History Will Not be Kind to Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan will be leaving Congress at the end of his term. He said yesterday that he is leaving to spend more time with his family and that is admirable, but he also said that he is leaving because he had accomplished in Washington much of what he had set out to do. If that's true he had set the bar pretty low for himself, and his career and time as Speaker certainly won't be remembered for its accomplishments.
Matthew Yglesias has a wonderful piece at Vox detailing Ryan's career in Congress. And he is correct; Paul Ryan stood for nothing other than his desire to please the Republican Party's donor base. And he may well be remembered most as the Speaker who acquiesced to [some might say facilitated] President Trump's warped political agenda, and ignored the rise of the "alt-right" within the Republican Party, Trump's "financial conflicts of interest" and"the dozens of various corruption scandals" swirling around the White House.
In the end all Ryan got for his acquiesce, as Yglesias documents well...
"was a tax cut, the thing that every Republican majority gets. And since that’s what his donors wanted in the end, that’s probably the important thing. But it is worth saying that the tax cut ultimately came together because Republicans abandoned Ryan’s vision of a high-minded tax reform and his dumb talking point about filing taxes on a postcard. At the end of the day, they slapped together an old-fashioned deficit-financed tax cut for the rich that throws quarters at the middle class in hopes of disguising the $10 bills handed out to the rich. Flimflam and phaseout gimmicks, rather than reform and loophole closing, make it work.
History will not be kind to Paul Ryan; not for his failures [we can all be thankful his efforts to privatize Medicare failed, for instance], but for his unwillingness to lead the Republican Party away from "tribalism" toward a serious political agenda in step with the needs of average Americans.