Paul Ryan’s Poverty Plan: Stop Being Poor

Five years to the day after our last national minimum wage increase, Paul Ryan is set to lay out a “new” six-pillared poverty plan. Ryan has long preached about how to tackle poverty and fashions himself as a serious politician and policy wonk. But if you believe that, I’ve got a 2 hour marathon time to sell you!

Here are the six tenets of Paul Ryan’s poverty plan, as told by his career rather than his rhetoric:

  1. Never Raise The Minimum Wage. Time and time again, Ryan has voted against raising the wage for hardworking Americans, and even argued that doing so would actually harm low income Americans.
  2. Oppose Unemployment Insurance. Since 2010, in the depths of the Great Recession, Ryan has voted at least six times against extending unemployment benefits for American job-seekers.
  3. Gut Medicaid, Leaving Low-Income Americans Uninsured. Ryan’s most recent budget would take an ax to Medicaid, taking health care away from between 14.3 and 20.5 million low income Americans.
  4. Slash Nutrition Assistance Programs. The FY15 Ryan Budget would slash an astonishing $137 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, which lifted 4 million Americans out of poverty in 2012. Almost half of SNAP recipients are children.
  5. Fight Against Protections For Low-Income Consumers. Ryan has consistently taken the side of big banks and credit card companies over Americans fighting to stay afloat, even after the 2008 financial crisis.
  6. Divisively Demonize The Poor For Their Situation. As if his policy attacks on low-income Americans weren’t offensive enough, Ryan infamously blamed poverty in part on the “real culture problem” of “inner city” men who don’t want to work.

Paul Ryan can say whatever he wants about poverty today. But it’s akin to a lesson on fire safety from the cow who kicked over the lantern.

Check out his record for yourself.

Ryan On The Minimum Wage

Ryan Opposed Raising The Federal Minimum Wage

Ryan Argued That Raising The Minimum Wage Could Harm Poor Americans. According to The Courier-Journal, “Republicans already have signaled their opposition to the latest push, raising concerns that a higher minimum wage would force business owners to cut workers’ hours, slash jobs and raise prices. GOP lawmakers – including potential 2016 presidential candidates Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – have argued that raising the minimum wage could harm more than help America’s poorest.” [The Courier-Journal, 2/5/14]

Ryan Had A History Of Opposing Minimum Wage Increases

Ryan Said He Opposed A “Stand Alone” Increase In Minimum Wage, Saying It Would Cause Job Loss. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Among Wisconsin House Republicans, Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls is against raising the minimum wage, saying it would cost low-income people jobs because of the added burden on business. Green Bay Republican Mark Green, who is running for governor, said he could support an increase if it’s tied to tax relief for businesses. Janesville’s Paul Ryan said the same thing. Ryan said he would oppose a ‘stand-alone’ wage increase ‘because then you have job losses.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/30/06]

Ryan Opposed Minimum Wage Increase. In 2007, Ryan voted against increasing the minimum wage by $2.10 an hour to $7.25 an hour. The measure passed 218-212 [Roll Call 186, H 1591, 03/23/2007; CQ House Action Reports, No. 110-3]
Ryan Opposed Fair Minimum Wage Act. In 2007, Ryan voted against an increase to the federal minimum wage by $2.10 over two years — from the previous level of $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. The bill passed 315-116. [Roll Call 18, H 2, 01/10/2007]
Ryan Voted Against An Amendment To Increase The Minimum Wage By $1 Over A 2 Year Period. On March 9, 2000 Ryan voted against an amendment to HR 3846 that would increase the minimum wage by $1 over a two year period. Originally the bill increased the minimum wage by $1 over a 3 year period. The amendment passed 246-179. The bill passed the house 282-143. [Roll Call 43, H 3846, 03/09/2000]

Ryan’s History Of Opposing Unemployment Insurance

2012: Ryan Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. On February 17, 2012, Ryan voted against the conference report on the bill that would extend the 4.2 percent employee payroll tax rate through 2012. It also would renew long-term unemployment benefits into January 2013, with three stages of reductions. The current Medicare reimbursement rate for physicians would be preserved through 2012, preventing a scheduled 27.4 percent payment cut. The cost of the legislation would be partially offset by requiring larger pension payments from newly hired federal employees and from lawmakers, by auctioning blocks of electromagnetic spectrum used by television broadcasters and by reducing funds for certain programs tied to the 2010 health care overhaul. According to Congressional Quarterly Today, “In addition to the 10-month extension of the current Social Security payroll tax cut, the conference report (H Rept 112-399) for the measure calls for extending federal unemployment insurance benefits and includes a provision to prevent a cut in Medicare payments to physicians known as the “doc fix” through Dec. 31, 2012. The current, two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and doc fix expire Feb. 29. Adoption in both chambers sends the measure to President Obama, who has promised to sign it. […] Through the agreement, lawmakers avoided a politically perilous lapse of the tax cut enjoyed by the nearly 160 million American workers and compromised on restructuring existing unemployment law.” [Roll Call 72, H 3630, 02/17/2012; Congressional Quarterly Today, 2/17/12]

