Paul Ryan wants time off for his new job that he doesn’t think American families deserve

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, which is less than an hour’s drive away from the home of maybe, probably, soon to be Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ryan is accepting the job based on a series of demands that he has made. Like any other job interview, Ryan’s prospective employers — members of his own political party — can accept his demands or tell him to shove off. But it seems like, for now, even the extremists in his party are willing to give Ryan most of what he wants.

Among these demands Ryan has included the requirement that accepting the role won’t take away time from his family. “Janna [Ryan’s wife] and I have children in the formative foundational years of their lives,” he explained.

It’s actually a noble stance for Ryan to take, and it personifies him in a way that he failed to accomplish by washing already-cleaned dishes for a photo-op during his failed run for Vice President. Ryan actually seems human for making an unusual demand in Washington.

His place as possibly the only unifying force in his party right now affords him the ability to make such demands. If only we all were so lucky.

The future Speaker would like to see his family members on a frequent basis, and flies to his home state every weekend just to do so. Living in Wisconsin, I can personally attest to the fact that, for many families in the area, Ryan’s demands are highly atypical.

Paul Ryan's Congressional portrait

Paul Ryan’s Congressional portrait

Constituents of Ryan’s that actually live in Wisconsin, and who work mere minutes from their own homes, cannot afford to take weekends off. Among many other expenses that a Congressman may have the luxury to ignore, these workers have to pay for childcare, which in our state is exceedingly high in costs. Yearly spending for keeping a four-year old in daycare, for example, is higher than sending a freshman to college.

In Brown County, home of the Green Bay Packers, a single mom earning $9.00 an hour and working 40 hours a week would pay nearly half of her income in child care expenses alone. A mom in this situation would undoubtedly benefit from child care subsidies — a program whose funding Paul Ryan has threatened to slash in the past.

Ryan has also proposed slashing food stamps, one of the single most effective programs in lifting people out of poverty we currently have. Ryan’s 2014 budget would have cut more than $135 billion from the program. That single mother from Wisconsin earning $9 an hour would have seen her $11 per day allotment of food stamps for herself and her child cut significantly under the Ryan budget plan.

And when it comes to paid family leave, Ryan is nothing more than a hypocrite on the issue. The Speaker-to-be, who demands weekends off to spend time with his kids, voted against allowing federal workers paid time off to be with their own children during the first month after birth.

Our nation is just one of two nations out of 185 surveyed by the International Labor Organization not to guarantee workers — government or private sector — paid time off (the other is Papua New Guinea). And yet Ryan, the prospective new Speaker of the House, wants to have his own family time recognized, well beyond the time of birth no less.

It’s increasingly frustrating to see Republican lawmakers like Paul Ryan make such demands when others are struggling. As a Wisconsinite, it’s heart-wrenching to see other families face such overwhelming difficulties, and then have a person like Ryan blaming poverty on lazy, inner-city men.

(I can’t imagine who he’s referring to. Oh wait, I totally can.)

Paul Ryan wants to spend time with his family, and he doesn’t want to take on a new role if it cuts into that time. I don’t blame him; millions of Americans feel the same way as he does. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have the luxuries that the soon-to-be Speaker of the House does. Most Americans just have to suck it up. That Ryan doesn’t seem to understand that burden makes him a terrible Speaker of the House, even before takes hold of the gavel.

Chris Walker has been a political writer for more than ten years, contributing freelance opinion pieces to several online publications as well as managing his own blog, Political Heat, for more than six years. With a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism, Chris tries to bring a unique angle to every article he produces, including Millennial perspectives on the issues he's covering. Chris resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and proudly owns both a cheesehead and stock in the Green Bay Packers.

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