The flying band director returns

Tonight through Saturday night at the UW–Madison Kohl Center:

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Scott Walker and the (insert current number here) Dwarfs

As of this moment, the list from the state Elections Commission of Democrats running for their party’s nomination for governor:

  • Michelle Doolan of Cross Plains. (She reportedly dropped out, though she’s still officially listed as a candidate.)
  • Andrew Lust of Madison. (Don’t know who he is, but maybe he could use Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” as his theme song.)
  • Andy Gronik of Fox Point. (Who, despite running for office for the first time, has mastered the art of answering the question he wants to question instead of the question he’s been asked.)
  • Jefferson Carpenter of Madison.
  • State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D–Alma).
  • Dave Heasler of Fort Atkinson.
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers.
  • Former state Rep. Brett Hulsey of Middleton.
  • State Rep. Dana Wachs (D–Eau Claire).
  • Jared William Landry of La Farge.
  • Robert Harlow of Madison.
  • Ramona Rose Whiteaker of Stoughton.
  • Jeffrey Rumbaugh of Madison.
  • Mike “Blue Jean Nation” McCabe of Madison.
  • Former state Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn of Milwaukee.
  • Milwaukee firefighters’ union head Mahlon Mitchell, who lives in Fitchburg.
  • State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D–Madison).
  • Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

One would think 17 candidates for one party’s nomination for governor would be enough. But you’d be wrong.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

He has more than $600,000 in his campaign account. The competition is weak and frayed. And the job is one he has long coveted.

Yep, Mayor Tom Barrett is thinking about running for governor.

For a fourth time.

Sources confirmed this week that the fourth-term mayor has been sounding out his team of advisers about entering the Democratic primary for governor later this year. If he runs, he would need to submit his nomination papers by June 1.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Tom’s thinking about it,” said one longtime Barrett confidant. “And people are talking to Tom.”

But not everyone on the left is thrilled with the possibility of another matchup between Barrett and Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Walker beat the Milwaukee Democrat in 2010 and 2012. Barrett also lost in the Democratic primary in 2002 to then-Attorney General Jim Doyle.

I’m not surprised “not everyone on the left is thrilled” with Barrett’s running. The Harold Stassen of Wisconsin gubernatorial politics is not only 0 for 3 running for governor, his biggest accomplishment as mayor (beyond getting reelected) is …

… his walking-speed downtown trolley, which has sucked up millions of dollars that could have been used instead to, say, fix lead pipes, or hire more police to deal with Milwaukee’s worst-in-the-state crime, violent crime and homicide rates.

Barrett is also the mayor of the city with one of the worst school systems in the nation. Mayors in Wisconsin don’t control schools, but Barrett could have sought mayoral control of Milwaukee Public Schools, and the Legislature would have given him that authority yesterday.

If he runs, Barrett will not be candidate number 18. That honor, if that’s what you want to call it, belongs to …

Dem Gubernatorial candidate Mike Crute, Crute for Wisconsin, has released his campaign launch video today, “We’re All Badgers”.  Crute describes his Wisconsin story, and explains why politics has become so personal for him.  Crute offers a bold new choice for Wisconsinites – good governance.  

Crute is a successful entrepreneur, voted Shepard Express-Milwaukee’s Best Local Entrepreneur 2017 for his launch of Resistance Radio, WRRD 1510 AM Waukesha/Milwaukee.  

Crute has also successfully owned/operated CCL Management in Middleton for a decade. 

Crute has personally invested and collateralized $1,000,000, inclusive of SBA financing, in providing a platform for independent political talk radio.

Crute also contracts the right to simulcast all programming on WTTN 1580 AM Columbus/Madison, with combined signals covering 2/3 of the Democratic voters in Wisconsin.

Crute is an honorably discharged veteran of the Army National Guard, having joined the military eight days after Iraq invaded Kuwait.  Crute served as a Medical Specialist/91 – a “combat medic”, earning his civilian EMT certification.  No overseas tours.

Crute has been co-host of The Devil’s Advocates, a Wisconsin-centric, dynamic political talk show known for its humor and bi-partisan guest list.  Friends of the show span the political spectrum from Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin to Republican Senator Ron Johnson. …

“As a businessman on Main Street, we don’t ask if our customers and clients are Democratic or Republican, we do business as neighbors.  It is time to end the dividing and conquering of Wisconsin. 

