The GOP’s donor class has turned its eyes to its next best hope: Paul Ryan, following the House conservatives’ successful defeat of Rep. Kevin McCarthy bid to become the next House Speaker.
“Paul Ryan is seriously considering a bid for House speaker,” reports the Washington Post.
Ryan is being portrayed by establishment media outlets and establishment politicians, such as outgoing Speaker John Boehner and McCarthy, as some kind of savior of the House GOP who could get enough votes to keep the party united.
However, several sources for senior House conservatives tell Breitbart News that Ryan would face the same hurdles as Boehner or McCarthy when it comes to trying to coalesce 218 members behind him on the House floor should he decide to run for the Speakership.
“I have been talking to lots of conservative members and he is going to have the same problems getting to 218 [votes] that McCarthy did,” Glyn Wright, the executive director of Eagle Forum, told Breitbart News.
“Paul Ryan is responsible for the House passing bailouts for Wall Street through TARP, with regular folks who are struggling to make ends meet paying the bill,” one senior House GOP aide for an influential conservative member told Breitbart News. “There are a lot of members who have problems with that kind of leadership. It’s Boehner policy with a different face.”
“He’s not conservative,” a senior GOP aide to a different conservative member said of Ryan, noting he probably wouldn’t have a shot at the speakership if he did run.
“It would be tough [to see Ryan get 218 votes],” a third senior GOP aide—this one to a senior House Freedom Caucus member—also told Breitbart News.
Even if the House Freedom Caucus drops it endorsement of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)—who is supporting Ryan’s candidacy for the speakership—believes it will, Ryan will face significant obstacles getting to 218 votes to win. The Freedom Caucus has already endorsed Webster for Speaker. Because the group votes as a bloc, they need 80 percent of the approximately 40-members to support a vote —which means a few more than 30 members in the group.
That’s because, with 247 House Republicans in the House, all conservatives need to keep Ryan from getting to 218 votes is the votes of 29 conservatives against him.
Several Republican lawmakers suggest the Ryan-craze is a media creation.
For instance, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told The Hill newspaper he believes the media has is behind the push of Ryan for Speaker. “I think that’s more media-driven. I think that’s you guys who keep talking about Paul Ryan,” Fleming said. “Paul has made it clear he’s not interested.”
Moreover, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the chairman of the Conservative Opportunity Society, wants any Speakership candidate to pledge to oppose amnesty—something Ryan is unlikely to do.
“Conservatives have fought long and hard to implement change in the leadership ranks. Paul Ryan is anything but that,” Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz told Breitbart News. “We need a Speaker who has not been a part of this failed political system– Ryan has helped construct it. If conservatives hold firm and the American people continue to resist the establishment cabal, Paul Ryan will not be the next Speaker of the House.”
Congress is on recess next week, so members will have to face constituents and a barrage of talk radio and a conservative groundswell against Ryan’s record in Congress before they vote.
What’s more, other candidates who have more credibility with Republicans conference-wide are beginning to emerge to make a run at the Speakership, so Ryan’s air of inevitability is may start to crumble.
Nonetheless, the political establishment is working overtime to build Ryan into someone acceptable, despite his lack of support amongst conservatives.
Ryan, the Post notes, has been at the receiving end of “intense and increasing pressure from all corners of the House Republican Conference.” Speaker Boehner personally spoke to Ryan “at least twice, to convince the reluctant congressman that he was the only man who could save House Republicans from their self-created chaos,” The Post writes.
In a sign of just how serious he is, Ryan has even put off meeting the donors whose agenda he has worked tirelessly throughout his Congressional career to enact. The Post writes Ryan, who “does quite a lot of dialing for dollars,” has now “canceled all of his fundraising and political events for the next 48 hours.”
Kevin McCarthy has already given his seal of approval. “I think [Ryan] is the best one to bring us together,” McCarthy told reporters.
