Will He Or Won’t He? Washington Waits On Paul Ryan’s Decision On Running For Speaker

With Congress set to come back from its recess, attention is once again turning to the race for Speaker and one Paul Ryan, Congressman from Wisconsin.

House GOP

With the House of Representatives set to return from its recess tomorrow, the question hanging over members will be about how to handle the selection of a new Speaker of the House. When John Boehner announced his impending resignation, which may or may not be delayed depending on how long it takes for his successor to be chosen, it seemed as though Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy would be able to easily win election to the Boehner’s spot, especially since it seemed as though House conservatives were unable to unite behind a candidate that could appeal to anyone outside their ranks.. McCarthy’s path to victory, though, was impeded by the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives and he ultimately ended up stepping aside at the last minute, sending the race into chaos. Almost immediately, many Republicans turned to Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who had previously passed on opportunities to run for Speaker, as the candidate best able to united the House GOP Caucus and lead the body. While Ryan had initially rejected the idea of stepping in after McCarthy stepped aside, he does appear to have been seriously considering the possibility of getting into the race. Conservative groups, meanwhile, have spent the week-long recess gearing up attacks on Ryan, who has often strayed from conservative orthodoxy in his sixteen years in Congress, attacking Ryan and laying the ground work for what would likely come if he got into the race, and if he won the position. All of this leaves the race for Speaker as up in the air as it was when Congress left town before Columbus Day.

This morning, though, CBS News is reporting that Ryan may be willing to get into the race, but only if the conservatives call off the dogs:

After weeks of insisting he would not run for Speaker, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan – according to those close to him – is now open to leading the fractured Republican conference, and seriously considering launching a bid for speaker of the House.

But there’s a caveat. And it’s a big one.

Ryan’s confidants tell CBS News he will not horse trade with the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 40 or so deeply conservative members who have beendemanding changes to House rules and other very specific promises from candidates for Speaker in exchange for their support. Ryan’s confidants say he is not going to negotiate for a job he never sought, and that he has a record of conservative leadership that should be clear to every member of the GOP conference.

They say Ryan hasn’t ruled out meeting with the House Freedom Caucus if asked, but “he’s not going to go to the Freedom Caucus and say, ‘I’ll do this and this’…otherwise you’ve sold yourself to them from the very beginning, and set yourself up for failure” said someone with knowledge of his deliberations.’ “He still really, really does not want to do this. He has his dream job. If he’s Speaker, his whole career path changes. He’s not going to make concessions to get a job he didn’t want in the first place.”

Either members believe in his conservative leadership, or they don’t – and if Ryan concludes that he’s unlikely to get a near-unanimous vote of support from republicans, his allies say he is happy to stay exactly where he is as the chair of the House Ways and Means committee.

Those close to Ryan say the true test will come on Wednesday. The House returns from a weeklong recess on Tuesday evening, and House Republicans are likely to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday morning. There, Ryan will likely be asked to speak – and he’ll have his first chance to gauge reaction from members as they go to the microphones to express their views.

Do they say “we know who you are, you’re the guy,” as one Ryan confidant put it? Or do they express skepticism after a week of attacks on Ryan by far right media outlets?

While many Republicans – including some running for or considering running for Speaker — have openly exhorted Ryan to run, some hardline conservative members have refused to say whether they would back Ryan on the House floor if he wins in a closed door vote among republicans. Rep Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told CBS News last week, “I want to see who else is in the race. You don’t pick a candidate until you know who all of the players are.”

Rep John Fleming, R-Louisiana, said “Until we find out who’s running and interview the candidates, we’re non-committal at this time.” And Daniel Webster, R-Florida, who picked up the Freedom Caucus’ endorsement earlier this month, wouldn’t commit to back Ryan on the House floor if he defeats Webster in a House GOP vote.

“Well, we’ll see what happens,” Webster said.

