| A guide to|
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
Paul Davis Ryan is an American politician from Wisconsin, a massive Randroid, and a gigantic hypocrite, and Glee Club supervisor. A member of the Republican Party, the deeply ideological Paul Ryan was the Speaker of the House from October 2015 to January 2019, after initially serving as Chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2011 and as Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. He retired at the end of the 115th Congress rather than seek reelection.
Considered one of the rising stars of the party, he is a prominent policy advocate and the Republican choice for a bi-partisan debt commission created by President Barack Obama. A Randroid, Ryan is an advocate of "sound money", and he required his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, presumably as a test of their endurance.
When Candidate Romney was fighting back accusations that he was too moderate, he picked Ryan, who made repeated bipartisan attempts at cutting Medicare and Medicaid, as his running mate to shore up the conservative vote. Ryan was thoroughly, utterly pwned by Joe Biden in perhaps the most humiliating debate for any candidate in US history. After falling off the face of the Earth for a bit, Ryan became the frontrunner to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy (because he feared the ultra wingnut Freedom Caucus). He became Speaker of the House on October 2015, replacing the retiring Boehner. He lasted 3 years. He has played such a major role in the AHCA that some even call it RyanCare.
As Speaker of the House, Ryan was the third highest ranking Republican in the American government, being second in line to the President. His ascension was especially terrifying, because his tenure as Speaker threatened to mainstream the extremists in the Republican Party. He hung around like a bad smell for another year or so, 'reluctantly' capitulating to Trump on every issue, so the Democrats felt grateful to have him. But he knew that if he attempted to cross the boss, the GOP would toss him under a freight train.
Paul Ryan and his longtime friend friend, Gov. Scott Walker's first jobs were at McDonalds fast food restaurants. While the gregarious Walker was promoted to the front window, Ryan was relegated to the back flipping burgers, because he "lacked interpersonal skills".
Rise to prominence
“”The reason this debt-limit fight is different is we don’t have an election around the corner where we feel we are going to win and fix it ourselves.
|—Ryan, agreeing to default on the American debt because he doesn't want anything resembling cheap, effective health care|
While he was mostly a nobody during his early years as a Representative, Ryan grew to prominence by the time of the Obama administration, when he became Chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2011 after the Republicans took control in 2010. Ryan, a House Budget Committee member since 2007 and a member of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, was a well known policy wonk notorious for his intransigence on economics; he initiated a shadow budget created as an alternative to the majority Democrats' budget proposal. After the Republicans took the House in 2010, Ryan quickly became the most recognizable Republican policy advocate against Barack Obama.
This "Roadmap for America's Future" was widely criticized, although his increasing visibility as a "man of ideas" in a party that has acquired a "Party of No" label has made him very prominent. He has also been an outspoken opponent of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, suggesting that, "this thing is a fiscal Frankenstein, it's a train wreck." Following the 2010 elections, he rose to the position of chairman of the House Budget Committee, making his fiscal fantasies the official budget proposal of the majority party.
In 2011, Ryan unveiled the Path to Prosperity, which called for massive tax cuts and abolishing Medicare, helping to drive the Republicans so far to the right that they eventually shut down the government in 2013.
Together with Democratic Senator Patty Murray in 2013, the two worked out a budget compromise when the Congress and White House were stalemated. Their budget raised the debt ceiling and has remained in force through continuing resolutions. It's avoided sequestration and government shutdowns. It's kept food stamps at the current level and VA and Social Security checks flowing. IOW, ample proof of Ryan's betrayal of the Tea Party is his signing onto President Obama's plan to offer grants, loans, and housing to felons.
Speaker of the House
After initially saying no, Paul Ryan was pushed to run for Speaker of the House after John Boehner resigned and Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy. Ryan was elected Speaker of the House on October 29th, 2015, riding the wave of support from both the establishment Republicans and many Tea Party/Freedom Caucus extremists. Among his first acts was to call for a long, pointless, wasteful investigation of Planned Parenthood to complement the even longer and equally pointless/wasteful Benghazi investigation. Ryan now wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Republicans won't know what to do if Ryan ends the investigation except to start some other investigation since they refuse to govern and investigations are red meat for their idiot base.
One of his preconditions to becoming Speaker was a looser vacation time. When asked if he would push for paid family leave or extended vacation time for American workers, Ryan said no, the people will not get even extended vacation time, because Ryan plays by different rules from the rest of us.  He said he doesn't want the government to get involved in workers' personal lives. In fact, Ryan opposed a bill that would have allowed other federal workers, and his fellow members of the House, to substitute up to four weeks of paid parental leave. See what we mean about him being a raging hypocrite?