We’re All Badgers, let’s start acting like it,” Crute says.

That news release strikes one as more an advertisement for his radio station than for actually standing for something. I would be interested in knowing what his definition is of “good governance”  is (let’s see — sharply increasing taxes and regulation, collective bargaining and strike rights for government employees, and imprisonment of all conservatives — that sounds about right for him), but the question is whether or not he will get more votes than his radio station’s frequency number. (1510.)

Maybe Crute deserves 1 percent more respect than the 17 other candidates since he’s in business. On the other hand, he’s in the liberal media business (as someone on Facebook put it, because he must have enough money to waste it), so never mind that. That would also assume that Mary Burke should have gotten more respect four years ago. She got the respect she deserved — none.

 

Happy (?) Tax Freedom Day

The Tax Foundation bullet-points:

  • This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 19, 109 days into 2018.
  • Tax Freedom Day will be three days earlier than it was in 2017, in large part due to the recent federal tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which significantly lowered federal individual and corporate income taxes.
  • In 2018, Americans will pay $3.4 trillion in federal taxes and $1.8 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of $5.2 trillion, or 30 percent of the nation’s income.
  • Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2018 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
  • If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur 17 days later, on May 6th.

Tax Freedom Day is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. In 2018, Americans will pay $3.39 trillion in federal taxes and $1.80 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.19 trillion, or 30 percent of national income. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 19th, 109 days into 2018.

What Taxes Do We Pay?

This year, Americans again will work the longest to pay federal, state, and local individual income taxes (44 days). Payroll taxes will take 26 days to pay, followed by sales and excise taxes (15 days), corporate income taxes (seven days), and property taxes (11 days). The remaining six days are spent paying estate and inheritance taxes, customs duties, and other taxes.

Speaking of state taxes, here is a remarkable statistic:

Wisconsin’s Tax Freedom Day and the nation’s are both today. That means that, wonder of wonders, Wisconsin’s tax burden, which is 34th lowest (or, more pertinently, 17th highest) in the U.S., is average compared with other states. I’m not sure that has ever been the case before now.

This blog follows Tax Freedom Day every year — April 12, 2010, April 16, 2011, April 21, 2012, April 20, 2013, April 22, 2014, April 25, 2015, April 27, 2016, and April 27, 2017. The first seven years were under Democratic presidents, and Democrats raise taxes as often as the sun rises in the east.

The Tax Foundation adds:

In the denominator, we count every dollar that is officially part of net national income according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the numerator, we count every payment to the government that is officially considered a tax. Taxes at all levels of government – federal, state, and local – are included in the calculation. In calculating Tax Freedom Day for each state, we look at taxes borne by residents of that state, whether paid to the federal government, their own state or local governments, or governments of other states. Where possible, we allocate tax burdens to each taxpayer’s state of residence. Leap days are excluded, to allow comparison across years, and any fraction of a day is rounded up to the next calendar day.

For 2018, the methodology for calculating each state’s Tax Freedom Day has been updated significantly. As a result, the date of Tax Freedom Day for each state in 2018 is not strictly comparable to the date of Tax Freedom Day for states in previous years. In addition, calculations of the date of Tax Freedom Day for states in 2018 may not take full account of the secondary effects of the recently passed federal tax bill on state and local tax collections.

It would be nice if the Tax Foundation would go back and compute past Tax Freedom Days under this new formula so we could in fact compare. However measured, this is too late, of course. It would be nice if Tax Freedom Day was Jan. 1, because government at every level either wastes or abuses your tax dollars 100 percent of the time. (And sometimes both.) I have lived in several different places in this state, with Democratic and Republican governors and legislatures, and I have never once felt as though my tax dollars are being spent wisely. (Paying high taxes so that people paid by my salary get better benefits than I do for less than I pay is both a waste and abuse of my tax money.)

A reasonable goal for Tax Freedom Day, however, in these flawed times would be March 31. (Not because of the anniversary of this blog.) There have been polls for decades that have asked people how much of their income they should pay in taxes. The consistent answer has been 25 percent. Notice that we haven’t been at 25 percent — a Tax Freedom Day of March 31 — since the mid-1950s.

Stay classy, Democrats

Christian Schneider:

In May of 2010, long-standing Wisconsin Congressman David Obey announced his retirement from the House of Representatives. Obey had first been elected in 1969, nearly a year before then up-and-coming Republican Congressman Paul Ryan was born. And even though Obey frequently criticized Ryan’s policies, Ryan issued a statement praising the stalwart Democrat for his service.