Given that environment, a Ryan ally says, “I don’t know how he’ll come down” on whether to run for Speaker. One leadership aide put the chances of Ryan mounting a bid at 60-40. Another insider pegged it at 50-50. All said they expect Ryan to make a decision soon. House Speaker John Boehner has scheduled a vote on the House floor for October 29th.

If Ryan chooses not to run, House Republicans will be in an even bigger bind than they are in already. It’s unlikely that any of the Republicans in the Speaker’s race now – or any of the several who have signaled an interest in running if Ryan doesn’t – have a better chance of getting 218 votes than he does.

A source close to House Speaker John Boehner says that if Ryan bows out, there is a growing recognition that Boehner may have to postpone his plans to leave Congress, cancel the October 29th vote for Speaker and stick around until the end of the year as Republicans work out their leadership issues.

In essence, then, Ryan’s fate, and the future of the Republican Caucus in the House isn’t in Ryan’s hand, but in the hands of the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus and those outside Congress who spent the past five years attempting to undermine John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy, and who has spent the better part of the past ten days trying to undermine Ryan. If history is any indication, then, the most logical conclusion would be that Ryan would find it as impossible to deal with these people as Boehner and McCarthy have and that this will lead him to lean against running. At the same time, though, it’s generally the case that Ryan has a better relationship with House conservatives than leadership has had in the past, and this is likely to mean that whatever opposition there might be to him would be far less extensive, and the very least not sufficient to pose a serious challenge to him getting the 218 votes needed to become Speaker. Given that, it all comes back down to whether or not Ryan is willing to put aside the policy-based work he’s doing as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and the Budget Committee before that, to take on the largely thankless task of being Speaker of the House, which is usually a position that Members of Congress take at the end of their political careers rather than something that has historically been a stepping stone to higher office. The one exception to that rule appears to be James G. Blaine, who became a Senator from Maine, and later Republican candidate for President and Secretary of State. For the most part, though, Speaker has not been the kind of job that someone in Ryan’s position takes on.

In the end, though, some kind of choice will have to be made. If Ryan gets in, then his election should be pretty straightforward. If he doesn’t, then we may have John Boehner to kick around for a few more months until Republicans figure out how to govern a seemingly ungovernable caucus.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    It would be idiotic for Ryan to run for the speaker slot. It would kill any chance he has at a future run at the big chair.

    The Freedom Caucus folks have an out-sized influence. If these folks declare you to be a RINO you are a RINO. They have somehow assumed the role of the gatekeeper.

    They have come thisclose to calling Ryan a RINO.

    Basically because he’s been in the same room as Boehner.

    (How in the hell did someone like Boehner become moderate and establishment? In any historical analysis, Boehner would be the most conservative leader since Gingrich (and Gingrich talked the talk more than he walked the walk.)

    Until someone knocks them down, the Freedom Caucus folks have hijacked the concept of “Republicanism.” If you’re not with them you’re against them.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    So Ryan will get in if Conservatives agree to play ball…which would make him a pretty powerful speaker…one with full control of the caucus.
    Now…how wise is it, or how beneficial to the country is it, to have one of the most mendacious mother-fwckers in Washington holding a good deal of power? A guy intent on marginalizing the poor and the sick and the elderly? A guy with zero private sector experience? A guy that is a major believer in trickle down economics….at the very least a radical theory…a radical theory that has never been proven to work in the real world. (see; Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey , Minnesota, Wisconsin) An acolyte of the perversely amoral Ayn Rand…
    Paul Ryan is likely the worst thing that could happen to this country since Reagan started the war against the middle class in ’80 and re-made the GOP into the dysfunctional mess it is today…with carnival barkers and grifters at the helm.

  3. de stijl says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And yet Ryan is seen as the moderate.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    Given that, it all comes back down to whether or not Ryan is willing to put aside the policy-based work he’s doing as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,

    The what now? Policy-based work? From Mr. Magic Asterisk? Here, let me fix that for you:

    Given that, it all comes back down to whether or not Ryan is willing to put aside the policy-based fantasy-based work he’s doing as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,

  5. James Pearce says:

    Best case scenario for the Republicans: Elevate one of the Freedom Caucus looneys to Speaker. Give him enough rope. Then buckle up, hang on tight, and do your best as you ride it out.

