Tag Archives: U.S. rep. paul ryan

Paul Ryan: Humans might not be responsible for climate change

The planet has faced climate change forever and humans’ pollution might not be to blame, Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said during an Oct. 13 debate against his Democratic challenger in southern Wisconsin.

Ryan, favored to win re-election to his seat representing GOP-leaning district, faced off against businessman Rob Zerban for an hourlong forum that touched on world events, domestic politics and the economy. One of the sharpest differences came when the moderator asked each candidate if he thought human activity is to blame for changes to the planet’s climate.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Ryan said. “I don’t think science does, either.”

Ryan also said efforts to combat climate change are costly and unproven, a popular position among the Republican base he will need should he seek the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Zerban said climate change is serious and man-made. He also said it’s an opportunity for Americans to invest in renewable energy that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists blame for climate change.

“These severe weather events have local consequences,” Zerban said, pointing to potholes on Wisconsin roads that were the result of a brutally cold winter.

Just hours before the debate began, the Pentagon released a report that rising sea levels and other effects of climate change will pose major challenges for America’s military. U.S. military officials have long warned that changes in climate patterns, resulting in increased severe weather events and coastal flooding, will have a broad and costly impact on the Defense Department’s ability to protect the nation.

Ryan has previously questioned the climate scientists’ research and data and, on Monday, said that the high costs associated with proposals to fight climate change ignore that “we’ve had climate change forever.”

“The benefits do not outweigh the costs,” Ryan said.

Zerban disagreed, saying spending on energy research would prove wise. “This is an opportunity to invest a dime to save a dollar,” he said.

Ryan and Zerban have faced each other on the ballot before but not during formal debates. When they ran against each other in 2012, Ryan was sprinting around the country as Mitt Romney’s running mate and declined to debate Zerban. Instead, Ryan faced off against Vice President Joe Biden.

Romney and Ryan failed to win the White House, but Ryan did capture an eighth congressional term with 55 percent of the vote.

With Ryan considering a White House bid in 2016, a chance to go one-on-one with a political foe was an event he agreed to take – twice. The pair meets at the University of Wisconsin-Rock County next week.

“This was my first debate. I hope I did all right,” Zerban said as the debate came to a close.

Ryan told his rival that he did fine.

“You’re much more pleasant to debate than Joe Biden,” Ryan said with a smile.

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Texas congressman to battle Paul Ryan over key post

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to take over one of the most powerful committees in Congress could hit a snag when lawmakers return after the midterm elections.

Ryan, the Republican Party’s candidate for vice president two years ago and a representative from Wisconsin, has been telling colleagues for much of the past year that he wants to chair the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in the new Congress next year. The post could provide a platform for the Wisconsin Republican to launch a possible bid for president in 2016.

But Ryan has competition from a formidable opponent – Rep. Kevin Brady, a senior Republican from Texas.

Brady said that he plans to wage a “friendly” battle with Ryan for the job.

“I want to give my colleagues two good choices,” Brady said in a telephone interview. “Paul Ryan is a terrific leader and he’s a good friend.”

The Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over the biggest economic issues facing the country – taxes, trade, Social Security, health care and social programs.

Brady’s candidacy could force Ryan to spell out his 2016 intentions as early as November, if fellow Republicans raise concerns that a presidential bid could be a distraction to such an important committee. House committee chairmen will be named during the lame duck session of Congress following the election.

If Republicans keep control of the House, committee chairmen will be nominated by a GOP steering committee led by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The full House Republican conference generally approves the nominees.

Brady is a nine-term incumbent and the second most senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. He chairs the panel’s health subcommittee.

“I’m prepared and qualified,” Brady said, adding that he wants to focus on tax reform, Medicare fraud and improving Social Security’s disability program.

Also important, Brady is part of the Texas delegation in the House, which boasts 24 Republicans, giving it a strong voice. Brady represents a solidly Republican district just north of Houston. He has a Libertarian opponent in the November election but there is no Democrat on the ballot.

Brady’s Republican-friendly district has given him time to help fellow Republicans with their campaigns this year. That will be his focus until after the election, Brady said.

