Paul Ryan's Voting Record In Opposition To His Belief In Small Government
A casual look at MSNBC will tell you that he’s an anti-government fanatic hell-bent on taking away your grandmother’s healthcare. Meanwhile, Fox News will try to convince you that he’s the Messiah, sent to rescue America from the communists and heathens. A female friend of mine even described him as "only like the hottest Vice Presidential candidate ever."
But Paul Ryan represents a lot more than a personal trainer and workout buff turned budget hawk. As a seven-term congressman, Ryan has a pretty lengthy voting record - one that can tell you a great deal about his beliefs, his principles and the types of policies he’d likely support as Vice President. Of the thousands of votes Ryan has taken over the years, none tells us more about him than his 1999 vote for Amendment 356 to House Resolution 2587.
To understand the significance of this particular vote, you have to know a little bit about the way government works for the District of Columbia. You see, D.C. is a very unique part of the country for one particular reason: it's not a state. Which means that despite the fact that its population is larger than that of Wyoming, it has no U.S. Senators, and it only has one non-voting member of the House of Representatives. And even though it doesn't get to elect voting members of the House or Senate, those two bodies still get to pass special legislation that applies only to the District.
So why does H.R. 2587 tell us so much about Paul Ryan, and what does it have to do with D.C.’s place in government?
Well, first of all, H.R. 2585 was one of those special bills debated by Congress that only applied to D.C. This particular bill would have banned gay couples from adopting children in the District of Columbia. Ryan’s support for Amendment 356 to this bill paints a very vivid picture of his character, but not for the reason that first comes to mind.
You see, Congressman Ryan is a firm believer in allowing local governments to determine their own policies without federal intervention. In fact, the concept of limited federal involvement in states' issues appears no fewer than 20 times in Ryan’s "Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint For American Renewal." That’s because Ryan belongs to the wing of the Republican party that believes the federal government should be tiny and restrained, leaving the real policymaking to be done at the local and state levels. He outlines this idea in his most recent budget proposal:
"The Founders met this challenge by designing a Constitution of enumerated powers, giving the federal government broad authority over only those matters that must have a single national response while sharply restricting its authority to intrude on those spheres of activity better left to the states and the people."
So, unless I'm misinterpreting the meaning of "single national response," then Congressman Ryan’s support for legislation that limits the rights of citizens in D.C., and only those citizens, is a violation of the constitution. Ryan’s entire philosophy of government, and the reason he can justify draconian cuts to the social safety net, is based on his belief in a small federal government that leaves most activities and regulations to the people.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A one time break from your own philosophy doesn’t make you a phony - it's an aberration. Everyone breaks their own rules at one point or another, right?
Well, I guess that would be a valid argument - if Ryan hadn't voted to strip D.C.'s mayor and city council of the authority to enact gun laws, or if he hadn’t voted to ban D.C.'s needle-exchange program. We also probably shouldn’t forget about the bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. that he co-sponsored.
These votes, and the other dozen like them, represent a pattern, one that differs drastically from the vision of Paul Ryan that the Romney campaign would have you see. The brave Wisconsin congressman, who stands up to big government and opposes any policy that expands federal power, only seems to do so when it suits him.
So, come November, when people ask me why I’m not voting for Romney-Ryan, I’ll tell them maybe it’s because I want my parents to receive Medicare one day. Or maybe it's because I think his views on family are outdated and discriminatory. Or maybe it's because I think Paul Ryan is a fraud.