Who is he: Paul Ryan is the Republican Party's 2012 candidate for US vice president, US Representative for Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District since 1999 and a noted congressional "conservative." Ryan began to climb in the political ranks when he became Congressman Jack Kemp's speechwriter during Kemp's 1996 campaign for President. Ryan worked for neoconservative Kansas Senator Sam Brownback as legislative director in 1997.
In 2008, Ryan introduced legislation entitled the Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2008, which outlined an entitlement issue plan. The stated objectives of the plan were to ensure access to universal healthcare and to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But the bill also included points that would lift the debt for future generations, create more jobs and promote economic growth. The bill didn't pass out of committee so in 2009 Ryan introduced his alternative to the 2010 United States Federal Budget.
Ryan's proposal lowered the top tax rate to 25%, eliminated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and introduced an 8.5% value-added consumption tax. Additionally, it imposed a five-year freeze on all discretionary spending. Ryan's bill also advocated replacing the Medicare system with a system that would pay half of the cost of private medical insurance for individuals turning 65 in 2021.
In Ryan's bill, individuals could also opt out of the federal income tax system, which is based on itemized deductions. Taxpayers could choose a plan that would be based on a 10% flat tax rate on the first $100,000 of adjusted gross income and a tax rate of 25% over that amount. Ryan's plan was criticized by political opponents who said it lacked concrete figures that would support an adequate revenue return. The House rejected it.
Paul Ryan released a new version of his 'Roadmap' plan in 2010. That plan provided tax cuts by reducing income tax rates and eliminating income taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains. It also abolished the estate tax, the corporate income tax and the alternative minimum tax. The plan also privatizes a portion of Social Security. In 2011, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan introduced another plan called The Path to Prosperity to counter the budget proposals of President Barack Obama.
Background: Paul Davis Ryan, Jr. was born on January 29, 1970. Ryan is a fifth-generation Wisconsinite and the great-grandson of Patrick W. Ryan, the founder in 1884 of Ryan Incorporated Central Construction Company. Ryan is the youngest son of Betty and Paul Murray Ryan, who became a lawyer instead of a construction executive.
Ryan was raised in Janesville, Wisconsin and attended high school there. At 16 he found his father dead in bed from a heart attack, the same fate his grandfather and great-grandfather had experienced in their mid-fifties. Ryan started saving the Social Security checks he received after his father's death for college expenses and tuition and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a B.A. in political science and economics in 1992.
During his junior year of college, Ryan got a job opening mail for the foreign affairs advisor assigned to Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten. In the early years of his political career Ryan moonlighted at part-time jobs such as waiter and fitness instructor. Ryan accepted a congressional position as a staff economist attached to Bob Kasten's office immediately after graduating in 1992.
When Kasten was defeated later that year Ryan took a position with Empower America as a volunteer economic analyst. That group was formed by former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kilpatrick and Minnesota Congressional Representative Vin Weber.
During his first congressional campaign in 1998, Ryan worked as a marketing consultant for an earth-moving company owned by another member of the family. Ryan was elected to the House of Representatives that year. In order to stay in touch will all the people in his district he converted a truck into a rolling office so he could visit his constituents in out-of-the-way places in the district.
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