In the Longworth House Office Building, two miles across town from Woodson’s K Street office, Ryan talked candidly about his goal of learning what works in combating poverty and how government decisions affect people.
Known for fiscal pragmatism, Ryan has his eye on chairing the powerful Ways and Means Committee. That would compound his reputation as a serious policy intellectual and potential GOP presidential candidate. In recent speeches, Ryan’s message has turned populist; these visits outside of Washington have helped shape his view of life in America. . . .
His critics say Ryan’s zeal for championing the poor is pretense because he consistently suggests cutting entitlement programs. Democrats have attacked him with television ads in which an actor portraying Ryan throws “Grandma” over a cliff to demonstrate how his budgeting would hurt senior citizens.
The House Republican fiscal year 2015 budget resolution that Ryan authored in April, “The Path to Prosperity,” would cut spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years.
‘This budget applies the lessons of welfare reform to other federal-aid programs,’ he wrote. He suggested enlisting states to root out waste, fraud and abuse. His plan “empowers recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payroll,” he wrote.
Ryan has carved out a complex political position with the emphasis on fiscal discipline and poverty, said Catherine Wilson, an associate professor of public. “Transcending party lines, this position makes a case for fiscal constraint and for attention to vulnerable communities,” she said. Ryan’s opinions might not activate the traditional Republican Party base, she said, but could attract the growing number of independent voters.