In the same interview, Ryan categorically ruled out any immigration reform with President Obama. Why? Because Obama, that's why!  He pushed for two bank deregulation bills aiming to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and make future regulations on Wall Street even harder to occur.  Without more tax revenue, the highway bill cannot receive the necessary funding, and Ryan doesn't want to raise taxes, so his plan is to push for private debt collectors to take over the job of the IRS; the idea is to get money from people who don't have money without targeting his bosses at Wall Street.  When all of that was rejected, Ryan instead insisted on a more straightforward $17 billion giveaway, free of charge, no strings attached, to the same Wall Street banks that crashed the economy. All of this was done in his first week of being Speaker.
Speaker Ryan followed that up by installing a Teabagger, Texas Representative Kevin Brady, over Boehner's old ally, Pat Tiberi, as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.   Brady, an Iraq War supporter, favors replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, introduced a bill that would have made sales taxes a permanent feature of the federal income tax code, and authored a law that would have forced every federal program not in the Constitution to justify its existence to taxpayers within 12 years or face elimination.
If that didn't give you a sense of Ryan's insanity, he plans to purge several top committee chairmen and allow the wingnut-dominated Republican House to elect their replacements. They include Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia. The House Steering Committee, which strips dissident lawmakers of their committee assignments, has become the target of much anger from conservatives, who see it as emblematic of the strong arm of the House speaker; Ryan plans to change that to appease the wingnuts as well.  The theme, regardless of the execution, centers on the idea of "decentralizing" power from the House Speaker to the rank and file, which means the increasingly influential Freedom Caucus would have disproportionate power over the House.
Ryan is now threatening confrontations with President Obama over the budget and Guantanamo Bay, and did not rule out a government shutdown in December 2015.  In the meantime, he's pushing for a vote in the House to end the Syrian refugee program.  When he couldn't end the program, he pushed for a bill that would suspend Obama's program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year and intensify the process of screening them. He didn't include religious tests, which annoyed the xenophobes in his party, but it still passed despite a veto threat from Obama.  Most infuriatingly, the bill passed with Democratic support. 
Nope, didn't end there either. Ryan's House voted to restrict visa-free travel after Paris attacks. The measures would bar people who travelled to Iraq and Syria after March 2011 from the visa waiver program. People who have visited Iran and Sudan - which the US accuses of supporting terrorism - would also need a visa.  This was backed by President Obama. I thought you weren't interested in helping the President, Speaker Ryan?
In his unremitting crusade to be the single worst Speaker ever, he is now calling for 700 billion dollars in tax cuts.  He also helped block anti-discrimination provisions for the LGBT community in a military budget bill.  And he passed a bill that would have delayed EPA regulations on pollution, which will endanger the lives of at least thousands of Americans and effectively make it illegal to breathe. 
Smell the glove
Ryan has frequently criticized the Trump 2016 shit-show, declaring that “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.” That old song? Trump warned Ryan to play ball after winning Super Tuesday, or there will be "a price to pay," according to Trump. They're scheduled to have a sit down; Ryan will have his meeting, he'll say it was a good meeting, and he'll suck up and endorse Trump so he can keep his job. (But he didn't endorse!!)
In the ultimate irony, Ryan - himself an extremist - is now the target of many of the same extremists he propped up.  Until now, Ryan has made it clear that you can be a Republican and not endorse Trump. Just cut off the rotting limb after an embarrassing loss and return to business as usual for 2018/2020. But they can't have the chair of the convention not backing the nominee. That's absurd. The whole situation is absurd, but there's no way Ryan comes out of this a winner.
Having the chairman oppose the nominee is incredibly undemocratic--especially now that Trump has been winning outright majorities and as his support among GOP voters is higher than anybody else's. Beyond that glaring problem, it also sends a mixed message to voters that has disastrous potential for downticket races. On the other hand, he opposes Trump for a reason. Standing on-stage with this man and holding his hand aloft for all the world to see could doom the GOP to whatever fate Trump suffers. If he gets blown out, it could taint the GOP with a generation of voters. If he wins, but wins with his brand of not-quite-conservative policy planks, it could force a rebrand that would leave a lot of their biggest names outside the tent. Paul's already in danger of being primaried back home. Sure enough, there's Sarah Palin talking about trying to finish off Ryan, like clockwork.
He's well and truly fucked. So, to cover his tracks, he's finally endorsed Donald Trump for President.
Speaker Ryan held a secret vote among Republicans at the beginning of January 2017. That secret vote called for gutting an independent government watchdog called the Office of Congressional Ethics. The changes would have put the OCE under control of the House, with the power to order the OCE to halt an investigation, bar its board from releasing findings, and prohibit it from contacting law enforcement directly if the independent body learned of possible criminal violations. After immense public backlash, including from Donald Trump (who thought they were wrong to focus on ethics first), Ryan and the Republicans backed away from their attempt to destroy the ethics watchdog.  
