GOP’s Speaker of the House Paul Ryan vows to unite right wing

WASHINGTON – Having won the votes of the majority of Republican representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan, R.-Wis., will start work as Speaker of the House Monday. He’s billing himself as a “uniter,” not a “divider.”

Unlike Dubya, Ryan is not referring to the American people or even to the House as a whole when he talks about “unity.” He’s pledging rather to bring together clashing factions of right- wing Congressional Republicans.

Whether he can or not remains to be seen.

Either way, he will do nothing to take the American people off the chopping block.

There appears to be two main camps of right-wingers in Congress: the finger-flippers and the finaglers.

The finger-flippers aim to give the American people the finger by doing all they can to stop the government from functioning. They’re tea party through-and-through, are members of the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” and their ranks are often swelled by other Republicans.

Their followers include people fueled by fear, hate and a sense of hopelessness. Whatever their motivation, when they work to undermine government functioning, the finger-flippers de facto are working to put the running of our country squarely in the hands of billionaires.

The finaglers are the right wingers who are confident they can use legislative and administrative means to hand the country over to billionaires de jure. They’re the ones who put the brakes on the flippers last month when the later tried to stop the government from functioning by not approving a resolution to fund it.

Yesterday, the finaglers pushed through a two-year budget deal with the White House even though 167 finger-flipping Republicans voted against it.

If passed by the Senate, the proposed budget, among other things, would protect recipients from having to pay up to 53 percent more for Medicare and would raise the debt limit to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on loans.

It would also suspend arbitrary limits on spending known as “sequestration;” but only for two years.

Ryan-style “uniting”

Ryan’s handling of the budget deal might be an indication of what he means by “unifying:” He’ll try to satisfy both right wing camps.

At first, Ryan aligned himself with the flippers by implying he would not support the budget proposal.

Yesterday, he voted for it.

However, he said: “About the [budget] process, I can say this: I think the process stinks.”

Moreover, he said: “It’s time for us to … get to work on a bold agenda … .”

Ryan’s words can be translated from political-speak to English.

By saying “the process stinks,” Ryan is reiterating a pledge he made to the tea party bunch that he’ll return to using the “Hastert rule.” This is the practice initiated by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert that dramatically thwarts our democracy. Even if a measure was backed by a majority of the House and was clearly supported by a majority of Americans, Hastert would not let it come to a vote unless a majority of Republicans were in favor.

(Coincidently, yesterday as Ryan was being given the Speaker’s seat, a court found Hastert guilty; not of subverting democratic procedures, but of not doing the correct paperwork for expenditures that ultimately went to a blackmailer.)

Getting back to Ryan; by calling for “work on a bold agenda,” he’s reminding right wing lawmakers that in two years they can re-impose sequestration. Furthermore, he’s saying that by passing the current proposal, they’ve bought themselves time to craft a budget that will effectively swell the coffers of the rich and gut programs to help poor and working people.

In other words, Ryan is encouraging the flippers to join the finaglers by assuring them they’ll have a better chance of reaching their ultimate goal: an American government freed from the burden of having to serve the American people.

There is absolutely nothing in his record to indicate that Ryan will deviate from his ongoing efforts to hand the U.S. over to billionaires. 

Ryan’s right wing bona fides

As chair of the House Budget committee in 2011, Ryan promoted a draft budget that would slash funding for public education, roads, and public services.

As Romney’s running mate in 2012, Ryan’s stump speech railed against the evils of “big government” and extolled the “virtues” of people lifting themselves up by their bootstraps alone.

In 2013, as chair of theHouse budget committee, Ryan came out in favor of $20 billion in cuts that would throw an estimated two million children, elderly, and disabled Americans off food stamps. He also pushed a proposal to take food stamps away from people who have $2,000 in savings, or a car worth more than $5,000. The Congressional Budget Office found that this would strip food stamps away from an additional 1.8 million people.

Ryan’s budget schemes helped torpedo the Romney-Ryan ticket and his proposals have been blasted apart by every respected expert.

Nevertheless, in record time Ryan has risen from the House ranks to become Chair of the House Budget Committee, a candidate for Vice President and then Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

He has now completed his ascension. He’s the youngest-ever Speaker of the House.

Ryan’s rapid rise should be another in a long series of wake up calls to the American people: our government has been hijacked. It will take work to turn it around from serving billionaires to once again being a government “by the people and for the people.”

For the complete low-down on Paul Ryan, go to Peter Dreier’s October 21 article in the Huffington Post: “Paul Ryan is a hypocrite, charlatan and right-wing extremist.”

Photo: AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.