Paul Ryan's legislative record

Fair game, I think, now that he’s a candidate for Vice President (and indirectly for President). Let’s look at his record.

Paul Ryan has represented Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional district for thirteen years. In that time, he amended the American tax code in 2008 to change the 12.4% tax on arrows to a flat 39 cents per arrow shaft. And in 2000, he had the name of the post office in Janesville, Wisconsin changed to the “Les Aspin Post Office Building.”

Oh c’mon, Nemo, I hear you cry. You’re hardly being fair to the man by singling out those two laws from his entire legislative record. What about all the other laws he enacted?

There are none.

Those two laws represent Ryan’s entire legislative record. They are the only two bills he’s submitted that were enacted into law. Changing the tax on arrows and renaming a post office is what Ryan accomplished in thirteen years in Congress.

I suppose some will argue that Ryan did a lot of other stuff. He made speeches, he submitted other bills that weren’t enacted into laws, and voted on bills that other Congressmen submitted. Maybe so. But the two laws I mentioned are the only two things Ryan personally accomplished in Congress. Everything else was either talking or supporting somebody else’s work.


You do have to say this for Wisconsin – they’re modest in their wants and needs.

What’s the typical price for arrows? I’m curious whether that was an increase or a decrease.

Probably a decrease for most people, since (checking at Cabella’s) it seems like even cheap target arrows are at minimum about $30 a six pack. However, it is probably a major break for people who buy some of the fancier hunting arrows which can sell for over $100 a six pack. So for the cheap arrows it would have been .62 cents an arrow and for the pricey ones about $2.10.

Just another example of the regressive policies of the Republicans, disproportionately shifting the tax burden onto the purchasers of more modest arrows, while letting the fancy arrow set skate by!

Also switching from a tax-by-percentage to a tax that’s a set amount is basically a way of phasing out the tax, since inflation will mean that even cheap arrows will get expensive enough in nominal dollars that 39 cents will be less then 12%.

The tax is there to pay for a federal fund that pays for projects to protect wildlife and manage fish and game.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to tax bullets and shells? Much more hunting is done with those.

Any idea of what the average authorship of bills is? I’d hate to be crowing about this only to find the average is 1 per decade.

They do

How does this compare to either Biden’s or Obama’s legislative history?


Obama seems to be more active than Paul Ryan. Plus, Obama was campaigning in 2007 and 2008, and he missed a lot of votes.

Two bills sounds consistent with small government.

A valid point. Obama was no ball of fire in the Senate. He had two bills he sponsored enacted into law in four years:

S. 2125 - Public Law 109-456
Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006

S. 906 - Public Law 110-414
Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008

Biden was a lot more active. This is the list of bills he sponsored that were enacted just in the 110th Congress (2007-2008):

S. 676 - Public Law 110-38
A bill to provide that the Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank or the Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank may serve on the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation

S. 1060 - Public Law 110-199
The Second Chance Act of 2007

S. 1709 - Public Law 110-229
The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008

S. 2106 - Public Law 110-113
The Procedural Fairness for September 11 Victims Act of 2007

S. 2257 - Public Law 110-286
The Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2007

S. 2565 - Public Law 110-298
The Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Act of 2007

S. 2731 - Public Law 110-293
The Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008

S. 3218 - Public Law 110-296
The Criminal History Background Checks Pilot Extension Act of 2008

S. 3370 - Public Law 110-301
The Libyan Claims Resolution Act

Not to make light of the OP, but insofar as it relates to being president, I don’t really care how many bills someone sponsored, whether they became law or not. I’m not voting for someone to write and enact legislation. I’m voting for someone to run the country. Maybe I could be convinced that getting bills passed in Congress is a great qualification for being president, I don’t know. But I’m more concerned with how people have voted and where they stand on the issues.

So you’re saying we should put aside Ryan’s legislative record and focus on his record of running the country?

Just to be clear, when you say “sponsored”, is that the same metric you used for Ryan? I only ask because in your OP you used the term “submitted” for Ryan. Is “submitted” the same as “sponsored”?

I’m saying that getting bills passed is not nearly as important as what someone would work for and what they stand for. In other words, just because only two of Ryan’s bills became law, that isn’t in and of itself a reason to disqualify him from becoming VP, or president if that were the case. As for his record running the country, he hasn’t done that, so that wouldn’t affect my vote in any manner.

Instead of looking at personal sponsorship of bills, why not just look at the chimeric nature of Ryan’s budget balancing ideas in the face of fiscal reality.

Because that’s why Romney has chosen Ryan–ostensibly to add heft to his fluffy-airy conservatism. But in fact, the purpose of Ryan’s “road map” is more posturing than anything. That’s what we should be looking at. He’s a facade being put up by the core of his party to fill the vacuum left by Bush. He’s a pretty face–just like Romney.


Isn’t the standard of effectiveness at least as important as the standard of principles? In my opinion, you can’t just judge a politician by whether or not they believe the rights things - you’ve got to also judge whether or not they accomplish the right things. Otherwise you end up with a failure who had good intentions.

And I think it’s fair to judge a person by how well they do in their chosen field. It would be ridiculous to hold it against Ryan that he never cured cancer or won any battles or made the Fortune 500. But Ryan is a seven term Congressman - I think it’s a fair question to ask what his abilities were as a legislator. And if he didn’t do an above average job as a legislator, why should we assume he’ll do an above average job in the executive branch?

Do you mind if I ask for a cite instead of just your say-so?