House Speaker Paul Ryan urges conservatives to rally around his leadership in 2016, to focus on economic growth and to avoid emotional “hot button issues” and “identity politics.”
“We can’t let how someone votes on an amendment to an [leadership-backed] appropriations bill define what it means to be a conservative,” according to the text of a speech that Ryan delivered to an audience at the Heritage Foundation, which included representatives of Heritage Action, which advocates in Congress for conservative policies.
That barb was likely also aimed at his on-again, off-again critics in the diverse House Freedom Caucus, who favor reduced federal spending. Most members of the caucus backed Ryan when he ran for the office of House Speaker in October 2015.
Ryan urged conservatives to scale back their political goals, such as replacement of Obamacare with a free-market health-care system. “We can’t promise that we can repeal ObamaCare when a guy with the last name Obama is president… All that does is set us up for failure … and disappointment,” according to the speech.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” he said. “We can’t do that anymore.”
Economics, not social or cultural issues, should be the focus of the GOP in 2016, according to his speech.
“We have to unite conservatives around a bold, pro-growth agenda that will get America back on track—and then take our agenda to the people… [President Barack Obama] is going to do all he can to elect another progressive by distracting the American people. So he’s going to try to get us talking about guns or some other hot-button issue and not about his failures on ISIS or the economy or national security,” he said, without citing Donald Trump’s popular call for enforcement of laws against illegal-immigration, and for new restrictions on the immigration of people who embrace Islamic ideas.
Ryan’s speech tried to sideline the immigration issue, which has upended U.S. politics since Ryan and his business and progressive allies tried in 2013 and 2014 to pass an immigration bill that would have amnesties millions of illegals and provided companies with an endless flood of cheap foreign labor.
Ryan also signaled his support for large-scale immigration by describing himself as a “Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan conservative.”
Jack Kemp was a liberal libertarian GOP leader in the 1980s, who favored large-scale immigration into California and other states.
When Kemp was active, California was dominated by U.S.-born mainstream voters who elected Republicans. Now, after Kemp helped overcome public opposition to large-scale migration, California’s politics are dominated by minorities, including poor immigrants, ensuring the state is dominated by Democratic politicians. But Ryan’s speech still touted Kemp’s policies.
In the late 1970s, Jack Kemp and House conservatives put out a plan to cut taxes and restore America to her greatness. It was bold and aspirational. It was so compelling that Ronald Reagan ran on those ideas in 1980. And what happened? Reagan ran the tables. The Republican party won a mandate from the people, and the rest, as they say, is history… So we need to be inspirational. We need to be inclusive.
Ryan has repeatedly promoted greater immigration, and helped increase the use of lower-wage guest-workers. He and his allies argue that extra workers will increase the size of the economy, but critics say the extra labor drives down Americans’ wages even as it boost stock values.
Currently, four million Americans turn 18 each year, but face job competition from roughly 1 million new immigrants and 700,000 new temporary workers. The 2013 bill would have increased the inflow of refugees, tripled the annual inflow of legal immigrants, and increased the annual inflow of guest-workers, many of who are given white-collar professional jobs sought by American graduates.