Congressman Paul Ryan, who has been spending some time in the last 18 months visiting urban black neighborhoods, says that he’s often the first Republican the people he talks to there have ever met. Ryan, who came to TIME’s office to do an interview for the magazine’s 10 Questions page about his book The Way Forward, says that folks are excited to see him mostly because he’s listening to them.
When asked if his experiences in urban neighborhoods had given him any insight to what’s happening in Ferguson, he sounded a few words of caution about rushing to judgment. “I think it’s important to be respectful of what’s happened,” he says, “and try to get to the truth and let the investigation takes its hold.” He also believes that when people think poverty is a problem the government takes care of, they don’t get involved and it isolates poor communities. “And so the way I think we ought to approach this is, we’d better be thinking about how to fight poverty eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, person-to-person and reintegrate our communities instead of isolating people in our communities,” says Ryan.
Shifting gears, the former vice presidential candidate said that no further investigation of the President’s attempts at health care reform is necessary. Ryan thinks the health care legislation will collapse under its own weight. “I do believe that we will ultimately repeal this law,” he says of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. “And the reason I say that is not because I’m just some optimistic person who’s naive. It’s because I think this law will implode.” Ryan takes particular issue with the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board), the committee set up to manage Medicare costs. “I don’t think people on Medicare will sit with the idea of 15 unelected bureaucrats determining how their care is going to be allocated.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the Wisconsin congressman declared that—despite putting out a book explaining his background and his policies in quite meticulous detail—he hasn’t decided if he’s going to make a run at the presidency and won’t until 2015. In the meantime, he’s offered up his proposals for immigration reform: secure the border, offer trackable work visas and then give current illegal immigrants a probationary period to become legal, while working.
He also revealed that whenever there’s a stressful meeting that John Boehner’s leading, he tries to sit way on the other side of the room. Boehner’s a stress-smoker and says Ryan, “I just hate getting that smell in my clothes.” Good to know.