WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, Wisconsin’s First District Congressman and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke with WRJN’s Ted Ehlen and WLIP’s Bill Lawrence about attending county fairs across southern Wisconsin and the importance of assisting constituents with problems they encounter with the federal government. During the interviews, Congressman Ryan also discussed the passage of H.R. 1831, the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission bill, and a funding bill for the nation’s highways and transit programs.
Excerpts of Ryan’s interviews with WLIP and WRJN follow.
Competing in the Racine County Fair’s goat milking contest:
“I’ve been doing [the goat milking contest] every year. Usually what happens is I go up against a young woman who’s got a sash and tiara, who is royalty, like the Fairest of the Fair. She’s been showing sheep, goats, and cows her whole life and she usually just kicks my butt. This year, I tied with the Fairest of the Fair, so this is a personal best for me and I did so while getting kicked in the face by a goat. I really feel like I got my game on this year.”
“This is a bill I wrote and introduced last year. I just passed it last week and it’s a bipartisan bill I have with Senator Patty Murray that she’s passing in the Senate as well. We expect this to go into law. We never measure in the federal government, especially with poverty programs, how well the programs actually work to achieve their objective. I mean I had this insane idea that when we use hard-working taxpayer dollars to apply it to a program that’s created to do something like, say help get people out of poverty, get people off welfare, get a job, get work - that we should measure whether the program actually does that or not.”
“So what I decided to do is to create a commission of people who do this - people who are statisticians, who know metrics, who know how to design measurements with privacy advocates as well - to get available all federal data so that researchers, academics, universities, and orators can get access to federal data of all federal programs so that we can actually measure whether or not the government is doing what it is trying to do – whether it’s achieving its objectives – so that we can have a debate in Congress, not between Republicans and Democrats or liberals and conservatives, but between what works and doesn’t work. And really that’s not the kind of debate we are having and that’s the kind of debate I think we ought to have.”
“I’m saying let’s focus on does it actually work? Is it actually achieving its goal? And then let’s have that kind of debate about how to make sure we can achieve our objectives, but we don’t even have standard measurements – we don’t even try.”
“We’re spending all of August and then September trying to figure out how to finance a six-year highway bill because the problem is, gas taxes don’t cut it anymore. Our engines are too efficient – they’re more efficient, not too efficient, they’re more efficient – and therefore they don’t raise the kind of revenue to meet our needs.
“And so we’re coming up with a way to fill that gap, but it’s going to take at least $100 billion to fill the deficit in the Highway Trust Fund because of the fact that the gas taxes don’t keep up anymore with wear and tear. So we need a couple months to figure it out. I’m leading the effort to figure out how to pay for it while the Transportation Committee is going to figure out how to spend all that money.”
“The reason we need multiyear bills is, take the interstate here in Wisconsin for example: widening I-94, widening I-90, making them six lanes basically from the Illinois border up to Milwaukee and to Madison, and then on the way down to Beloit is one of our projects. That’s a multi-multiyear project, so we need to be able to plan accordingly and we just can’t if we don’t do long-term highway bills.”
Reaching out to First District residents via the Mobile Office to help solve problems:
“What [the mobile] office is, is it’s a mobile constituent services center. I have permanent offices in Racine, Kenosha and Janesville as well. We help thousands of people every single year with specific problems they have with the federal government. And so, I always tell people, if you’ve got a problem with disability, or veterans, or Medicare, or you name it – immigration, Social Security – come to us, because we have experts on my staff who do nothing but this. Their jobs are to help people. We’ve gotten really good at it. We know how to navigate the bureaucracy. And so, that is my job as a representative.”