Rep. Paul Ryan has expressed concern about having to give up his valued family time if he becomes Speaker of the House, but he is a leader of a Republican Party that has opposed efforts to mandate that employers provide paid leave time for workers. Ryan himself has voted against legislation to let federal employees get four weeks of paid parental leave.
Those positions track with the Ayn Rand-inspired libertarianism that Ryan espouses -- but along with ideology, there’s cold, hard campaign cash involved, too.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for instance, has said it will mount an "all-out war" against proposals to mandate paid family leave. That corporate trade association mostly supports Republicans and has been among the largest spenders on political messages during federal elections. The National Federation of Independent Business has also opposed paid family leave proposals -- and given most of its congressional campaign money (more than than $3.1 million since 2008) to Republicans.
The restaurant lobby, too, has played a major role in opposing paid leave laws -- and also gives big money. Since 2008, the National Restaurant Association has delivered more than $3.5 million to Republican candidates and committees -- including $10,000 to Paul Ryan in 2014. That wasn’t the only money Ryan has received from the restaurant industry. The Wisconsin lawmaker has been among the top congressional recipients of campaign cash from sources that the Center for Responsive Politics classifies as “restaurants and drinking establishments.” He has received more than $70,000 from such sources since the 2014 election cycle.
Though the National Restaurant Association told Bloomberg News it hasn’t taken a formal position on federal paid leave legislation, the politics of paid leave have been particularly intense in Ryan’s home state. GOP-leaning business groups waged a scorched earth campaign in 2011 to pass legislation overturning any local paid leave laws that provide stronger mandates than those in the state law. The powerful Wisconsin Restaurant Association lists its work having “defeated paid sick leave mandate in Milwaukee” as one of its "successes." The bill -- signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker -- overturned the paid sick leave mandate that Milwaukee voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008.