Republicans have apparently agreed to nominate Paul Ryan as their next House Speaker, even though Ryan announced his support for a two-year debt and budget deal on Wednesday. In backing the budget deal, Ryan bucked the extreme right wing of his party, rejecting crisis government in favor of a two-year agreement that restores regular order to the budget process. That did not stop conservative Republicans however from reaching an agreement on Wednesday that Ryan should be the next Speaker of the House.
Paul Ryan’s honeymoon with far right conservatives may be short lived. In the first critical test of Ryan’s loyalties since Boehner’s resignation announcement, Ryan aligned himself with Boehner’s establishment wing of the party, rather than with the tea party contingent that is determined to fight the budget deal.
With no other leaders under serious consideration for becoming speaker, Ryan survived his right-wing heresy on the budget deal, but perhaps only temporarily. A future showdown between Ryan and the GOP far right seems all but inevitable.
Ultimately, my vote is going to be determined by the substance of the bill – and whether there is, at this point, a better alternative. As with any budget agreement, this one has some good, some bad, and some ugly. It does include meaningful reforms to strengthen our safety net programs, including significant changes to bolster Social Security. It would allow us to return to regular order in our budget process. And it would mean our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to carry out their mission.
What I’ve heard from members over the last two weeks is a desire to wipe the slate clean, put in place a process that builds trust, and start focusing on big ideas. What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that’s why I intend to support it. It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people.
While the Ayn Rand-loving Congressman, turned pragmatist, will likely see this budget vote succeed, he may soon discover the political cost of compromise within the surly GOP House caucus. House conservatives and talk show hosts may soon accuse him of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and resume the kind of RINO hunting they engaged in to push Boehner to resign as House Speaker.
House Republicans will be further enabled by GOP Senators running for president who plan to grandstand against the budget deal. With Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio posturing against the deal, Ryan is sure to alienate conservatives. Despite the GOP’s apparent show of support for Ryan on Wednesday, he will soon be cast aside as another useless squish in the GOP House who just isn’t conservative enough.
Just as Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and Kevin McCarthy were brought down in one way or another by disgruntled conservatives, Paul Ryan will be as well. The House has become ungovernable, and any Republican who reaches out to compromise is likely to earn the scorn of the increasingly vocal far-right wing of the Republican Party. Paul Ryan may win this battle with the nihilists in his party, but like Boehner, he will probably eventually end up losing the war.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.