Poor Paul Ryan. All he wants to do is lead the country into a new day, where Social Security and Medicare are dolled out in coupon books like you get from your local grocery store, but he’s finding out that getting that ball up the hill isn’t going to be very easy, even with his party as the majority in Congress.
This week, Ryan met with the House Freedom Caucus to discuss the government’s budget over beer and snack chips (no, really), and if he was expecting the most conservative group of legislators in the House to go easy on him because they all are Republicans, he was sorely mistaken. According to The Huffington Post, Ryan got a very rude awakening to the harsh reality of what working with the Tea Party is all about.
Ryan hosted caucus members around a large conference table in his office to tell them that, if Republicans want to pass appropriations bills this year, they have to accept the budget number that leaders from both parties agreed to at the end of October.
“There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll vote for that,” caucus member Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told The Huffington Post after the meeting. (source)
Things reportedly did not get easier from there.
And there you have it — in one singular quote from Mo Brooks of Alabama you have encapsulated perfectly why the Republican Party has lost its way and why former Speaker John Boehner ultimately resigned. Their party isn’t manageable anymore.
When I was growing up, Democrats and Republicans did not see eye to eye on the budget, but they all would sit down and agree to a general framework of the numbers, as Ryan tried to get The Freedom Caucus to buy into in the disastrous meeting with them, and in the past the nuts and bolts of the budget would be hammered out based on that framework.
But Ryan and the GOP power elites have been riling up their base with so much distrust of the government and loathing of a single dime taxed, that the caucus who represents the most aggressively, stalwart conservatives won’t even play ball in the way that politicians in D.C. have for decades. Ryan is stuck now. He’s going to be sidled with the same lack of effort and worth ethic that all of Boehner’s Republican-controlled congresses were, and it’s hard to tell how he climbs out of it unless and until the Freedom Caucus is dismantled.
Maybe now, Ryan will tone down his rhetoric against President Obama? Maybe now he’ll stop saying that the president is the one who is dividing the country and not working in earnest with the Republicans. Because this meeting sort of proves beyond a shadow of a doubt where the breakdown is, and who really doesn’t want to work with the Republicans…and it’s the Republicans. So it’d be really productive for Congressman Ryan to stop pretending as if the president is more responsible for his party’s dysfunction than his party and its voters are.
I won’t hold my breath, and neither should you. Something tells me Speaker Ryan’s House is going to be just as sophomoric, and just as incompetent as Boehner’s was…if not worse. Ryan already showed he’s not willing to stand up the forces that are ripping his party apart when he allowed for yet another symbolic waste of time and money fake-repealing Obamacare, so no one should hold out any hope that he will somehow be a better or more effective “leader” than the feckless Boehener ever was.