As House Budget chairman, Paul Ryan spends his time introducing bills that tackle the big budget issues facing the country.
It wasn’t too long ago, however, that Ryan was a fresh-faced newbie on Capitol Hill whose legislation dealt with some very small issues. He introduced bills to reform milk pricing and electric air freshener taxes. He successfully overhauled the excise tax on arrows (of the bow-and-arrow variety). He tried – and failed – to defund a small department of the Center for Disease Control. And, like many representatives before him, he named a post office.
We’ve spent a lot of time looking at Ryan’s biggest ideas. Here’s a tour through some of the most obscure bills that Ryan has sponsored over the years:
1. Reforming the excise tax on arrow components. Ryan is a bow-hunter and avid supporter of the archery industry; he once served as honorary chair of the Archery Trade Association. H.R. 5394 reformed the excise tax on arrow shafts amending the “Internal Revenue Code to impose a 39-cent tax per arrow shaft, instead of a 12.4 percent tax on the sales price.” Domestic arrow manufacturers argued that the old system gave an advantage to foreign arrow-makers.
“My colleagues just don’t know archery, yet they’re putting excise taxes on bows, arrows and accessories without knowing what those parts are or how they work,” Ryan told an archery trade publication of the 2004 law he sponsored. “We cleaned up that law to save our domestic archery and arrow manufacturers.”
2. Suspending duty fees for air fresheners. In 2005, Ryan introduced a bill that would have temporarily lifted the duty imposed on electric air freshener devices (defined in legislative language as, devices that “diffuse fragrance throughout a room using a continuous action battery-operated ultrasonic micro-pump.”) The legislation did not get any co-sponsors and languished in the Ways and Means Committee.
3. Suspending duty fees for cleaning supplies, too. Undeterred by the failure of the air fresheners legislation, Ryan introduced a similar bill in 2006 – this one to temporarily lift duties imposed on “bath and shower cleaning supplies.” This one also failed to gain a single co-sponsored and never saw the House floor.
The Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendrey dug into this legislation last year and found that S.C. Johnson and Company PAC, which has many interests in the regulation of cleaning products, happens to be located in Ryan’s district and is an avid contributor to his campaign.
4. Limiting variation in milk prices. The federal government uses a milk pricing system that dictates how much milk costs when used for various products (for cheese, for example, versus for yogurt). When Congress was debating that pricing scheme in 1999, Ryan – from the dairy-heavy Wisconsin – introduced an amendment that would cap the differential for Class I milk (milk used for beverages) at “$2.27 per hundredweight.” A hundredweight works out to about 12 gallons of milk, for what it’s worth. Ryan’s amendment failed.
5. Defunding the Center for Disease Control’s education program for Hollywood writers. According to its Web site, the Center for Disease Control Entertainment Education program “provides expert consultation, education and resources for writers and producers who develop scripts with health storylines and information.” It worked with writers on the movie “Contagion” and with “90210″ on a cancer-related issue.
Ryan is, apparently, not a fan. Back in 2007, when the House was weighing appropriations for the CDC and other health agencies, he introduced an amendment that would specifically prohibit funds from going to this program. The amendment passed on a voice vote, but the overall bill was unable to overcome a veto threat.