    Andrew Luck knows he’ll survive the Chuck Pagano era in Indy. Non-goofball Republicans need to find the same head space.

  6. Argon says:

    At this point, I just hear ‘blah, blah, blah’ about House Republicans. They aren’t worth listening to or listening about.

  7. Scott says:

    It would be foolish for Ryan to concede anything. If people are pleading with him, he can then name his terms; he has the position of strength. So what would he demand of the radicals, and what advantage would those demands be for the rest of us. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any.

  8. de stijl says:

    An innumerate Ayn Rand acolyte is the “establishment” Republican candidate for leader?

    Some folks would call that worrisome.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    I’ve never had a lot of use for Ryan but that said going from herding unicorns to herding feral cats doesn’t seem like an upward career path.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @de stijl:

    innumerate Ayn Rand acolyte

    Perfect

  11. de stijl says:

    @Scott:

    This is a good point:

    It would be foolish for Ryan to concede anything. If people are pleading with him, he can then name his terms; he has the position of strength.

    Ryan is seen as the respectable selection (despite his inherent made-up budget looniness) and how he deals with this leadership transition will affect his future career.

    I think his advisers have the best take on the matter and the best course is to sit this one out.

    There is zero upside to being the Republican House Speaker right now.

    It’s 70-30 they’re going to lose the Presidential race. They’ll very likely lose the Senate majority. They’re probably going to lose 15 to 20 seats in the House.

    The next two years will not likely not favor the Republicans.

  12. de stijl says:

    In any sane world Paul Ryan would be the lunatic fringe.

  13. Pete S says:

    Ryan is not an idiot. A magical financial thinker maybe, but I don’t think a complete idiot. Even if the “conservatives” support him now, he has to know it is temporary. Boehner got re-elected with a majority just a few months ago.

  14. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: Your comment caused me to make a current-status check on ‘predictwise-dot-com’. The Dem’s likelihood of success in the presidential race is rated at 59%. Interestingly, I notice that the leading R-party candidate is now Sen Rubio.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @Pete S:

    Even if the “conservatives” support him now, he has to know it is temporary.

    Yes…I think this is the point. The nut jobs aren’t going to give up on their demands and the power they have gained by being insane. They are intent on steering the country so far to the right that it no longer recognizable as the United States. What they envision is an extremely authoritarian Plutocracy…where a few rich people run the country according to a very strict set of “moral” codes. One religion, propagandized history, rights (including voting) distributed according to financial status, and so on. They aren’t about to kow-tow to Paul Ryan in the process.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    This is OT…but did anyone see Jake Tapper single-handedly destroy Bushes Presidential Campaign?
    Bush blamed Clinton for Benghazi…while saying his briother kept us safe.

    “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do they’re totally marginalizing our society,” Bush said. “It’s what he did afterwards that matters. And I’m proud of him and so are a bunch of other people. You don’t have to have your last name be Bush to understand that.”

    So Tapper asked a perfectly logical follow-up question; how he could blame Obama and Clinton for the attack on the Benghazi compound if he believed his brother was not at all responsible for 9/11?
    Only a matter of time now before Bush is gone, I think.

  17. Gustopher says:

    I don’t see how the Freedom Fries Caucus is going to drop any demands, let alone all of them. They’ve gotten the power they have by by refusing to compromise. Meanwhile, we have budgets to pass, debt ceilings to raise to pay for those budgets, etc. — the basic work of the House, and the stuff the Freedom Fries Caucus is opposed to. And, yet, it has to get done, either with the Freedom Fries Caucus or without them.

    The only semi-stable solution is to treat the Freedom Fries Guys like a third party, and then no one has a majority, and some power sharing arrangement can be made, possibly with the Democrats, or a faction of the Democrats (have the Blue Dogs died off yet?).