“David and I have had our policy disagreements over the years,” said Ryan, “but he has always had my respect.” Ryan noted that Obey had “served Wisconsin and served this country honorably,” and wished him the best.

It was not a courtesy always extended to Ryan when the now-Speaker of the House announced on Wednesday that he would not be seeking re-election. Shortly after the announcement, Democratic Madison-area Congressman Mark Pocan took to Twitter to post a single enthusiastic smiley face emoji, before posting an op-ed that accused Ryan of overseeing the Republican Party’s “moral demise.”

On Instagram, Democratic State Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison posted a snarky video of herself gleefully waving goodbye to a cardboard cutout of Ryan. On Twitter, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett — a former congressman himself — used Ryan’s retirement to take a swipe at  Republican Gov. Scott Walker. “If Paul Ryan is stepping down because he can’t defend his policy decisions to voters,” Barrett said, “perhaps Scott Walker should consider that too.” (Of course, Barrett tried to keep Walker from the governor’s office twice, and lost both times.)

And these were just the responsible people. In The New York Times, a Paul Krugman column accused Ryan of being complicit in supporting “fascism” by working with President Donald Trump. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin offered “Three ways that Paul Ryan could recover his soul.” Randy Bryce, a Democratic candidate for Ryan’s former seat who goes by the moniker “Iron Stache,” ludicrously suggested it was the robustness of his facial hair that drove Ryan from the race.

This is a surprising level of grave-dancing from a party that just a year ago lost a presidential race to one of the most absurd candidates to ever run for the nation’s highest office. (And yes, the same could be said of the GOP, but they are not setting off fireworks over Ryan’s retirement.)

What is clearly evident is that even the basic mores of political decency are melting away, leaving us engaged in ideological war all the time. There’s no doubt that Donald Trump has a great deal to do with this change: “Magnanimity” is not a word synonymous with a man who took to Twitter just this Friday to once again label the woman he beat 16 months ago “Crooked Hillary.”

And it is Trump who has tarnished Ryan’s legacy as a man of dignity and principle, who suffered unspeakable abuse while never responding in kind.

Yet people forget that Trump happened in spite of Ryan, not because of him. And yes, while many conservatives took issue with Ryan’s eventual endorsement of Trump during the campaign, what exactly was Ryan supposed to do once Trump assumed office? Refuse to work with the president in passing legislation because of whatever fleeting offense Trump may have given that week? Should Ryan just have shut Congress down until the president decided to behave, or should he have continued trying to do the work demanded of him by his constituents and the voters that elected his members to Congress?

If anything, the undignified reaction on the left to Ryan’s retirement should provide a silver lining for Republicans, who look to be in for a difficult slate of November elections. As the union protests of 2011 demonstrated in Wisconsin, there is no anodyne issue to which progressives won’t ludicrously overreact. Just as their overreach seven years ago drove more Republicans into elected office in the state, so too can their histrionics in 2018. “Overplaying your hand” appears to be both the first and last chapter in the Democratic playbook.

Just three weeks ago, Ryan held a ceremony on the House floor to commemorate U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) becoming the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives. Following his gracious speech, Ryan briefly hugged Kaptur and his long-time nemesis, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It was a moment of dignity between political rivals that is becoming all too rare.

Evidently, we live in an era where some elected officials can’t be respectful even for a moment. Unless we can all grow up a little, America needs a more representative symbol than the bald eagle. Given the current quality of our members of Congress, perhaps a sad-face emoji will do.

What’s the biggest thing in Republicans’ favor? Democrats.

 

Full of sound and fury signifying little

Michael Graham of CBSNews.com watched ABC-TV so you didn’t have to:

It’s the morning after the “Comey Interview” and, believe it or not, Donald Trump is still president.

If you watched the buildup to the release of the former FBI director’s new book and his prime-time ABC interview, this fact might come as a bit of a shock. Based on the press hype—and partisan hopes—surrounding the publication of James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, you’d expect this insider’s expose of Trump’s shocking scandals to be, if not the end of his presidency, the beginning of the end.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Trump’s political death continue to be exaggerated.  Comey’s book is unlikely to have any impact on Trump’s presidency—other than perhaps to strengthen Trump’s standing among his supporters.

