Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s most outspoken advocate for cutting and privatizing Social Security, has already benefited from Social Security himself, in the form of survivor benefits he received after his father’s untimely death.
From the age of 16, when his 55-year-old father died of a heart attack, until he was 18, Ryan received Social Security payments, which, according to a lengthy profile in WI Magazine, he put away for college. The eventual budget czar attended Miami University in Ohio to earn a B.A. in economics and political science, and landed a congressional internship as a junior.
Ryan’s congressional ascent, all the way to the top spot on the Budget Committee, began with his Social Security-funded college education.
Ryan’s so-called Roadmap for America’s Future budget plan proposed machete-like cuts — most notably to social services like Medicare and Social Security. Paul’s idea was to invest portions of Social Security funds in Wall Street, essentially forcing future recipients to make unsecured investments with with money they’ll later need for retirement — and endangering survivor benefits like the ones he received.
“Ryan credits his father’s death and the care of his grandmother as giving him first-hand experience as to how social service programs work,” WI Magazine wrote, referencing his Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother, also a beneficiary of the social programs Ryan now opposes, who moved in with Ryan and his mother after his father died.
Without the Social Security benefits he received, Ryan would have had more difficulty attending college, and wouldn’t have become “Wisconsin’s fiscal dreamboat,” as the profile dubs him, or, as Democrats nationwide have painted him, the Enemy Number 1 to seniors and social services.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wagged his finger at Ryan in a statement in January: “Paul Ryan owes it to the national audience tonight to explain why he wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare.”
Ryan’s Social Security reforms didn’t make it into the final draft of the budget the House passed last week, but as the chairman of the Budget Committee, he’s in a position to push the House to adopt his plan at a later date.
The focus in the social entitlements cut conversation has been on seniors, but “survivor benefits,” like the payments that Ryan and his family received, and help for the disabled, account for about a third of Social Security payments.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s office did not respond to Raw Story’s requests for comment.
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.