    The next speaker has to choose whether he or she wants to precipitate an economic disaster, or the start of the Republican civil war.

    Or just leave Boehner in there, and have him go all soft on everyone, compromising with Democrats to get things done and being branded a RINO even more.

  18. stonetools says:

    I think Ryan won’t do it unless the Freedom Caucus in effect agrees to sit down, shut up and do what he says. That’s not happening, since they are convinced , based on Republican gains, that the True Conservative Revolution is just around the corner.
    I expect that Ryan will stay out and that a True Believer like Chaffetz or webster will eventually drink from the poisoned chalice.

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do they’re totally marginalizing our society,” Bush said. “It’s what he did afterwards that matters.”

    Invading Iraq under false pretenses, screwing up the occupation of Afghanistan, failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and destabilizing the Middle East for a generation?

    By god, JEB! is right — it is what he did afterwards that matters.

  20. de stijl says:

    @JohnMcC:

    It’s both odd and totally predictable that Rubio is the leading Republican. He is despised by the anti-immigrant base and will be punished for it in the primaries, but he (or Kasich or Fiorina) is probably their best shot at getting to 270 in the general.

    But

    The Dem’s likelihood of success in the presidential race is rated at 59%.

    seems quite low.

    What combination of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida going R seems likely? Or possibly one of the above plus Virginia and Iowa and Nevada and Wisconsin and Colorado?

    The path to the the Presidency favors the Ds overwhelmingly.

    Unless Clinton self-immolates and takes down the D party with her, based upon the recent past the R candidate can only win if he or she runs the table and takes all of the swing states.

    The likelihood of an R sweep of all of the swing states is vanishingly small. It will take a hell of an R candidate plus a really bad D candidate to flip the D’s EV advantage.

    Or an economic collapse, or a major terrorist attack, etc.

    Okay, in a static state the Ds would probably be 85-15 favorites, but we live in a dynamic world so I can grudgingly see the 59%.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    How crazy are these people???
    Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is already calling for Clinton’s impeachment.

    And in my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors

    These are not serious people. I’m not even sure they are people, seriously.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    BooMan had a good piece Sunday predicting the establishment GOPs will be forced to form a coalition with Democrats to elect and keep a Speaker.

    Seems to me that long term things cannot stay as they are. And there are few options:
    -The Tea Party types may split off into a third party. Hopeless, but I don’t think they know that.
    – The establishment may be able to reassert control and keep the TP on board somehow.
    – The TP takes control and the establishment stays on board, hoping to ride it out.
    – The establishment bails and form a third party . Hopeless, and they know it.
    – The establishment GOPs join the Democrats.

    If the establishment GOPs form a “coalition” with Dems, I fear it’s a slippery slope to the last scenario, my nightmare scenario – we end up with no liberal party, just a conservative party called Democrats and a whack job conservative party called Republicans.

  23. Pinky says:

    Question: why are we assuming that the Speakership is an impossible task because Boehner couldn’t handle it?

  24. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    just a conservative party called Democrats and a whack job conservative reactionary party called Republicans.

    How exactly is that different from what has been true for the last 20 years?

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:

    why are we assuming that the Speakership is an impossible task

    See…this confirms my theory…the only way you can be a Republican today is if you have absolutely no idea what is going on around you.

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    We’re not — we are assuming that it is an impossible task unless the “Freedom Caucus” is willing to change course. The identity of the Speaker is irrelevant, except to the extent they are willing to change course for a specific person as Speaker.

  27. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    The only semi-stable solution is to treat the Freedom Fries Guys like a third party, and then no one has a majority, and some power sharing arrangement can be made, possibly with the Democrats, or a faction of the Democrats (have the Blue Dogs died off yet?).

    The next speaker has to choose whether he or she wants to precipitate an economic disaster, or the start of the Republican civil war.

    Seems far-fetched, but Booman has a series of posts on that idea:

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2015/10/18/102753/74

  28. Scott says:

    @Pinky: You may be right. Nancy Pelosi handled the Speaker job just fine. Maybe a few Republicans could threaten to vote for her.