McCarthy’s support is not surprising as he, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Ryan were all part of the ‘Young Guns’ team. Together, they pushed for unrestricted trade and immigration, fiscal deal-making with Obama, and a conciliatory approach with Congressional Democrats that rhetorically assailed GOP voters on a daily basis.
Ryan, for instance, was the Republican who worked with Sen. Patty Murray to eliminate the federal budget caps while slashing veterans’ pensions. When Jeff Sessions tried to restore veterans’ pensions by cutting benefits for illegal aliens, Ryan opposed the effort. Sessions was subsequently denied the budget gavel after four years as its Ranking Member and two years as Judiciary Ranking Member. Ryan, by contrast, was allowed to stay on the Budget Committee after his term expired and was then given his personal choice of his next committee: Ways and Means.
On Ways and Means, Ryan built bipartisan Hill support for “Obamatrade,” President Barack Obama’s still-emerging series of free-trade deals.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, Ryan made a series of false claims about Obamatrade. Ryan is famous in the House for gathering groups of lawmakers to spin them on his various plans and initiatives, only for them to discover later that Ryan was wrong. For instance, during Ryan’s push to pass Obamatrade, he repeatedly denied that the treaty contained any language on immigration, asserting that such claims were “absolutely not true” and were merely “urban legend”. Last month, however, a FOIA request revealed that there is a chapter relating to migrant guest-workers in Obama’s still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Ryan also developed the GOP’s fiscal platform in the run-up to the 2012 election losses.
Ryan’s decision to lead with a plan to cut Medicare spending-cuts pushed outside of the budget window- at a time when they had no chance of enactment, was seen by many as major strategic blunder. His budget did not balance and provided an easy target for Democrats.
Given this history, it is not surprising that Boehner, McCarthy and the Wall Street Journal editorial board are all backing Paul Ryan grab the Speakers’ gavel.
Interestingly, there is a select handful of conservative House members who, despite claiming the scalps from both Boehner and McCarthy — seem to be falling in line behind the heir-apparent to Eric Cantor.
As House Freedom Caucus’ Mick Mulvaney told Fox News’ Bret Baier in a Thursday evening interview, he believes Paul Ryan would be a “consensus candidate.”
“We talked to Paul [Ryan] about running for Majority Leader back when Eric Cantor lost… If Paul decides he wants to run, certainly, he becomes the favorite and someone who might be able to unite the party,” Mulvaney said.
However, as Breitbart News exclusively reported, Mulvaney and Ryan were actually working together to try to revive Marco Rubio’s dead amnesty push.
It might seem surprising that these select conservative House members seem willing to embrace Paul Ryan, while– at the same time– eschewing McCarthy, Boehner and Cantor, who hold the ideological views as Ryan.
No-one in the House has done more to push Cantor’s policy agenda than Paul Ryan. Except– on the issue which took Cantor out of the House– Ryan has put himself to the left of his longtime ally Eric Cantor.
In 2010, Paul Ryan joined Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor in authoring a book entitled Young Guns, which sought to reframe the conservative agenda so that it would be more receptive to the needs and demands of the Republican party’s corporatist donors.
Actual Republican voters, however, proved unreceptive to that agenda: Eric Cantor suffered a historic electoral defeat at the hands of populist candidate Dave Brat, and McCarthy caused uproar yesterday after his decision to pull out of the Speakership race. Understandably, the Republican establishment is now turning its eyes to the one lonely remaining “Young Gun”.
Despite his involvement in widely-criticized budget deals and close link to the GOP’s 2012 election losses, Ryan has developed close bonds with House lawmakers.
Following a Time Magazine profile, Paul Ryan became famous for leading a House-wide group fitness routine.
Before disgraced now former Congressman Aaron Schock quit, he and Ryan– along with a few other members– used to engage in nearly daily rituals of P90X. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, the “group gathers most days around two televisions in the House gym to follow a series of DVD workout routines,” together they would watch as Tony Horton, “the tanned, buff fitness guru who created P90X… leads the routines on the DVD.” As Schock told reporters, “I thought it looked like some kind of Jane Fonda video, [but] it kicked my butt.”
