Speaker-elect Paul Ryan emerged from a House Republican caucus meeting on Wednesday and had some cutting words for his predecessor.
“We are not going to have a house that looked like it looks the last few years. We are going to move forward,” Ryan said. “Our party has lost its vision and we are going to replace it with a vision. We believe that the country’s on the wrong track.”
The remarks clearly attempted to placate members of the House Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative group of congressmen who sought Speaker John Boehner’s job for not pushing the caucus far enough by refusing to raise the debt ceiling or shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood.
But Ryan, much as he might pretend he presents a new vision for the party, was intricately linked to the old regime. He might like to forget some of his track record.
1. Ryan has been intimately involved in previous budget negotiations.
He has both taken credit for the widely hated “sequester” cuts — across the board spending cuts included in the major budget compromise in 2013 — and crafted a budget with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that partially ditched them. The latter move caused Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to blast Ryan’s role in getting rid of the cuts on Glenn Beck’s radio program: “At the time, I didn’t think it was even enough, but do you know who abandoned it? Paul Ryan.”
2. The budget deal Ryan is now decrying is based on the one he helped craft.
The two-year budget deal, backed by the White House and now expected to pass in the coming days, attracted some criticism from Ryan. “I think the process stinks,” Ryan said this week. But the deal’s details are largely based on the agreement Ryan crafted with Murray last year. Some reports even indicate he has been working behind the scenes to craft the deal. Perhaps sensing which way the wind was blowing, Ryan sided with the Heritage Action and the Club For Growth in opposing it.
3. He distances himself from Boehner when he was actually a key ally
Despite Ryan’s newfound opposition to Boehner, he has long been a key ally of the Ohio Republican. Ryan helped craft major legislation in the House for Boehner, on everything from budgets to trade deals. He’s earned praise from one of Bohener’s key allies, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). “[H]e’s frankly been probably the intellectual leader of the Republican Party for close to a decade, and he’s really changed the way we think about and approach fiscal issues,” Cole told NPR.