Romney’s VP pick a lightening rod on budget, healthcare, LGBT issues

Leading gay Republicans and Democrats react to Paul Ryan's pick as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), center, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and committee members listen as Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta testifies on the fiscal 2013 defense budget authorization in Washington, D.C., Feb. 29, 2012. Photo Credit: Glenn Fawcett/DoD.

LGBT Republican groups were quick to praise the new Republican ticket. In a statement, Log Cabin Republican Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said Ryan was a “strong choice for vice president” and this his controversial austerity budget plans make him most qualified to “articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation.”Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his pick for vice president today, lauding his new partnership with Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as “America’s Comeback Team.” The two appeared together for the announcement on the deck of the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, said Ryan was an “inspired pick.” In a statement, LaSalvia praised Ryan as “willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and – more importantly – willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency.”

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Though he has become a high-profile spokesperson on Capitol Hill, Ryan is largely unfamiliar to many Americans.

A recent CNN/ORC International survey found that 54 percent of those polled said they didn’t know enough about Ryan to form an opinion about him, though 27 percent said they viewed him favorably. Nineteen percent said they viewed him unfavorably.

Republicans are just as unsure. Though Republicans reported higher favorable ratings on Ryan, 45 percent they didn’t know enough about him. Forty-nine percent said they had favorable views of Ryan and only six percent reported unfavorable views.

Ryan is likely most known for his House budget proposals, where he serves as chair of the budget committee. Ryan’s budget proposals would drastically alter Medicare and sink deep cuts into other low-income programs like Medicaid and food stamps. Ryan’s proposal would also give substantial tax benefits to some of America’s highest wage earners by further extending the Bush tax cuts and dropping the top tax rate from its current 35 percent to an all-time low of 25 percent.

Pundits expect Democrats will make Ryan’s budget a centerpiece of their attacks on the new GOP ticket, pointing out that Ryan’s plan essentially privatizes Medicare by turning into a voucher program in 2022. The Congressional Budget Office has said Ryan’s proposal would force seniors to pay more out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare services.

Both Cooper and LaSalvia praised Ryan as friendly to LGBT issues, pointing to his willingness to speak to LGBT people and his 2007 vote on the limited Employment Non-Discrimination Act which protected gay workers but excluded transgender workers.

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National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis said Ryan’s record on LGBT issues is “abysmal.”

Ryan ranked with a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for the 109th and 110th Congresses. Ryan received just 10 points in the most recent session. Ryan also voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and supports federal and state constitutional amendments banning marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Ryan’s opposition to civil rights for LGBT people certainly matches Mitt Romney’s, but unlike Romney’s gutless pandering to the religious right, Ryan is a true believer,” Davis said in a statement. “For LGBT voters, there’s nothing in this pick but more disappointment and disregard.”

Davis also attacked the new Romney-Ryan ticket’s positions on health care and the budget, calling Ryan’s budget “one of the largest transfers of wealth upward in history.”

Added Davis, “Given the opportunity to enact their budget, the poor and middle class in this country would be devastated in order for Romney and Ryan to line the pockets of their wealthy paymasters. Conservatives who believe this budget is the prescription for what ails our federal government should be warned: under the Ryan budget plan, you will almost certainly be paying more for less.”

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.