The lawmaker responsible for crafting a Republican budget plan that would effectively kill Medicare isn’t as frugal when it comes to his own money.
Rutgers associate business professor Susan Feinberg told Talking Points Memo that she was at a Washington, D.C. restaurant Tuesday when she saw Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with a bottle of Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru at his table.
According to their wine list, the restaurant sells each bottle for $350.
Feinberg was even more shocked when a waiter delivered a second bottle to the table.
“I was an economist so I started doing the envelope calculations and quickly figured out that those two bottles of wine was more than two-income working family making minimum wage earned in a week,” she said.
So Feinberg approached Ryan’s table and asked him “how he could live with himself.”
Ryan, claiming that the other men had ordered the wine, acted surprised to find out the pricetag. “Is that how much it was?” he asked.
When Feinberg asked if Ryan’s dinner companions were lobbyists, one of the men stood up and said, “Fuck her.”
Members of Congress are barred from accepting anything of value from lobbyists. The Ethics Committee must give written permission before members can accept gifts worth over $100 from friends.
Ryan later told TPM that the two men, who he described as “friends,” were economists that he had invited to dinner to discuss quantitative easing and monetary policy, but he refused to give their names.
“I didn’t order – they ordered,” he said. “I had one glass with my water, and when [Feinberg] was talking about how expensive it was, I didn’t even know [the price].”
Ryan said that after learning the price, he decided to pay for one of the bottles and even produced a receipt to prove it.
“I think it’s stupid under any circumstance to pay anything close to 100 dollars for a bottle of wine,” he said.