Is Paul Ryan Becoming a Moderate?
Yet another “new” Ryan, this time ready to make bargains with Obama.
Some Wisconsin Republicans will tell you that Paul Ryan is far more of a policy guy than Scott Walker, someone who loves to talk in depth about budget and programmatic minutia. And developments this year reinforce that view.
Ryan would have had difficulty getting appointed the head of the powerful House Way and Means committee if he was running for president, and he took care of that potential conflict by announcing he wouldn’t run in 2016.
Now he is generating news as the Republican who is so interested in policy that he is moving left and willing to seek compromises with President Barack Obama — this at a time when Obama is being pilloried by GOP leaders for promoting liberal ideas that have “no chance,” they say, of being passed by a Republican-controlled Congress.
A recent story in the New York Times portrays Ryan as the “gatekeeper of President Obama’s agenda” and quoted Ryan saying, “There are a lot of things we can do with this administration.”
But it will not be easy. “There is, of course, grave skepticism that Mr. Ryan will be able to deliver,” the story goes on. “Indeed, for all of Mr. Ryan’s policy prescriptions that so enrapture his House Republican colleagues, he has never really put together a major piece of bipartisan legislation, has rarely bucked a party-line vote and remains one of the more polarizing figures on Capitol Hill.”
But Ryan has indicated a willingness to work with Obama in areas where there is potential agreement. “Republicans believe the tax code for corporations and individuals needs a thorough overhaul. But, Mr. Ryan conceded, if the administration wants only to focus on business taxes, Congress must adjust.”
‘If we can get tax reform done in phases, phase one is businesses, and whatever we can get for families, and phase two is to finish the job, then fine,’ Mr. Ryan said. “As long as phase one doesn’t take away from phase two.’”
And though many Republicans believe the earned income tax – a wage subsidy for low-income workers invented by conservatives — is is now riddled with fraud and waste, and though Walker and Republicans reduced the state earned income tax in Wisconsin, Ryan has embraced Obama’s call to expand the credit to workers without children. “I want to focus on steps that are achievable,” he told the Times.
Meanwhile, Democrats say Ryan is running the Ways and Means Committee “more charitably toward outnumbered Democrats” than his Republican predecessor Dave Camp.
Elsewhere, Washington Post writer Chris Cillizza has suggested Ryan’s decision not to run for president in 2016 was a more strategic decision because he really had no chance to win and is young enough to wait eight years and run at age 52. He might also have a better chance with a real record of accomplishment in Congress.