Ryan is right behind Brady in seniority on the Ways and Means Committee. Ryan is now chairman of the House Budget Committee, but he must step down from the post because House Republicans impose term limits on committee chairmen.

When asked about the competition to lead the Ways and Means Committee, Ryan’s spokesman, Brian Bolduc, said, “Congressman Ryan is focused on his work at the House Budget Committee.”

As Budget chairman, Ryan has made a name for himself as the main architect of several conservative House Republican budgets.

Many of Ryan’s proposed spending cuts have never made it into law because of opposition from Senate Democrats and the Obama White House. But Ryan has gained a following, especially among conservatives, for his willingness to spell out difficult spending cuts.

On Ways and Means, the next chairman is expected to lead House Republican efforts to overhaul the nation’s tax code, which politicians of many stripes agree is too complicated. If House Republicans offer an alternative to President Barack Obama’s health law, the Ways and Means Committee could play a key role.

Also, Congress will soon have to deal with Social Security’s disability program, which is facing a potential financial crisis in 2016.

All these issues offer pitfalls as well as opportunities for the next chairman of the Ways and Means committee. And consensus will be hard to come by, especially in the current partisan atmosphere.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., currently chairs the committee. He is retiring at the end of the year.

Camp worked for years to build a consensus around the idea of overhauling the tax code – lowering tax rates for everyone while making up the revenue by scaling back credits, deductions and exemptions. But after Camp unveiled a comprehensive plan in February, it went nowhere, despite House Republicans claiming to champion the issue.

Brady said Camp did important groundwork on the issue, giving the next committee chairman a good head start on the issue.

Ryan budget plan would slash aid to poor

A budget plan stuffed with familiar proposals to cut across a wide swath of the federal budget breezed through the House Budget Committee this week, but its sharp cuts to health care coverage for the middle class and the poor, food stamps and popular domestic programs are a nonstarter with President Barack Obama.

The GOP-controlled committee approved the plan by a party-line vote after swatting away numerous Democratic attempts to ease its cuts. The plan by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the committee chairman and the party’s former vice presidential nominee, promises $5.1 trillion in cuts over the coming decade to bring the government’s ledger into the black by 2024.

The plan is a dead letter with the Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama, but gives Republicans a vehicle to polish their budget-cutting credentials in the run-up to fall midterm elections in which they’re counting on a big turnout from GOP conservatives and the tea party.

Ryan’s plan would wrestle the government’s deficits under control after a decade, relying on deep cuts to Medicaid, highway construction, federal employee pension benefits, food and heating aid to the poor and Pell Grants for college students from low-income families. It would eliminate health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act while assuming the government keeps $1 trillion worth of Obamacare’s tax increases, and retains a 10-year, $700 billion cut to Medicare that Democrats drove through in 2010 when passing the health care law.

Republicans say such tough cuts are required to take on deficits that threaten to sap the economy of its strength in coming years as government borrowing squeezes out savings and investment and spiraling costs of federal retirement and health care programs promise to swamp taxpayers. Ryan cited Congressional Budget Office studies that show curbing deficits and debt would lead to a healthier economy in the long term — and claims $74 billion in such macroeconomic effects to promise a balanced budget in 2024.

“Just as a weak economy can drag the budget into the red, a responsible budget can help propel the economy forward,” Ryan said. “If Washington is serious about helping working families — or serious about getting families out of work back to work — then it needs to get serious about the national debt.”

But Democrats cast Ryan’s plan as an all-out assault on the poor and working class. More than $700 billion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years would force hundreds of thousands of seniors from nursing home care, for instance, while $135 billion cut from food stamps and other nutrition aid would increase hunger. Eliminating a mandatory funding stream for Pell Grants would mean fewer poor kids could dream of college, they said, while cuts to education, scientific research and NASA would harm U.S. competitiveness.

“This dog-eat-dog budget is nothing short of an assault on Americans struggling to stay afloat economically. It absolutely decimates safety net programs — like (food stamps) and Medicaid – designed to stop people from falling into deep poverty,” said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the budget panel.

