mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Paul Ryan To GOP; I Can’t Be Your Everything”: His Current Job, That He Didn’t Want, Isn’t Going That Great

Paul Ryan wants you to know he’s not in the running to be president, and it’s not like when the Speaker of the House assured the public he wasn’t in the running to be Speaker of the House.

This time he wants you to know he means it.

That’s why he’s been putting out shiny, overly produced, campaign-style videos on foreign policy and giving flag draped speeches about the “common humanity” that should unify the Republican Party and the nation?

Nevermind that. This time he means it.

“We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or to have my motivations questioned. So let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination for our party,” Ryan told a room brimming with reporters at the Republican National Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters.

(We’ll come back to the work Ryan wants to (and has failed to) get done in the House later.)

His forceful non-presidential announcement itself turned some heads on Capitol Hill.

“Was he in the running [at] the convention?” asked Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) when The Daily Beast informed him of Ryan’s press conference. “From Paul and from my friends in the House, I have had no one ever confirm the fact that he ever had any interest.”

The news that Ryan’s taken his name out of the running, by some accounts for the 19th time now, hit more moderate Republicans like a punch in the gut as they survey the GOP field that is dominated by reality TV star Donald Trump and conservative bomb-throwing Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“That’s too bad. He was never pushing the talk – it was others,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), admitting that he was one of those on the Hill prodding Ryan to allow his name to be offered on the convention floor in Cleveland. “Paul Ryan would be great for the party and he could certainly win. I’ve known him for years and he’s a good conservative.”

But we’ve heard Ryan take his name out of the running for Speaker, only to offer it and be handed the most coveted gavel on Capitol Hill.

How different will this really be?

“Those are apples and oranges. Being Speaker of the House is a far cry from being President of the United States, specifically because I was already in the House; I’m already a congressman,” Ryan argued as progressive activists protested outside. “I was asked by my colleagues to take a responsibility within Congress that I’ve already been serving in from the one that I had. That is entirely different than getting the nomination for President of the United States by your party, without even running for the job.”

In fairness, his current job, that he didn’t want, isn’t going that great.

As Speaker, the numbers wonk has failed to unite the conservative wing of his party. Take this year’s budget battle, which Ryan seems to have lost.

Ryan was propelled to Republican fame during his tenure as chairman of the Budget Committee where he offered aggressive proposals to cut the social safety net and restructure entitlements, like Medicare. While that made him the whipping boy of progressives, it earned him the GOP’s vice presidential nomination in 2012.

After that  failed campaign, he returned to the House as the Ways and Means chairman – not as prestigious as the veep spot but that’s where tax policy is written, so powerful nonetheless.

When he was elected speaker, he vowed to use his new perch atop the House to show the American people that conservatives can govern by passing a spending blueprint by Tax Day.

That deadline is just days away. And  the tea party wing of the House revolted – as they are known to do – and it seems the lower chamber will fail to even pass a budget.

Thus instead holding a press conference showing a united Republican Party, budget in hand, he was forced to insert himself into presidential politics and beg convention delegates to stay in line and stop loving him so much.

“If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe that you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary. Count me out,” Ryan added. “If you want to be the nominee for our party, to be the president, you should actually run for it.”

Many conservatives argue it would be better for Speaker Ryan’s future to focus on governing the House, instead of jumping into the crazy world of Election 2016.

“There’s no doubt about that,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told The Daily Beast. “Being Speaker of the House, it’s an extremely difficult and challenging job, and he has the ability to be successful at that. I would just ask, but I think his problems will be greater if he’s not in the mainstream of Republican voters on big questions like trade and immigration.”

Sessions, who has endorsed Trump,  added it would be unfair to millions of conservative primary voters for Ryan or another GOP leader to orchestrate a twelfth hour takeover at the convention.

“A lot of people have spoken at these elections. American people are not happy with the establishment of the Republican Party,” said Sessions. “And I guess the Speaker of the House would have to be classified as part of the establishment, right? So it would be hard to make that move—to go from a Ted Cruz and a Donald Trump to somebody who symbolizes the business as usual.”

