By: John Nichols
Paul Ryan is famously described as what Republicans think a smart person sounds like. But sometimes the speaker of the House outsmarts himself.
Ryan lectured Young Republicans in his native Wisconsin last Friday, and the national news media were invited to listen along. The speaker wanted to make the case for Republican voters to turn out and back GOP congressional candidates, even if they can’t stomach their party’s scandal-plagued presidential ticket. Implicit in Ryan’s argument was the suggestion that a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate could be counted on to obstruct Hillary Clinton’s supposedly “liberal progressive” agenda.
But in a question-and-answer session following his unremarkable speech, Ryan inadvertently made a case for liberals and progressives to turn out in big numbers in order to elect Democratic candidates in the fight for control of the Senate.
As he outlined his Wall Street–friendly proposals for tax reforms that would more rapidly redistribute wealth upward, and for budgets that would put vulnerable Americans at greater risk while increasing burdens for middle-class families, the speaker explained that his agenda can advance only if Republicans control both the House and Senate. “If we keep control of the Senate in the Republican hands…a nice guy named Mike Enzi from Wyoming is the Senate budget chair and he helps us get these budgets to the president’s desk, gets these tax bills through,” he said.
On the other hand, Ryan warned, “If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”
? House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during an appearance with a group of College Republicans at the Masonic Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday, October 14, 2016. (AP Photo / John Hart)