In a wide-ranging interview in connection with the release of his new book, “The Way Forward,” presumptive 2016 presidential contender, 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke with TheBlaze Books via phone this weekend, touting a populist, market-oriented domestic agenda and robust foreign policy vision.

During the interview, Ryan addressed several issues on which conservatives have been critical of the Republican Party, from perpetuating crony capitalism to immigration.

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gestures as he speaks during a campaign event, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Mansfield, Ohio. Credit: AP

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gestures as he speaks during a campaign event, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Mansfield, Ohio. (Image Source: AP)

Perhaps most interesting was the congressman’s defense of votes he and fellow Republicans took in favor of TARP and the 2009 auto bailout, and his belief in the efficacy of a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

When asked how his votes for TARP and the auto bailout comport with the populist, free market philosophy Rep. Ryan espouses in his new book, noting that he “did not enjoy” such votes, Ryan justified them on grounds of “defensive voting.” The congressman argued that in the throes of the financial crisis, based on the feedback he received from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the congressman worried, “We would have had a deflationary spiral and then progressives would have swept the election even more, and done even more damage.” Further:

The takeaway lesson from that is, the leadership matters because they frame the choices that you make in Congress…between…lesser evils. That is something that I think is a very important lesson that I learned…that we all need to learn…and we – myself included – as Republicans have got to make amends with the fact that we have not been perfect on minding our principles and policies like crony capitalism.

“Republicans…have not been perfect on minding our principles and policies like crony capitalism”

Ryan noted that his aversion to crony capitalism was why he was fighting together with colleague Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) against the Export-Import Bank, bane of many free market proponents, who view it, like Ryan himself, as “Big government and big business joining in a common cause to hand out preferences.”

Following up on this assertion, we asked the congressman if he foresaw the House voting for a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, as has been reported elsewhere. Ryan stated that he does believe Congress will reauthorize the bank:

[B]ecause we want to win this fight [to shut down the Export-Import Bank] and we worry that if we don’t do a short-term [reauthorization] we might not. Just know that that is a tactical…move that we think is in our best interest for those of us who are not in favor of the bank.

You can listen to this portion of our interview in full on bailouts, the Export-Import Bank and crony capitalism beginning at 5:07 below.

During the interview we also had the opportunity to touch on several other points with Rep. Ryan, including, among others:

  • What Rep. Ryan considers the biggest mistake made during the 2012 presidential election [At interview start]
  • Whether Rep. Ryan’s proposed domestic reforms call for actual baseline budget cuts, or simply slow the rate of government growth [Starting at 3:35]
  • Why Rep. Ryan continues to support a path to legalization in spite of recent polls showing broad American aversion to such plans, and why Rep. Ryan believes the notion that Ryan is siding with Democrats and the Chamber of Commerce is an inaccurate portrayal [Starting at 8:30]
  • Details behind the congressman’s Kemp-ian anti-poverty agenda [Starting at 11:46]
  • What Rep. Ryan’s foreign policy philosophy entails, and the congressman’s belief in fitting defense budgeting to a strategy, not the other way around [Starting at 13:12]
  • What check the American people have on President Obama in light of the lack of progress by the House in getting to the bottom of various Obama administration scandals [Starting at 14:45] [Editor's note: Rep. Ryan references this recent speech delivered at Hillsdale College in his response to this question]


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