 

By: Matt Laslo, The Daily Beast, April 13, 2016

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Election 2016, Establishment Republicans, Paul Ryan, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Continuing The Charade”: Meet Paul Ryan, Media Darling”; He’s Sensible, Serious, And Totally Made-Up

The beatification of right-wing Republican Paul Ryan has become an almost annual ritual among the punditocracy. This bizarre tradition began when Ryan released his first budget as chair of the House Budget Committee in 2011, and repeated itself a year later when he rereleased it. It occurred a third time when Mitt Romney—under powerful punditocracy pressure—picked Ryan as his running mate for the 2012 presidential campaign. Now we are in the midst of yet another episode in this sorry franchise, as Republicans and their apologists and propagandists beg Ryan to use his superhero powers to save them from the lunatics who have taken over their party. It’s a measure of how deeply the Republicans have dived into know-nothing, do-nothing nihilism—and, no less significantly, how deeply our most prestigious pundits remain in denial about this fundamental fact—that Ryan has been able to continue the charade, despite having been repeatedly exposed as a math-challenged Ayn Rand acolyte.

The congressman’s emergence on the political scene earned him hosannas from both the center-left and center-right. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg led the pack: Writing beneath the headline “Good Plan!” followed by the adjectives “brave, radical, and smart,” Weisberg was particularly enamored with Ryan’s willingness to lower taxes on the wealthy as he subsequently undermined the Medicare payments upon which middle-class and poor people depend for their healthcare. On the other side of the center aisle, David Brooks insisted that Ryan had “set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion,” and credited him with the manly virtue of tackling “just about every politically risky issue with brio and guts.”

Brooks’s fellow New York Times pundits James B. Stewart and Joe Nocera also raised their pom-poms and lowered their intellectual standards to cheer Ryan on. The former misled his audience by insisting that Ryan’s plan would somehow raise taxes on the rich. The latter lamented that Democrats proved “gleeful” when they won a special congressional election that turned, in part, on the voters’ distaste for Ryan’s plan. The man was so wonderful, apparently, that the other guys should simply have forfeited the game and gone home.

Interestingly, some of the smitten already had an inkling that what they were selling was snake oil. Weisberg admitted that Ryan’s budget was full of “sleight-of-hand tricks” and wouldn’t actually come close to eliminating the deficit in the coming decade, “leaving $400 billion in annual deficits as far as the eye can see.” And Nocera dutifully acknowledged that “Ryan’s solution is wrong­headed,” before adding he was “right that Medicare is headed for trouble.”

In fact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan’s budget would have “likely produce[d] the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase[d] poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).” The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center calculated that people earning over $1 million a year could expect, on average, $265,000 above the $129,000 they would have gotten from Ryan’s proposed extension of George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Meanwhile, middle-class and poor Americans would likely see their incomes decline, as Medicare and other support programs would be slashed to the point of destruction. Even Ryan admitted that enactment of his Robin-Hood-in-reverse plan would lead to a significant increase in the deficit, an unavoidable fact despite the transparently dishonest assumptions on which the argument rested. These included science-fiction levels of predicted growth, together with the pie-in-the-sky promise to close unspecified tax loopholes. Those loopholes, it turns out, only seem to increase with every campaign contribution.

By now, the narrative is all but set in stone. Washington’s own St. Paul is saving the Republicans from their out-of-control Tea Party golem. As one of many breathless Politico headlines put it, Ryan “conquered the Freedom Caucus” by forcing its members to cave in on the demands that toppled the hapless John Boehner in return for Ryan’s willingness to accept the crown of House speaker and save the party from catastrophe. Once again, however, the devilish details contradict the story line. Ryan’s deal with the Freedom Caucus crazies, according to Politico itself, rests far more on capitulation than conquest. For starters, Ryan agreed to give the Freedom Caucus more power on the influential House Republican Steering Committee. He also promised to drop immigration reform from the Republican agenda and to follow the “Hastert rule,” by which no legislation can come to the floor unless it is supported in advance by a majority of Republicans—which means guess who? If the Mets had played this well against the Dodgers and the Cubs, they’d be watching the World Series on TV.

