Ryan’s Record: By the Numbers

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican party’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee, took office 13 years ago. We can learn a lot from his legislative record as the congressman from Wisconsin’s 1st district.

Budget, taxes, and Medicare

During his tenure in Congress Ryan sponsored 75 bills, mostly related to the budget, taxes, and our government-run health care programs. Although he is known today for wanting to privatize Medicare, many of his bills attempt to reform Congress’s budgeting process in smaller pieces. His bill H.R. 5259 in 2002 would have changed budgeting to occur every two years rather than every year, in an attempt to make Congress’s time spent on budgeting more efficient.

The two bills he wrote that have become law modified excise taxes on arrows and named a post office. He’s currently the chair of the House Committee on the Budget. Budgeting hasn’t been going well. Last year the government almost defaulted on its debts because no budget had been passed! (The standoff between the two parties goes well beyond Ryan’s control, though.)

Ideology & Leadership

Our unique analysis of ideology and leadership in Congress puts Ryan right in the middle of the Republican House members:

Ideology is based on a statistical analysis that puts congressmen with similar patterns of co-sponsorship of bills closer together. Ryan co-sponsors bills that the middle of his party tends to co-sponsor. He’s neither extreme nor a centrist.

In this chart, congressional leaders are those representatives who tend to get a lot of cosponsors without necessarily cosponsoring other bills in return. Ryan is right about in the middle. But he is a little below the average leadership score of the 44 Republican representatives serving as long as Ryan.

Leadership is based on an analysis that’s similar to how Google decides which web pages to show first in search results. (More analysis details.)

Crossing party lines?

From Ryan’s position along the ideology axis of the chart above, you’d guess that he crosses party lines about an average number of times for House Republicans.

In a Washington Post story today that cites statistics from GovTrack, one former staffer said Ryan was all but compromising:

[T]hose who have watched Ryan’s recent career . . . say finding common ground has not seemed to be Ryan’s interest. “No, goodness, gracious.” said Steve Bell, a longtime Republican staffer on the Hill, who now works at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

But the statistics tell another story.

Of the 975 bills Ryan cosponsored since coming to DC, 22% were introduced by Democrats. That’s right in the middle. The freshmen members of the Republican caucus this Congress — many of them from the Tea Party — tended to cosponsor Democrats’ bills only 11% of the time. The Republicans except the freshmen did so 25% of the time. Overall, Ryan is at the 58th percentile, so a little more cross-partisan than most Republican congressmen.

Similar conclusions come from looking at the number of cosponsors of Ryan’s bills that were Democrats. Of the 75 bills he sponsored since he took office, 26% of his cosponsors were Democrats. Republican freshmen got 19%, Republicans except freshmen got 29%. Compared to the whole party, Ryan is at the 53rd percentile — he’s right in the middle.


  1. I heard he voted FOR the NDAA , the big bank bail-outs, (TARP), & to expand the Medicare prescription drug coverage. Sounds to me like he’s more of a democrat, except for being pro-life. I think the Democrats & Republicans are playing the people from both sides. Ron Paul is the only one who really would put the pieces of our broken system back together again. It’s too bad the RNC has gone all out to deceive the American voters. How very sad.


  2. Jeri, this isn’t about getting Ron Paul elected. Surely you realize that is a losing proposition. A vote for Ron Paul would in essence be a vote for Obama so let’s be smart and just forget about supporting someone that is going to pull less than 10% of the vote. That 10% would be more productive if they voted for the Republican Candidates and make the efforts to get Obama out of office a reality. This country can’t afford to have Obama in for another four years as he would do what he wanted to un-checked and destroy this nation.


  3. I’m curious about other dots on your analysis. Can you identify…
    ~the Democrat on the Republican side of the ideology?
    ~the Republican at the top of the leadership rating?
    ~the Republican & Democrat at the far right & left of their respective ideologies?

    I’d also be curious what a chart of Rick’s voting record looks like?


  4. This is my point the running candidates are always stating how bad the government is but,both of these running candidates, has seeked government jobs throughout their lifes, and has remained with the government. Why? because a government jobs comes with free insurance, cars, bonfida bonus. But, then they say to the people. The government is trying to control your life, Hex Paul Ryan has been with the government for years since year 2000 as i know. So, they are the government! U.S representatives are the government so, as these candidates running for the president & vice president jobs, this will not stop the government because they are they government! when I heard Paul Ryan make a statment LIKE the goverment is trying to control your business, he’s basicly talking about hisself ! BECAUSE PAUL RYAN HAS BEEN WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT FOR SOME TIME. ? He received social security at eighteen. Now he wants to cut the social security. or as he stated priorities it__==cut//
    People listen very close to Paul Ryan because, he’s not very truthful!


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