Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big talker Ryan has a long record of non-achievement after 12 years in House

Paul Ryan, the new right-wing fiscal hero, is a smooth talker who's been a total failure as a doer in Congress.

Elected in 1998, here's what he has to show for his first six terms -- 12 years! -- in Congress. Two bills he authored have become law. Count 'em, two.

One named the post office in Janesville after the late congressman Les Aspin, the Democrat who represented Ryan's district and went on to serve as Secretary of Defense. (HR 4241, introduced 4/11/2000; Public Law 106-242)

Getting Congress to agree to name a post office for one of its former members doesn't require a legislative genius at the helm.

The other was to modify the tax code regarding arrow components
(HR 5394, introduced 11/19/2004; Public Law 108-493. Yes, arrow components. Research might turn up his rationale or reasons for his interest (a company in his district, a campaign donor, whatever), but hardly seems worth the effort.

OK, to be fair, he's also had four amendments passed to bills that became law. None of them were earth-shaking. One of his big successes, in 2007:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide additional rotating pastel lights, zero-gravity chairs, or dry-heat saunas for its fitness center.

That was so non-controversial it passed on a voice vote.

Yes, he's the author of the Republican budget that passed the House this year, but that was dead before arrival in the Senate and there was never any chance it would become law. It was simply an exercise to show what Republicans stood for. And in adopting Ryan's plan, the GOP became the party that stands for ending Medicare as we know it and replacing it with a voucher program of sorts that would cost seniors a lot more money.

It's true that the GOP hasn't been in total control of the government during Ryan's tenure. But for six years, with George W. Bush in the White House andn the GOP in control of Congress, Ryan didn't fare any better. In fact, in two of the three sessions with the Rs in charge, Ryan passed nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So after 12 years in the House he has passed two more bills than his Democratic opponent, Rob Zerban, who has never served.

One question for 1st District voters next year might be whether they are satisfied being represented by a big talker, a pretty face who's become a media darling, or whether they'd prefer someone who might actually do what it takes to get something accomplished.

(Research was done by John Heckenlively at Ryanwatch. There's a recap of his votes every week. Check it out.

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