  29. charon says:

    @Pinky: @Scott:

    Question: why are we assuming that the Speakership is an impossible task because Boehner couldn’t handle it?

    @Pinky: You may be right. Nancy Pelosi handled the Speaker job just fine. Maybe a few Republicans could threaten to vote for her.

    Umm – perhaps because there is no counterpart to the Freedom Caucus on the other side of the aisle?

    Also, it’s more like 80 than 40 feral cats to herd on the GOP side – the GOP contains a couple of other caucuses similar to the 40 in the Freedom Caucus.

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Question: why are we assuming that the Speakership is an impossible task because Boehner couldn’t handle it?

    This is quite a good point. Nancy Pelosi, after all, had no problems with the job at all.

  31. jukeboxgrad says:

    Doug:

    we may have John Boehner to kick around for a few more months

    I think it will probably be more than just “a few more months,” and this is what makes the whole thing so hilarious. The clowns who tried to get rid of him succeeded only in making him more powerful. He’s more powerful now because threatening to boot him was how they used to exert leverage, and now they’ve proven that this threat doesn’t actually have much actual leverage.

    So they have proven, again, that they have zero capacity for strategic thinking. Or thinking, period.

  32. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: I’m too lazy to check it out right this minute but I think the ‘predictwise’ site is some sort of compilation or averaging operation that gleans data from legal bookmaking sites all over the world. I drop in occasionally because the betting community has been amazingly accurate several recent elections. Don’t have any explanation for the 59% chance given to the unnamed Dem presidential candidate. Mentioned the Rubio upgrade because the young Senator has had a bit of a blow-up in the political press lately and the preference at the betting site kind of confirms the reality of that — at least in my subjective way of looking all around slowly.

  33. Joe says:

    First, why not have Boehner, no longer beholden to the right wing of his party, stay on as Speaker and run the house like an old fashion fiscal conservative, arguing with Democrats and making deals in the best interest of the country and not in fear of the right wing of his party — if the right wing really doesn’t like that outcome, they just need to find someone who can run it their way and get elected – i.e. no one.

    @C. Clavin: Second, if the Republican right is able to put all of Hilary’s “sins” before they American people and the American people elect her anyway, shouldn’t the voters’ opinions of “high crimes and misdemeanors” trump the views of a few elected congressmen? Isn’t this supposed to be a democracy?

  34. Mikey says:

    Peripherally relevant, Yglesias channels Han Solo (“don’t get cocky”):

    Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble.

    The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands…But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren’t even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don’t even admit that they exist.

  35. de stijl says:

    @Pinky:

    Being Speaker is a hard job. Boehner wasn’t / isn’t particularly good at it, but on top of his being relatively bad at it, he was also undermined like no other Speaker in our lifetime.

    One of of the consequences of pork reform was that House and Senate leadership lost a traditional tool for arm-twisting. And given the new media environment, yanking committee chairs and membership has become almost untenable.

    Boehner is either a really bad vote counter or, more likely, votes that were promised were not delivered. Why?

    Perhaps insurgent-minded true Conservatives decided that voting against the leadership would send a message. Or advance the cause.

    A message to whom? To what effect? Who knows? I can’t see into their brains. True Believers often eat themselves first.

    Rat-f***ing is a long-standing Republican tradition and is often used against their own. See the College Republicans for examples.

    Oddly enough, Pelosi and Reid did not see these behaviors.

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: Actually I agree. perhaps I should have said, “an even more conservative Dem Party and an even more RWNJ Republican Party.”

  37. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    Question: why are we assuming that the Speakership is an impossible task because Boehner couldn’t handle it?

    Because we pay attention to politics and have recognized how radical and destructive the burn it down Caucus in House actually is. People that won’t acknowledge the facts staring them in the face, they are the ones who are still treating Boehner as the anomaly, rather than the GOP.

