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Paul Ryan's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

Paul Ryan has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2016.

Pro-life Inferred Answer Abortion: Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, of course. But it's also because of reason and science." (
  • Rated 0% by NARAL Pro-Choice America (
  • ""We don't want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn't even considered […]" (
No Inferred Answer Budget: In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Signed a pledge stating "[...] ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates." (
  • "Ryan said he wants to cut taxes on both individuals and businesses. He added the Ways and Means Committee will likely address businesses first because the Obama administration has signaled it is open to lowering tax rates." (
  • "To address these issues facing our country, I have introduced legislation, 'A Roadmap for America's Future.' […] Two income tax rates: 10 percent on taxable income up to $100,000 for joint filers, and $50,000 for single filers; and 25 percent on taxable income above these amounts." (
No Inferred Answer Crime: Do you support mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "I think we had a trend in America for a long time on mandatory minimums where we took away discretion from judges. I think there’s an appreciation that that approach has some collateral damage — that that approach is missing in many ways… I think there is a new appreciation that we need to give judges more discretion in these areas." (
  • Cosponsored H.R.3382 "Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013" (
No Inferred Answer Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "In our rush to right our economy, we must not talk ourselves into a hasty intervention today that will leave us with greater budgetary shortfalls tomorrow. These short-term efforts should not lead to more entitlement spending, but rather reinforce the prospects for long-term sustainable growth." (
  • "Rather than increase taxes, Washington needs to stop spending money it doesn’t have, and both side of the aisle need to work together to get spending under control and prevent tax increases." (
Yes Inferred Answer Economy: Do you support lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Given the nation's current economic uncertainty and rising housing, food and gas prices, the last thing taxpayers need right now or in the near future is a tax increase." (
  • "At a time when Wisconsinites are facing economic uncertainty, a high unemployment rate and an increase in the costs of living, the last thing our country needs are tax increases." (
No Inferred Answer Education: Do you generally support requiring states to adopt federal education standards? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • New York Times "On education, the report focuses on two areas where the federal government has historically played a large role, early childhood education and higher education; there Mr. Ryan actually proposes to devolve more responsibility to the states." (
  • "It is imperative, then, that we allocate our financial resources effectively and efficiently to improve education in this country and […] protect state and local autonomy by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common assessments […]." (
  • "Working to fulfill the promise of higher standards, while advocating much needed reforms to No Child Left Behind and strengthening the autonomy of families, teachers, local school districts and states." (
Yes Inferred Answer Energy: Do you support building the Keystone XL pipeline? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "However you evaluate the Keystone XL pipeline, it makes sense to build it." (
  • "On February 24, 2015, President Obama vetoed S.1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act. The president's decision to veto a bill that would have created thousands of American jobs, lessened our dependence on foreign oil, improved national security, and caused minimal environmental impact is disappointing." (
Yes Inferred Answer Energy: Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, thermal)? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "[…] I was pleased to support an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) that establishes a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for electric suppliers." (
  • Voted in favor of H. Amdt. 748 "Renewable Energy Standards" (
  • "Fighting for a comprehensive energy plan to reduce gas prices and curb our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. I have fought to utilize American energy supplies, promote the building of new refineries, cut the number of reformulated fuel blends, and responsibly promote conservation technology and alternative sources of renewable energy." (
No Inferred Answer Environment: Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "The center of the deeply flawed H.R. 2454 is a cap-and-trade scheme aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy costs on all Americans. The complicated cap-and-trade program would require all energy producers to purchase expensive government permits in exchange for the right to produce energy from certain natural resources or to produce certain goods like steel, aluminum, or cement." (
  • US News "Ryan thinks that a revenue neutral carbon tax is another 'tax-and-spend' idea and 'the wrong way to go.' (
  • Voted in favor of H.R. 2681 "Repeals EPA Emissions Regulations for Cement Manufacturers" (
No Inferred Answer Guns: Do you generally support gun-control legislation? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Bloomberg "Ryan reportedly slays deer with bow and arrow as well as rifle. Doubt not, however, his fidelity to to firearms and opposition to tougher gun control." (
  • Rated 93% by the National Rifle Association (
  • "I do not think that more gun control laws are going to solve our crime problems. Gun control is not crime control." (
Yes Inferred Answer Health Care: Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Businesses, policy experts, government actuaries, and even some supporters of the law have confirmed what the country already knew: the ACA is bad policy that does not accomplish what it was designed to do. Instead, the law spends trillions of dollars we don't have, raises taxes on workers, businesses and families, and puts the federal government squarely in the middle of health care decisions." (
  • "Instead of making health care more affordable and accessible, the president's health care law is driving up costs and putting the government between patients and their care. Allowing this law to stand won't fix our health care system; it will only make things worse. That's why we're working to advance patient-centered solutions to improve health care for all Americans and replace this unworkable law." (
Yes Inferred Answer Immigration: Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "We should welcome anyone who is committed to America. But we should always uphold the rule of law—and be fair to those who followed it. However, no amnesty should be provided." (
  • "I have supported past efforts to strengthen our immigration laws and demanded enforcement of them, opposing any proposals that include amnesty for those that have violated our laws." (
  • Washington Post "Along with many other Republicans, Paul Ryan has adopted a firm anti-amnesty, enforcement-first stance on immigration in recent years." (
No Inferred Answer Marriage: Do you support same-sex marriage? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Rated 0% by the Human Rights Campaign (
  • "[...] I supported the Wisconsin amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman. Look, Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act. If I recall from the last presidential campaign, President Obama, Vice President Biden said that they support marriage as being between a man and a woman. So you know, I don't know why we're spending all this time talking about this." (
Yes Inferred Answer National Security: Do you support increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers are in nooks and crannies all around the world. And all too often they hide in the shadows of their state sponsors. We should be ready to use every weapon in our arsenal to root them out: drone strikes, direct strikes, economic sanctions. And we should deny weapons of mass destruction to their state sponsors." (
  • "I have successfully pushed an integral step forward in giving our intelligence community the tools they need to keep America safe, while upholding the treasured freedoms and civil liberties that we hold dear. I supported bipartisan legislation passed by the House that allows surveillance on calls made by foreign terrorists to foreign terrorists." (
Yes Inferred Answer Social Security: Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "My plan starts by ending the raid on the Social Security Trust Fund, and preserving Social Security for those in and near retirement. I have proposed giving younger workers the voluntary option to invest over one-third of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. These benefits will become the property of the individual, which can be passed on to the heirs." (
  • "Under the Roadmap, those who choose the personal account option will have the opportunity to begin investing a portion of their payroll taxes into a series of funds managed by the U.S. government. The system would closely resemble the investment options available to Members of Congress and Federal employees through the Thrift Savings Plan. Individuals who choose to invest in personal accounts will be ensured that every dollar they place into an account will be guaranteed, even after inflation." (


Candidate Answer

Official Position: Candidate had the Political Courage to address this issue directly.

Inferred Answer

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue directly, but Vote Smart inferred this issue position based on the candidate's public statements, voting record, and evaluations from special interest groups.

Unknown Answer

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue.

Vote Smart's Research: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as the candidate has submitted it. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches.
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