Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan's Demands Tell Us That He Still Doesn't Really Want to Be Speaker of the House—He Wants to Be Something Better

The Republican budget wonk wants to change the way the Speakership works.

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Over and over again, Paul Ryan has said that he doesn't want to be Speaker of the House. He said it when Speaker John Boehner announced that he would be retiring from the job, and again when Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Boehner's expected successor, made the surprise announcement that he would not be running for the job.

"While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate," he said immediately after McCarthy's announcement. Thanks, but no thanks.

Late last night, Ryan seemed for the first time to be changing his mind. As Nick Gillespie noted earlier, Ryan announced that he would "gladly serve" as speaker—but only with a few conditions.

Ryan's first condition was that he wanted unanimous public support from the various House factions that might undermine his bid, especially from the House Freedom Caucus, which has consistently proven troublesome for GOP leadership. He also wants to eliminate the  "motion to vacate" procedure, a rarely used but powerful tactic that critics could use to threaten his speakership by putting it up for a vote. Finally, he wants to be exempt from some of the job's more taxing travel and time demands, so that he can still return home to his family on the weekends.

Essentially, Ryan wants a unified show of public support, the disarmament of his potential critics and enemies, and an agreement that he can do the job not just how he wants, but when he wants—almost entirely on his own terms.

What Ryan is really saying here is that he still does not want to be Speaker of the House—at least not in the sense that the job has long been understood for years.

But while he doesn't want the job in its current state, he will take the position if the job itself undergoes some significant changes.

One thing this particular list of demands does is give Ryan the opportunity for a graceful out. He's given the House until Friday to agree to his demands. Otherwise, he says, he'll be happy to stay in his current job as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a position he recently took and has long wanted.

But the other thing it does is give Ryan the chance to reshape and remake the Speakership, which for years has been about fundraising and vote-corralling. Under Boehner, it's been mostly a management job, about making sure that the trains run on time and that everyone is where they need to be.

Ryan would likely delegate many of those tasks and treat the Speakership rather differently. As Politico reports, he would focus more on communication, appearing on television more frequently, prioritizing Washington, D.C.-based events over the endless parade of travel-intensive fundraisers that have traditionally clogged the Speaker's schedule.

Ryan, the policy entrepreneur who spent years selling the skeptical House GOP on a budget and entitlement-reform plan that few would initially endorse, wants to make the Speakership a job that would play to his strengths and personal interests: policy development and salesmanship, communication and outreach.

He wants to take this management post and turn it into a true leadership position—one that's more about vision than implementation.

John Boehner's biggest flaw was that he had no vision for the GOP or for the House's role in the party, no agenda to pitch or pursue. He was an implementer with nothing to implement.

Ryan's bet is that he can avoid that fate, and remake the job—making what is widely described as the worst job in Washington, a high-profile gig that nobody wants, into a job that someone with talent and ambition might actually be willing to do.

Granted, this might not work out. There are plenty of obvious dangers here—that Ryan will be too compromised in his approach in order to placate dissenters or win votes, as he has sometimes been; that he will subsume his own ideas in order to serve some larger party-driven goal, as he sometimes did while campaigning as Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick; or that he will be quickly be overwhelmed and outshone by the eventual GOP nominee, or even president, who would easily rival Ryan's vision and agenda-setting power in the Republican party.

Essentially, Ryan could still be forced into an implementation job he very much doesn't want, leaving the GOP stuck with its current inability to govern itself or anything else, and tarnishing Ryan in the process. 

But given Boehner's uninspiring track record in the job as it's currently understood, I think it may be worth giving it a shot.  

Ryan has never wanted the job, which is itself a sign that Ryan isn't out to repeat the mistakes and failures of previous Speakers. But by listing his demands, Ryan has outlined the job he does want.

In a way, then, he hasn't changed his mind at all. He still doesn't want to be Speaker. He still doesn't want to do that job. But he just might want to do and be something better.

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  1. Scroll down – the Jacket beat you to it…

    1. Suderman acknowledges as much. HE CARES NOT.

  2. It’s like Jake Gyllenhaal and Eddie Munster had a baby.

    1. *applause

  3. Under Boehner, it’s been mostly a management job, about making sure that the trains run on time and that everyone is where they need to be.

    And to make sure those trains don’t rock any boats and that everyone gets nice and re-elected.

  4. Paul Ryan knows that the power he wants rests in Ways and Means and has the added benefit of being out of the public spotlight.

  5. This article needs a TW for excessive wonk.

    1. Yes. Suderman’s wonki-ness is why I like him. Suderman’s wonki-ness is also why I dislike him.

      1. Wonk on, wonk off.

        1. SMH. It’s Back to the Future day, not Karate Kid day, nerd.

          1. Doesn’t look that way for the Cubs.

            1. A team with Theo Epstein at the helm, down 3-0, facing a team from New York – where have we seen this before?

              I would push this theory with the Mets fans I know (which is far too many people), but if the Cubs win 2 out of 3 someone will murder me.