Trump haters counting on the former head of the FBI to have career-ending dirt on Donald Trump will be gravely disappointed by Comey’s book.  The only “big reveal” in A Higher Loyalty is how loyal Jim Comey is to … Jim Comey.  For Washington insiders who’ve been dealing with him since the George W. Bush administration, this isn’t breaking news.

Lacking evidence of actual wrongdoing—in last night’s interview, Comey yet again refused to accuse President Trump of obstruction—Comey turned instead to the petty and political.  He talked about Mr. Trump’s appearance (“His face appeared slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles”), the size of his hands (“As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”) and he called the president “morally unfit.”  It was the sort of snarky partisan punditry found on cable news 24/7.

Then again, should we be surprised? if Comey ever did see actual wrongdoing by Mr. Trump, do we really believe we’d just be hearing about it from a notoriously leak-friendly fellow like Comey?

As Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com tweeted, it’s “not particularly honorable, if you have information you believe is of immediate and vital national importance, to wait 11 months to release it until you can have a giant book launch and publicity tour.” Silver—no Trump fan– calls the book “A Higher Royalty.”

Trump supporters were dismissing the fired FBI director and his message before the book even hit, putting Comey’s story in the broader context of what they believe was a partisan, pro-Clinton FBI.  Comey confirmed their view when he acknowledged that his decision to speak publicly in the last days of the campaign about Clinton’s email investigation was influenced by his assumption that Hillary was going to be his new boss.

“I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was gonna beat Donald Trump,” he told George Stephanopolous.  “And so I’m sure that it was a factor [in my decision to announce the Clinton email case was being re-opened].”  He also revealed that his wife and kids wanted Clinton to win, too, though Comey said that he didn’t vote in 2016.

To many on the Right, the ABC interview sounded an awful lot like a former Clinton staffer talking to a partisan Trump hater. And for obvious reasons.

One GOP campaign operative told me Comey’s book “is a home run for us.  This guy hates Trump, and he ran the FBI. If they had anything on Trump, he’d know it, and he’d tell it.”

It’s hard to call a book that talks about allegations of Moscow prostitutes and bodily functions a “home run,” but the point is that this is yet another bullet that zipped by President Trump.  The Left keeps  announcing Donald Trump’s doom, and yet, he keeps showing up for work.

This weekend, for example, the New Yorker ran a piece entitled “Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” arguing that the recent raid on the law offices of the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen mark the final phase of his time in office. This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump presidency, Adam Davidson wrote.

Another anti-Trump website, LawAndCrime.com, made the case that the recent attack on Syria over its use of chemical weapons could result in the impeachment of both Trump and members of his cabinet.

Impeachment would be a worthy course corrective and is entirely proper under the circumstances,” wrote Colin Kalmbacher.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a Congress controlled by Republicans is not going to impeach a Republican president over bombing a dictator who used sarin gas on children. But for Trump opponents who still cannot accept that he won the election, every prediction of his imminent demise is seized upon and believed.

These are the people liberal activist Tom Steyer was targeting last night when he ran a NeedToImpeach.com ad during the Stephanopolous interview. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who want Congress to start impeachment proceedings is declining while Trump’s approve rating is rising (slightly).

Consider this: In the month or so between the Stormy Daniels interview on “60 Minutes” and the Comey interview last night, President Trump has been hit with a nonstop stream of negative press. And yet according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, Trump’s approval is at 44 percent among registered voters.

Donald Trump is not going to be shamed out of office by Jim Comey, or pushed out by an angry press corps, or laughed out by late-night comics.  Yes, it’s still possible he might be led out of the Oval Office in handcuffs by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but at this point that looks like a long shot.

Which means Democrats will be forced to drive Donald Trump out of the White House the old-fashioned way: The ballot box.

What’s worse, from the perspective of Trump-hating Democrats (pardon the redundancy) is that not only is Trump polling better, but according to the Washington Post the generic-Democrat advantage in Congressional races has dropped from 12 points to four points. It is ridiculous to predict the results of elections nearly seven months in advance (seven hours might be more accurate in our turbulent times), but predictions of that blue wave might be exaggerated too.

The Nov. 6 elections might be a test of the claim of the good-government types that partisan gerrymandering (more correctly termed “incumbent gerrymandering”) guarantees that certain parties win certain seats. Given the large number of Republicans not running in November, including U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R–Janesville), if most of them are replaced with Democrats the gerrymandering arguments will lose considerable weight.

