep. Ryan as his running mate in the 2012 presidential election, the choice was interpreted as an acknowledgment by Romney of his lack of conservative roots and an attempt to remedy that.
After their defeat in 2012, Ryan returned to the House of Representatives and in 2015 was chosen by the House leadership to head the powerful House Ways and Means Committee as chairman. In effect, he became the de facto leader of the party on all matters relating to the U.S. budget. Unfortunately, Ryan began to shift away from conservative principles and was seduced by the establishment leadership, thus earning him a spot on Conservative First's 2016 U.S. House Target List.
Paul Ryan’s greatest vulnerability is what is viewed by many as his strong suit: the budget. Since entering Congress in 1999, Ryan has been a vocal advocate for governmental restraint and fiscal responsibility, so much so, that by the time he attained the chairmanship of the Budget Committee, he was the architect of conservative budget philosophy. Regrettably, things change and so too did the reliability of Ryan and his conservativeness on budgetary matters. Like a virus slowly taking control of its host, the establishment began to subsume Ryan. In 2013, he joined forces with the liberal senator from Washington state Patty Murray and delivered a budget agreement which raised the spending caps in addition to raising taxes. Ryan who was once a reliable advocate for small government was now actively participating in its vulgar expansion.
Paul Ryan has also disappointed on issues which expanded the scope of the federal government at the expense of freedom for politically expedient purposes. Wisconsin is a thriving agricultural state, so it is not surprising that Ryan would support legislation in 2013 aiming to “protect” American farmers. However, being a Randian and a free-market proponent, he neglected to realize the harm that agriculture subsidies reap on the American consumer. Also in 2013, Ryan had an opportunity to show political courage by voting against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act which expanded the power of the federal government. Finally, another example of his bipolar approach to free market principles that Ryan purportedly espouses, he support of federal subsidies for student loans in 2011 and 2012.
After Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his resignation, we thought that this was a golden opportunity for House conservatives to rise up and vote in a solid constitutionalist as speaker who would listen to we the people and provide real leadership. Unfortunately, after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy self-imploded, the establishment turned to Rep. Paul Ryan to save the party. And that is what is exactly wrong with government today. The establishment is more interested in saving the party than restoring our republic. In addition, the fact that the establishment turned to Ryan illustrates how far he has fallen. In just a short amount of time, his conservative political career has taken a nose dive and he is now flying low just above the swamp in a holding pattern amongst other members of the establishment. Rep. Ryan is now "in the wilderness" with conservatives and the grassroots movement.
Washington D.C. can be a seductive place; many a men have gone there with the best intentions and high ideals only to be pulled into the vortex of the establishment. Rep. Paul Ryan was once viewed as one of the next generation leaders of the conservative movement only to be marginalized by compromising his beliefs for power. The voters of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District would be better served with a true conservative representing them.