House Speaker Paul Ryan is warming up to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s ideology, a source close to the negotiations between the two camps tells Breitbart News.
In a recent meeting with Trump’s incoming Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon and other top Trump aides, Ryan called Trump’s plans for a border adjustment tax “responsible nationalism.”
Ryan, previously a top advocate for globalization on issues like trade and immigration, has warmed up to the incoming Trump team, according to recent reports. Specifically, Ryan and Bannon—the former Executive Chairman of Breitbart News—are “getting along,” The Hill newspaper writes.
The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Scott Wong wrote late Wednesday, less than 48 hours before Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States:
In meetings at Trump Tower and on Capitol Hill, the House Speaker and senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump have embarked on a surprising collaboration, top aides say, sketching out a plan for tax reform that could be among the next president’s first major legislative achievements. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, met last week in his office with several Trump aides. Over an Italian dinner, Ryan discussed the House GOP’s reform plan with Bannon, as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, incoming White House policy director Stephen Miller and Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin. This budding relationship has surprised and delighted members of Trump’s incoming administration, which has otherwise been dogged by reports of infighting. And it offers hope to Republicans worried that a feud between the two men would spell disaster for the party’s agenda.
The Washington Post‘s Robert Costa revealed a little over a week ago that Bannon and other top Trump officials—such as incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, incoming chief Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller, Trump’s incoming senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and incoming National Economic Council director Gary Cohn—were meeting with Ryan on tax reform.
It is unclear if Ryan’s “responsible nationalism” comments came in that meeting or a subsequent one, but the source with direct knowledge of his remarks was confident that the Speaker and his team are working closely with Trump and his team–a remarkable development given how far apart inside the Republican Party the Trump and Ryan wings were just a few short months ago.
In their Wednesday evening piece, Easley and Wong quote KellyAnne Conway, Trump’s winning campaign manager and incoming counselor to the president, as detailing the warming-up between the previously hostile-to-each-other Bannon and Ryan.
“Their shared brain power and shared resolve are a large part of why significant tax reform will be done sooner rather than later in a Trump administration,” Conway said. “There is collaboration—no confrontation—and a shared purposefulness where differences once existed.”
A senior House GOP leadership aide—presumably someone in Ryan’s office or close to him—confirmed the budding positive relationship to The Hill.
“We’ve always had communication and personal interaction between our senior House leadership and senior leadership with Trump, and that includes Steve Bannon,” the aide said, adding that Ryan has “shown a willingness to work with everyone on the Trump team in terms of achieving what our joint goals are.”
“We all need to work together to achieve our joint policy goals,” the senior GOP leadership aide said.
Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, added that “We look forward to working closely with President Trump and his senior leadership team to produce results for the American people.”
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer added that Republicans across government are working “vigorously together.”
“I think our entire team, as well as House Republicans and Senate Republicans, are working vigorously together at every level, from the principals to senior staff, to enact the agenda Donald Trump has articulated to the American people,” Spicer said.
The Hill’s article notes that Breitbart News Network—of which Bannon was at one point Executive Chairman, a position he left to serve as CEO of the Trump campaign and now Chief Strategist for the president-elect and incoming White House—has been critical of Ryan. Easley and Wong wrote:
Ryan and Bannon had more acrimony to overcome than many work partners. Bannon talked of wanting to destroy the Speaker when he headed Breitbart News. The political outsider oversaw the news outlet’s sustained attacks against Ryan, as well as an effort to have him ousted from Congress by supporting Ryan’s long-shot 2016 primary opponent. Ryan represented the kind of establishment Republican that Bannon has made a career of vilifying. A Midwest Republican who has long been a free trade advocate, Ryan frequently ran afoul of Bannon and Breitbart for a perceived lack of conservative bona fides. Bannon often referred to Ryan as “the enemy” and wrote in emails that he wanted the young Speaker removed from power.
They added later in the piece specific pieces Breitbart News has run about Ryan:
Part of the surprise in Bannon and Ryan’s working relationship is the vehemence with which Breitbart News went after the Speaker — sometimes on personal terms. The website suggested Ryan was a hypocrite for sending his children to a Catholic school that offers tuition discounts to parishioners, contrasting the school’s position with Ryan’s opposition to Trump’s proposed religious test for Muslim immigrants. On his radio show, Bannon mocked Ryan for ‘rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second.’ Ryan became a target for his initial hesitancy to endorse Trump; for announcing his opposition to some of Trump’s more controversial proposals, like the Muslim immigration ban; and for saying he would focus on defending the House majority instead of boosting Trump after the then-candidate’s comments about sexually assaulting women. Breitbart also has run stories assailing Ryan’s ‘failing’ Speakership and has cast him as a Democratic sympathizer.
But now, The Hill reporters wrote, that is changing—at least for now.
“The election changed all that,” Easley and Wong wrote. “Thanks to Trump’s victory, Ryan and Bannon will have to work together to implement the new president’s agenda. And on tax reform, the two have made a definite connection. Trump and Ryan’s top aides say the two men’s shared interest in spreadsheets, modeling and forecasting has produced an unlikely alliance that has generated excitement in conservative circles over the forthcoming GOP tax overhaul.”
Specifically, on things like the border adjustment tax—a form of a tariff on imports into the United States which would tax companies that make products abroad and ship them into the U.S. to be sold here, something sources say Ryan called “responsible nationalism” in his meetings with Trump officials like Bannon—there seems to be some alignment between Ryan and Trump happening.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)—Ryan’s successor to that post who took over when Ryan ascended to the Speakership in the wake of former Speaker John Boehner’s resignation—discussed the coming border adjustment tax on CNBC. He framed the border adjustment tax as a way to fight the Chinese on the world economic stage, something Trump—and several of his incoming advisers—have sought to do for years to level the playing field worldwide.
“For the first time, we’ll be on a level playing field with China and our competitors. For the first time, we’ll have eliminated any tax incentives to move jobs or research or headquarters overseas,” Brady said in describing the tax in a CNBC interview.
Trump’s team and Brady’s team—essentially Ryan’s—are, according to Brady, “deeply engaged” in discussions on this front.
“We are very much on the same page,” Brady said.
Sources close to the Trump transition team described the coming fight for a border adjustment tax as one of the key policy battles the president-elect and his team will aim to tackle early on in his administration, right off the bat after he’s inaugurated on Friday.