Last week, we got to watch Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) desperately spin his way out of his leading role in last year’s GOP-led government shutdown as he went on tour to promote “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.”
Ryan’s newly published book, of course, is part memoir, part political analysis, part policy proposal sampler, and part 2016 presidential campaign launching pad. If Ryan wants to look presidential, he’ll need to distance himself from that deeply unpopular government shutdown he helped cause. And if he wants the GOP to look viable, Ryan needs to convince voters that his party is about something besides racism and opposing Obamacare, immigration, abortion, and gay marriage.
In his book, Ryan writes:
It was a suicide mission. This can’t be the full measure of our party and our movement. If it is, we’re dead and the country is lost.
For good measure, Ryan even denies supporting Newt Gingrich‘s government shutdown from back in President Bill Clinton’s administration.
I saw the damage it did. We couldn’t afford to take a hit like that again — not for a strategy that had no hope of advancing our core principles.
A spokesman from Ryan’s office even doubled down on Ryan’s shutdown denial in an email to The Huffington Post:
“Chairman Ryan voted several times both to avoid the shutdown and to restart funding for various parts of the government during the shutdown,”
As we used to say back in the 1980’s, say what? In September 2013, Ryan told reporters he wanted to use the debt ceiling as a “forcing mechanism.”
“We have a debt limit coming. Most budget agreements in the past have always involved debt limit increases. We think that’s the forcing mechanism, just like the Budget Control Act that President Obama signed before.”
On October 8, 2013, Ryan even wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal demanding “entitlement reform” (drastically cutting earned benefits — like Social Security — that Americans have paid for all their working lives) in exchange for ending the shutdown.
If you’re inclined to excuse Paul Ryan by claiming he had to pander to his Tea Party base in public, you can forget that. The Washington Post even reported that Ryan continued his obstruction behind closed doors, in a meeting with House and Senate leaders.
According to two Republicans familiar with the exchange, Ryan argued that the House would need those deadlines as “leverage” for delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and adding a “conscience clause” — allowing employers and insurers to opt out of birth-control coverage if they find it objectionable on moral or religious grounds — and mentioned tax and entitlement goals Ryan had focused on in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
The GOP’s government shutdown wound up costing our already ailing economy $24 billion. No wonder Ryan writes that his party’s “preaching to the choir” of mean, white, silent generation racists “isn’t working,” and that “the choir is shrinking.”
Ryan also writes that the Republican party’s only strength consists of their stubborn clinging to ideas that are conclusively proven not to work:
“A winning party knows how to play to its strengths, and our greatest strengths are the conviction, intellectual force, and moral idealism of the conservative cause. Take those away, and what’s really left?”
Hello Republicans? Replacing “big government” with the tyranny of unelected corporations and big money has not given us “freedom.”
Watch Ryan promote his book on Fox.
Here’s a video with Ryan
preaching to the choir promoting his repackaged stale ideas on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.
Featured photo: Screen grab/book cover/”The Way Forward.”