The GOP’s top vote counter promised Wednesday that the Ryan budget would pass the House next week despite resistance from conservatives uneasy over higher spending for agency budgets in 2015, in line with a small-bore budget pact negotiated in December by Ryan and the head of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in December.

“It’ll pass,” promised Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

Under Congress’ arcane budgeting rules, the annual budget resolution is a non-binding blueprint that tries to set broad goals for follow-up legislation on taxes, agency spending and curbs on the growth of expensive benefit programs like Medicare, whose budgets go up every year as if on autopilot.

As such, the annual budget debate allows GOP lawmakers to go on record in favor of spending cuts big and small – whether it’s slashing Medicaid, cutting subsidies for farmers and Amtrak, or further cuts to domestic agencies like the Transportation Security Administration – without having to follow through with binding legislation.

So every spring, the House goes on record to eliminate taxpayer subsidies for money-losing flights into rural airports and cut community development grants to state and local governments, for example, only to have GOP appropriators scramble to replace them later on when adopting a binding spending bill.

Ryan’s budget brings back a now-familiar list of spending cuts: $2.1 trillion over 10 years in health care subsidies and coverage under the Affordable Care Act; $732 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs; almost $1 trillion in cuts to other benefit programs like food stamps, Pell Grants and farm subsidies. Hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts are not identified at all.

While repealing Obamacare’s benefits, the GOP plan relies on its tax increases and cuts to providers to promise balance, including reductions to private insurers under the Medicare Advantage program. Republicans have attacked Democrats for the Medicare cuts used to finance the health law.

The measure also reprises a proposal to dramatically reshape Medicare for future retirees, providing those who now are 55 or younger with a federal subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market.

Republicans say that makes Medicare sustainable with savings created by lower annual cost increases than traditional Medicare. Critics cite studies that predict the voucher-like plan would mean considerably higher out-of-pocket costs as it is phased in.

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Paul Ryan defends himself against allegations of racism

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is making poverty a signature issue as he attempts to broaden his appeal ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016. But in being more vocal about the issue, he’s had to defend himself and his message against allegations of racism.

At issue are comments the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate made during an interview on a conservative radio talk show in which he said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work.”

He later called the remarks “inarticulate about the point I was trying to make,” but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from speaking out against him. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Ryan’s comment a “thinly veiled racial attack.”

The stir highlights a potential peril for Ryan, now nearly two years removed from a failed national campaign and two years away from a potential 2016 presidential bid. The Wisconsin congressman had hoped his work on poverty could be a positive: His interest in the issue dates back to his time as a speechwriter working for former vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp. He has spent much of his time since returning to Congress focused on the issue, giving speeches and producing a 205-page report on poverty, while indicating that he may introduce legislation to deal with the issue.

Instead, Ryan’s remark has brought negative attention to him, highlighted Republicans’ continued struggles to connect with minority voters and stepped on his own policy push.

At home in Wisconsin, Ryan has sought to clarify his message — that poverty was both a rural and urban issue.

Speaking at a recent packed town hall in North Prairie, Wis., Ryan warmly thanked a constituent who mentioned the recent controversy and told him she did not think he was racist.

“In our society, we have done a lot to isolate the poor, in rural and urban America,” Ryan said. “This enforces the idea that this is government’s responsibility, and you don’t need to do anything about it. That’s not true.”

Ryan did not mention the rural poor during his appearance on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show. Instead, his remarks centered on what he saw as a problem with the culture of inner cities.

“Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says ‘culture’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black,'” said Lee, a member of the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs.

Ryan has since called Lee and announced plans to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Any Republican with national aspirations will have to improve the party’s standing with minority voters.

In 2012, President Barack Obama won 80 percent of minority voters en route to a comfortable popular vote and electoral college victory while losing white voters. Ryan hasn’t decided if he will run for president in 2016. But his schedule – which has included trips outside of Wisconsin and speeches like one he gave recently to the Conservative Political Action Conference — indicates he wants a national profile.

Among potential Republican 2016 contenders, Ryan isn’t alone in facing early struggles:

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has seen his popularity drop amid an investigation into the closure of a New Jersey bridge for political payback.

• Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was accused of plagiarism after a speech he gave bore similarities to a Wikipedia page.

• Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been criticized by conservatives for backing immigration legislation.

• Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been blamed by some for stoking the unpopular government shutdown.

Republicans defended Ryan amid the criticism of his comment to Bennett.

National Republican Chairman Reince Priebus, a fellow Wisconsin native, said Ryan was correct to acknowledge that his comments were inarticulate, but that it was unfair to question his motives. Priebus said people should consider the fact that Ryan was talking about poverty at all.

“Why was Paul talking about this issue?” Priebus said. “He’s talking about this issue because he’s devoted a large part of his life to come up with, I would say, methods, policy, political approaches, all of the above, to help tackle poverty in this country.”

Priebus said Ryan’s efforts on poverty show that Republicans are trying to broaden their appeal and “venturing into areas that our party should venture into.”

But doing so comes at a risk – and Ryan has already proven that, said Mary Berry, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who served as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004.

Republicans must be careful they “don’t alienate their conservative white supporters,” she said. Meanwhile, Democrats are generally happy to pounce on any missteps.

“Democrats will jump all over them in the messaging game, no matter what they say,” Berry said, “and they won’t be given the benefit of the doubt — that’s politics.”

Paul Ryan: No hopes to be House Speaker

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan won’t say if he’ll run for president in 2016 but there’s one job he’s sure he doesn’t want: speaker of the House of Representatives.

The 2012 Republican nominee for vice president told an audience in San Antonio recently that running the House would take away too much time from his wife and three young children. Ryan said he would be spending more time with his family if he were vice president than he does as a House member shuttling back and forth between Washington and his home in Janesville, Wis.

“I could’ve decided to go in the elected leadership route years ago. I’m more of a policy person. I prefer spending my days on policy and my weekends at home with my family,” Ryan said. “The speaker is expected to fly all over the country on weekends as well, helping folks. I’m not going to do that.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has filed for re-election and has said he will run for speaker again if Republicans keep control of the House after November’s midterm elections.

For now, Ryan is chairman of the Budget Committee. But it’s widely believed that he’s got his eye on the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship. Current Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., is leaving next year because of GOP rules limiting most chairmen to three terms.

When asked, Ryan said it’s “too early to get into” whether he wants to lead Ways and Means and said he “loves” Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican whom he would have to leapfrog to lead that power committee. It has sweeping jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy.

Son of a slain Sikh temple president seeks to challenge Paul Ryan

The son of a slain Sikh temple president plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in next year’s congressional election, in a Wisconsin district where support for the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee has been strong but slipping.

Amar Kaleka, 35, has formed an exploratory congressional committee. He plans to formally announce his candidacy as a Democrat next month.

Kaleka said he wants to bring accountability and transparency back to Washington. He blamed the government shutdown on Ryan, who’s the House Budget Committee chairman, and his GOP colleagues. He said citizens are tired of career politicians who care more about staying in power than serving the people.

“There’s a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs,” Kaleka said. “All I want to do is bring democracy – a government of, for and by the people – back to America.”

Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was a small-business owner who founded the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee. On Aug. 5, 2012, a white supremacist walked into the temple and opened fire, killing Kaleka and five others before taking his own life. The FBI was unable to determine a motive.

That was a turning point for Amar Kaleka, who grew up in Milwaukee and has been making documentaries in southern California for the past four years. He won an Emmy for his 2010 direction of “Jacob’s Turn,” about a 4-year-old boy with Down syndrome who joins his first T-ball team.

He said he used to dream of running for public office when he was in his 50s or 60s but decided to seek office sooner following his father’s homicide.

Sympathy and cash donations poured in from around the globe following the Sikh temple shootings, and several federal officials expressed their condolences. First lady Michelle Obama visited the temple to comfort the families and Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the funeral.

But President Barack Obama, who has visited sites of other mass shootings, never came. His absence bothered Kaleka, an Obama supporter who hoped the president’s presence would help advance the cause of stronger gun regulation.

Kaleka suspected that Obama stayed away to sidestep a controversial issue during an election year. To Kaleka, that meant the president was putting politics before people – a trend he saw repeated by other lawmakers every time he visited Washington, D.C.