Who’s paying and who isn’t today

Inside Sources:

Tax time is here again, but while almost 100 percent of households will be filing their federal taxes, only about 40 percent will actually pay any. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 60 percent of U.S. households actually receive more money from the federal government than they pay in all federal taxes combined.

This sobering statistic draws a huge question mark over the oft-repeated claim that the rich don’t “pay their fair share,” because as it stands, the poor and middle-class pay less than nothing when both taxes and transfers are considered.

Transfers are the other side of the tax coin: money households receive from the government through programs like the earned income tax credit, Social Security, income assistance and various welfare supports. They are, in effect, negative taxes by which the government hands people money instead of taking it away.

Ignoring transfers, the bottom 20 percent of households pay an average effective tax rate of around 5 percent, and middle-income households pay around 17 percent. The top 1 percent? They pay 34 percent after their deductions, exemptions and write-offs. Even though the top 1 percent earn almost 20 percent of all the income in the United States, they pay 40 percent of all federal taxes.

But when we account for transfers, the average household among the poorest 20 percent actually experiences a negative federal tax rate — receiving $9,600 in transfers while paying only $800 in taxes, for a minus 56 percent effective tax rate.

Even the average middle-class household receives more back from the federal government ($16,700) than it pays in taxes ($8,900). Accounting for both taxes and transfers, only 40 percent of households are net payers in the end, which is why every proposed tax cut is met with the charge that it is one more “tax cut for the rich.” When only the richest 40 percent of households are net payers, by definition, every tax cut is a tax cut for the rich.

None of this is news to the politicians who fiddle endlessly with the tax code. If they can convince voters that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, politicians are then in the clear to tweak the U.S. tax code. And tweak it they do, always toward the same end: buying votes. Politicians have made the tax code so progressive that a near super-majority of Americans actually benefit from increased taxation.

Politicians promise all sorts of largesse in exchange for votes. Once elected, they ratchet up taxes on the 40 percent of net payers and dole out benefits to the 60 percent of net receivers.

This explains why both major parties have become such fans of big government. Bigger government means more taxes. More taxes means more money to dole out to voters in the form of one new program after another. More handouts for voters mean more votes for politicians who deliver the handouts. And the government grows year over year, regardless of which party finds itself in power.

The real question that taxpayers should be asking this tax season is a simple one: What percentage of the American public should be exempt from paying any federal tax at all? Because anyone truly concerned about people paying their fair share would likely not answer, “60 percent.”

Act like Republicans

Investors Business Daily:

For the GOP, hand-wringing and self-reflection seem to be the order of the day following the resignation of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Many see this as yet another ill omen of a midterm-election shellacking by the Democrats. Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Give Ryan his due: He pushed through the giant GOP tax-cut bill and, along with Trump, deserves a great deal of credit for the improved tone of the U.S. economy, in particular its robust jobs growth. And, in a city increasingly marked by bitterly divisive and mean-spirited partisanship, Ryan stood out as a genuinely nice person.

That could be seen in his classy exit speech, which focused on accomplishments, not finger-pointing.

“We’ve gotten tax reform done for the first time in a generation. We’ve rebuilt the military from being hollowed out, which was really important,” he said. “We deregulated the economy, which is really helping the economy grow.”

For the GOP, hand-wringing and self-reflection seem to be the order of the day following the resignation of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Many see this as yet another ill omen of a midterm-election shellacking by the Democrats. Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Give Ryan his due: He pushed through the giant GOP tax-cut bill and, along with Trump, deserves a great deal of credit for the improved tone of the U.S. economy, in particular its robust jobs growth. And, in a city increasingly marked by bitterly divisive and mean-spirited partisanship, Ryan stood out as a genuinely nice person.

That could be seen in his classy exit speech, which focused on accomplishments, not finger-pointing.


“We’ve gotten tax reform done for the first time in a generation. We’ve rebuilt the military from being hollowed out, which was really important,” he said. “We deregulated the economy, which is really helping the economy grow.”

When Ryan gives as reasons for quitting that he wants to watch his kids grow up and is tired of Washington, we don’t doubt it. He didn’t ask to be House speaker. His party chose him.

Moreover, virtually alone in Washington, he has pushed and pushed to have spending and entitlement reforms that would put the U.S. budget back onto fiscally sound footing, rather than sliding into fiscal hell, as we are now. At least he tried.