2010: Ryan Voted Against An Extension Of Unemployment Benefits Because It Increased The National Debt. According to The Janesville Gazette, “Rep. Paul Ryan, R-1st District, issued a statement last week, challenging the claim by General Motors and the Obama administration that GM has paid off its bailout loan from the federal government. […]’If anyone is owed a clear and honest explanation, it is those hit hardest by the downturn in the auto industry, including those I serve in Janesville, Kenosha, Oak Creek and the surrounding communities in southern Wisconsin,’ Ryan said. […]Ryan’s statement raised questions with some, however, who asked why he voted last month against a bill to extend unemployment compensation if he is so concerned for the laid-off workers in his district. […]Ryan said his vote signaled his displeasure with a measure that increases the national debt. ‘If this legislation was paid for, I would have gladly supported it,’ Ryan said. ‘However, rather than prioritizing spending to offset the cost of this bill, the majority irresponsibly decided to borrow an additional $18.1 billion to pay for it.’” [The Janesville Gazette, 5/3/10]

Ryan Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. On November 18, 2010 Ryan voted against extending eligibility for expanded unemployment benefits through Feb. 28, 2011. It also would extend federal funding to states for the costs of additional unemployment benefits through March 1, 2011. According to the Associated Press, “Republicans in the House on Thursday blocked a bill that would have extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed beyond the holiday season. An extension of jobless benefits enacted this summer expires Dec. 1, and unless they are renewed, two million people will lose benefits averaging $310 a week nationwide by the end of December. The failed measure would have extended jobless benefits through the end of February at a cost of adding $12.5 billion to the nation’s debt. Republicans opposing the legislation said the measure should be paid for by cutting unspent money from last year’s economic stimulus bill.” [Roll Call 579, H 6419, 11/18/2010; Associated Press, 11/19/10]

Ryan Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. On July 22, 2010 Ryan voted to block a bill that would extend eligibility for extended federal unemployment insurance until Nov. 30, 2010, applied retroactively to June 2. According to the Washington Post, the bill would “provide unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless through November, with the $34 billion cost added to the national debt. The bill funds payments to those who have exhausted their initial 26-week allotments of state-funded jobless benefits and delivers lump-sum retroactive payments to qualified individuals who lost eligibility after June 2. The bill keeps 99 weeks as the maximum eligibility period for receiving state-federal unemployment compensation.” [Roll Call 463, H 4213, 07/22/2010; Washington Post 7/25/10]

Ryan Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. On July 1, 2010 Ryan voted against the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act. Congressional Quarterly reported that “the House backed legislation on Thursday that would revive expired unemployment benefits, but the measure will have to wait until after the Independence Day recess for Senate action. The House passed the bill (HR 5618), as amended, 270-153, but recent Senate efforts to move companion legislation have come up short.” Specifically, the bill would extend through Nov. 30, 2010, and make retroactive to June 2, eligibility for unemployment insurance for laid-off workers and 100 percent federal funding for extended jobless benefits. States could not reduce their regular unemployment compensation programs below June 2 levels to be eligible for the funding. [Roll Call 423, H 5618, 07/01/2010]

Ryan Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. On April 15, 2010, Ryan voted against the motion to concur in the Senate amendment to the bill that would extend for two months federal unemployment benefits, flood insurance programs, increased payment rates to Medicare providers and COBRA health care premium assistance. According to the Washington Post, the “bill providing about $12 billion to pay for an extension until June 2 of jobless checks for hundreds of thousands of people whose benefits expired April 4. Costing $18 billion overall, the bill also would provide short-term funding of COBRA health insurance for the jobless, transportation projects, national flood insurance, small-business loan programs and Medicare payments to doctors, among other measures.” [Roll Call 211, H 4851, 04/15/2010; Washington Post 4/18/2010]

2008: Ryan Voted against Extension of Unemployment Benefits. In 2008, Ryan voted against an amendment that would provide extended unemployment benefits for people out of work longer than six months. The amendment appropriated $21.2 billion for domestic programs, military construction and foreign aid programs. It would provide $4.6 billion for military construction and $5.8 billion for levee building in Louisiana. The amendment would provide a permanent expansion of education benefits for post-Sept. 11 veterans, offset with a 0.47 percent surtax on modified adjusted gross income above $500,000 per year for individuals and $1 million for couples. It also would temporarily extend unemployment insurance benefits and place a moratorium through March 2009 on seven Medicaid regulations proposed by the administration. It would appropriate $9.9 billion for the State Department, USAID and international food assistance. The amendment passed 256-166. [Roll Call 330, H 2642, 05/15/2008; Congressional Quarterly, Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 5/16/08]

2005: Ryan Supported $430 Million in Cuts to Job Training, Unemployment Assistance. In 2005, Ryan voted in favor of the Labor, HHS & Education appropriations conference report that cut $1.5 billion from key domestic priorities. The measure cut a program helping people find jobs by $89 million, cut youth and adult job training grants by $67 million and cut funds for offices that help unemployed workers obtain benefits by $141 million. The bill also cut an initiative the helps eradicate abusive child labor and protect worker rights and wages around the world by $20 million. The bill failed 209-224. [Roll Call 598, H 3010, 11/17/2005; House Appropriations Committee Democratic Staff, “Summary of the Conference Agreement – HR 3010,” 11/16/05]

