September 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm
MIAMI — One year after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred openly gay and lesbian service members from serving in the military, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in an interview with FLDemocracy/WPTV NewsChannel 5 that the controversial policy should not be reinstated.
“Now that it’s done, we should not reverse it,” Ryan told FLDemocracy/WPTV NewsChannel 5 during a visit to Miami. “I think that would be a step in the wrong direction because people have already disclosed themselves.”
Ryan was one of 160 Republicans and 15 Democrats in the House of Representatives to vote against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010.
“I talked to a lot of good friends of mine who are combat leaders in the theater and they just didn’t think the timing of this was right to do this when our troops were in the middle of harm’s way in combat,” Ryan said. “I think this issue is past us. It’s done. And, I think we need to move on.”
The comment came after progressive groups criticized Ryan, the vice presidential candidate, for an appearance at the 2012 Values Voters Summit and accused him of being “out of step” with the views of young Americans.
During the interview, Ryan, who spoke with FLDemocracy/WPTV NewsChannel 5 in August, again made the case for the reform of Medicare as a premium support program.
“Mitt Romney and I are saying don’t change it for current seniors [or] for people 55 and above,” Ryan said. “The best way to reform if for my generation is to give us a plan like we have in Congress: a list of guaranteed coverage options including traditional Medicare. Medicare subsidizes your premiums — more for the poor and the sick and the middle income taxpayers — less for the wealthy.”
The renewed push for reform — a popular message on the campaign trail — came hours after Congress went into recess after it passed another stopgap measure to fund the government for six months.
Ryan, who last year agreed to the sequester — automatic, across-the-board cuts to defense and domestic spending triggered by the failure of a bipartisan super committee to cut federal spending — defended his vote and blamed President Barack Obama for the current budget crisis.
“The President is the one who insisted on these devastating defense cuts as part of that budget deal in the sequester. We never liked it. We proposed solutions. We passed a bill to prevent the sequester. The president has done nothing,” Ryan said. “He seems complicit with the sequester because he’s shown no leadership to prevent the sequester from happening.”
Ryan also weighed in on the surreptitiously recorded remarks the Republican candidate for president made during a Boca Raton fundraiser in May that 47 percent of Americans would vote for Obama because they didn’t pay taxes and depended on the government.
“He was inarticulate in making the point but the point we keep trying to make is, in this stagnant Obama economy, more and more people are falling behind, [are] out of work and [are] becoming more dependent upon government. Our job is to have pro-growth policies that get people back to work, that grow the economy and get people off of subsistence [and] off of welfare back to work,” Ryan said.
“We should not be measuring our safety net programs like food stamps — and their successes — on how many people go on food stamps. Success should be measured by how many people we transition off of the safety net — off of food stamps — into lives of self-sufficiency.”
Ryan said he and Romney would continue to push a five-point plan for a stronger middle class that would grow the economy and create better jobs with higher take-home pay.
“Twenty-three million people are struggling to find work today. Fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty today. That’s the highest rate in a generation. And, it’s not working,” Ryan said. “The big concern I have is more and more Americans are beginning to question whether the American dream is there for them or not. We can’t let that happen. We have to revive the American dream so we can take advantage of the opportunity that has historically been offered people in this country so they can get their lives together.”
During a campaign appearance in Miami on Saturday, Ryan said that a Romney administration would support pro-democracy groups in Cuba and “clamp down” on the island’s communist, Castro-led government, a tougher policy than he says Obama has followed.
Later, at a town hall meeting in Orlando, Ryan derided the Obama administration’s space program, a sensitive subject in central Florida where thousands of jobs have been lost since the end of the space shuttle program last year.
A critical swing state, recent polls showed Obama had a five point advantage over Romney in Florida less than seven weeks before the general election.