John Dickerson interviews Speaker Paul Ryan
Taped Tuesday, June 7 in Washington, DC
JOHN DICKERSON: Will you still serve as the chairman of the Republican Convention? 
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Yeah, I am the chairman of the Republican Convention. Donald asked me to continue serving that capacity. I do intend and plan on serving as the chairman of the Convention. That is what the Speaker of the House does. It comes with the job.


SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: We believe in equality. We believe that the notion that someone's ethnicity or race affects the way they do their job is completely the opposite of what we believe. We believe in equality of opportunity. We -look, the Republican Party was founded in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin by abolitionists. Our first president was Abraham Lincoln. So we are the party of Lincoln, the party of Reagan, the party of equality, the party of upward mobility. And so that is what we think, that's what we feel. And so when comments run contrary to that it's incumbent upon us as party leaders to call them out.
JOHN DICKERSON: You're trying to sell an agenda, make a case for policies based on examination of evidence and that kind of thing. How do you do that while this is not the first time you've had to speak out about the nominee of your party-
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: That's right.
JOHN DICKERSON:  How do you do those two things if you're constantly having to put out fires or address them in the way you just did?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Well, I'm kind of learning as I go. I believe in this job I have as Speaker of the House that it is important that I help unify our party so that we're at full strength in the fall so that we can win an election. And what I believe that we in the House can help do are bring ideas to the table, bring an agenda to the table, bring a vision and we're laying out our ideas starting today, six critical reforms that we call "A Better Way," because we think we owe the country a choice of a better way forward.
But when anyone in our party, least especially our nominee, says things that run contrary to our beliefs, to our values, to our principles, we have an obligation to call them out, we have an obligation to not support those things because they don't define who we are. But what we hopefully can achieve is offering the country a clear agenda going forward. And I do believe, and the reason I did endorse him, is because I believe this agenda has a far, far, far greater chance of being made into law to improve people's lives than it would be under President Clinton.
JOHN DICKERSON: When I talked to Donald Trump last week about his agenda, he still talked about building the wall, deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants, and this temporary Muslim ban. He comes into office if he is elected, as you hope, he brings that to Paul Ryan Speaker of the House, what do you say?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Oh, I've been pretty clear about that, I obviously don't support the Muslim ban, I do not think we should have a religious test on people who come into this country. We should have a security test but not a religious test. The reason I say that, is as a Conservative, because I believe in the First Amendment, I believe in religious freedom, I believe in religious liberty.
It is one of the cornerstone principles of our country's founding. It's why people came here in the first place, but more importantly it's the First Amendment of our Constitution. So, I will steadfastly defend those principles but there are also other policies and ideas that I know he will support, that I know he will advance and the one thing I know for certain is Hillary Clinton won't help us support any of them.
JOHN DICKERSON: You've talked to him. You said that - in coming to your support of him was based on these conversations. Did you have policy conversations? And if so, about what?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Yes, about all of these things. Look, I've spoken to him about the Muslim ban and how I disagree with it. About-about the deportation, I don't support that and he said, "Well, that's not part of our agenda." But I've spoken to him about our agenda that we're rolling out. How we balance the budget, how we grow the economy what we replace Obamacare with? How we move people from welfare to work? What does a sound national security strategy actually look like? And so there's clearly more common ground here. There's more common principle than what we would have with the alternative. We have one of two choices this fall as I see it: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump. I know without a shred of doubt that Hillary Clinton will not support any of these policies or principles.
JOHN DICKERSON: Do you give him any advice in these conversations?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: I do. I give him probably more advice than he wants.
JOHN DICKERSON: Along what lines?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Well look, I think personal conversations should be remained personal. And I've made my points very clear on the kinds of comments. Look, I have spoken out in the past against comments that I think are wrong, that don't reflect our principles or our values as conservatives, as Republicans, as Americans. And I'll continue to do that, hopefully won't have to continue doing that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Will you still serve as the chairman of the Republican Convention?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Yeah, I am the chairman of the Republican Convention. Donald asked me to continue serving that capacity. I do intend and plan on serving as the chairman of the Convention. That is what the Speaker of the House does. It comes with the job.
JOHN DICKERSON: We also spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan about House Republicans new poverty initiative, which they announced last week.  Whereas Donald Trump may be causing some heartburn for the party, Ryan believes that a new Republican poverty initiative is one he hopes Trump can help get enacted if he's elected.

