After Ryan

From the category of surprising-but-not-surprising news, James Wigderson reports:

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced [Wednesday] that he is not running for re-election. Ryan began his remarks by saying that when you become Speaker of the House, you realize that it’s only for a short period in the nation’s history.

“You all know that I did not seek this job,” Ryan said. “I took it reluctantly, but I have given it everything that I have, and I have no regrets whatsoever about accepting this responsibility.”

Saying that the job of Speaker is all-time consuming, Ryan said that it interfered with his family obligations.

“That’s why today I am announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House,” Ryan said. “To be clear, I am not resigning. I will serve my full term as I was elected to do.”

In his remarks, Ryan talked about the effect of serving as the Republican leader for another term would have on his family.

“What I realize is, if I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad,” Ryan said. “I just can’t let that happen.”

During the 2016 race for president, Ryan’s name was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate to unite the Republican Party. However, Ryan declined to run and often cited his young family as a reason.

In his remarks, Ryan said the two biggest achievements of his time as Speaker of the House were tax reform and re-building the nation’s military. “These I see as lasting victories that will make our country more prosperous and more secure for decades to come,” Ryan said.

Ryan also thanked the voters in Wisconsin for electing him to the House of Representatives.

“I also want to thank the people of southern Wisconsin for placing their trust in me as their representative for the last 20 years,” Ryan said. “I have tried to bring as much Wisconsin to Washington as I can in that time. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s been a journey well worth taking to be able to do my part to strengthen the American Idea.”

Ryan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, replacing former Congressman Mark Neumann. In October 2015, Ryan replaced Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. Ryan was a reluctant candidate for the position, but was chosen by his colleagues as a compromise between the moderate ahd hardline factions.

Ryan’s departure means Wisconsin Republicans find themselves defending an open congressional seat that already has one well-funded Democrat, Randy Bryce, running, as well as another candidate, teacher and school board member Cathy Myers.

Now speculation will begin on both sides about candidates jumping into the race, with Republicans needing to recruit a solid candidate to hold the seat. State Sen. Van Wanggard (R-Racine) has already announced he is not running, according to Jay Weber on WISN. Possible candidates include Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Burlington), state Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon), Assembly Speaker Pro-Tem Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Another possible candidate is Bryan Steil, a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

Vos issued a statement today on Ryan’s retirement that did not mention a potential run. “Paul has been perhaps the best congressman Wisconsin has ever sent to Washington and also one of the best speakers to have gaveled Congress into session,” Vos said. “His commitment to serving the people of Wisconsin and the United States is unparalleled.”

“I am happy for my friend and his family, but sad for the 1st Congressional District and our country because men like him don’t come around often,” Vos said.

More prominent Democrats may enter the race as well. Former Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) represented the district in the House of Representatives after winning a special election to succeed Congressman Les Aspin when he became the Defense Secretary for President Bill Clinton.

Nationally, Ryan’s departure signals Republicans are not likely to hold onto control of the House of Representatives after this November’s elections. Other congressional retirements could be expected as a result.

As a member of Congress and when he ran for Vice President on the Republican ticket with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2012, Ryan was an advocate for bringing entitlement spending under control. With his departure, neither party has a prominent leader on that issue.

This is, first, not good news for Wisconsin at all. The only Wisconsinites with as much power over national politics that come to mind are former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird and, in non-positive ways, U.S. Sens. Joe McCarthy and “Fighting Bob” La Follette. Whether you like it or not, Congress is driven by (1) seniority and (2) the majority party in the House. Wisconsin’s next senior representative is U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D–La Crosse), who looks moderate only compared with the other two Wisconsin Democrats, U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D–Black Earth) and Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee). Does anyone think Kind, Pocan or Moore represent the interests of Wisconsin Republicans? How about the last Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi?

The high-fives of those who view Ryan as a Republican In Name Only are, frankly, stupid. (For instance: Republicans support free trade; RINOs, including Trump, favor stupid trade wars.) It is not Ryan’s fault that legislation that passed the House of Representatives fails to get considered in the Senate due to its cloture rules or the lack of leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (And some legislation dies on its merits.) Republicans have been complaining about the House speaker since 1994, when they got control of the House. The speaker may be first in line to the presidency, but House speakers have to lead more than propose.

Facebook Friend Louis D’Alfabeto says to Ryan and then to his supposedly conservative detractors …

In an alternate and better universe, you’re halfway through your second term as VP and preparing to run for the White House – and our policy discourse is the better for it.

Those who purport to be conservatives spewing negativity right now can spare us your lack of critical thinking and reasoning skills. You’re clueless as to how the game is played, mere infants throwing tantrums because you can’t have the impossible, completely ignorant that “politics is the art of the possible…”

… which prompted this response from Facebook Friend Tim Nerenz:

I could probably stand on pure libertarian principle with the best of them, and I bet Ryan could too if that were his wont. I don’t know him well, but I have done a couple things with him and heard him in some thoughtful forums. He is a) one of the highest quality human beings in politics, and b) the smartest person in the room, you pick the room. He knows the both economics and the pragmatics down dead cold and should have stayed as committee chair where he could maneuver budget and economic policy legislation – what he knows and does best. People who expect Republicans to be Libertarians are pissing at windmills – Ron Paul was the RINO, Rand Paul is the RINO, Donald Trump is the RINO. Paul Ryan is center-cut, straight out of central casting Republican. I think the GOP missed a YUGE opportunity to write their script with Trump in the white house to sign whatever came out of the sausage grinder on the Hill – I wouldn’t have taken a lunch break, let alone all the recesses and retreats over the past year. But to the Ryan-haters, the simple question is who’s next. Ryan got the Speaker’s job because Boehner was a mess and there was nobody else to take it. He never wanted it. There is still nobody else. It’s not my party and so I don’t care all that much, but seriously, who is the GOP going to turn to as Speaker and face of the Party now? Lou – you probably know.

Readers know what I think of 2012 Barack Obama voters, and there is literally no possible comparison between Romney’s character and Donald Trump’s character, such as that is. The only thing people know about Mike Pence is that he’s not president, but he might be president if the fevered dreams of Democrats come true.

I recall being on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Week in Review when Ryan chaired the House Ways and Means Committee and was saying he wasn’t interested in becoming speaker. When asked who should, I didn’t say Ryan, I said U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R–Michigan), who is about as libertarian as it gets in Congress for someone whose last name is not Paul. For Amash to become the next speaker (assuming he’s even interested, and given Ryan’s term as speaker maybe he shouldn’t be) requires the GOP’s winning the House, which isn’t looking good now, though in these turbulent political times much can happen between now and Nov. 6.

Pelosi has already vowed to undo the tax cut passed earlier this year. House Democrats have proposed, with the support of Pocan and Moore, banning all semi-automatic weapons. If you seriously think that’s better than Ryan as Speaker of the House, for all Ryan’s faults, you’re not a conservative.



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