  38. stonetools says:

    Here’s a contrarian take.
    From the point of view of the Freedom Caucus, they aren’t a bunch of batsh*t crazy reactionaries who want to return the USA to some mythical past but the vanguard of a conservative revolution who are headed for victory. Delusional, you say? Well, most of the Freedom Caucus swept in on the huge Republican wave of 2010. Since then, the Republicans have risen to unchallenged predominance in the House and a majority in the Senate. In fact, the Republicans in ascendancy everywhere but the Presidency. Now this doesn’t fit the typical liberal view here. Rather , we look at the Republican Party as being taken over by crazies who are leading them and the country off a cliff . Matt Yglesias thinks that’s dangerous triumphalism :

    Yes, Barack Obama is taking a victory lap in his seventh year in office. Yes, Republicans can’t find a credible candidate to so much as run for speaker of the House. Yes, the GOP presidential field is led by a megalomaniacal reality TV star. All this is true — but rather than lay the foundation for enduring Democratic success, all it’s done is breed a wrongheaded atmosphere of complacence.

    RelatedThe Republican Party doesn’t want to believe its voters agree with Trump. But they do.
    The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

    Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren’t even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don’t even admit that they exist.

    Now whether you buy that the Democrats are complacent about all this, (I don’t), it does support a narrative of a successful drive for supremacy by a Republican Party that is succeeding precisely because of it’s no-compromise conservatism.
    What this means is that the Freedom Caucus really have no reason to cut any deal-and won’t until they are defeated at the polls. That won’t happen unless we see a huge liberal wave-and that ain’t happening anytime.

  39. David M says:

    @stonetools:

    The alternate view is that the GOP has 4 years left of their structural advantage from the 2010 elections and redistricting. 2020 will probably be more favorable to the Democrats, and if the Democrats win the Presidency again in 2016, that ends the GOP chances to actually accomplish anything nationally.

  40. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So Ryan will get in if Conservatives agree to play ball…which would make him a pretty powerful speaker…one with full control of the caucus.

    Boy, it sure is a good thing that in the entire history of the world, no politician has ever gone back on his or her word.

  41. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ron Beasley: Harder to assemble into herds but much easier to manage once assembled, or so I’ve been told.

  42. stonetools says:

    @David M:

    They are doing a hell of a lot at the state levels, though-from restricting reproductive rights to blocking Medicaid expansion to screwing unions to not regulating corporations. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, the Democrats can’t just keep allowing the Republicans to dominate at the state level and fight rearguard actions around the Presidency. Anyway, even if you don’t believe the Democrats are in big trouble, it’s understandable why the Freedom Caucus thinks that they are winning and that it would be foolish to concede to liberals now. From their POV, they’re winning.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
    Sure…but you have to assume if they agree to play ball…they will play ball for a bit, anyway.
    I don’t think they will actually agree to Ryan’s terms.
    But if they do…who knows what the expiration date is?
    In any case my comment was more about the danger of having Paul Ryan wield any sort of power whatsoever…than the semantics of that power.

  44. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @gVOR08: We don’t have a particularly “liberal” party now (James’ “the country is no longer center-right” blather notwithstanding), so I’m not sure of what the coalition does other than making it possible for Congress to resume being a Congress. The actual right we have will complain about anything that does not result in the impeachment and summary execution of the Kenyan usurper and the collapse of the world economy in the wake of a bond default by the US, so I’m failing to see the downside of a coalition.

    I mean, it would be nice to have and actual liberal party to be a counterweight, but…

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @stonetools:

    As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, the Democrats can’t just keep allowing the Republicans to dominate at the state level and fight rearguard actions around the Presidency.

    First things first. The Presidency is vital, because the Supreme Court is the fastest mechanism for fixing the most egregious wrongs at the state and local level (and the most dangerous mechanism for setting injustice in stone on the flip side).

    Once there’s a Democrat picking the next crop of Justices, then it’s time to start winning back the legislatures and governors’ mansions.