He cites polls showing that 90 percent of Americans favored stronger background checks for gun buyers, yet even then Congress failed to act. That disgusted him.

“They’re more concerned with the groups, the corporations that are giving them money than with what the people want,” he said.

Kaleka knows he’d be taking on a formidable candidate. Ryan has so much political clout that he raised $1.7 million in the first six months of the year, nearly three times more than any other member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.

Kaleka hopes to counter in part by tapping into the wealthy Indian and Arabic communities that he said encouraged him to run in the first place. If he can demonstrate his fundraising chops he expects the national Democratic Party, which he said supports his candidacy, to step in with another $1 million to $2 million.

Ryan, an eight-term congressman, has been popular in his district that covers the southeastern corner of the state. But his support declined last year.

He won every congressional race since 2000 with at least 63 percent of the vote, including 68 percent in 2010. But last year, after he gained prominence for drawing up an austere budget blueprint that would reshape Medicare, his support dropped to a career-low 55 percent. However, that year he had to balance his congressional campaign with his vice presidential run.

A message left with Ryan’s congressional office was not immediately returned.

Ryan’s opponent last year was Rob Zerban, a former Kenosha Board supervisor. Zerban has formed another exploratory committee this year but hasn’t said whether he’ll take another run at Ryan.

The death of Kaleka’s father – and the way he died – continue to weigh on Kaleka. He said he’s running in his father’s memory, but he wants people to vote for him not out of sympathy but because of his position on the issues.

“I’ll agree my father’s death has put me in a position where people listen to me more. But it’s not that I’m taking advantage of that situation,” he said. “I’m trying to further his dream of building the community and leading in a way that’s very democratic. That’s what drives me.”

On the Web …

https://www.facebook.com/AmarKaleka 

Call to action: Urge Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan to skip right-wing summit

Civil rights activists are encouraging people to ask lawmakers – including a familiar name in Wisconsin – to skip a far right-wing summit set to take place Oct. 11-13.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign, are encouraging people to ask U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and others to not attend the Values Voter Summit held by the far-right Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

The FRC has been characterized as a hate group in the progressive community for the organization’s demonizing of gay people and campaign against basic civil liberties for LGBT people. The FRC repeatedly has portrayed gays and lesbians as sick, evil, incestuous, violent and perverted threats to the nation.

And the Values Voter Summit, year after year, has featured politicians, pundits and Christian right leaders who go beyond opposing LGBT equal rights legislation to advocate criminalizing same-sex sex and treating homosexuality as a disease.

Organizers expect Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage to attend and speak at the event.

Brown will join FRC president Tony Perkins on a panel called “The Future of Marriage.”

In addition to the SPLC and HRC, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, GLAAD, People for the American Way Foundation and Faithful America have called on lawmakers to skip the summit.

“Elected officials shouldn’t lend the prestige of their office to hate groups that have a long history of telling incendiary lies about the LGBT community and spreading other forms of bigotry,” said an announcement from the SPLC.

The SPLC provided links to contact lawmakers set to speak at the summit:

Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Marco Rubio

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Tim Scott

Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Randy Forbes

Rep. Michele Bachmann

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Steve King

Rep. Steve Scalise

Rep. Scott Turner

Gov. Walker insists he’s not thinking about 2016

Plenty of Republicans are talking about a possible presidential run by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but Walker insists he’s not one of them.

Walker told The Associated Press this eek that he’s focused on putting together the next state budget and his job as governor, not a presidential run in 2016.

Walker was elected in 2010 and shot to stardom in the GOP with his fight to eliminate most public workers’ union rights. His proposal sparked massive protests at the state Capitol, as well as a June recall election that Walker won.

He says after two elections in two years, he’s just happy to be working as governor.

Walker also says he hasn’t talked to former Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, a close friend, about whether he’ll run.

Paul Ryan’s prepared remarks to right-wing Values Voter Summit

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, addressed the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14.

Civil rights groups had urged public officials not to attend the forum, which is sponsored by the Family Research Council, a group that has long circulated lies and misinformation about LGBT people and is called a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The following is the text of Ryan’s prepared remarks:

Thank you all very much. I appreciate your kind hospitality, and I count it a special honor to be introduced by my mentor and friend Bill Bennett.

