By: AIF Staff
Milwaukee, WI — On Thursday, AIF President and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took part in a conversation with Charlie Sykes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as part of the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series. In a wide-ranging discussion sponsored by the Tommy Thompson Center on Public Leadership, Ryan shared his thoughts on how to save America’s social safety net, ways to expand economic opportunity, and some of the major battles he waged while in Congress. He also detailed the policy recommendations outlined in the AEI-published book, American Renewal.
Some interviews and articles associated with the event are excerpted below.
UWM Report: UWM students explore issues with former U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
Ryan spoke to a gathering of about 25 students as part of the Meals with Meaning series hosted by UWM Student Involvement. The intimate gathering happened just before Ryan delivered the UWM Distinguished Lecture, co-hosted with the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership….
Many students attending were interested in Ryan’s stance on economic issues while he served in Congress. Ryan told the group he had intended to have a career as an economist rather than a long tenure in politics. The students varied in their political preferences and majors, but about a third were studying economics….
Sophomore Kate Jakubowski said she grew up interested in politics from a young age, even though she’s currently a double major in music performance and history. In the last year, she said, she had the chance to meet the Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and senators Tammy Baldwin and Cory Booker.
Ryan’s remarks at the event were not what she had expected.
“The thing that stuck with me the most that he really emphasized bipartisanship, and that’s something I feel like is missing in these days in Congress,” Jakubowski said. “And so I really appreciate his willingness to talk about that and to say that he has worked with people across the aisle….
Following the student meeting, Ryan also greeted Milwaukee leaders and UWM faculty in the Fireside Lounge before speaking to a crowd of just over 300 gathered for the Distinguished Lecture, moderated by political commentator Charlie Sykes.
In his discussion with Sykes, Ryan touched on a need to find and address the root causes of tuition inflation in higher education and also prioritize STEM disciplines. “UWM does pretty well in STEM,” he said. “I love the School of Freshwater Sciences here. I’ve toured it several times.”
WISN: On Upfront, Ryan shares thoughts on debt ceiling, entitlements, & polarization
In an interview with WISN’s Matt Smith for Upfront, former Speaker Paul Ryan talked about his visit to UW-Milwaukee to discuss the AEI-produced book American Renewal, the debt ceiling, and his relationship with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. On entitlements, Ryan said:
“The current debate is awful. It is not serving anybody and what troubles me most is the current President and the last President are demagoguing this issue. What happens when you try to scare people with reckless rhetoric is we have bankruptcy and then these programs get cut for the current seniors. Let’s not forget Medicare and Social Security go insolvent in a decade which will mean cuts to these programs and which will lead to a debt crisis.
“The smart thing to do, knowing that is coming, is to step ahead of the problem, reform the programs so they can keep the promises [to current seniors], and be there for the next generation and avoid a debt crisis…. I passed four budgets in Congress and we lived to tell about it. You can propose reforms and you can vote on these reforms and politically survive. The problem is a lot of people lost that lesson…. [You can] keep the programs like they’re working today for those in or near retirement but for those 60 years old and below, you have to change your programs because they will be bankrupt by the time we retire.”
TMJ4: Ryan says Biden, Trump ‘playing politics’ with Social Security, Medicare
TMJ4’S Chief Political Reporter Charles Benson caught up with Ryan before his speaking event at UW-Milwaukee Thursday night.
Benson: Do you think Republicans should be having more conversations on college campuses?
Ryan: Absolutely, I do. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. These are our future leaders, and our future leaders need to be part of a policy debate about the future.
Speaker Ryan left Congress four years ago after deciding not to seek re-election, but he still likes talking about policy issues – especially the need to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent….
“By demagoguing these issues, which I think both Trump and Biden are doing, they’re forfeiting the leadership mantle,” Ryan said. “They’re playing politics with these issues.”
Washington Post: Ryan says Biden, Trump put country at risk by swearing off changes to Medicare, Social Security
Former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) accused both President Biden and former president Donald Trump of putting the country at financial risk by swearing off making changes to Medicare and Social Security.
“Biden and Trump — and I lump them in the same sentence — Biden and Trump are doing the opposite of leadership,” Ryan said in an interview Tuesday. “They’re trying to scare people, and they’re playing political demagoguery with one of the most important issues facing our country this century….”
Ryan said he was frustrated that some of his fellow Republicans were walking away from an issue that they rallied around during his time as a top-ranking member of the House.
“Do I think our party has done some backsliding? Yes, because of Trump populism,” Ryan said in a telephone interview. “But I still believe there’s a very big core in our party that understands the magnitude of this issue, wants to be responsible and fix this problem before it gets ugly and out of control….”
Ryan said Republicans and Democrats need to address the cost of Medicare and Social Security now because the fiscal problem will become more difficult to solve as time passes. He said Republicans should not fear the issue because they survived politically when House Republicans passed his budget proposals.
“I think what happened in my party is people got intimidated by the politics. And Trump, who has chosen to engage in demagogic entitlement populism, has led a lot of people away from being responsible and from doing the right thing,” he said. “And the consequence of that, much like Biden’s politics, is to push us closer to bankruptcy.”
Fox 6: Ryan: If Trump is GOP presidential nominee, ‘we are going to lose’
Former Speaker Paul Ryan is warning Republicans they’ll lose if they nominate Donald Trump for president. In a new interview with FOX6, Ryan also defended his call for changes to Medicare and Social Security.
Ryan was in Milwaukee Thursday, Feb. 23 to speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and to talk about the new book he edited, “American Renewal….”
Ryan also defended some of the arguments laid out in a new book he edited. “American Renewal” lays out a conservative vision for the future, including changes for Medicare and Social Security….
“Every one of these proposals says don’t make changes to people who are in or near retirement presently. But, you need to make changes for those of us in the younger generation for two reasons: So that we don’t go bankrupt as a country, and these programs exist for them; but also, so you can cash flow the current promises to current seniors.
“The dangerous rhetoric that we’re seeing right now in Washington by both Presidents Biden and Trump is this demagoguery saying don’t touch these programs. With that, the other way of saying that is: ‘Let them go bankrupt and watch current seniors get hurt.’ Remember, within a decade, both Medicare and Social Security go insolvent.”
“So, that’s why we’re saying let’s get ahead of this problem. Let’s reform these programs so that they work better so that they’re solvent, so that we can keep the promises that have already been made to current seniors,” Ryan added. “The problem is that took me three or four sentences. It wasn’t as easy as demagoguing entitlement reform, which is what our current and former president are doing. It’s reckless. It’s the opposite of leadership. And my point is, we need to step ahead of this problem as a country, guarantee these benefits for current seniors and reform these programs, so they don’t go bankrupt.”
Click here to download a copy of American Renewal: A Conservative Plan to Strengthen the Social Contract and Save the Country’s Finances.