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @stonetools: Republicans are winning because they are promising everyone free lunches and supply-side budgeting that will pay for itself out of “eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.” In Washington, the primary ballot statewide has 5 tax repeal proposals and one proposal for strengthening endangered species trafficking laws. The trafficking law opposition is sponsored by Democrats in the legislature because “we already have laws and enforcing stronger ones will cost money.” Seattle voters are considering refusing to vote bonds for the repair of roadways in the city because “people from other cities use the roads, too.”

    And this is the so-called Left Coast.

  47. Scott F. says:

    @C. Clavin:

    These are not serious people. I’m not even sure they are people, seriously.

    It may be a perverse approach to “governance,” but it is a deadly serious one.

    Think about it – if you can’t make an affirmative, appealing case to the broad public in favor of your preferred policies, then your best remaining option is to delegitimze the party that can make an affirmative, appealing case in favor of their policies. It’s a terrible offense (it won’t move your agenda forward), but it is an excellent defense.

  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin: Actually, I don’t make that assumption, but I may be more cynical than you are. I would agree that he’s not likely to get an agreement, but if he does, Louis B. Mayer’s aphorism about oral agreements would be the rule I’d go by.

  49. David M says:

    @stonetools:

    They are doing a hell of a lot at the state levels, though-from restricting reproductive rights to blocking Medicaid expansion to screwing unions to not regulating corporations. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, the Democrats can’t just keep allowing the Republicans to dominate at the state level and fight rearguard actions around the Presidency.

    Yes, I agree the Dems need to step it up at the state and local levels. Taking the House back would require them to win the popular vote by like 5% or something, so it’s a 2024 challenge…

    it’s understandable why the Freedom Caucus thinks that they are winning and that it would be foolish to concede to liberals now. From their POV, they’re winning.

    Sure, they are winning, but the rest of the GOP (and the country) needs to tell them they weren’t elected to cause a depression, and if they don’t like it they can DIAF.

  50. Kylopod says:

    I know I’m thread-jacking, but all this talk about a “blue wall” is such nonsense, and way too many Dems are getting into overconfidence mode about 2016 that simply isn’t justified by the facts.

    These Dems make it sound like the electoral college is some independent force that operates totally separately from the national popular vote. The way they talk, you’d think the Republicans could win 55% in the popular vote and still lose the election, because they don’t have that “blue wall” of Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, etc.

    That isn’t how it works at all.

    Let’s get to the point. The Dems do appear to have an EC advantage. But all that means is that in the unlikely event that the popular vote winner is different from the EC winner, the EC winner is more likely to be the Democrat.

    There have been 57 presidential elections in this country’s history. Out of those, in exactly three–three–the candidate who won the plurality of the popular vote did not win the plurality of the electoral vote. In two of these three elections (1876 and 2000), the results were very questionable, but let that pass. Judging from the past, there wouldn’t appear to be higher than a 5% chance of an electoral/popular split in the next election. It’s a highly unlikely event. And as long as it doesn’t happen, then any EC advantage held by one party is irrelevant. The fact is that if the GOP can cobble together 51% in the popular vote, they will almost certainly also win the election. The results will be reflected in those swingy states, and they will indeed reach that “clean sweep.”

    Now if you want to argue that they aren’t likely to get 51% in the popular vote, that’s another discussion. But the idea that the possibility can be warded off by talking about a “blue wall,” like garlic to a vampire, is simply delusional.

  51. David M says:

    In some ways we’re lucky the GOP is so incompetent. If they had any common sense and policy ability, they’d realize the debt ceiling is the source of most of their trouble and eliminate it. Then they could make any crazy budgetary demands they want, without being able to be credibly accused of trying to cause a depression.

  52. Neil Hudelson says:

    @DrDaveT:
    The census occurs in 2020. At that point, whichever legislatures are in charge in states, they set the congressional boundary lines.

    We wait until after 2016 to look at state levels, and we are betting that we can expand* Democratic power throughout the nation in thousands of races, all in one election.