2003: Ryan Voted Against Increasing Length Of Unemployment Benefits. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “House votes: * Extension of Temporary Unemployment Compensation Act (S. 23): The House on Jan. 8 rejected a motion, by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., to amend the unemployment insurance bill to increase the amount of time unemployed people can receive benefits. Proponents argued that the federal program should give benefits for more than 13 weeks, because people are having trouble finding jobs quickly. Opponents argued that longer-term unemployment measures would be included in an economic stimulus package. The vote was 202 yeas to 224 nays. REPUBLICANS: Green N, Petri N, Ryan N,, Sensenbrenner N DEMOCRATS: Baldwin Y, Kleczka Y, Obey Y.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/12/03]

Ryan Proposed Cuts To SNAP Benefits

2014: FY 15 Ryan Budget Would Cut SNAP By An Estimated $137 Billion Over 10 Years, Leading To Millions Of Americans Having Their SNAP Benefits Cut Or Losing Their SNAP Eligibility Entirely. In April 2014, [LastName] voted [for/against] House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2015 to 2024. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $137 billion — 18 percent — over the next ten years (2015-2024), which would necessitate ending food assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or some combination of the two.  Chairman Ryan proposed similarly deep SNAP cuts in each of his last three budgets.” The House adopted the budget resolution by a vote of 219 to 205. [House Vote 177, 4/10/14; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/4/14]

  • Ryan Budget Would Eliminate Benefits For 3.8 Million Low-Income Americans By Implementing The Major SNAP Program Changes Passed By The House In September 2013 That Would Cut SNAP By $12 Billion Over Three Years; These Proposals Were Not Included In The Final 2014 Farm Bill. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan’s budget “includes every major benefit cut in a House-passed version of the recent farm bill that Congress ultimately rejected when enacting the final farm bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the House cuts, which amount to $12 billion over the 2015-2018 period, would have terminated benefits to 3.8 million low-income people in 2014.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/4/14]
  • Beginning In 2019, Ryan Would Transform SNAP Into A Block Grant Program That Would Be Funded So As To Cut $125 Billion From The Programs Costs Between 2019 And 2024. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan’s budget “would convert SNAP into a block grant beginning in 2019 and cut funding steeply — by $125 billion (or almost 30 percent) over 2019 to 2024.  States would be left to decide whose benefits to reduce or terminate.  They would have no good choices — the program already provides an average of only $1.40 per person per meal, primarily to poor children, working-poor parents, seniors, people with disabilities, and others struggling to make ends meet.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/4/14]
  • 2013: House Proposed SNAP Cuts That Included Eliminating A State’s Ability To Waive SNAP’s Work Requirements For Childless Adults Living In Areas Of High Unemployment. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The legislation (H.R. 3102) incorporates all of the SNAP cuts and other nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House leaders sought unsuccessfully to pass in June [2013], which would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over ten years. It also adds new provisions designed to cut at least another $19 billion in benefits, primarily by eliminating states’ ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP’s austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years” (italics omitted). [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/17/13; Congressional Quarterly, 10/7/13]
  • The Bill Eliminated A State’s Ability To Wave Work Requirements In Areas Where There Was High Unemployment. According to Congressional Quarterly, “The bill eliminates the ability of states to waive SNAP work requirements for certain able-bodied adults without dependents in situations where unemployment is high or available jobs don’t exist — but it retains states’ authority to exempt up to 15% of that population from those work requirements.” [Congressional Quarterly, 9/18/13]
  • Provision Would Terminate Assistance For Nearly 2 Million Poor Jobless Individuals Looking For Work. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “The legislation would end the waiver authority immediately, which (in conjunction with other provisions in the bill) would terminate assistance for at least 1.7 million poor jobless individuals who live in high unemployment areas, even if they want to work and are looking hard for a job, but can’t find a job or a place in a work or training program.  As noted above, states do not have to provide work or training slots for these individuals.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/17/13]
  • 50,000 Jobless Veterans Could Lose Food Stamps Due To Elimination Of The Waivers. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “Substantial numbers of low-income veterans are among those who would be affected by the legislation. [. . .] The second is the provision that would require states to terminate food aid after three months to unemployed people aged 18 to 50 not raising minor children who live in areas of high unemployment and cannot find a job or a place in a work or job training program.  According to the Census data, about 50,000 veterans could be at risk of losing SNAP under this provision.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/17/13]

When House Republicans Added SNAP Work Requirements In 1996, They Included Waivers To Limit Requirements’ Impact In A Weak Economy. According to the Center for Budget And Policy Priorities, “A SNAP provision of the 1996 welfare law limits adults between ages 18 and 50 who aren’t disabled or caring for minor children to three months of SNAP benefits out of every three years, unless they are working at least 20 hours per week or participating in a qualifying workfare or job training program. [. . .] To mitigate the provision’s impact when the economy is weak, the provision’s authors (two conservative House Republicans successfully offered it as an amendment on the House floor in 1996) designed it to allow states to request a temporary waiver from the three-month cut-off for areas with high unemployment. [. . .] But the new legislation would eliminate the waiver authority, so it no longer could be used in areas that continue to have high unemployment — or in future recessions.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/17/13]

