It would be quite a feat to rescue the country from a debt ceiling crisis, end the government shutdown, save face for the GOP and keep House radicals and moderates together. But that is what House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took upon himself. Whether the House or the Senate takes a lead role, it was Ryan who helped pivot away from confrontation and toward a deal.
He dragged the party back to a generalized discussion of fiscal issues, and, while vowing in the long-run to work on repeal and replacement of Obamacare, he loosened the radicals’ grip on the ill-fated defund strategy.
At the values voters summit at which he appeared via video, Ryan explained: “We have an opportunity here to pay down the national debt and jump-start the economy. Divided government is frustrating. But our country is worth the effort. We have to make it work. Now, this president won’t agree to everything we need to do. A budget agreement — with this president and this Senate — won’t solve our problems. But I hope it’s a start. I hope we can get a down payment on the debt.” That’s reasonable and attainable. Moreover, it is conservative in the true meaning of the word. He’s not igniting rashness, he is subduing it and as a true constitutionalist he knows you can’t run the government from one house of one branch of government.
Then, to top it off, he countered the drift toward negativity and anti-government venom in the party:
You see, I, too, am a values voter. I, too, believe that what makes us different — what sets us apart — is our beliefs. A rich country can be a strong country. But only a good country can be a free country. “The way I see it, our job is to preserve our values in the 21st century. We need to apply our principles to the challenges of today. And that means we need to completely rethink government’s role in our lives. We need to completely rethink government’s role in helping the most vulnerable. We need to completely rethink government’s role in health care.
Championing a conservative values agenda that meets the needs of ordinary Americans is critical for the GOP’s survival and for reform of our government. Values involve not merely how we treat people at the beginning and end of life, but how we treat them in between. As a moral imperative and a political necessity the GOP must attach its agenda to improving the part in between — the lives of everyday Americans.
If ever the GOP needed an insider who could reason with, lead and direct the energies of the House conference and return to actual governing (with an open government, and everything!) this is it. For undertaking that challenge and beginning to set a out a positive vision he deserves praise. Well done, Mr. Chairman.