During a news conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged American women to have more babies, saying their lack of procreation was stunting economic growth.
“People — this is going to be the new economic challenge for America. People,” Ryan said, in response to a question about entitlement reform.
Alluding to the fact that he’s a father of three, Ryan added, “I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country. Meaning, baby boomers are retiring, and we have fewer people following them in the work force.”
“We have something like a 90 percent increase in the retirement population in America, but only a 19 percent increase in the working population in American,” the Speaker continued. “So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology — still going to need more people. And when we have tens of millions of people right here in this country falling short of their potential — not working, not looking for a job, or not in school getting a skill to get a job — that’s a problem.”
While it is true that birth rates in the U.S. have been declining, that’s not necessarily bad news — for instance, birth rates for teenagers hit a record low last year. Ryan’s comments also overlook the possibility that people may not share his belief that economic growth is a goal to be pursued at any and all costs.
Furthermore, there’s an obvious solution to the problem that Ryan completely ignores — allowing more immigrants into the country to fill the jobs being vacated by retiring baby boomers. But instead of using his position as House Speaker to pursue immigration reform, Ryan has instead indicated he’s on board with Trump’s hardline anti-immigration positions, including the president’s insistence on spending billions of dollars on a border wall.
Ryan isn’t alone among male Wisconsin Republicans in believing that women should have more babies for the good of the economy. On the floor of the Wisconsin State Assembly last month, Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R) argued on behalf of a bill that would prevent health insurance plans for state employees from covering most abortions, saying more births are needed to spur economic growth.
“Labor force shortages are tied to population declines. Labor force shortages are a limiting factor in economic growth,” Allen said. “And limited economic growth poses a problem when government tries to pay for public services and infrastructure. In spite of this Mr. Speaker, ironically, the Democrats continue their effort to support the abortion industry.”