Medicaid Cuts

2014 Ryan Budget Would Cut Medicaid Funding By 26 Percent

2014: Ryan Budget Would Cut Medicaid Funding By 26 Percent In 2024 By Block Granting The Program And Limiting Future Funding; Cuts Would Be In Addition To Those Caused By Repealing ACA. In April 2014, [LastName] voted [for/against] House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2015 to 2024. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Medicaid block grant proposal in the budget plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on April 1 would cut federal Medicaid (and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP) funding by 26 percent by 2024, because the funding would no longer keep pace with health care costs or with expected Medicaid enrollment growth as the population ages. […] These cuts would come on top of repealing the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion.” The House adopted the budget resolution by a vote of 219 to 205. [House Vote 177, 4/10/14; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/4/14]

  • Urban Institute Analysis Of Similar 2012 Ryan Plan Estimated It Would Lead States To Drop Between 14.3 And 20.5 Million People From Medicaid; Loss Of ACA Medicaid Expansion Would Affect At Least 13 Million People Beyond That. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chairman Ryan claims in his budget plan that the block grant would ease states’ fiscal burdens, improve the safety net for low-income Americans, and provide better access to care among beneficiaries.  In its analysis of the similar block grant from the House’s budget plan in 2012, however, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that unless states increased their own Medicaid funding very substantially to make up for the Ryan plan’s deep Medicaid funding cuts, they would have to take such steps as cutting eligibility, which would lead to more uninsured low-income people; cutting covered health services, which would lead to more underinsured low-income people; and/or cutting the already low payment rates to health care providers, which would likely cause more doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes to withdraw from Medicaid and thereby reduce beneficiaries’ access to care. The Urban Institute similarly estimated that the 2012 block grant proposal would lead states to drop between 14.3 million and 20.5 million people from Medicaid by the tenth year.  (That would be in addition to the 13 million people who would lose their new coverage or no longer gain coverage in the future due to repeal of the Medicaid expansion, with the number rising as high as 17 million if all states take up the expansion.)  More than 40 million people would likely end up losing coverage overall after also taking into account the budget’s repeal of health reform’s exchange subsidies.  The Urban Institute also estimated that the 2012 block grant proposal would have resulted in cuts in reimbursements to health care providers and managed care plans of more than 30 percent by the tenth year.  This year’s proposal in Ryan’s budget would likely result in similarly severe cuts.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/4/14]

Opposed Policies To Make Higher Education More Widely Available To Low Income Students

Ryan Supported Eliminating Pell Grants For Some Part Time Students

2014: FY 15 Ryan Budget Would Eliminate Pell Grants For Students Attending School Less Than Half-Time In Favor Of Students “With A Larger Commitment To Their Education.” In April 2014, [LastName] voted [for/against] House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2015 to 2024, which, according to the House Budget Committee’s Fiscal Year 2015 “Path to Prosperity,” “recommend[ed] […] [e]liminat[ing] eligibility for less-than-half-time students. Funding should be reserved for students with a larger commitment to their education.” The House adopted the budget resolution by a vote of 219 to 205. [House Vote 177, 4/10/14; House Budget Committee, 4/1/14]

Proposed Budget Freezing Pell Grants

2014: FY 15 Ryan Budget Would Freeze Maximum Pell Grant Amount At 2013-2014 Levels For The Next 10 Years. In April 2014, [LastName] voted [for/against] freezing the maximum Pell Grant award level for the next 10 years, as part of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2015 to 2024. According to the House Budget Committee Fiscal Year 2015 “Path to Prosperity,” “Reforms are necessary to enable the [Pell Grant] program to continue helping low-income students gain access to higher education. The budget recommends the following: […] Adopt a sustainable maximum-award level. The Department of Education attributed 25 percent of recent program growth to the $619 increase in the maximum award done in the stimulus bill that took effect in the 2009-10 academic year. To get program costs back to a sustainable level, the budget recommends maintaining the maximum award for the 2013-2014 award year of $5,730 in each year of the budget window. This award would be fully funded through discretionary spending.” The House adopted the budget resolution by a vote of 219 to 205. [House Vote 177, 4/10/14; House Budget Committee, 4/1/14]

  • Ryan’s Budget Ended The Entitlement Portion Of Pell Grants, Meaning That The Actual Amount Available For Pell Grants Each Year Would Depend On The Congressional Appropriations Process. According to the House Budget Committee, “This award would be fully funded through discretionary spending.” [House Budget Committee, 4/1/14]

Proposed Eliminating Interest-Subsidized Federal Loans For Undergraduates

2014: FY 15 Ryan Budget Would Eliminate Interest-Subsidized Federal Loans For Undergraduate Students. In April 2014, [LastName] voted [to eliminate/against eliminating] federal in-school interest subsidies for undergraduate student loans, as part of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2015 to 2024. According to the House Budget Committee Fiscal Year 2015 “Path to Prosperity”: “Accept the Fiscal Commission’s Proposal to Eliminate In-School Interest Subsidies for Undergraduate Students. The federal government focuses aid decisions on family income prior to a student’s enrollment and then provides a number of repayment protections and, in some cases, loan forgiveness after graduation. There is no evidence that in-school interest subsidies are critical to individual matriculation.” The House adopted the budget resolution by a vote of 219 to 205. [House Vote 177, 4/10/14; House Budget Committee, 4/1/14]

