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Rep. Paul Ryan faces unusual primary challenge

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Frank Schultz
August 8, 2014

Rep. Paul Ryan faces an unusual challenger in his bid to return to the U.S. Congress for a ninth term.

It's unusual for anyone to challenge Ryan in the Republican primary.

Also unusual is that Ryan's challenger in the Aug. 12 Republican primary is Jeremy Ryan, no relation.

Jeremy Ryan calls himself a progressive in the tradition of the Republicans who started the Progressive Party more than 100 years ago.

Jeremy is known as “Segway Jeremy Ryan” because he famously has been arrested at the state Capitol while riding a Segway as part of the protests of Gov. Scott Walker's policies.

Jeremy Ryan said he has a health condition that does not let him walk far, so he uses a Segway to get around.

Jeremy Ryan lives in Madison, which is not in the 1st District. He said he would move to the district if elected. Paul Ryan is a Janesville native.

Paul Ryan has raised $5.97 million for his re-election bid, according to the latest information from the Federal Election Commission.

The commission's online campaign finance records do not list Jeremy Ryan.

The candidates were asked to respond to these questions:

Q: What should be done about the thousands of child refugees that have crossed into the United States in recent months?

Paul Ryan: Before adjourning for the August recess, the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide additional resources to address the crisis at the southern border and to expedite the process of returning unaccompanied minors safely back to their home countries. I supported this proposal, and I hope the Senate acts on it.

This crisis on the southern border is a direct result of the president's actions, and his administration needs to take immediate steps to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws.

Jeremy Ryan:  I don't think you can address this issue with a single solution.  These are human lives, real people, individuals. Because of this, I feel they need to be handled on an individual basis.

Q: Do you think the Affordable Care Act needs fixing and/or replacing? If so, what changes would you make, or what would you put in its place?

Paul Ryan: Obamacare is unworkable. It needs to be repealed and replaced with patient-centered reforms that empower individuals and their doctors, not bureaucrats in Washington.

Wisconsinites have experienced first-hand the painful consequences of Obamacare: losing their doctors and their health care plans, seeing their full-time jobs cut to part-time and paying more for coverage.

We deserve better. That's why I will continue to offer solutions that increase the affordability and accessibility of quality health care without the government taking it over.

Jeremy Ryan: The Affordable Care Act was simply a massive giveaway to insurance companies. It did have some provisions that significantly helped the problem such as eliminating pre-existing conditions, keeping students on parent policies until 26 and removing lifetime maximums.

The bulk of it, however, was giving more money to the very companies that created the problem. I find it counterproductive to fix a problem by rewarding those who created it. I would support a single payer health care system.

Q: Do you favor federal legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and/or for recreational purposes?

Paul Ryan: Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal substance, and I am not in favor of legalization.

Jeremy Ryan: I fully support both medical and recreational legalization of marijuana.

It is scientific fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. There is also scientific evidence that marijuana and marijuana extracts can help or even cure certain serious ailments.

Furthermore, it is scientific fact that marijuana is less harmful than any prescription medication that could be prescribed for these conditions. It seems inhumane to not medically allow it.

As for the recreational end, we need to bring back personal responsibility. Marijuana doesn't kill people, and it shouldn't be the job of the government to decide what people can and cannot do in their free time, especially when it doesn't harm them or anyone around them.

We are losing out on billions of dollars in tax revenue that could be generated from taxing marijuana and billions more that we are needlessly spending to prosecute and punish people over a plant.

Q: Name an issue on which you differ from that of the congressional leadership of your party.

Paul Ryan: One example is last year's government shutdown. Some in the Republican Party wanted to prolong the shutdown, whereas I felt it never should have occurred to begin with. That's why I worked across the aisle with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray to reach a budget agreement that prevented future shutdowns.

The Bipartisan Budget Act reduced spending and was a step in the right direction. Hard-working taxpayers deserve a government that works for them, not one paralyzed by gridlock and partisanship. I was proud to show how to accomplish that.

Jeremy Ryan: One issue in which I widely differ … is ending (the U.S. Supreme Court decision called) Citizens United.  I am running my entire campaign off a very limited amount of money. Money has overrun our political system, and because of this Congress has an approval rating in the low 10 percents.

America knows that Congress does not listen to people. They listen to money, and Paul Ryan is a poster child for this. Over 80 percent of the country supports ending Citizens United and removing corporate money from our political system.



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