In a valedictory interview with the Washington Post, House Speaker Paul Ryan depicted himself, and was in turn depicted by his hosts, as he has always chosen to be seen: a wonk-statesman, a little too good and pure for the ugly world of politics, who pointed the way toward a brighter and more responsible future and of whom it could be said, at the very worst, failed only to achieve the ideals for which he strived.
“He’s worked to solve important national challenges, including tax reform and fiscal sustainability,” said Post publisher Fred Ryan. To be sure, the fiscal sustainability issue may not have been solved completely (the deficit has, indeed, nearly doubled under the unified government carrying out Ryan’s agenda despite the mature recovery), so the retiring Speaker had to offer an awkward half-apology. “The two regrets I wish we could have gotten done,” he acknowledged, were immigration reform and debt.
Nobody present was so impolite as to point out that Ryan has devoted his career to passing policies that would increase the national debt. Under the Bush administration, he supported every one of the debt-financed measures that turned the surplus the administration inherited into the trillion-dollar annual deficit it bequeathed its successor: tax cuts, a Medicare prescription-drug benefit, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a large security buildup, all financed by debt. Indeed, Ryan distinguished himself from his party by urging the administration to support even larger, costlier, and more debt-laden versions of the tax cuts and Social Security privatization schemes than it was willing to endorse. Ryan’s primary complaint with Bush was that he was too fiscally responsible.
There certainly are philosophical reasons to support Ryan’s agenda. Ryan hates progressive taxation, supports expensive military commitments, and is willing to support expensive middle-class social benefits if they help gain votes for his regressive tax agenda. Alternatively, some people think the deficit is not a problem at all. But these are not the terms on which Ryan has been defined. Somehow he has managed to pose as a figure who has fought rising deficits with only partial success, rather than having been largely responsible for their growth.
“I think history is going to be very good to this [Republican] majority,” he proclaimed. Only if historians are as gullible as the news media.
And of course it’s even worse than that: in order to facilitate his agenda of upper-class tax cuts, increasing funding for an already bloated military, and trying to strip healthcare from tens of millions of people, Ryan actively covered up for an unprecedentedly corrupt and unfit president and the ratfucking campaign that helped put him in office. So…
"No, it won't."
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) November 30, 2018