Ryan Opposed Laws To Protect Low Income Consumers

Opposed Creation Of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

2010: Ryan Voted Against Creating The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, A Federal Agency That Would Oversee Consumer Financial Products. In June 2010, Ryan voted against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to Congressional Quarterly, the new agency would “oversee consumer financial products.” The vote was on final passage of the conference report., which the House agreed by a vote of 237 to 192. The conference report subsequently passed the Senate and was signed into law by the president. [House Vote 413, 6/30/10; Congressional Quarterly, 6/30/10; Congressional Actions, H.R. 4173]

  • CFPB Given Authority To Enforce Existing Consumer Protection Laws And To Write Rules Addressing Any Future Unfair, Deceptive And Abusive Practices And Consumer Products That It Finds. According to the conference report on the Dodd-Frank Act, “Title X establishes the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau), which will be an independent bureau within the Federal Reserve System. It will be run by a Director who is Presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed. The Bureau will have the authority and accountability to ensure that existing consumer protection laws and regulations are comprehensive, fair, and vigorously enforced. The Bureau will have authority to issue rules applicable to all financial institutions, including depository institutions that offer financial products and services to consumers. It will also have authority to issue rules under existing consumer banking statutes, including the Truth in Lending Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Furthermore, the Bureau will have authority to regulate unfair, deceptive and abusive practices and consumer products that it identifies (UDAP authority). The Bureau also may issue regulations relating to disclosures about consumer financial products and services. Title X also establishes the Bureau as the federal agency with examination and enforcement authority over very large banks and nonbank financial institutions for compliance with the consumer protection laws.” [House Report 111-517, 6/29/10]

Ryan Supported Bank Friendly Bankruptcy Legislation

Ryan Repeatedly Voted In Favor Of Bank- And Credit Card Company-Backed Bankruptcy Overhaul

2005: Ryan Voted To Overhaul The Personal Bankruptcy System By Requiring Debtors Who, Based On A Means Test, Were Deemed Able To Repay Some Or All Of Their Debts, To Do So Instead Of Having Their Debts Discharged. In April 2005, Ryan voted for a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “create[d] a means test tied to the median incomes of individual states to determine whether personal bankruptcy filers were able to repay some or all of their debts. Those deemed able to pay would be pushed into Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which results in a court-ordered repayment plan; those with insufficient assets would be allowed to file under Chapter 7, which erases debts after the forfeiture of certain assets. The bill [] exempt[ed] disabled veterans from the means test if their debts were incurred primarily when they were on active duty or performing homeland defense duties. It also [] [made] a number of debts non-dischargeable, including student loans, child support, alimony and luxury payments over $500 made within three months of a bankruptcy filing.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 302 to 126. As the bill had already passed the Senate, it was then sent to the president, who signed it into law. [House Vote 108, 4/14/05; Congressional Quarterly, 4/14/05; Congressional Actions, S. 256]

  • The Bankruptcy Overhaul Made It More Difficult For Someone To Not Repay Their Debts By Filing For Bankruptcy. According to Congressional Quarterly, “The House cleared legislation to overhaul the federal bankruptcy code Thursday, providing business groups with a long-sought victory while raising concerns among bankruptcy judges who will have to implement the new rules. ‘We think it’s going to be very difficult,’ said David H. Adams, president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, citing problems that could be created by the most significant changes to the system in decades. […] Adams said bankruptcy judges will work with the trustees and lawyers’ groups to prepare the bankruptcy court system, but he is convinced the transition will not be easy. ‘There are many new things that could come up that we haven’t seen before,’ Adams said, calling the provisions a ‘drastic change.’ Sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, the legislation would make it more difficult for debtors to escape repaying their debts by filing for bankruptcy protection. In addition to increasing fees and paperwork requirements, the bill would grant a number of new legal rights to creditors in the bankruptcy process.” [Congressional Quarterly, 4/14/05]
  • Bill Made Private Student Loans Non-Dischargeable In Bankruptcy. According to Baltimore Sun, “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education issued a report on the status of private student loans. Americans owe more than $150 billion on such loans — much less than on federal loans — but these private loans don’t have borrower-friendly repayment plans and they’re poorly understood by those who take them out. When you hear graduates complain about the weight of student loans, it’s the private kind they’re typically talking about. An interesting recommendation by the CFPB and Ed Department is to allow borrowers to discharge private loans in bankruptcy, something banned only recently in the 2005 overhaul of the bankruptcy law.” [Baltimore Sun, 7/20/12]

2004: Ryan Voted To Overhaul Federal Bankruptcy Protection, Including By Requiring Repayment Plans From Debtors Able To Repay $10,000 Or 25 Percent Of Their Debt Over Five Years; Instead Of Wiping Their Debts Out. In January 2004, Ryan voted for for a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] require[d] debtors who [sic: are] able to repay $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, which requires a reorganization of debts under a repayment plan, instead of seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7. A debtor would [have] be[en] limited to a total exemption of $125,000 in home equity for residences purchased within 40 months of a bankruptcy filing. The bill also would [have] ma[d]e permanent and retroactive Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief for farmers.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 265 to 99. Afterwards, the House tried, but failed, to get the Senate to agree to a conference committee on the legislation. [House Vote 10, 1/28/04; Congressional Quarterly, 1/28/04; Congressional Actions, S. 1920]