              1. Another four days in October?

                “Don’t let us win tonight!” Do the Cubs have a Kevin Millar?

                I would love it if they could do what the Sox did.

            2. Obviously this is the bad future where the Marlins were put into the National League.

        2. Wonk on, wonk off.

          The Wonker!

  6. Paul Ryan’s Demands Tell Us That He Still Doesn’t Really Want to Be Speaker of the House?He Wants to Be Something Better

    Paul Ryan just turned into Stuart Smalley before our very eyes.

    1. Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, the angle of my widow’s peak is acute enough to injure someone.

  7. OT: Biden about to make an announcement at White House

    1. Not running.

      1. Lolololololololol. What a little fucking pussy.

      2. Oh well. I was looking forward to it for comedic value…

      3. NOOOOOOOOO!

        So disappointed.

  8. He wants to be the Man up in this piece. Can’t say I blame him. Otherwise the job would suck.

  9. And Biden’s out. Too bad.

    1. Thanks, big guy!

      /trump

    2. The DOJ investigation of Hillary’s email crimes just went down the memory hole, too.

      1. Yeah, expect this issue to become a “PHAIK SKANDULL” very soon

        1. Come on, aren’t you guys sick of hearing about her damn emails? If not, I assume it’s because you hate women.

    3. Late

      #FeelTehBern-o-Matic5000

  10. So I’m having lunch in an Adventist hospital cafeteria, they are playing German music and serving German good and I was rung up by a Latina wearing an octoberfest hat named America. Only in America.

    1. Are there no Latina cashiers wearing octoberfest hats in Germany?

      1. There aren’t many Latinas named Waltraud and who can bench press a Buick.

    2. She named her hat “America”?

  11. What has Ryan done outside of the socialist sector?

    1. LOL

  12. This actually make me like Ryan way more than I used to. A guy that refuses an offer of power unless he gets to keep spending time with his kids. Awesome.

    1. Perhaps I’m more cynical, but I think Ryan knows that Chair of Ways and Means has a ton of power and somewhere around zero media attention. Why give that up for the second shittiest job in Washington?

    2. Well, he’s refusing an offer of power unless he gets to spend time with his family AND if he gets the power with more power. He wants his cake covered in Freedom frost before he eats it.

  13. That seems to be strategy of refusing a job you do not want by demanding a ridiculous fee.

  14. And if someone alters his plans in any way, he’ll dynamite the speaker’s office.

    1. You are not Tony. That comment was subtly humorous.

  15. Sneaky good move on Ryan’s part. Might do some small part in making the party less dysfunctional. Maybe the party doesn’t agree, but it seems like there’s no other way forward for them at the moment.

    It’s possible we’d be better off if more power was distributed to reluctant people who seek promises of support from their constituents instead of making empty promises to those constituents instead.

  16. Ryan’s first condition …

    support for the Impeachment of Obama

    Fuckin’ A!!!

  17. i understand why ryan would ask for conditions. it’s both politically smart and the sign of someone who’s smart enough to not want the job, but enough of a team player to compromise (i say that as someone who doesn’t like his or the other team). i don’t see anything unrealistic about what he’s asking for either…i mean, after all, they came to him.

  18. He also wants to eliminate the “motion to vacate” procedure, a rarely used but powerful tactic that critics could use to threaten his speakership by putting it up for a vote.

    What exactly does this particular condition mean?

    Does it mean that once voted into the office the House would not be able to remove him from that office by another vote and install someone else?

    That is to say, the only way he could be removed would be if he himself resigned.

  19. Ryan would likely delegate many of those tasks and treat the Speakership rather differently.

    And he promises to give all of the additional power back once the crisis has passed.

    Good lord, you’ve got some rose colored glasses on when it comes to this twit. What the fuck has Paul Ryan ever done that makes anyone think he’s that competent of a manager? He pushed a toothless budget proposal that would have accomplished nothing and was a disappointing VP candidate in a campaign that couldn’t knock an incompetent, massively unpopular incumbent out of office.

    Paul Ryan would be a disaster in this job because he’s just as directionless as Boehner, except he wants to get rid of or at least minimize the means to remove him. If the Freedom Caucus is smart, they’ll tell him to get fucked.

    1. “If the Freedom Caucus is smart, they’ll tell him to get fucked.”

      right or wrong, the freedom caucus would be wise to remember basic math.

  20. I bought brand new BMW by working ONline work. Six month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online job and making more then 98$/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to beleived her

    ??????? —— http://www.HomeJobs90.Com

  21. I bought brand new BMW by working ONline work. Six month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online job and making more then 98$/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to beleived her

    ??????? —— http://www.HomeJobs90.Com

  22. Ryan has turned me into a fan. I’ll admit I was skeptical about him before, but his power play to force the republican coalitions to work together is massive to me. If he can add compromise with the reasonable democrats, he can be super effective.

  23. Ryan has turned me into a fan. I’ll admit I was skeptical about him before, but his power play to force the republican coalitions to work together is massive to me. If he can add compromise with the reasonable democrats, he can be super effective.

  24. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.buzznews99.com

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