Washington Week

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Rep. Tim Ryan: 7 things you need to know

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) entered the 2020 presidential race on April 4, focusing his platform on working-class issues and fixing what he sees as a “divided country.”

The 45-year-old congressman represents a Northeast Ohio district with a large blue-collar population and has called for Democrats to reach out to former Democratic voters in Rust Belt states who backed President Donald Trump in 2016.

Here are seven things you need to know about the congressman in his ninth term now running for president.

  • Ryan entered the race after General Motors shut down its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and more than 3,000 people lost their jobs. He cites GM’s decision to close the plant, which it announced in November of last year, as a factor in why he is running for president. Ryan has criticized President Trump, saying he has not done enough on the issue.
  • He would like to revitalize areas hit by a decline in manufacturing through public-private partnerships. Ryan, who calls himself a “free enterprise Democrat,” has pledged to make a plan to stimulate redevelopment of places that relied on declining manufacturing a priority, including using incentives in the tax code to promote manufacturing of renewable energy and electric cars.
  • In recent years, Ryan has moved leftward on issues including taxes, abortion and gun control. Ryan had an A rating from the National Rifle Association and voted against allowing taxpayer-funded abortions, but has since identified as pro-choice and donated money he received from the NRA to gun control causes after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. Ryan also supported lowering corporate taxes ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, but said that tax cuts were not the answer when he announced his 2020 bid.
  • After the 2016 election, he unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi in an effort to become leader of the House Democrats. Ryan expressed frustration with Democrats’ losses in the Rust Belt and called on the party to focus on issues that could win those voters back. He received 63 votes to Pelosi’s 134.
  • Ryan wants the U.S. to move to universal healthcare. Ryan supports the Affordable Care Act and also co-sponsored the Medicare for All Act in Congress this year. In 2017, he introduced legislation to allow people to buy into Medicare starting at age 50. Ryan does believe, however, that people should be allowed to keep their private health insurance plans if they like them.
  • As part of a focus on “industrial policy,” Ryan is calling for a version of the Green New Deal. He would like the U.S. to play a bigger role in the manufacturing of sustainable technology like electric vehicles and solar panels and advocates for emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics in education. Ryan has also expressed an interest in using carbon capturing technology to help make money for farmers.
  • Ryan has devoted himself to practicing meditation and wrote a book on the topic. Ryan’s book “A Mindful Nation” outlines the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, concepts Ryan discovered through a retreat he went on in 2008. He created a “Quiet Time Caucus” in Congress, setting aside a space for lawmakers and staff members to practice meditation or simply sit quietly.