Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., understands Republicans are in dangerous territory.
In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal Thursday, Ryan acknowledged that conservative voters will be reluctant to turn out for Republicans in the 2018 midterms if the major parts of Trump’s agenda, like repealing Obamacare, remain unaccomplished.
“If we don’t do our job we will depress turnout,” Ryan said. “I am frustrated as well.”
Ryan blamed the Senate’s process, and the Democrats’ liberal use of the filibuster, on Congress’ failure to send conservative legislation to President Trump’s desk.
“The problem isn’t having President Trump sign bills into law and it isn’t getting bills out of the House — the problem is getting these bills through the Senate,” Ryan said.
As The Hill recounts, key pieces of legislation — including the repeal of Dodd-Frank, defunding sanctuary cities, and funding for the border wall — have passed the House of Representatives but have not been taken up by the Senate. Expressing frustration with the Senate, Ryan also noted how controversies surrounding the president and his Twitter habits are taking Republicans off message.
“We’re pretty frustrated with the slow pace of things (in the Senate), but in the House, we’ve actually done most of our agenda except for welfare reform and tax reform,” Ryan said. “There’s just been a lot of distractions out there, whether it’s Russia, or tweeting, or whatever.”
Speaker Ryan is right, but Republicans need to remember that passing “something” is an unacceptable substitute for conservative legislation. President Trump was elected — and Republicans handed their majorities — with the expectation that a specific set of promises made to the American people will be kept.
Voters expect Obamacare to be repealed. Voters expect the border to be secured, with a physical barrier. Voters expect tax cuts. Voters expect Planned Parenthood to be defunded.
These policies are good governance. They are winning issues for Republicans.
Yet, the recent legislation taken up by Congress has been a disappointing mix of watered-down bills that merely pay lip service to campaign promises but enact progressive-lite policies that make government bigger.
The House version of Obamacare repeal did not actually repeal Obamacare, and the multiple Senate versions exacerbated its problems. The budget Congress sent to President Trump’s desk betrayed Republican promises by funding Democratic priorities. Even the excellent immigration bill introduced this week may soon be overshadowed by efforts to revive the Gang of Eight amnesty legislation.
The GOP needs to make the transition from writing campaign literature to writing law — turning promises into policies. Speaker Ryan needs to understand that his recent efforts fall well short of the conservative standard his party’s campaigned on.
Bad action will end the GOP majority in Congress as assuredly as inaction will.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.