Representative Paul Ryan’s plans for substantial changes in Social Security and Medicare, tax reform, and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline are on hold now as a bi-partisan agreement to suspend the debt limit and end the shutdown while funding the government through Jan 15 are underway.
Ryan’s ideas will have to wait until budget talks materialize in an upcoming senate agreement. Lawmakers ignoring Ryan’s input marginalizes his contribution now and may diminish his future stature in the Republican party and his election plans in 2016. At least that is the opinion of Julian Zelizer, public affairs professor at Princeton University.
“There was a moment in recent days where it seemed like he would try to emerge in the spotlight, to help be the driver. But it didn’t happen,” Zelizer said. “He’s not a key figure.”
Early in October, Ryan had suggested increasing insurance premiums on the elderly, increasing contributions by federal workers for their retirement, and changing tax codes to reflect a broader tax base and lower tax rates.
“We need to pay our bills today — and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow,” he clarified in a Wall Street Journal editorial . “Let’s negotiate an agreement to make modest reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code. This is our moment to get a down payment on the debt and boost the economy.”
Ultimately, the House of Representatives drifted toward the ideas of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, which emphasized the defunding of the Affordable Care Act.
By Ryan promoting his ideas, Ross Baker, Political Science professor at Rutgers, said, “He’s confused matters and it doesn’t really help at all.”
Ryan’s spokesman Kevin Siefert said, “He hopes all sides can work together to pay down the debt and grow the economy.”
Zelizer says that Ryan has always had bold ideas but still needs to show results to help himself politically: “I have the highest regard for him… He’s been full of ideas over the years, but he hasn’t been successful as a legislator”.