An overview of Paul Ryan, Romney’s VP candidate

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By Ryan Collett

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney caused a media frenzy over the weekend with the announcement of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Ryan’s strong brand of conservatism seeps into his views on health care, senior citizens, foreign policy, and the federal budget.

Ryan’s conservative track record continues running into the realm of social issues. With LGBT rights reaching an all-time high in terms of outreach and visibility, Ryan’s views stand as a stark setback. Both in 2004 and 2006, Ryan voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment — the failed move for putting a nationwide ban on gay marriage.

In his home state of Wisconsin, Ryan also encouraged anti-gay marriage legislation.

“I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” said Ryan in a statement after voting for the Federal Marriage Amendment. “Marriage is not simply a legal arrangement between individuals. The institution of marriage is an integral part of our civil society.”

Aside from gay marriage, Ryan voted for not allowing same-sex couples to adopt, voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  

Paul Ryan is a committed Republican and has served as a member of the House of Representatives since 1998, often winning his reelection campaigns by wide margins.

Ryan made his presence known in Washington with his detailed financial recovery plan for the US economy. The plan, dubbed “The Ryan Plan,” would essentially shrink government spending in areas like Medicare and Social Security. The shrinkage would virtually decimate support for those unable to afford proper health care and cut Social Security right when a flush of almost 76 million baby boomers begin to retire.

When confronted on the plan in March, Ryan said to the Washington Post, “We can’t keep doing everything for everybody in this country.”

While Ryan’s statements and fiscal policy aligns itself with the shrinking of government, Ryan has voted in favor of increased military weapons spending, increased spending in Afghanistan, and the authorization of the Iraq Resolution.

Also going against his policy for decreasing federal involvement, Ryan voted for the relief bailout of the auto industry in 2008.

Again in the realm of social issues, Ryan’s extreme opposition to LGBT rights translates almost identically to women’s rights. The congressman is, “as pro-life as a person gets,” according to a 2010 interview with The Weekly Standard. “You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life.”

Ryan supports the illegalization of abortion — even in cases of rape and incest — and has sponsored federal legislation to grant personhood to a fetus at the moment of fertilization. He has also voted against the funding of Planned Parenthood on multiple occasions, and voted against the Lilybetter Fair Pay Act, a law that makes it easier for women to file unequal pay complaints in the workplace. 

As far as his personal life goes, Paul Ryan married in 2000, has three children, is a devout Roman Catholic, and credits the atheist individualist author Ayn Rand and her novel that combated the moral duty of charity, Atlas Shrugged, as his inspiration for entering politics.

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