This “Ryan to the rescue” fairy tale is merely the latest manifestation of a corrupt bargain made by many members of the mainstream media. Unable to escape the intellectual straitjacket that requires them to cover the Republican Party as if its ideas are serious, they accept a false equivalence between Republican crazy-talk and normative reality. Clearly, no honest analysis can support such coverage of a party whose leading candidates—including Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Ted Cruz—routinely say such nutty things that they make far-right extremists like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio sound relatively reasonable. As the respected (and centrist) political scientist Theodore Mann of the Brookings Institution recently put it, “Republicans have become more an insurgency than a major political party capable of governing.” This “reality of asymmetric polarization, which the mainstream media and most good government groups have avoided discussing,” Mann notes, has come “at great costs to the country.” Quite obviously, it should also have cost its enablers their reputations for honesty, perspicacity, and prudence. But the pontification business in America is apparently a perpetual-motion machine that can run indefinitely on ideological hot air.

 

By: Eric Alterman, Columnist, The Nation, October 29, 2015

October 30, 2015 Posted by | House Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Yesterday’s Ideological Hero Is Suspect”: Remembering Paul Ryan Before He Became A RINO Squish

A lot of the conservative carping we are hearing about Paul Ryan as he ascends to the House Speakership is interesting, to say the least. As conservative commentator Matt Lewis notes at the Daily Beast today, a lot of the same people were praising him to high heaven when he emerged as the great crafter of right-wing budgets back in 2010 and again in 2012. Since most of the heresies people are now talking about occurred earlier in his congressional career, you have to figure the context has changed more than Ryan has.

Here’s Lewis’ guess:

Much of this boils down to Paul Ryan’s past support for immigration reform—and the fact that this has become the one and only litmus test for populist conservatives.

That could certainly help explain why everybody’s favorite nativist, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has been making negative noises about Ryan’s accession to the Speakership.

As it happens, the day after Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running-mate in 2012, I was in Waukee, Iowa, at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit, one of the nation’s biggest and most influential Christian Right clambakes. Steve King keynoted the event, and expressed satisfaction with Romney’s choice of Ryan–as did, it seems, the entire assemblage, which erupted in cheers at the first mention of Ryan’s name. But at that point in history, conservatives were most focused on the fact that Ryan was a down-the-line antichoicer who had shown his “guts” by crafting a budget document (actually two of them by then) that messed with Medicare and took a claw hammer to the federal programs benefitting those people.

Nowadays if you are guilty of having ever supported “amnesty” your other heresies will be uncovered, however old they are. The other way to look at it, of course, is that the GOP continues to drift to the Right, making yesterday’s ideological heroes suspect. The message to Paul Ryan is: keep up.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, Octoer 26, 2015

October 27, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Marco Rubio; Let Me Be Your Front Man, Republicans”: To Continue To Advocate The Fiscal And Regulatory Policies The GOP Craves

Today, Marco Rubio delivers a speech in Detroit, where he will again make the case to Republicans that the solution to their economic vulnerabilities lies in nominating Marco Rubio. “If I’m our nominee … We will be the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars,” Rubio promises. The choice of working-class occupations is hardly an accident — Rubio is describing the occupations held by his parents when they came to the United States. Rubio’s idea of a “party of” is quite literal — he means the party would be identified with the classes of the parents of its candidate rather than, say, its policies.

Many Republicans blame Mitt Romney’s defeat on his personal wealth, and there has been a renewed vogue for the always-popular appeal to personal working-class authenticity. Scott Walker has a story about buying a really cheap sweater. John Kasich is the son of a mailman. (National Review’s Kasich profile begins, “Have you heard that John Kasich’s dad was a mailman? If not, then you’ve probably never been around Ohio’s Republican governor.”) Hillary Clinton, too, reaches back to her mother to cast herself as the child of working-class toil. But Clinton grounds her appeal to hard-pressed Americans primarily in terms of her policy platform, which she has emphasized in a series of detailed speeches.