  • Supporters, Including Banks And Credit Card Companies, Wanted Those With The Ability To Pay Back Some Of Their Debt To Be Required To Do So. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Republican leaders in the House won passage Wednesday of a long-delayed bankruptcy overhaul measure by piggybacking on congressional concerns over the financial plight of the nation’s family farmers. […] The legislation has been a priority of banks and credit card companies since 1997 but has long been opposed by consumer groups and bankruptcy attorneys. Under the bill passed by the House, only those unable to repay at least $10,000, or one-quarter, of their debts over five years could file under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code, which allows debtors to clear unpaid balances after liquidating most of their assets. […] The legislation has been delayed for years as lawmakers have struggled to balance their ability to protect ordinary people from financial ruin against their desire to prevent abuse of bankruptcy laws by those who could make good on their debts.” [Congressional Quarterly, 1/28/04]
  • Opponents Argued That The Bill Would Unfairly Benefit Banks And Credit Card Companies By Making It Harder For Individuals To Get Out Of Debt. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said that the bill “is a significant departure from the current bankruptcy laws that would make it more difficult for individuals to obtain relief from their debts through bankruptcy proceedings. Attorneys practicing in this field would be faced with more complicated technical requirements, and judgment debtors would be faced with additional filing requirements and a ‘means test.’ […] This legislation is simply the wrong measure proffered at the wrong time. It will do nothing to address the critical problems facing our country. It will unfairly benefit the credit card and banking industries, rewarding large financial institutions-those paid for by those least able to afford it. The bill includes an extreme means test to determine whether a family can file for bankruptcy protection that helps them get out of debt, or whether the family must enter into a stringent repayment plan under Chapter 13 of the IRS Code.” [Congressional Record, 1/28/04]

Ryan Voted In Favor Of 2002 Bankruptcy Overhaul Over The Objections Of Abortion Opponents

2002: Ryan Effectively Voted To Require Individuals With Debt To Repay Their Debts Using A Specific Payment System As Well As Limiting The Ability Of Anti-Abortion Protestors To Discharge Fines Through Bankruptcy. In November 2002, Ryan effectively voted for a bill that would have, according to Congressional Quarterly,“require[d] debtors able to repay $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, which requires a reorganization of debts under a repayment plan, instead of seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7.” The bill included provisions that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would have limited the rights of abortion protesters in bankruptcy proceedings. […] The provision that caught their attention was aimed at preventing abortion protesters from filing for bankruptcy in order to avoid paying court-ordered judgments. It resulted from painstaking negotiations between Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who wanted a strict crackdown on such a practice, and Rep. Henry J. Hyde, R-Ill., who has become something of a patron saint of abortion foes.” The vote was on adoption of the rule that would have governed debate on the conference report on the underlying bill. The House rejected the proposed rule by a vote of 172 to 243. [House Vote 478, 11/14/02; Congressional Quarterly, 11/14/02; Congressional Quarterly, 11/30/02; Congressional Actions, H.Res. 606; Congressional Actions, H.R. 333]