It’s good to be part of the Values Voter Summit once again, and this time around I bring greetings from the next president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney.

In this election, many millions of Americans count themselves as values voters, and I am one of them. In 53 days, we have a choice between two very different ideas about our country – how we were meant to live, and what we were meant to be.

It’s the kind of choice that can never be taken for granted. Peace, freedom, and civilized values have enemies in this world, as we have been reminded by events in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

We have all seen images of our flag being burned and our embassies under attack by vicious mobs. The worst of it is the loss of four good men, including our ambassador to Libya. They were there for the most peaceful purposes in service to our country. And today our country honors their lives and grieves with their families.

All of us are watching events closely, but we know who America is dealing with in these attacks. They are extremists who operate by violence and intimidation. And the least equivocation or mixed signal only makes them bolder.

Look across that region today, and what do we see?

– The slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria.

– Mobs storming American embassies and consulates.

– Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon.

– Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.

Amid all these threats and dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership.

In the days ahead, and in the years ahead, American foreign policy needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose. Only by the confident exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome.

That is how we keep problems abroad from becoming crises. That is what keeps the peace. And that is what we will have in a Romney-Ryan administration.

In the all-important election of 2012, values voters are also economic voters. This election will hold the incumbent accountable for his economic failures, and affirm the pro-growth agenda of Mitt Romney.

It is true that President Obama had a lot of problems not of his own making. But he also came in with one-party rule, and the chance to do everything of his own choosing. The Obama economic agenda failed, not because it was stopped, but because it was passed.

And here is what we got: Prolonged joblessness across the country. Twenty-three million Americans struggling to find work. Family income in decline. Fifteen percent of Americans living in poverty.

The record is so uniformly bad that maybe you’ve noticed something: President Obama himself almost never even uses the word “record,” – that is, except when he’s trying to trade on the record of Bill Clinton. In his convention speech, the President never once said that simple word, “record.”

He didn’t say the word “stimulus,” either, because he wasted $831 billion of borrowed money. At a time of mass unemployment, he didn’t even say “unemployment,” because we’re in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. And by the way, he didn’t use the word “recovery,” either – never mind that recovery was what all America expected from Barack Obama.

He wants us to forget all of these things, and lately he’s been trying out a new tactic. It’s a classic Barack Obama straw man: If anyone dares to point out the facts of his record, why then, they’re just being negative and pessimistic about the country. The new straw man is people hoping for the decline of America.

It’s pretty sad, but this is the closest President Obama can come these days to sounding positive himself. But we have to face up to all that has gone wrong these past four years, so that the next four can be better. Ladies and gentlemen, this nation cannot afford to make economic failure a two-term proposition.

Lately, the President has also been trying out sports comparisons. He compares this fourth year of his term to the fourth quarter of a basketball game.

You can expect more of this, because if there’s anything the man can do, it’s talk a good game. The only problem is, the clock is running out and he still hasn’t put any points on the board.

His whole case these days is basically asking us to forget what he promised four years ago, and focus instead on his new promises. That’s a fast move to get around accountability. He made those ringing promises to get elected.

Without them, he wouldn’t be president. And now he acts as if it is unfair to measure his performance against his own words. But here’s the question: If Barack Obama’s promises weren’t good then, what good are they now?

If we renew the contract, we will get the same deal – with only one difference: In a second term, he will never answer to you again.

In so many ways, starting with Obamacare, re-electing this president would set in motion things that can never be called back. It would be a choice to give up so many other choices.

When all the new mandates of government-run healthcare come down, the last thing the regulators will want to hear is your opinion. When the Obama tax increases start coming, nobody in Washington is going to ask whether you can afford them or not.

When all the new borrowing brings our national debt to 20 trillion dollars, and then 25 trillion, nobody’s going to ask you about the debt crisis, or even help you prepare for it. But we the people need to think ahead, even if our current president will not, to avoid that crisis while there is still time.

Everyone knows that President Obama inherited a bad economy. And four months from now, when Mitt Romney is sworn in as president, he will inherit a bad economy.

