The move by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to select seven-term Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his a vice presidential running mate is causing excitement on both sides of the political aisle, according to one lawmaker from the badger state.

“I think Republicans are excited to see someone who could be the poster child for the Tea Party and the far right movement, and Democrats are equally excited, because the rest of the nation can really see the kind of person Paul Ryan is,” explained Sam Liebert, a 27 year-old city councilman in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville.

Liebert, who has been on the council about 17 months, was put into office in an at-large election in a town that is predominantly White like the congressional district Ryan represents.

In District 1–whose cities include Janesville, Kenosha and Racine–the population is 86.8 percent White, 9 percent Hispanic and 5.4 percent African American.

“African Americans represent a small minority in the district, and most voted Democrat said Liebert, noting that most people consider Ryan a nice guy, even when they disagree with his policies.

California Congresswoman Karen Bass, who sits on the House Budget Committee that Ryan has chaired since 2010, describes Ryan’s policies as “social Darwinism for the 21st century. ” . . . it’s a system that seeks to create a survival of the fittest model for our way of life. The manifestation of his ideology is clearly recorded in his budget, which essentially demolishes the safety net in the nation in such a way that turns Medicare into a voucher system, eliminating healthcare for our elders and most vulnerable in our society and privatizes Social Security.”

Liebert describes Ryan as a fiscal hawk, but says that side of this nature is a recent development.

“He voted for the auto bailout, the bank bailout, Medicare Part D, which a was unfunded, and the Bush tax credits for the top 1 percent (which was unfunded.)

“But as soon as Obama and the Democrats took power, he became a fiscal hawk,” added Liebert.
Racine Alderman O. Keith Fair, too, describes Ryan as a nice guy, but notes that his policies don’t necessarily work to the benefit of African Americans or the middle class.

“As far as the African American community is concerned, he’s always gotten poor ratings from the NAACP.

“He comes from a very conservative background–that background doesn’t address middle-class-income people and working people,” Fair said.

Ryan was born and raised in Janesville, and is a fifth-generation Wisconsin native. He went to school at Miami University in Ohio. This public university describes its philosophy as a liberal education core.

According to the Huffington Post, Ryan’s conservatism was fed during four years at Miami University, where he studied economic thinkers such as Ayn Rand, and Milton Friedman who believed in individual and market forces over government solutions.

He graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science.

Ryan’s personal experience with American politics began in his junior year in college, when he worked as an intern in the D.C. office of then Wisconsin Sen. Bob Kasten. He also did volunteer work for the congressional campaign of current House Majority Leader John Boehner.

After graduation, Ryan connected with Sen. Jack Kemp, first as a speechwriter for Empower America, a conservative advocacy group Kemp founded. That was followed by a stint as a speechwriter for Kemp during his 1996 vice presidential campaign.

Ryan was first elected to Congress in 1998, and became the second youngest member of the House. He has been on the budget committee since 1999 and has consistently submitted budget proposals designed to pare down government spending.

Among his contributions to the national fiscal landscape are the creation of the proposed budget “The Path to Prosperity: Roadmap for America’s Future Act” of 2008. The Roadmap never made it past committee, because it could not find enough co-sponsors.

A 2009 alternative to the 2010 U.S. federal budget was ultimately rejected 293-137 in the House.

Ryan introduced a modified version of his Roadmap budget in 2010, but again the proposal went nowhere. His April 2011 budget was approved by the House, but defeated in the Senate, and his 2013 proposal was introduced on March 23.

OW Intern Shae Collins also contributed to this story.