Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ok, I Have to Give Credit to Paul Ryan

You know me-I'm the Republican Hater. And I'm the most 'hardened of hardened partisan Democrats.'

Cut it out, Democrats! Why Trump vs. Hillary isn’t the miracle you seem to think it is
Many on the left are looking on with glee as Trump continues to rout his GOP competition — but they shouldn't"

Now as a Trump Democrat, these are fighting words.

"The idea that Trump is the Democrats’ best weapon has been around for a while—consider this Washington Post article from July about Democrats “cheering” his candidacy. And it’s perhaps understandable why some would see a Trump nomination as a boon to Hillary Clinton or anybody else who wants to block a Republican from the White House. But I hope that this line of thinking doesn’t gain too much credence, because Donald Trump’s candidacy is no gift to anyone. Nobody, even the most hardened Democratic partisans, should be gloating about his continued strength, because it’s helping to plunge us into truly dangerous waters."

He don't know me too well do he? I may get into this Slate piece in more detail later. For now, let's just put it this way. For years, the GOP has run on dog whistle racism. Now Trump is blowing the game by running on bullhorn racism.

This is a good thing as it makes it impossible to deny what the GOP is anymore and it represents a true schism in the party. It's a dream matchup for that very reason. But even if he doesn't' win the good work is already done. Trump is not Apollo's head or something. He's responding to a current and swimming in its lane, he didn't create it. The GOP has done this for 42 years.

So this should impress that I'm a pretty hardened partisan Democrat. But I have to do this and give Speaker Paul Ryan a little credit here. I do so with a sense of caution. But it continues to seem to me that in some sense his Speakership is a major improvement over the Boehner years. Boehner himself no doubt set it up for him by getting the debt ceiling off the table until 2017 and raising spending levels above the sequester.

I genuinely believe that Ryan realizes that for the good both of his party and his own legacy and future, the party has to begin to assume a more constructive role in Congress.

He gets it that simple scorched earth opposition to Obama won't get it done-it will only hurt him and his party in the long run.

There is some talk that even though the latest Omnibus spending talks are taking a bit of time there's just a sense that something will get done this time.

But what happened now is truly shocking-a true man bites dog moment. Ryan actually called Nancy Pelosi-deliberately.

Ok, that this is so astonishing and giving you so much hope speaks volumes about how dysfunctional things got in the Boehner years. But still, it is a green shoot.

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asked Speaker Paul Ryan during a phone call Friday morning whether he would be open to lifting a ban on government-funded research into gun violence, according to a source familiar with the call. It was the first time the two had spoken specifically about easing the prohibition."

"Ryan (R-Wis.) is personally opposed to removing the ban, a source close to him said, but it is unclear how he responded to Pelosi. Still, the phone call, which was confirmed by aides in both parties, made progress toward reaching a deal on a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill"

"Ryan will remain in Washington on Saturday to try to wrap up an agreement ahead of a Dec. 16 deadline, a source said."

"The House Friday approved by voice vote a five-day stopgap spending bill that keeps the government open through Wednesday, allowing party leaders and the White House more time to reach a deal on the spending package and a companion package of mostly business-focused tax breaks. The House and Senate are expected to vote on both measures next week, although the timing on those votes — and what the actual legislation will look like — are fluid."

Read more:

Obviously, I agree with Minority Leader Pelosi about lifting the ban. I'm not a huge fan of yet more tax cuts for business though it depends how they're targeted-some of them could be good.

But it's just the sense that with Ryan we are back to actual legislating. A return to what they call 'regular order.'

Ryan is a conservative and like most he believes in supply side economics and is very prolife.

Democrats can't expect him to have a lobotomy. But what can be expected of him is that he legislate in good faith. There are definitely some signs that he's trying to do that.

What was so frustrating about the Boehner years is where GOPers would refuse to negotiate with the President and Democrats even where there was agreement.

And this was actually not to the GOP's benefit. Even the infamous debt ceiling chicken of 2011 was ultimately very counterproductive. Think about it. Obama was willing to do things like cutting corporate tax rates-which many liberals like me don't love.

He even considered things like COLA on Social Security. But because they refused to budge on some mild tax hikes on the very rich, they got nothing in the end.

In 2011, Nancy Pelosi had called for ending the Bush tax cuts for those who make more than $1 million dollars per year.

The GOP said what they always said-no. So in early 2013 the tax cuts expired for all those making over $450 thousand dollars. An unwillingness to compromise then led to what in their mind was a worse deal later.
As a liberal I can''t ask Ryan to sell out his honest principles-like raising the MW to $15 or $12. But what about say raising the EITC?

The criticism of the Boehner House was not that it was conservative but that it was obstructionist. There are things that even liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans can agree on.

But what happened was that Boehner and Mitch McConnell literally within days of Obama Inauguration in 2009 decided that would do nothing the President wanted, even if they agree with him.

Even the failure of gun control after Sandy was as much about not giving Obama something he wanted as the NRA lobby and anti gun ideology. In many ways during the Obama years, guns have become about defiance to Obama-as is well known, gun sales have doubled in the Obama years.

If there is honest difference in ideology and belief, that's one thing. But when it's just about politics, that's reprehensible. Ryan seems to want nothing to do with this and while time will tell there's reason to hope.

Fact is all you could really ask for the GOP House was that they fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Anything above that is gravy. And under Ryan we already have some gravy.

We have seen some actual bipartisanship.

This made sense-after all, liberals and conservatives for their own reasons have both come to hate NCLB. Now under the Boehner rules nothing would be done because this would give the President a bill he could sign in front of tv cameras.

Evidently this is not the Paul Ryan way. We'll see by so far he seems like the best GOP Congressional leader since Robert Michel-in terms of tactics.

Again we'll see-maybe I'll end up being disappointed; not a nontrivial chance of that. But even so, the GOP House is already ahead of the game if it achieves nothing else until 2017.

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