April 11, 2018

Farewell, Mister Speaker!

I figured I would be the only one in this great nation with a kind word or thought for Rep. Paul Ryan (Whirlwind Reaper - WI). But -- no -- Megan McArdle handles the task with dignity and aplomb.

If he lost the battle for fiscal sanity, it's not because he didnít fight hard; it's because he faced an overwhelming force. Ten years ago, Ryanís budget crusades seemed admirable, if quixotic. Now, however, the crusade just seems suicidal. Any serious attempt to put entitlements on a sustainable path or address our budget imbalances will be extremely painful. It will have to be done on a bipartisan basis, because any party that tries to inflict that pain alone will be decimated in the next election -- except the party bases donít want their politicians to work with anyone from the other side, and will primary anyone who shows any sign of moving towards the center. Talking about a budget deal no longer means tilting at windmills; it means sending your pikemen out to face a 21st-century artillery barrage. You can't really blame anyone for thinking better of such a charge.

116th Congress Posted by John Kranz at April 11, 2018 5:18 PM

Something doesn't add up here. Please check my work:

Ryan resigned to spend more time with his family so as not to be "just a weekend dad."

Ryan's entire congressional career has been dedicated to federal budget fiscal sanity through budget (read: entitlement spending) reform. Some say it was his reason for returning to Washington every year.

Pursuit of bipartisan entitlement reform "just seems suicidal."

Paul Ryan retired. Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Why not speak truth to power, appeal to his constituents to rally behind him, and make a "suicidal" charge into the establishment's entitlement empire? You know, because it's so important to him. What's the worst that could happen? Lose reelection? Buehler?

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2018 3:27 PM

I always like him. It's too bad he was too nice of all things!

Posted by: Terri Goon at April 12, 2018 3:29 PM

The WSJ is laudatory today. Good for them. One of the meanest "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out" columns I saw was Peter Suderman's in Reason. (I would pay $9.95/mo. for a webcam of the Suderman - McArdle dinner table. That has got to be the best show in the world.)

To your direct question, jg, I think it is one thing -- and a good thing -- for a sitting Congressperson to put all the chips on #22 and face the consequences. Ron Paul and Justin Amash have had great careers doing just that.

But Speaker Ryan accepted a leadership position. Like the WSJ Ed Page, I do not think he wanted it. Once he did, he is now betting for the whole House GOP Caucus.

My problem with his libertarian detractors (and there is a bootlegger and Baptist coalition) like Suderman is that there is ZZZZEEEEEERRRRROOOOO appetite for austerity. The President of his own party doesn't care. The GOP base doesn't care. This quixotic strike you seek has no backup outside Liberty on the Rocks -- and they won't vote because of Public Choice Theory.

I think he did a good job herding the fractious cats of the GOP caucus and sublimating his preferred policies. Accepting the Speakership gives him institutional and party-wide responsibilities.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2018 5:51 PM | What do you think? [3]