But here’s the difference. When a Romney-Ryan administration takes office, we will also take responsibility. Instead of dividing up the wealth, our new president will get America creating wealth again.

We’re going to revive free enterprise in this country – to get our economy growing faster and our people back to work.

On the path this president has set, by the time my kids are my age, the federal government will be far bigger and more powerful even than it is today. At that point, this land of free men and women will have become something it was never intended to be.

We are expected to meekly submit to this fate, but I’ve got a different idea, and I’m betting that most Americans share it. I want my children to make their own choices, to define happiness for themselves, and to use the gifts that God gave them and live their lives in freedom.

Say things like this, and our opponents will quickly accuse you of being, quote, “anti-government.” President Obama frames the debate this way because, here again, it’s the only kind of debate he can win – against straw-man arguments.

No politician is more skilled at striking heroic poses against imaginary adversaries. Nobody is better at rebuking nonexistent opinions. Barack Obama does this all the time, and in this campaign we are calling him on it.

The President is given to lectures on all that we owe to government, as if anyone who opposes his reckless expansion of federal power is guilty of ingratitude and rank individualism.

He treats private enterprise as little more than a revenue source for government. He views government as the redistributor and allocator of opportunity.

Well, the results are in for that, too. Here we are, after four years of economic stewardship under these self-proclaimed advocates of the poor, and what do they have to show for it?

More people in poverty, and less upward mobility wherever you look. After four years of dividing people up with the bogus rhetoric of class warfare, just about every segment of society is worse off.

To see all this played out in any country would be bad enough. To see it becoming the daily experience of life in the United States is utterly contrary to everything we are entitled to expect.

Mitt Romney knows that this country, and all the millions who are waiting for their working lives to begin again, were made for better things.

To borrow the words of another mentor of mine, Jack Kemp, Mitt and I understand that “No government in history has been able to do for people what they have been able to do for themselves, when they were free to follow their hopes and dreams.”

Under the current President, we are at risk of becoming a poor country, because he looks to government as the great benefactor in every life.

Our opponents even have a new motto. They say, quote, “Government is the only thing that we all belong to.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought of government as something I belong to. As a matter of fact, on the seven occasions I’ve been sworn in as a Member of Congress, I have never taken an oath to the government.

The oath that all of us take is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, under which government is limited and the people are sovereign.

In the experience of real life, the most important things we belong to have a very different hold on us. I am a Catholic, not because anyone has ordered me to accept a creed, but because of the grace and truth revealed in my faith – and that’s how we all feel about the faiths we hold.

In the same way, we Americans give ourselves to every kind of good cause. We do so for the simple reason that our hearts and conscience have called us to work that needs doing, to fill a place that sometimes no one else can fill.

It’s like that with our families and communities, too. The whole life of this nation is carried forward every day by the endless unselfish things people do for one another, without even giving it much thought.

In books, they call this civil society. In my own experience, I know it as Janesville, Wisconsin – a place, like ten thousand others, where a lot of good happens without government commanding it, directing it, or claiming credit for it.

That’s how life is supposed to work in a free country. And nothing undermines the essential and honorable work of government more than the abuse of government power.

In the President’s telling, government is a big, benevolent presence – gently guiding our steps at every turn. In reality, when government enters the picture, private institutions are so often brushed aside with suspicion or even contempt.

This is what happened to the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities this past January, when the new mandates of Obamacare started coming. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told, from now on you’re going to do things the government’s way.

Ladies and gentlemen, you would be hard pressed to find another group in America that does more to serve the health of women and their babies than the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities. And now, suddenly, we have Obamacare bureaucrats presuming to dictate how they will do it.

As Governor Romney has said, this mandate is not a threat and insult to one religious group – it is a threat and insult to every religious group. He and I are honored to stand with you – people of faith and concerned citizens – in defense of religious liberty.

And I can assure you, when Mitt Romney is elected, we will get to work – on day one – to repeal that mandate and all of Obamacare.

Finally, when he tries to make big government sound reasonable and inclusive, President Obama likes to say, “We’re all in this together.” And here, too, he has another handy straw man.

