Greg Nash

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday launched a nonprofit organization that will focus on his legislative priorities during his two decades in Congress: fighting poverty, boosting economic opportunity and promoting “evidence-based” reforms on issues like welfare, foster care and criminal justice.

The American Idea Foundation, which will have offices in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., will partner with community organizations, academics and lawmakers. Ryan will serve as president of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“The American idea means the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life, and I am excited this Foundation will educate individuals about solutions and efforts that give more people the opportunity to realize their versions of the American Dream,” Ryan said in a statement launching his nonprofit.

{mosads}“The American Idea Foundation will demonstrate that it is the bottom-up dynamism of individuals and communities that truly makes America a land of prosperity,” he added. “I wholeheartedly believe the Foundation can make a real difference and help those organizations working to expand opportunities across the county.”

As part of its launch, the foundation rolled out two videos: Our Story and Freedom is the Victor.

The launch falls on the anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886.

Ryan, just 49 years old, has kept up a busy schedule since he retired from Congress and left the Speaker’s office in January. The former chairman of both the Ways and Means and Budget committees has been earning money on the paid speakers’ circuit and joined the board of directors of Fox Corp., which oversees Fox News, the conservative-friendly network that was often critical of Ryan.

He also is a guest lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches a course on government and political polarization. And the former Speaker was named a distinguished visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the powerful conservative think tank in Washington.

He attended the memorial service in the Capitol for the late Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) last week.

Ryan and President Trump worked together to pass the GOP’s massive tax-reform package. But they clashed repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, and have never really seen eye to eye.

Since leaving Congress, Ryan has been reluctant to join the growing GOP voices of ex-lawmakers and Trump administration officials who’ve been extremely critical of the president, especially as the president faces an impeachment inquiry.

But Ryan let his guard down during an interview that appeared this summer in the book “American Carnage.” Ryan criticized Trump’s rhetoric and governing style, and described how he was part of a group that tried to keep him from going off the rails.

“Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time,” Ryan told the book’s author, Politico’s Tim Alberta. “We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”

Trump didn’t appreciate the comments, and blasted Ryan on Twitter.

Ryan’s “record of achievement was atrocious (except during my first two years as President), ultimately became a long running lame duck failure, leaving his Party in the lurch both as a fundraiser & leader,” Trump tweeted.

“He quit Congress because he didn’t know how to Win … Never knew how to go after the Dems like they go after us. Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!”

Tags America Idea Foundation Donald Trump Elijah Cummings House nonprofit Paul Ryan
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