When President Trump goes looking for allies in Congress, it is unfortunate that he cannot count the Speaker of the House as one on whom he can depend. Recall that Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election, so that should give you plenty of evidence that Ryan is very willing to ally himself with those for whom the conservative cause is not particularly important.
Put another way, Speaker Ryan, who was not thrilled with President Trump’s candidacy in the first place, is not going to be as much help as he should be in getting the president’s agenda through the House.
This is terribly unfortunate. The Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. If they’ve wanted a chance to make their mark on the nation, now is the time to do it. To waste this opportunity would be a disgrace. And if legislators such as Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain have their way, that’s likely what will happen.
This battle for who will control the legislative agenda is now playing out as, “President Trump’s proposal to slash domestic spending in order to preserve the two biggest drains on the federal government — Social Security and Medicare — has set up a battle to determine who now controls the Republican Party’s ideology.”
One of the first, and most important battles to be fought is over the budget, with particular focus on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. President Trump and Speaker Ryan are definitely not on the same page. “Mr. Trump’s budget blueprint — which is expected to be central to his address to Congress on Tuesday night — sets up a striking clash with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, who has made a career out of pressing difficult truths on federal spending. For years, Mr. Ryan has maintained that to tame the budget deficit without tax increases and prevent draconian cuts to federal programs, Congress must be willing to change, and cut, the programs that spend the most money — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
These programs have been considered a “third rail” of American politics. Touch them and you are politically dead. It looks like we are going to find out in the near future if that is still true.
Then there is further evidence that Speaker Ryan is gearing up for a battle with President Trump. “‘For Paul Ryan, this seems to be the opportunity he has been waiting for and working for for years,’ said Douglas Elmendorf, the recently departed director of the Congressional Budget Office and current dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. ‘But Paul Ryan’s budget plans with cuts to Social Security and Medicare are not that popular with most voters, and what helped elect Donald Trump was the promise not to cut benefits and programs, and that is an unresolved tension.'”
For their part, the Democrats are also warming up for a fight they look forward to. “‘Democrats will make crystal clear the misplaced priorities of the administration and the Republican majority,’ said Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, ‘and we will fight tooth and nail to protect services and investments that are critical to hardworking American families and communities across the country.'”
Keep in mind that in spite of the Democrats currently being in disarray, this will not be a permanent condition. And controlling the White House and Congress is not a Republican birthright. Foul up this opportunity, and conservatives might not see another such an opportunity for a generation. Perhaps it’s time for someone to telephone Mr. Ryan and explain to him which side of the aisle he is supposed to be on.
Source: New York Times