But don't think that means Ryan is done being the worst Speaker ever. Not by a long shot. On the first day of the new Congress in 2017, Ryan and his party created a new rule in which House members "could be fined up to $2,500 for live-streaming from the House floor, taking still photos, and recording audio and video." The rule is "largely seen as a response to the sit-in Democrats held last year to pressure Republicans to hold a vote on gun control legislation," which they live-streamed from their phones once Ryan shut off the official cameras in retaliation.  This completely goes against the spirit of government transparency, and it makes Ryan look petty because he's lashing out against the Democrats for daring to oppose him.
Speaker Ryan also brought back the Holman rule, a little-known provision that allows lawmakers to "bring an amendment on an appropriations bill to the House floor" that may “retrench” agency spending, reduce the number of federal employees in a particular agency or cut the salary or “compensation of any person paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” Translation: the Holman rule allows anyone from Congress to propose cutting individual federal workers' pay, to make it even as low as 1 dollar an hour. They can do this by offering an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program, for pretty much whatever reason they like, if they give a reason at all.  
He also changed the rules to make it easier for Congress to sell off public land.  That last part is important, because it helps you understand his next move. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to review regulations for a certain period of time after they are issued. Ryan's party insisted that it's to beat back against “midnight rules,” which are done at the close of a president’s term. Under the CRA, Paul Ryan and the Republicans can overturn huge swaths of Obama's executive orders protecting the environment, regulating Wall Street, helping the working class, establishing anti-discrimination protections for minorities, and other such issues as energy, transportation, banking, finance, education and media ownership.  Oh, and he passed a new rule that allows the House Republicans to hide relevant information from ethics investigations, effectively preventing investigations from ending in criminal charges.
How do you do, fellow kids?
In 2008, Ryan was included in The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful list with the following write-up: “Let’s face it, the reform of entitlements like Social Security is an important topic for members of Congress to debate. But listening to lawmakers speak about it on the floor does not exactly cause the heart to race. Unless, that is, the speech is being delivered by the tall, handsome and fiscally conservative Rep. Paul Ryan.” TMZ was quick to pounce on Ryan's nomination and hailed him as "the hottest vice presidential candidate ever". The Romney camp picked up on this, which backfired in the form of a boy-band photoshoot.
Ryan is a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine, even though he is the very embodiment of the machine they were raging against.
He once told a meeting of the Atlas Society, "I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff." A few years later Ryan, a practicing Catholic, was served a stinging letter signed by numerous theologians and Jesuit priests, who took him to task for his "misuse of Catholic teaching to defend [his] budget plan," stating:
In the wake of this incident, he has since "rejected" the philosophy, stating it to be "an atheist philosophy," preferring the worldview of Thomas Aquinas. His rejection of Rand, however, has not stopped him from pushing a Congressional budget that favors the obscenely rich and powerful.
- Paul Ryan Declares War Against Math, New York Magazine
- Paul Ryan Insists He Didn’t Take Stimulus Money, Then Realizes He Totally Did, New York Magazine
- "Ryan's father died when Paul was only 16. Usng the Social Security survivors benefits he received until his 18th birthday, he paid for his education at Miami University in Ohio, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics and political science in 1992."
- Seriously, look at him
- GOP picks Paul Ryan - yes, that Paul Ryan - for debt commission, TPM
- Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand, The New Republic
- Roger Simon, " Whatever Joe Biden was drinking Thursday night, Barack Obama ought to order a case of it", Politico.
- Eugene Robinson, "Ryan believes government should be small, his caucus believes it should be thwarted", Washington Post.
- Cruz, Ryan: Post-Democracy, Slate
- Rep. Ryan’s Tax Roadmap Falls Short of His Revenue Goal, Tax Policy Center
- Hey, crank ideas count, too.
- Politico's Interview: Rep. Paul Ryan
- Exceptional "freedom"
- Meet Paul Ryan, climate denier, Think Progress
- Atkinson, Khorri, "Planned Parenthood seeks ‘fair and impartial’ treatment from Paul Ryan", MSNBC (0/31/15 01:45 PM EST).
- There’s a word for Paul Ryan
- Jose A. DelReal and Mike DeBonis, "Trump, Ryan say they are ‘totally committed’ to uniting their party", WaPo (5/12/16 at 1:43 PM). He said it was time to unify the party behind Trump. There's no functional difference.
- Wright, Austin, "Palin says she'll campaign against Paul Ryan", Politico (05/08/16 09:38 AM EDT).
- Yes, that's a thing.
- Patrick Gavin, "Forget the Budget: Paul Ryan is Hot!", Politico
- TMZ, "Paul Ryan: HE'S HIDING A SIX-PACK!!!ONE!"
- If you've ever wanted to cringe so hard that your balls retreat into your stomach, click the link.
- RATM guitarist Tom Morello, "Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine", Rolling Stone.
- Is Paul Ryan for or against Ayn Rand? CNN
- Georgetown Letter to Rep. Paul Ryan
- After Previously Praising Her, Paul Ryan Now Disses Ayn Rand: ‘I Reject Her Philosophy’, Think Progress
- Not much better, don't ya think?