If you were already familiar with Mitt Romney's new running mate before today's announcement (and last week's New Yorker profile) it's likely because of his controversial budget plan. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan put forth a dramatic proposal this year to cut the U.S. government's deficit by $4.4 trillion over 10 years. Ryan's plan, dubbed "The Path to Prosperity," distinguishes itself from President Obama's budget by cutting many government programs that serve the poor in order to save money and by lowering taxes for the wealthy. Ryan’s proposal would also repeal Obamacare and make sweping changes to Medicaid and Medicare, creating voucher systems for health care. Mitt Romney applauded the budget proposal, literally, and it has recently become known, particularly by Democratic opponents, as the Romney-Ryan plan.
It probably comes has little surprise that the conservative Ryan is opposed to abortion in almost all situations other than to save a mother's life. Back in 2010, Ryan wrote a paper for The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, contradicting Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels's plea for politicians to "call a truce on social issues." In the paper, Ryan declared, "You're not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they're unavoidable, and I'm never not going to vote pro-life."
When it comes to gay rights, Ryan is not exactly an advocate. While he has voted to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual preference, Ryan has also voted both to define marriage as between one man and woman and for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He also voted to ban gay adoptions in D.C., opposed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and opposed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a law signed by President Obama that expands the federal definition of hate crimes to apply to cases of bias against sexual orientation. The Human Rights Campaign has given him a 0-percent rating on their congressional scorecard for his anti-gay record.
In keeping with his stance on gay rights, Ryan has voted against enforcing hate crimes based on sexual orientation. When it comes to other kinds of crimes, he's pretty tough. He's voted against creating more services to help criminals re-enter society and opposed funding that would go towards alternative sentencing as opposed to building more prisons. He also voted yes to increase prosecution and sentencing of juveniles.
Unlike some of his colleagues, Paul Ryan, in his 2013 budget, does not call for an outright appeal of Dodds-Frank, the Democrat-sponsored law that set up new financial regulations in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis—though he did opposite it while it was a bill. Ryan recommends a “review” of the law. One thing he wants to get rid of is the federal government’s resolution authority, which allows it to break up big banks deemed “Too Big to Fail.” Ryan says that will only lead to more bailouts. Elsewhere, Ryan concedes that the government does have a role to play in ensuring fair markets, and at one point in 2012 appeared to express sympathy for the Volcker Rule, which prohibits big banks from engaging in risky trades.
Climate-change and environmental activisits are unlikely to give high marks to Ryan, who has voted to eliminate EPA limits on greenhouse gases, cancel a ban on incandescent light bulbs, and go ahead with construction of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline. On his Web site, Ryan does note that “strong conservation programs” are important to him, but laments that federal spending in that area has climbed during the Obama administration. Ryan calls for more domestic energy production and “market-based solutions.” Ryan opposed a cap-and-trade program on energy in 2009, calling it “job-killing.”
Gun remain a hot topic in the wake of a shooting at Sikh temple last week in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. The congressman has an A rating from the NRA, representing a firm stance in favor of gun rights. Ryan has voted to decrease waiting periods to buy guns and to prohibit suing gun manufacturers for misuse of their products. Oh, and he supports Young Guns, too: that’s the name of a 2010 manifesto, written with fellow Rep. Eric Cantor, urging reform in the Republican party.