Rubio is unusually clear about his strategy to respond to Clinton’s arguments about policy with appeals to his background. “If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck?” he said at the first Republican debate. “I was raised paycheck to paycheck. How is she — how is she gonna lecture me — how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago.” This is Rubio’s plan. Clinton will attack the Republican economic program, and Rubio will talk about his life story.

Rubio’s platform is not entirely devoid of appeals to the working class. He emphasizes an expanded child-tax credit, which would provide benefits to families of modest means. George W. Bush, likewise, portrayed his tax cut as a plan aimed primarily at people like a low-income waitress mom, even though the overall impact was to make the tax code much more regressive. Rubio’s program would have the same effect, but more so. Even Rubio’s tax-cut plan, the most allegedly moderate aspect of his platform, would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. Other elements would compound the impact. Rubio would raise the Social Security retirement age, a change with little impact on white-collar workers, but a punishing blow to people who work on their feet or in some other physically demanding way. He would repeal Obamacare, whose benefits are heavily tilted toward low-income workers:

Rubio has sketched out a vague concept that would replace Obamacare, which — to the extent its effects can be defined — would shift much higher costs onto low-income workers, like bartenders and maids.

Rubio has voted for the Ryan budget, which would effect the largest upward redistribution of resources in American history. Indeed, he has set himself to Ryan’s right, criticizing the chairman’s compromise to slightly ease the impact of budget sequestration. He was also an early supporter of the 2013 government shutdown.

Rubio promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, a position that finds immense favor on Wall Street. Rubio may be the most forthrightly pro–Wall Street candidate in the race. His undiluted attack on Dodd-Frank prompted a grateful Richard Bove to write a column headlined “Thank You, Marco Rubio.” Bove is the author of Guardians of Prosperity: Why America Needs Big Banks. Some critics of Dodd-Frank favor (or like to position themselves as favoring) even more stringent regulation. Bove makes no such pretense. His book’s own summary begins, “Since the financial crisis, amid outrage at the likes of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and Washington’s rejiggering of the financial system, the banking industry has had one major defender: Richard X. Bove.”

It is positions like this — along with his past, retracted but perhaps still secretly held support for immigration reform — that have endeared Rubio to his party’s donor class. “At the American Enterprise Institute’s annual donor retreat in Sea Island, Ga., one attendee says Rubio got rave reviews from a crowd that included several billionaires,” reported National Review’s Eliana Johnson. “And in late January, the senator impressed the libertarian-leaning crowd at the Koch brothers’ donor conference in Palm Springs, Calif., and came out on top of an informal straw poll conducted there.”

In 2004, Democrats did not think they could frontally attack the Bush administration’s hawkish policies, so they wanted to use their candidate’s biography instead. That was the all-but-explicit message of John Kerry, who promised Democrats his military background would insulate him from attacks. Republicans who favor tax cuts for the rich, cuts in social benefits for working-class Americans, and deregulation of Wall Street face a similar dilemma. What these donors want is a candidate who will continue to advocate the fiscal and regulatory policies they crave, but can sell it to the public. Rubio is all but explicitly making the case for himself as the front man to make that sale.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, August 20, 2015

August 21, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mike Huckabee Is Prepared To Blow Up Republicans’ Big Ruse”: Pulling Back The Curtain On The Party’s Double Dealing

By the time the sixth or seventh candidate enters a Republican presidential primary, it’s usually tough to identify a unique quality that distinguishes him from those who came before. Most of the predictable niches—the Establishment candidate, the Religious Right candidate, the Conservative Absolutist candidate, the non-white/non-male outreach/token candidates, the outsider candidate, etc.—have already been filled.