  • American Bankruptcy Institute’s Samuel Gerdano: This Vote Is The 108th Congress’ “Abortion Vote.” According to Congressional Quarterly, “Now that the bankruptcy overhaul measure has become entangled in abortion politics — and now that anti-abortion Republicans have shown they can trump the lobbying might of the business community within the GOP — the future of the bankruptcy bill looks bleak. ‘It becomes the 108th Congress’ abortion vote,’ said Samuel J. Gerdano, executive director of the nonpartisan American Bankruptcy Institute. ‘It’s entirely in this other realm, which, if you’re an advocate of the bill, is not very comfortable because you don’t have any control over it.’” [Congressional Quarterly, 11/30/02]
  • Bill Contained More Generalized Version Of Amendment Designed To Prevent Anti-Abortion Protestors, Such As Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, From Using Bankruptcy To Avoid Paying Fines. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The abortion dispute stemmed from a Schumer amendment to the Senate bill–not included in the House version–aimed at preventing abortion opponents from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying fines imposed as a result of violent protests at abortion clinics. That tactic has been used by some abortion protesters in recent years, including Randall Terry of Operation Rescue. Fighting the Schumer amendment was Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), who opposed the idea of singling out abortion protesters for special stipulations. The compromise uses more general terms, barring the use of bankruptcy to avoid fines incurred for blocking access to any lawful facility or activity.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/02]
  • Some Opponents Said That Even Generalized Version In Conference Report Was Too Close To Free Access To Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act Language And Would Therefore Target Anti-Abortion Protestors.  According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Pitts, (R-Pa) said, “Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in opposition to this rule and make it clear that I support bankruptcy reform laws very much. But not this version, not with these words that have been inserted by the conference. They did take the reference to the FACE Act, standing for Free Access to Clinic Entrances, meaning an abortion clinic, that was passed in 1994; and we have the FACE language here in white and the identical words are in the bankruptcy reform bill. They did change ‘reproductive health services’ to ‘lawful goods or services.’ That is the one change. The key words are ‘interferes with’ or ‘physical obstruction.’ Under FACE, peaceful pro-life protesters are being arrested and sentenced to jail for just praying on a sidewalk outside an abortion clinic, or handing a leaflet to a woman as an alternative.” [Congressional Record, 11/14/02]
  • Other Opponents Said They Opposed The Bill Because It Would Benefit Already Wealthy Banks At The Expense Of Families And Small Businesses; And That Claims That Stopping Defaulting Debtors Would Lower Borrowing Costs Were Nonsense. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said, “I rise today in opposition to this rule. For my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have profound concerns about this bill, I hope that you will realize that the crucial vote will be on the rule, not the bill. Because the rule is where it will have real effect. There are many reasons to oppose this bill. This bill is opposed by almost all bankruptcy professionals, people who know anything about bankruptcy. It is opposed by organized labor, by almost every women’s group, by children’s advocates, by every consumer group, by civil rights organizations, and by most bankruptcy scholars. It is supported and is being pressed forward by a coalition of banks, credit card companies and other business interests who want to profit exorbitantly at the expense of families and small businesses at a time of crisis. It is shocking that at a time when the American people are rightly outraged at the illegal and unethical machinations of many in corporate America, at a time when thousands of Americans are losing their jobs, at a time when many businesses large and small are in bankruptcy trying to stay alive and reorganize and preserve jobs, it is shocking that we would even be considering this kind of a special interest bill that will enrich lenders at the expense of families, jobs and small businesses and will force many businesses into liquidation and job destruction instead of reorganization and survival. […] My colleague from the State of Virginia says that there is a hidden tax of $400 per family because of deadbeats who do not pay. That is nonsense. What he is really saying is that the credit card companies would lower their interest rates if this bill passed. The prime rate has gone down by 8 or 9 points. Have the credit card companies lowered their interest rates? Credit card companies will never lower their interest rates because it is an oligopolistic business and they gouge from the people what they can gouge.” [Congressional Record, 11/14/02]
  • Supporters Said Bankruptcy Reform Would Save Americans Millions Of Dollars A Year By Ensuring That Those Who Could Repay Their Debts Did, While Giving A “Fresh Start” To Those Who Could Not Repay. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Martin Frost (D-CA) said, “The House has, in the past two Congresses, consistently supported bankruptcy reform. In the 107th Congress, the House passed its version of the bill by a vote of 306 to 108. This agreement, which is the product of months of negotiations, makes sensible changes in the law that will save American consumers millions of dollars a year. This conference agreement adheres to the principle that if an individual has the capacity to repay a substantial portion of their debt, then that debtor should have an obligation to repay. This conference agreement will rein in abuse of the system and ensure that those debtors who cannot pay are given the fresh start they need. Mr. Speaker, I commend the conferees for their hard work on this issue and for bringing the House a conference report that is worthy of support. I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that there are Members on our side of the aisle who strongly object to this conference report, and we will be hearing from them in the course of this debate. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.” [Congressional Record, 11/14/02]

Cramdown

2009: Ryan Voted Against Allowing Bankruptcy Judges To Modify Mortgages On A Debtor’s Principal Residence. In March 2009, Ryan voted against the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (H.R. 1106), which, according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “allow[ed] bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, ma[d]e permanent an increase in the insurance limit for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, overhaul a federal program created to help borrowers in danger of losing their homes refinance into government-backed loans and provide a ‘safe harbor’ to mortgage servicers that participate in mortgage modification programs.” At the time, the $250,000 limit was temporary and would have reverted to the original $100,000 limit on January 1, 2011. The House passed the bill by a vote of 234 to 191, but it died in the Senate. [House Vote 104, 3/5/09; Congressional Quarterly, 3/18/09]

  • Bankruptcy Judges Could Not Modify Mortgages On Principal Residence. According to the New York Times, “Under current law, bankruptcy courts cannot alter the terms of mortgages on a person’s primary residence but can modify other secured loans, including those on second homes or boats.” [New York Times, 9/29/08]
  • Mortgage Modification Authority Included Power To Lower Interest Rate, Principal Owed On Home. According to Congressional Quarterly, “The bill would [have] permit[ted] judges to adjust the terms of mortgages on primary residences undergoing foreclosure during Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, either by reducing the principal owed on the home to the current market value or reducing the interest rate or mortgage fees. The provisions relating to mortgage modifications would only apply to mortgages issued before the bill’s enactment.” [Congressional Quarterly, 3/18/09]
  • Allowing Such Modifications Would Have Given Homeowners Leverage To Make A Deal With Mortgage Holder. According to the New York Times, “[T]he banks argued that the proposal interfered with their contractual rights. But the real threat was to their profits. The proposal would have shifted negotiating power to the millions of troubled homeowners who could use the threat of bankruptcy to wrest lower monthly payments from lenders. The banks claimed that that would force them to raise rates.” [New York Times, 6/4/09]
  • Bill Would Have Permitted Such Modifications, But Compensated Mortgage Lenders For Losses From Them If The Mortgage Was Federally Guaranteed. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Under the bill, mortgage lenders would be reimbursed for the lowered principal, interest rates, or fees by the government if the mortgage had been guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Veterans Affairs Department or other federal mortgage guarantors.” [Congressional Quarterly, 3/18/09]
  • Republicans, Financial Services Industry Opposed Allowing Such Modifications. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Republicans and the banking industry have fought the issue for much of the past three years. Opponents have said the bill would create a rash of bankruptcy filings by individuals facing foreclosure, and would make lending for first homes riskier and more expensive. A dozen financial industry groups sent a letter Feb. 24, 2009 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, requesting the bill not be considered on the House floor. ‘The housing market is already unstable, and enacting cramdown legislation would make things worse by adding even more risk to the mortgage market, effectively undermining efforts by Congress and the administration to stabilize the housing market,’ said the letter, signed by such industry heavyweights as the American Bankers Association, Financial Services Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” [Congressional Quarterly, 3/18/09]