Anyone who questions the wisdom of his policies must be lacking in compassion. Who else would question him but those mean people who think that everybody has to go it alone and fend for themselves.

“We’re all in this together” – it has a nice ring. For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious. Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born.

Giving up any further pretense of moderation on this issue, and in complete disregard of millions of pro-life Democrats, President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party.

In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” But that was a different time, and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion – at any time, under any circumstances, and even at taxpayer expense.

When you get past all of the President’s straw men, what we believe is plain to state: These vital questions should be decided, not by the caprice of unelected judges, but by the conscience of the people and their elected representatives. And in this good-hearted country, we believe in showing compassion for mother and child alike.

We don’t write anyone off in America, especially those without a voice. Every child has a place and purpose in this world. Everyone counts, and in a just society the law should stand on the side of life.

So much of our history has been a constant striving to live up to the ideals of our founding, about rights and their ultimate source. At our opponent’s convention, a rowdy dispute broke out over the mere mention of that source.

For most of us, it was settled long ago that our rights come from nature and nature’s God, not from government.

A disregard for rights … a growing government and a static economy … a country where everything is free but us: This is where it is all tending.

This is where we are being taken by the present administration. This is the road we are on. But my friends, that road has an exit, just ahead, and it is marked “Tuesday, November 6, 2012.”

We can be confident in the rightness of our cause, and also in the integrity and readiness of the man who leads it.

He’s solid and trustworthy, faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best.

Not only a fine businessman, he is a fine man, worthy of leading our country, and ready to lead the great turnaround we have spent four years waiting for.

I’m not the only one who has told Mitt that maybe he needs to talk more about himself and his life.

It wouldn’t hurt if voters knew more of those little things that reveal a man’s heart and his character. This is a guy who, at the height of a successful business, turned the entire company into a search and rescue operation the moment he heard that a colleague’s young daughter was missing.

He’s a man who could easily have contented himself with giving donations to needy causes, but everyone who knows him will tell you that Mitt has always given himself.

He’s one of those guys who doesn’t just exhort and oversee good works, but shows up and does the work.

Mitt Romney is the type we’ve all run into in our own communities, the man who’s there right away when there’s need, but never first in line when praise and credit are being handed out. He’s a modest man with a charitable heart, a doer and a promise-keeper.

He’s the kind of person every community could use more of, and he’ll be the kind of president who brings out the best in our country.

When he asked me to join the ticket, I told Governor Romney, “Let’s get this done.” That’s been my message ever since, and now I’m asking all of you the same.

We know what we are up against. We know how desperate our opponents are to cling to power. But we are ready, and I hope you are too, because I know that we can do this.

Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of our country. Let’s put these divisive years behind us. Let’s give this effort everything we have. Let’s get this done, and elect Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.

Thank you very much.

Environmental group names Paul Ryan a ‘dirty air villain’

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and four other Wisconsin lawmakers are among those who vote “dirty,” according to an analysis from an environmental group.

Ryan is the Republican nominee for vice president. He also represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District and is running for re-election to the House.

The National Resources Defense Council Action Fund, in a news release, says Ryan is a “dirty voter” for his record – 13 anti-environmental votes – and for accepting $402,831 in “polluter contributions.”

The NRDC, in an analysis released on Sept. 12, identified 193 House members and 39 senators as “dirty air villains” for voting against clean air protections. The other lawmakers from Wisconsin to make the list are U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble and James Sensenbrenner and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

“Our analysis reveals the full extent of big polluters’ reach into Congress, where some members, especially in the Tea party-influenced House, do not miss a single opportunity to side with the dirty industry, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves,” said Heather Taylor, director of the NRDC Action Fund.

The analysis also identified 99 House members and 43 senators as “clean air heroes,” including one in Wisconsin – U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

The NRDC review looked at 13 clean air votes in the House and four votes in the Senate, as well as campaign contributions. All the villains in the House are Republicans. In the Senate, there are two Democrats and 37 Republicans on the list.

Among the heroes, all are Democrats except two, who are independents.

On the Web…

To find the records of other lawmakers and see voting details go to www.WhoVotesDirty.org.