Six ways the House GOP leadership crisis could end
2. The GOP tries for a Tea Party-establishment hybrid. This is the Paul Ryan option. The austere budgets crafted by the former Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee made him a conservative hero. But Ryan is a deal-maker. His most famous deal, the 2013 budget agreement he worked out with Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, expires Dec. 11 and must be replaced. Dent said Ryan would have to collaborate with Democrats to accomplish anything — but if he does, “he will have his legs taken out by some of his own members.” Already the Tea Party Patriots group has branded him a Ryno (a personalized variation of RINO, or “Republican in name only”).
Not surprisingly, Ryan is unenthused about the job. As speaker, he wouldn’t see much of his young family. He’d lose his chance
rewrite the tax code as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He might lose his best shot at the presidency. As the national face of conservatism, he could even lose his Wisconsin House seat. His hometown and home county are heavily Democratic, and though he and Mitt Romney won the district in 2012, it went for Obama in 2008.
Yesterday’s list of demands from Ryan (who would run if they are granted) doesn’t change the gist of the article, which is not going to shelter Ryan from his dysfunctional caucus.
Even if Ryan assents, however, the path to the speakership might require concessions to the Refuseniks that he would be unwilling to make. One Freedom Caucus demand is to codify the so-called Hastert Rule, requiring that a majority of the chamber’s Republicans support a measure before the full House can consider it. This would change the House to one in which a plurality, not a majority, rules. Nothing could pass the House without approval from 124 Republicans, the barest majority of the chamber’s 247 Republicans, effectively moving the ideological center of gravity to the right. This would further marginalize the House, already the most ideological part of the elected government.
Here’s the dilemma for House Republicans. The Refuseniks have made it clear that they won’t accept an establishment choice, with the possible—though not certain—exception of Ryan. Unstated, but equally true, is that a much larger number of mainstream Republicans won’t accept anyone from the Freedom Caucus or sympathetic to it. Not wanting the tail to wag the dog, they’re unwilling to give in to what they see as a few dozen members taking the speakership hostage. The GOP’s majority is pretty firmly entrenched, but a surefire way to become a minority again is for the House to adopt the Freedom Caucus’s agenda. Keep in mind that the electorate next year, when the presidency is on the ballot, is very different from the older, whiter, more-conservative, and more-Republican voters who gave the GOP an impressive majority in 2014.
More politics and policy below the fold.