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We don't need idealism, Speaker Ryan

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We don't need idealism, Speaker Ryan

Recounting The Speaker of the House at TimesTalks D.C.

9.10.17

The DACA repeal. Two hurricanes. President Donald Trump’s deal with Democrats on debt. A hugely publicized failure months ago to reform healthcare. Eighty-seven percent of Americans having “some” to “none” confidence in Congress. An alt-right protest turned fatal in Charlottesville.

This hodgepodge of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s political challenges served as the backdrop for his conversation with Jonathan Weisman, New York Times congressional editor, on September 7 at the Newseum. As a politician who hopes to convince America that its government has its act together, Ryan delivered a few messages that struggled to reassure.


“I’m not going to be the dictator of the House, I’ll be the speaker, and find consensus. We don’t want to have the same rotating [immigration] problem for years or decades.”


Ryan did well in his attempt to argue that a tax reform bill is worth political attention. He’s right in that legislation needs to brings the country back to the levels of economic growth, which preceded the recession. A less bureaucratic, downsized tax code would achieve higher wages, higher standards of living, and accrue more government revenue. Having one of the highest worldwide corporate rates simply does not put companies into attractive tax positions. Cutting them has generally seen success.


Paul Ryan on Taxes, DACA, and Trump's Deal with Democrats from The New York Times

But to go as far as to declare that a tax reform bill is relevant as of today is quite iffy. A healthy economy is the foundation to solve a number of problems, sure. Yes, a good tax system would help in “resolving hyperpolarization” – but a few generations need to pass before we see those results.

Ryan's emphasis on how Congress can be addressing so many important issues at once simply isn’t convincing in today’s political climate. He discusses policy in a way that masks the difficulty the federal government has had in trying to pass laws.

“That’s how Congress works. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

This leads into his next point: that there are little difficulties in trying to govern with President Trump. Regarding the repeal of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order (DACA): apparently, this entire time Ryan was trying to say that he didn’t want DACA rescinded immediately.

Recall that he didn’t want Trump rescind the order, then paradoxically lauded Trump when he repealed DACA? Ryan saved face by emphasizing how he wants Congress to address immigration. The six-month period before DACA is fully done away with will be enough time to make a solid solution, so he says. “I’m not going to be the dictator of the House, I’ll be the speaker, and find consensus. We don’t want to have the same rotating [immigration] problem for years or decades.”

“We can’t get numb to this. We have to be outraged every single time”


The potential failure for our deadlocked legislature in multitasking didn’t phase Ryan in the slightest. “That’s how Congress works. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” Nevertheless, the healthcare bill failed terribly. Our country witnessed multiple government funding shutdowns – and that was when the parties weren’t going through as intense of identity crises.

Only was Ryan respectable as a leader when he spoke on Charlottesville: “We can’t get numb to this. We have to be outraged every single time.”

Neo-Nazis cannot be allowed to occupy normal space. It should be noted that there was minor, sporadic heckling when Ryan spoke on tax reform. However, his condemnation of white supremacy was met with applause.

That’s precisely what this country needs more of – moral leadership, not hollow reassurance. There is plenty of disconnect between politicians and people, as well as the left and the right. Ryan doesn’t need to sound idealistic; our political climate needs to be in a position, which is healthy enough for his words to carry weight.


This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Rival.