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: We believe work works. We believe we have to have work incentives. We believe that the current welfare system has basically, unintended, but has basically replaced work and has disincentivized work and that keeps people out of getting on their feet again, it keeps people out of the escalator to get out of poverty. So there are a lot of ideas and principles that we want to talk about. And we want - and would love to see our nominee talk about these things. He and I have had a number of conversations about welfare reform, about the need to fight poverty and I found that he was very receptive to those points and those principles.
JOHN DICKERSON: When I asked Donald Trump why people are poor he said, "Well, they don't have jobs." Is it that simple?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Well, that's a big part of it. You have to have jobs. That's why a big part of our agenda going forward is going to show how we restore a faster growing economy that produces more jobs, better wages, a higher take- home pay. It's about getting people to work, but it's also getting people prepared to work. Skills. And also, there are a lot of issues that people are dealing with. Poverty comes in many different forms. Addiction, homelessness, there are lots of problems. The point we're making here is: This sort of one size fits all, top down approach from Washington is failing us. We need more of a bottom up approach, we need a community approach, and we need to support those poverty fighters in our communities who are actually fighting poverty person to person, eye to eye, soul to soul.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the work requirement. What some people who are critical of focusing too much on that say is, "If somebody has a job they need to have flexible pay, they need some time for family leave to take care of challenges they've got in their home situation, they need work schedules that they can find that are predictable." What do you feel about that?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Yeah, I think these criticisms come from the same mindset which is we can micromanage a person's life and the economy from Washington. We've been doing that for years. It doesn't work. So I think the better way is to have an open economy that's an organic economy that produces more opportunity and better jobs and the question is: can we do a better job of helping people get the skills they need, the training they need to get the kind of job they want so they can have the life that they want so they can reach their potential.
JOHN DICKERSON: Where do you see common ground with the people who still believe in the policies that you say aren't working. Where's the common ground?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Yeah, well, I just passed a law with Patty Murray on evidence-based policy making. So I believe there's a bipartisan support. Well, I've proven there's bipartisan support. Criminal justice reform is something that we're trying to move, just this year in 2016, that's something that we're working on, to help try and basically bring redemption back into society. But at the end of the day, I think there's a different approach here. There's the top down Washington knows best approach, and there's the bottom up community approach to fighting poverty. And that doesn't mean to say that government doesn't have a role to play.  Government should have a role to play. And government can and should bring a lot of resources to the table. But at the end of the day, we should be backing the community leaders who are actually the experts in fighting poverty in our local communities and not displacing them. And I think that's been one of the casualties in this war on poverty.
JOHN DICKERSON: What about the existing safety net evidence that some of your critics would point to that would say there are parts of the existing safety net that aren't just about, you know, treating poverty and the symptoms, but they actually do create a baseline level.
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: That's why, that's why we say let's measure success based on outcomes and if something is working, great, let's go with that. But if something is not working let's not keep repeating the same mistakes. Defund what doesn't work. Fund what does work. That's our entire approach, which is evidence based, outcome based and so yes there are things that work well. The federal overhaul of the homeless programs is about a decade ago worked really, really well. I think the EITC, it needs to be reformed but I think it's a good incentive program that helps people ease their pathway into work.

JOHN DICKERSON: You've said that you know that Hillary Clinton won't support the kinds of programs that you and Donald Trump support and that that's just a truth. On these issues of poverty, Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time when she got out of college working with young kids who were falling through the system, she has committed her life to programs you may say are top down and ineffective, but do you really think that somebody who spent that much time working on these issues would be less able to work with you on this project of yours on poverty than Donald Trump?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Well, I wouldn't say she's ill motivated, I just think, I just disagree with her conclusion. She comes from a political philosophy that does believe in top down, what liberal progressives, which is she's running as one, they believe that we need to take more power and money away from people, families, and communities and send it to Washington so that distant bureaucracies can micromanage these facets of our society and our economy. So, it's a general approach in philosophy and ideology that I completely disagree with, that I don't think works, and that is why we as Conservatives are offering a better way forward.
JOHN DICKERSON: Alright, Paul Ryan thanks so much.
Caitlin Conant
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