Meet the Man Who's Trying to Force Paul Ryan to Look for a Real Job
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JH: So we have a moderate district, and Paul Ryan -- by any honest accounting -- is a rather extreme conservative. He may be a nice guy and he may not be threatening to some. But political scientists use this analysis known as DW-Nominate scores to look at how lawmakers’ voting history places them on the ideological spectrum in Congress. According to that measure, Ryan is at about the same place as Michele Bachmann, the conspiracy theorist from Minnesota.
Are you making that argument as a central part of the campaign? Or have you determined that the media narrative about Ryan’s supposed “seriousness” is too deeply embedded to dislodge?
RZ: For a long time he’s been able to hide his ideology and his extreme views. He would come into the district and he would talk a very moderate game, and then he would go to Washington and be one of the most partisan legislators there is. For a long time nobody would call him out on this. Now that he’s the one who authored this radical, out-of-touch plan, people can see where he really stands. Now that he’s running as vice-president, he can no longer hide that he was doing this to serve his own personal ambitions, and not to serve the people of the 1st district. These are radical ideas. These are not ideas that come from the people I’m talking to across the First Congressional district -- in Janesville, Racine and Kenosha.
JH: And it’s not just the Ryan plan that would reduce government down to a stump of healthcare, social security and military spending; he also cosponsored a personhood amendment with Missouri representative Todd Akin. He doesn’t believe that abortion should be legal even in the case of rape, incest, or if the life or health of the mother is at risk. People do need to fully appreciate what kind of agenda Paul Ryan is bringing to the national ticket, and also to your district.
You served two terms as a Kenosha County Board Supervisor, but before that you had a couple of small businesses. You say on your Web site that you grew up in a single parent household eating “government cheese.” You’re kind of a classic success story. You went to school on Pell Grants -- which Ryan’s budget would do away with. You come from business experience.
RZ: I am. I’ve lived my version of the American dream. I was only able to do that because our government was there when I needed help. I realize that being a successful small business owner -- someone who employed 45 people, providing excellent wages and benefits -- I realize that this isn’t something I accomplished all on my own. Our government helped me get an education on Pell Grants and loans, I was able to go on and start these small businesses. I want to make sure economic opportunity exists for everybody in this country, not just the wealthy and the well-connected.
There’s a big difference between Paul Ryan and me. He grew up in privilege with a silver spoon in his mouth and I grew up very poor. After college I went out and started two small businesses, and after college he went out and worked in Washington DC, and has lived off of everybody’s tax dollars ever since. I think we need more people with my experience. People who have had to write responsible budgets, and balance benefits. It’s something that he’s never done. You can tell from the Ryan budget that it’s a plan that could only come from an out-of-touch Washington insider.