Paul Ryan's tenure as speaker of the House has been a catastrophic failure. The silver lining for him, though, is that it might not last much longer.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is having a terrible year. And it’s about to get worse.
Ryan was forced into the job by his party after then-Speaker John Boehner unexpectedly quit in frustration with the uber-extremist wing of the GOP caucus. And for Ryan, it’s been one failure after another ever since. Despite complete Republican control of the federal government, he has zero legislative accomplishments to his name.
And now the nation is facing another disastrous crisis on his watch for which he, like his predecessor, will get the bulk of the blame.
In September, the Republican-controlled Congress will have to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid defaulting on the nation’s loans. Under President Barack Obama, many Republicans would refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless they could extort draconian spending cuts to the social safety net — essentially taking the nation’s economy hostage.
Ryan was among them.
But now that such a disaster could happen on Ryan’s watch, he’s singing a different and far more desperate tune.
“Naturally, the treasury secretary should be in charge of the debt limit,” he said in July, clearly looking to blame any fallout on Secretary Steve Mnuchin — and the White House. Donald Trump’s administration is demanding Congress raise the limit without any strings attached — exactly what Ryan’s party opposed under Obama.
So what’s the problem? The GOP controls the White House and Congress, so they should all be able to agree. But they don’t. And with the party is total disarray — Trump is spending his “working vacation” attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter — some of those same conservatives who didn’t want to raise the limit under Obama don’t want to do it under Trump and Ryan either.
In May, the House Freedom Caucus — which was largely responsible for driving Boehner out of the job — declared its members would not support raising the limit without significant spending cuts. This is the same group that helped sink Ryan’s first attempt at repealing Obamacare earlier this year.
And given their willingness to drive Boehner out of town, there’s no reason to think they won’t do the same to Ryan unless their impossible demands are met.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s approval numbers are embarrassingly low. And if he can’t get his own party to fall in line and give the White House what it wants, he’s likely to suffer the same fate as McConnell — open humiliation from the disappointed president — and perhaps even the same fate as Boehner.