House Republicans really, really want Paul Ryan to be their speaker. So much so that many of them will agree to his list of demands and put pressure on the Freedom Caucus to buckle as well. But don’t say Ryan isn’t giving the far-far-far right anything it wants: he did suggest that he wouldn’t bring immigration reform to a vote as speaker, despite having been personally in favor of reform. So Ryan will give up one of the few kinda sorta decent positions he might hold in order to get this job that he really doesn’t want. But while Republican extremists are squalling about how Ryan is too liberal, let’s take a quick look at just what kind of a guy he is.
One of Ryan’s demands for agreeing to be speaker is that he have time
spend with his family and not always be on the road raising money. That sounds kind of admirable—lots of men are willing to push their families to the side in the name of ambition—until you remember where he stands on other people having time with their families. Oh, right. Ryan is against paid family leave and has tried to cut childcare subsidies for low-income families. Valuing time with his own family doesn’t mean he values other people’s families, obviously.
Those childcare subsidy cuts aren’t the only anti-family cuts he’s pushed. He’s most famous for trying to end Medicare as we know it, of course. But there’s so much more! That same Medicare-ending budget also would have slashed food stamps, gutted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, repealed Obamacare, and cut Pell Grants. His next trick was an “anti-poverty plan” that would have hurt poor people. Then a tax package that would have added nearly $100 billion to the deficit to cut taxes for the wealthy.
Ryan has made a major push to get a reputation as a Republican who cares about poverty, and there his dishonesty goes well beyond the policy damage he is always trying to do to low-income people. Like the story he told to push cuts to awful liberal programs like free school lunches, about the little poor boy who wanted his lunch in a brown paper bag because it showed that he was loved, unlike all those other kids with free school lunches. Ryan wasn’t just glamorizing hunger for children, the whole story was a sham, stolen from a book about a kid who grew up to be an advocate for programs fighting child hunger. Like free school lunches.
But when it comes to hunger, would you expect honesty from a guy who washed clean dishes at a soup kitchen as a campaign photo op?
Ryan has also done a nice little line in racially charged remarks, from his view that he and Mitt Romney weren’t rejected by voters in 2012 but rather that President Obama won because he got “record-breaking turnout numbers from urban areas for the most part, and that did win the election for him” to his attack on anti-poverty programs because “in our inner cities in particular” there are “generations of men not even thinking about working.”
This is the Republican boy wonder savior golden boy genius. This is the person whose candidacy for speaker of the House is mostly being challenged from the right because he’s not pure enough. It’s terrifying.