Unfortunately, now many in the GOP see Ryan’s departure as a sure sign they can’t win in November. Given recent special elections, which have been dominated by Democrat winners, there’s reason to think they’re right.

Even so, that’s no reason to give up on basic principles. Indeed, if anything, Republicans have every reason to double-down on their core beliefs of smaller, more responsive government, low taxes, rule of law, and personal responsibility over collective responsibility.

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EDITORIALS
After Ryan’s Departure, GOP Can Avoid Dreaded ‘Blue Wave’ Only By Fighting For Bedrock Principles

4/12/2018
For the GOP, hand-wringing and self-reflection seem to be the order of the day following the resignation of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Many see this as yet another ill omen of a midterm-election shellacking by the Democrats. Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Give Ryan his due: He pushed through the giant GOP tax-cut bill and, along with Trump, deserves a great deal of credit for the improved tone of the U.S. economy, in particular its robust jobs growth. And, in a city increasingly marked by bitterly divisive and mean-spirited partisanship, Ryan stood out as a genuinely nice person.

That could be seen in his classy exit speech, which focused on accomplishments, not finger-pointing.

“We’ve gotten tax reform done for the first time in a generation. We’ve rebuilt the military from being hollowed out, which was really important,” he said. “We deregulated the economy, which is really helping the economy grow.

When Ryan gives as reasons for quitting that he wants to watch his kids grow up and is tired of Washington, we don’t doubt it. He didn’t ask to be House speaker. His party chose him.

Moreover, virtually alone in Washington, he has pushed and pushed to have spending and entitlement reforms that would put the U.S. budget back onto fiscally sound footing, rather than sliding into fiscal hell, as we are now. At least he tried.


Unfortunately, now many in the GOP see Ryan’s departure as a sure sign they can’t win in November. Given recent special elections, which have been dominated by Democrat winners, there’s reason to think they’re right.

Even so, that’s no reason to give up on basic principles. Indeed, if anything, Republicans have every reason to double-down on their core beliefs of smaller, more responsive government, low taxes, rule of law, and personal responsibility over collective responsibility.

They should assume the worst: They’ll go down in flames to the Democrats, who, along with the mainstream media, have basically run into the American theater every day for the last year and a half yelling “fire” while pushing a big-government agenda that will impoverish us all. If Americans buy the Democrats’ dire baloney amid our unusual economic prosperity and deregulation, Ryan will be handing his gavel over to a Democrat — maybe even giving it back to far-left relic Nancy Pelosi.

But, ever the optimist, Ryan doesn’t think so.

“I have every confidence that I’ll be handing this gavel on to the next Republican speaker of the House next year,” Ryan said, in announcing his retirement.

Asked how much of a role the chance of a congressional landslide by the Democrats played in his decision, his answer was direct: “None whatsoever, actually.”

But rank-and-file Republicans are worried about being hit by a Democrat blue tidal wave this fall. Already, 24 Republicans have announced they will retire from the House this year, “the most in one congressional cycle dating back to 1973, according to ‘casualty lists’ compiled by the congressional reporting outlet Roll Call,” wrote The Daily Signal.

Both House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 3 GOP leader in the House, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are considered logical replacements for Ryan.

But here’s the point: No matter who takes over, they face an uphill battle.

In the meantime, presuming that current polls are correct and Democrats could take back the House in November, why should the Republicans continue to wallow in defeatism?

Wouldn’t it be far better for the conservative cause they espouse and say they deeply believe in to go down fighting, pushing for major welfare and entitlement reforms, making the Trump tax cuts permanent, putting dozens of judges on the bench that actually respect the Constitution, curbing spending by big government, cutting even more regulations, building our defense, and putting an end to our open-door immigration policies?

If they showed that kind of courage, they might be surprised that a lot of voters would support them — and maybe they’d even hold the House and the Senate.

We know losing is not fun. But here’s a message to the GOP faithful in both the House and the Senate:

Our country is in the middle of a historic and bitterly divisive debate over whether it will continue to be a republic built on individual rights and limited government, or become a kind of postmodern, politically correct, progressive social democracy with limited individual rights and creeping collectivism.

It’s no exaggeration to say our very freedoms and traditions as a republic are at stake. If you truly believe what you say you do, don’t quit. Fight for what you believe in. There’s deep respect for those who fight hard but lose, and none at all for those who walk away from the fight.

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