    It’s not a binary choice. We need a candidate–wither Hilary, Sanders, or Biden–who can rebuild and re-energize the grassroots in such a way that we significantly affect down ballot races.

    *Not just expand, but flip a majority of legislatures.

  53. stonetools says:

    @David M:

    The point is (circling back to the OP) is that the Freedom Caucus is unlike to want to compromise with Ryan or any Republican counseling moderation,because they think they have a winning hand. They would say to you, ” Die in a fire? You pointy headed liberal types need to understand that we are winning, everywhere but the Presidency, and when we get a TRULY conservative candidate, instead of squishes like McCain and Romney, we’ll take that too!”
    Talk about how insane their policies are (popular though such talk is on this website) aren’t like to move them one iota toward moderation. this means that it is irrelevant whether the new speaker is Ryan or a true fire eater like Chaffetz, the Freedom Caucus is going to continue to push for “extremist” policies, probably until the 2020 redistricting or they get voted out.

  54. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    We need a candidate–wither Hilary, Sanders, or Biden–who can rebuild and re-energize the grassroots in such a way that we significantly affect down ballot races.

    Neither Clinton nor Sanders is likely to accomplish this. Hillary, a Washington insider if there ever was one, is about the enter her second decade of running for president. Clearly her sites are set on offices of power, not the grassroots. Sanders and Biden might have a better shot, but again….they’re Washington people.

    The grassroots left doesn’t lack structure or energy. It lacks smarts. It lacks strategic vision and a plan to accomplish their goals.

  55. MarkedMan says:

    Making predictions is hard, especially ones about the future (Yogi Berra) but I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict Ryan gets his way (ending his larger hopes in the process). The Freedom Fries guys are the loudmouths at the end of the bar telling everyone in the joint how smart they are and what a bunch of idiots everyone else is. Blowhards with exaggerated views of themselves? Absolutely. But in their dim reptilian brains they are aware enough to realize that if they ever assumed actual power they would be held responsible and the loudmouths who were cunning enough to stay on the barstool would be tearing into them. So they’ll find some rationalization to get behind Ryan – and then almost immediately yelling about how the RINO betrayed them.

  56. Pinky says:

    Second question: what does it mean to be a good Speaker? I truly believe that it includes making compromises where good ones are to be found. But does the job change when your party is in or out of the presidency? To put it another way, would Tom have been a good wartime consigliere?

  57. David M says:

    @stonetools:

    By DIAF, I meant making that thought obvious by scheduling votes to to force the issue on must pass items. Vote on the preferred “GOP” bill, and if they won’t get on board, vote on a compromise that can pass without any delay. Legislating is compromising, so make it obvious what the results of refusing to engage productively really are.

  58. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    Second question: what does it mean to be a good Speaker? I truly believe that it includes making compromises where good ones are to be found.

    A good speaker wouldn’t make unrealistic promises that can’t be kept, and also wouldn’t play along if other members were making unrealistic promises. If Obama is President, and the Democrats control the Senate, you can’t completely repeal Obamacare. They also wouldn’t allow members to make credible threats about defaulting on the debt.

    They would actually try and work towards a coherent set of policy goals to advance the issues they care about, even if the gains were only incremental due to the required compromises.

  59. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I can’t find it now but there was an article some time back about how many states with low population density are having to turn their paved roads back into gravel because they can’t afford to maintain them. One of the people quoted in the article was in a huge snit because they were turning the road in front of her driveway back into gravel and she couldn’t see why the county just didn’t cut all the salaries of the government officials to find the money to keep it paved, because she DESERVED a paved road to her place to keep the value of her property high….oh, and of course she was totally unwilling to have her own taxes raised.

    Sometimes one just wants to pound one’s head against the wall.

  60. David M says:

    Back to the original topic, it appears Ryan will run for speaker, if the Freedom Caucus agrees to unilaterally disarm and stop causing trouble. (Or in my previous verbiage, DIAF.)