MADISON, Wis. — Rep. Paul Ryan's record runs deeper than his signature budget and Medicare ideas.

Mitt Romney's running mate is against abortion rights, has a top rating from gun-rights groups and backed sending troops to the wars. But in conflict with fellow Republicans, he's defended wage laws favored by unions. And he supported the auto industry bailout opposed by Romney and the bank bailout that the party's right flank now opposes.

Ryan's 14 years in Congress leave a long trail of votes for Democrats to pick apart, a process that began with gusto as Romney announced his choice Saturday.

Ryan's intense interest in fiscal issues – he holds a degree in economics and chairs the House Budget Committee – helps explain why those matters define him in Washington. But Ryan has always been a reliable vote on proposals dear to social conservatives, enough to earn him a perfect score from a key anti-abortion group back home.

This year, Republicans rallied behind his debt and deficit prescription to curtail federal spending on food stamps, Pell Grants for education and other programs. His debt-reduction proposal calls for cuts in personal and corporate tax rates, but also would pare back deductions and preferences that litter the tax code. So far, it has been little more than a GOP wish list that passed the Republican-led House but hasn't passed the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Ryan wants to fashion Medicare into a plan more like a 401(K), steering future retirees into private insurance plans, with a fixed payment from the government that may or may not cover as much of a retiree's costs as does the current program. It departs from the current "fee for service" framework in which the government pays doctor and hospital bills.

That's a marked shift in the social compact and not the only one he proposes. Ryan also wants to shift Medicaid to the states and sharply limit the growth of federal spending on that program. Medicare and Medicaid together reach some 100 million people.

His votes in Congress have gone against the grain at times. When Republicans have attempted to repeal federal wage protection laws for unions, Ryan has sided with Democrats in opposition. Even so, Ryan ardently campaigned for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who fended off a recall attempt spurred by state law changes cast as anti-union.

Ryan, whose district lost General Motors assembly plant a couple of years ago, supported the multi-billion dollar auto industry bailout started under then-Republican President George W. Bush and continued under President Barack Obama. Romney famously penned an opinion piece in 2008 with the headline, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," arguing automakers could have gone through a managed bankruptcy and re-emerged without such massive help from taxpayers.

But there's no question that his budget and Medicare plan stand among the boldest ideas in Washington and present the fattest target for Democrats. Mindful of such sensitivities, Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie emphasized Sunday that as president, Romney "would be putting forward his own budget" as much as he admires Ryan's, making clear the presidential hopeful is not wedded to his running mate's proposals.

In taking his place on the ticket, Ryan lamented a Washington culture of timidity on the pressing issues of the time.

"We're running out of time – and we can't afford four more years of this," Ryan said as Romney looked on. "Politicians from both parties have made empty promises which will soon become broken promises – with painful consequences – if we fail to act now."

Obama's campaign said Ryan's ideas were the potentially painful ones.

"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

Ryan has taken thousands of recorded votes since coming to Congress in 1999, a minefield for any candidate let alone one aspiring to the White House.

Ryan also signed his name to 1,064 bills and resolutions over that span. Many deal with eye-glazing tax policy. Others aim to restrict abortion procedures. He's made a recurring push for line-item veto powers to restrain spending.

Despite voting solidly against abortion rights, he's given little indication, especially in recent years, that he wants to go to the ramparts on the issue. His litmus test has been budget matters, and he's been known to endorse candidates who see abortion differently, saying he is willing to agree to disagree "with mutual respect."

In 2009, he voted to prohibit federal money from being used to pay for an abortion or for any part of a health plan that covers abortion – except when the abortion results from rape or incest or when the pregnancy threatens the woman's life.

Many years earlier, he backed bans on so-called partial birth abortion that made an exception for the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest.

A number of his legislative actions qualify as parochial measures. For instance, he's sponsored legislation to modify tax treatment of archery equipment and ease tariffs on motorcycle wheels, clearly a nod to Harley-Davidson Motor Co.'s Wisconsin base.

The local touches don't impress Ryan opponents, who say he's padded his national reputation at the expense of his district.

State Rep. Peter Barca, a Democratic former congressman from southeastern Wisconsin, criticized Ryan's record and proposals as inconsistent with the pulse of the area he represents.

"He's an articulate, good-looking guy," Barca said. "He'd talk like a moderate in Wisconsin but it wasn't until his last budget that people saw how extreme his views are."

Still, Ryan has won seven congressional elections, most handily. He has never run statewide, meaning the campaign to snatch the Wisconsin electoral votes that went to President Barack Obama last time will be a test of his appeal beyond his back yard.


Bakst reported from St. Paul, Minn.

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    "Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation's challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down. "The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I'm excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning

  • Rob Portman

    <blockquote> "Mitt Romney has made a great choice in Paul Ryan. He is an accomplished public servant and a leading voice on the most pressing issues facing our country. Paul is one of my best friends in Congress and someone I have worked closely with as a former colleague on the House Ways & Means Committee. "Jane and I wish Paul and Janna and their kids the very best. As the Chairman of the Romney campaign in Ohio, I look forward to working with Paul to ensure that the Romney-Ryan ticket carries Ohio and is victorious in November. Most importantly, as a member of the Senate, I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."</blockquote>

  • Obama for American Campaign Manager Jim Messina

    <blockquote>"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes."</blockquote>

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    The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued the following statement: <blockquote>"Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization</blockquote>

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    The national pro-life organization released the following statement: <blockquote>"By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. "A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no 'truce' when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney's campaign. "Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections," continued Dannenfelser. "The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base - we are thrilled with this pick."</blockquote>

  • GOProud

    <blockquote>"The selection of Paul Ryan is a bold and inspired pick," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. "Paul Ryan has been the architect of policies that would benefit all Americans, especially gay Americans." "Paul Ryan is one of the few political leaders anywhere in the country willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and - more importantly - willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency," continued LaSalvia.</blockquote>

  • Log Cabin Republicans

    <blockquote>"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican "path to prosperity" that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation. </blockquote>

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    <blockquote>"Just like Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters. It's now clearer than ever that as president, Mitt Romney would end Medicare as we know it, and will raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000in order to slash taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While there is a lot that can be said about Paul Ryan's extreme views, more important is what this choice says about Mitt Romney: that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle."</blockquote>

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    <blockquote>"If there were ever any doubt that Mitt Romney is not on the side of working people, today's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate makes it crystal clear. With this choice, Romney has shown the American people that he believes Rep. Ryan's extremist, irresponsible and anti-worker agenda is what's right for our country. "Rep. Ryan has made a name for himself by fighting in the halls of Congress for tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations while proposing to gut vital services like Medicare and education, and eliminating any sense of retirement security for working families. His no-holds barred record of attacking seniors, children, and working men and women is frightening for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich -- but for Mitt Romney it was a calling card to choose him as a running mate."

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    <blockquote>"Americans deserve new ideas for how we can reduce the debt and protect our seniors and the middle class. Just one year ago, Western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich. Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas. Given Chris Collins' ongoing support for tax cuts for the rich that add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit and his willingness to send his business to China to line his pockets, it is clear my opponent is going to continue to pursue policies and priorities that have already been rejected."</blockquote>

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    <blockquote>"Now that Paul Ryan's personal ambition has clearly trumped his interest in the First District, I have no doubt he'll find himself out of a job come November. Once Wisconsinites and voters across our country learn the truth about Ryan's radical plot to end Medicare as we know it, de-fund women's health care, and preserve tax breaks for millionaires, they'll vote against him not just once, but twice. In the coming weeks, our campaign will work with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue getting the word out on Ryan's indefensible record, and building momentum to ensure victory on Election Day."</blockquote>

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