Ryan Opposed Protections Against Predatory Actions By Credit Card Companies

Ryan Voted Against Protecting Consumers From Abusive Credit Card Company Practices

2009: Ryan Voted Against Regulating Credit Card Companies By Imposing Restrictions On Their Lending Practices. In April 2009, Ryan voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “impose[d] restrictions on credit card company lending practices. It […] restrict[ed] when companies could increase annual percentage interest rates retroactively on an existing balance, require[d] companies to give at least 45 days’ notice before increasing an annual percentage rate or adding fees, and restrict[ed] companies from computing interest charges on balances from more than one billing cycle. Credit companies [were] not be allowed to use the term ‘fixed rate’ except when referring to a rate that will not change for any reason over a set period and or the term ‘prime rate’ except when referring to the rate published by the Federal Reserve Board. It […] require[d] the Federal Reserve to establish standards for payment workouts under an open-ended consumer credit plan, collect information on the lending practices of credit card companies and report to Congress annually on its findings.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 357 to 70. The bill passed the Senate and was signed by the president, and became law. [House Vote 228, 4/30/09; Congressional Quarterly, 4/30/09; Congressional Actions, H.R.627]

  • House Republicans Argued That The Bill Would Make Credit More Expensive And Lock out Riskier Borrowers. According to Roll Call, “The House this week is likely to pass legislation — the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights — that would ban certain credit card practices deemed ‘unfair and deceptive’ by consumer advocates, such as unexpected changes in interest rates without prior notice. But House Republicans will argue the bill would make credit more expensive for those who need it and lock out riskier borrowers.” [Roll Call, 4/27/09]
  • Supporters Argued That The Bill Would Provide Consumers With Protection From Credit Card Fraud And Deception. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said in defense of the bill, “The House bill would provide consumers protection from credit card fraud and deception.  Today’s action builds on the vote that we had last year when the bill passed by 312-112.” [Congressional Record, 4/29/09]

2008: Ryan Voted Against Establishing Restrictions On Credit Card Company Billing Practices. In September 2008, Ryan voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly,“would [have] prohibit[ed] credit card companies from retroactively increasing interest rates on existing balances in most cases, issuing finance charges on balances for days not included in the most recent billing cycle, charging fees on outstanding balances created only from interest accrued in the previous billing period until the end of the current bill period. The measure also would require companies to send statements at least 25 days before payment is due and give at least 45 days’ notice before increasing rates.”The bill passed the House by a vote of 312 to 112. No other substantial actions were taken. [House Vote 623, 9/23/08; Congressional Quarterly, 9/23/08; Congressional Actions, H.R. 5244]

  • Bill Prohibited Credit Card Companies From Retroactively Raising Interest Rates Or Charging Fees On Balances Protected From Rate Increases. According to Congressional Quarterly, “This bill prohibits credit card companies from raising interest rates retroactively on existing balances and specifies specific acceptable arrangements for consumers to pay back existing balances. It also prohibits companies from assessing a fee based on existing balances that are protected from rate increases.” [Congressional Quarterly, 9/22/08]
  • Supporters Said The Bill Would Return Credit Card Practices To “Contractual Fairness” And It Was Important For Congress To Support “Main Street” As It Did For Wall Street. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) the sponsor of the bill said, “Rarely do we get an opportunity to vote for legislation with such deep and widespread support. In the midst of the financial turmoil in our markets, Congress has been asked to provide $700 billion for Wall Street. Now we have a chance with this bill to do something for Main Street. Credit cards are an essential part of our economy, but for too long card issuers have been allowed to do whatever they want, any time, for any reason. A deal is a deal, but what sort of a deal is it when one side gets to make all the decisions? This bill will get credit card practices back to basic principles of contractual fairness.” [Congressional Record, 9/23/08 ]
  • Opponents Said Congress Should Not Discuss Changes To The Credit Card Industry During A Time Of Financial Instability. According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) said, “Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill that’s before this body. Given the current instability in our credit markets and, Madam Speaker, given the pressing need for this United States Congress to focus on the financial services bailout that is now before us, this bill is simply not what the United States Congress should be debating today. In fact, this bill is just another example of how this Congress far too often charges ahead without full contemplation of the consequences of its actions.” [Congressional Record, 9/23/08]

Ryan Blamed Inner City Problems On Lack Of Work Ethic

Ryan: Residents Of ‘Inner Cities’ Of Have A ‘Real Culture Problem’ And Lack Of Work Ethic. According to MSNBC, “In his latest remarks on poverty in America, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan accused residents of ‘inner cities’ of having a ‘real culture problem’ and lack of work ethic during an appearance on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show Wednesday. The House Budget Committee Chairman indicated his new policy proposals will include work requirements, saying he plans to ‘re-emphasize work and reform our welfare programs’ as he repeatedly referenced former Pres. Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform efforts. ‘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, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,’ Ryan said.” [MSNBC, 3/12/14]