Yet Ryan’s popularity does not seem to extend beyond the Congressional weight room.
Indeed, on many issues Ryan stands opposed to American voters. That divide was represented by the Republican Party’s resounding defeat in 2012 when Ryan was on the ticket.
In his widely-panned debate against Joe Biden, for instance, Ryan became the subject of ridicule for thirstily slurping down pitchers of water, in a manner reminiscent of Marco Rubio, after suffering from nerve-induced dry mouth.
His defeat by Joe Biden certainly did not help Mitt Romney’s campaign against President Barack Obama. As The Guardian wrote at the time, “Joe Biden’s alpha-male display leaves Paul Ryan overwhelmed in VP debate… On more than one occasion, the Republican candidate visibly gulped.”
After Ryan failed to deliver what many described as, a “gimme election” against President Barack Obama, Ryan became one of the biggest champions of the GOP’s post-election autopsy report.
The report concluded that the reason he and Romney lost was because of they were unable to make inroads with Hispanics.
But this analysis has been repeatedly debunked. As Byron York has explained, “The most serious of those problems was that Romney was not able to connect with white voters who were so turned off by the campaign that they abandoned the GOP and in many cases stayed away from the polls altogether.”
Yet nevertheless, immediately thereafter, Ryan along with fellow “Young Gun” Eric Cantor led the charge of to push amnesty and expand immigration levels.
“There is nobody around in the party who is more fanatically dedicated to the cause of open borders than Paul Ryan,” writes Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz. “Whereas most others could be talked off the ledge on this issue, Ryan is a true believer. When asked to comment on Obama’s executive amnesty – the single biggest act of imperialism from a modern president – Ryan said “call my office.”
In 2013, Paul Ryan declared, “I will debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress [the ‘Gang of Eight’ plan] are amnesty.” That promise is still featured on his website to this day. Open borders advocate Luis Gutierrez, who has said that his “only one loyalty” is to immigrant community, has endorsed Paul Ryan for speaker and has called Ryan his “guiding light” on immigration.
During the height of the Gang of Eight push in the Senate, Paul Ryan suggested that there are jobs in Wisconsin– such as working in hotels– that Americans simply won’t do.
“It’s the dairy farmer in western Wisconsin who needs labor. It’s the manufacturer. It’s the hospitality industry in the Wisconsin Dells in the summer season—the nursery growers. There are pockets in the sector of this slow economy that really need work and labor.”
National Review’s Rich Lowry once declared, “The next time I hear a Republican strategist or a Republican politician say that there are jobs that Americans won’t do, that person should be shot, he should be hanged, he should be wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the Potomac River.”
Yet, despite Lowry earlier suggesting people like Ryan should be read entirely out of the GOP, his National Review today endorsed Ryan to be Speaker of the House – giving Ryan unilateral control over whether Gang of Eight-style legislation is made the law of the land.
Scholars argue Ryan’s open-borders policies would forever doom the Republican effort to win elections on a conservative, limited-government platform. Ryan, however, does not seem concerned. When asked whether he thought “immigrants from the Third World are more likely or less likely to support conservative policies,” Ryan answered that he thought “immigrants from the Third World” were “some of the best Americans” and ignored the electoral implications of a federal law that imports millions of poor immigrants.
Similarly on the issue of trade, Ryan stands against Republican voters. According to a May 2015 Pew poll, by greater than a 3-to-1 margin, Republicans think that “free trade” leads to job destruction rather than job creation.By more than a four-to-one margin, Republicans think free trade agreements lower wages rather than raise them.
It may then be regarded as a truly strange twist of fate should the demise of Cantor and McCarthy lead to the rise of Paul Ryan – the member of their threesome most dedicated to the billionaire consensus rejected by the GOP’s base.