Why Now: House Speaker Paul Ryan his decision to retire after 20 years

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 23:34:22-04

After 20 years, House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided to retire and he told TODAY'S TMJ4, the time has come.

Voters across Paul Ryan's district can look at his 20 year record and decide what he accomplished or didn't accomplish. But history will always say he was the kid who grew up in Janesville to become the 54 Speaker of the House.

Ryan is the youngest of four children. At age 28 he was the second youngest member of the House when elected in 1998. At age 45 he was the youngest elected House Speaker in nearly 150 years.

Now at age 48 - he's leaving Congress at the end of his term, though some are trying to talk him out of it.

"Oh sure a lot of people have," Ryan said.

When asked why he's making the decision now, Ryan said: "It's because I got a lot done."

That's one reason, family is another.

"Its the ticking time of the family," said Ryan. "It's my kids are 13,14, 16 and on this job I travel so much more than an ordinary member of Congress."

Ryan says he never planned on staying forever. In fact, he once thought about leaving after the Romney Ryan ticket lost in the 2012 Presidential election.

"I did. I thought about it then. My wife and I the morning after the election, 'what do you what to do? Should we go, should we stay?'" Ryan said. 

Multiple calls from colleagues quickly ended any talk of calling it a career.

"John Boehner is one of them who called me right away saying: 'Don't you think of leaving. There's more to do,'" he said

The to do list included cutting taxes, which was accomplished in December.

"90 percent of Americans are getting bigger paychecks because of the tax cuts. They are starting to see that.

But at a huge financial cost. The Congressional Budget Office projects the tax cut will push yearly deficits even higher.

Ryan's goal to control the debt was entitlement reform.

"I've done a lot to get the House to pass entitlement reform legislation," said Ryan, "but that has to pass the Senate and go on the get signed by the President to become law and that hasn't happened."

Some think Ryan's timing suggests the midterms elections will be a disaster for Republicans. Ryan would have likely have won his reelection but history says the House GOP is headed for defeat and will lose its majority.

But he said there was no pressure for him to step aside. 

"No. Getting sidetracked in a leadership drama is not in our interest and all our members know that," he said. 

Then there's President Donald Trump. Ryan says he now has a good working relationship with the president. But Ryan knows others have criticized him for not holding Trump more accountable on tone, tenor and tweets.

"I'm sure there's a lot of people who don't like Donald Trump. There are a lot of people in the media who would love to do nothing but go out there and wail on him on TV every day," said Ryan." It might be good ratings but it would bring our agenda to a screeching halt."

With eight months to go, Ryan says there's still a lot left on his agenda before leaving.

So what's next for Ryan in 2019?

"I don't know. My plan is to think about 2019 in 2019," he said. 

For now, Ryan stays focused on what he describes as running through the tape at the finish line.