With that pattern in mind, you might imagine Mike Huckabee missed his moment. At the time of his announcement last week, the GOP race already included a Religious Right tribune (Ted Cruz), an Evangelical Christian (Scott Walker), a fair-weather libertarian (Rand Paul), an outreacher (Marco Rubio), an outsider (Ben Carson), and a woman (Carly Fiorina). And in a purely electoral sense, Huckabee did miss his moment.

Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, had a better opportunity to consolidate the religious conservative vote against the donor candidate in 2008 than he does now, and even then he came up short. Eight years ago, as Nate Cohn wrote recently at the New York Times, “religious conservatives had serious reservations about the two main candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney.” This year things are different.

But this isn’t just a simple story about a hopeless underdog deluding himself about his odds, or a retread of so many GOP primaries where too many conservatives vie for the right wing vote and clear a path for the money guy.

Huckabee appears to be aware of his liabilities, and is thus angling not only for the evangelical vote, but for the old person vote in general. He’s adopted the view, unfathomable in modern Republican politics, that support programs for the elderly shouldn’t be tampered with, and not just for today’s seniors, but for at least a generation. By doing so he’s violated the GOP’s implicit pact that discourages members from accentuating the tensions between the party’s fiscal priorities and its aging political base. If he makes good on this cynical strategy, he will probably still lose, but his candidacy will have served a valuable and revealing purpose.

Let’s be clear up front that Huckabee’s positioning here is 100 percent cynical. As John McCormack of the neoconservative Weekly Standard reminded us last month, Huckabee was a proponent of the Republican consensus as recently as August 2012, when he wrote on his Facebook page that “Paul Ryan is being demonized for his suggested Medicare reforms. But the alternatives may be scarier.”

Today, Huckabee says he wouldn’t sign legislation codifying Ryan’s Medicare reforms if he were president, and lambasted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s proposal to further raise the Social Security retirement age over time. In Iowa this week, Huckabee told a crowd of supporters, “It is a foolish thing for the government to involuntarily confiscate money from your pockets and paychecks for 50 years, and then suddenly tell you, oh, we were just kidding.”

What he didn’t mention is that his proposed “Fair Tax”—a hefty tax on consumption—would disproportionately increase costs for fixed-income seniors, who spend most of their money, and thus operate in effect much like a Social Security benefit cut.

But for political purposes, it doesn’t really matter that Huckabee isn’t acting out of compassion for the elderly or the poor. What matters is that he’s motivated enough to pull back the curtain on the party’s double dealing.

For the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans have taken an awkward, cynical, schizophrenic view of entitlements. They have voted with near unanimity for a budget that would radically overhaul Medicare, but have promised (unworkably) to isolate the old and nearly old from any disruptions. They have largely sidelined their preferred Social Security reforms, but salivated over the prospect of voting for a cut to Social Security benefits when they thought Obama might sign it. They have railed against the Affordable Care Act for reducing spending on Medicare while voting for budgets that preserve those very cuts.

The only way to make sense of this mishmash is to remember that the GOP owes its political livelihood to the elderly. To pursue conservative goals, without obliterating their coalition, Republicans must twist themselves into pretzels. They must detest spending, but only on those other people. Their rhetorical commitments are impossible to square with their ideological and substantive ones, though, and the agenda they’ve promised to pursue when they control the government again would not exempt retirees and near retirees in any meaningful way. At the end of the day they can only keep their promises to one interest group, and it’s not going to be the elderly.

In effect, Huckabee is promising to lay this all out for Republican primary (i.e. older) voters, and place his rivals in the exquisitely awkward position of having to explain themselves. Normally the way things work in Republican primaries is that candidates seek advantage by drawing attention to their opponents’ insufficient commitment to conservatism. Huckabee’s big bet is that—in this one substantive realm, where conservatism and voter self-interest point in opposite directions—he can do the same by running to the left. Watching him test this theory, even in defeat, will be fascinating.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, May 11, 2015

May 12, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Mike Huckabee, Republican Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: