Paul Ryan will be Speaker if he doesn’t have to do the whole job

Paul Ryan has begrudgingly agreed to run for Speaker of the House, but only if the party accedes to his rather steep demands. As he said in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans yesterday, “I hope it doesn’t sound conditional… but it is.”

For instance, he doesn’t want Speaker-level responsibilities for fundraising, which will allow him to spend more time with his family. This will almost certainly be acceptable for Republicans if it means that they get to have him as the face of the party. From the National Review:

The speaker has traditionally taken on heavy fundraising duties, helping to elect Republicans to the House. Wagner, who serves as finance chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, says the committee is fine with Ryan’s proposal and is working on a plan to ensure the committee’s fundraising remains in good shape. She says she was also heartened by his statement that when he did travel to help Republicans campaign, he would focus not just on fundraising but on communication, and would do more local press and grassroots events – activities past speakers have not usually engaged in.

Other conditions of his, though, are likely to be highly contentious, such as his insistence on having the support of all 247 House Republicans (“If I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve”) and reforming House rules so that members cannot file motions to vacate the chair and oust him once he’s assumed his role (“I’m willing to take arrows in the chest but not in the back.”)

Paul Ryan, via meltechfoto / Shutterstock.com

Paul Ryan, via meltechfoto / Shutterstock.com

To be clear, Ryan has probably set a high bar for the House GOP as a first move in what will likely be a negotiating process between himself and the House Freedom Caucus. At the end of the day, Ryan probably can’t (and doesn’t) expect to be elected Speaker as a consensus candidate, as multiple members aren’t happy with his candidacy and others, including HFC member Daniel Webster, have maintained that they are still running. What’s more, what the HFC really wants out of all of this — more than a more conservative Speaker — is process changes that will decentralize power in the House. Giving up the motion to vacate the Speaker seems to be going in the opposite direction, there.

This being the case, it’s unclear if there is an opportunity for Ryan and House conservatives to come to an agreement that results in Ryan agreeing to become Speaker. Ryan knows full well that he would face the same political difficulties that John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy faced in trying to manage the ultra-conservative and philosophically divergent Republican caucus, and “[doesn’t] want to be the third log on the bonfire.”

In any case, Ryan appears to have gotten the ball rolling, as the House will vote to confirm a new Speaker on October 28th, only a few days before John Boehner is supposed to resign:


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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19 Responses to “Paul Ryan will be Speaker if he doesn’t have to do the whole job”

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  2. MACV says:

    Well it’s a late post but I believe “Lyin Ryan” got everything he asked for (if not, so close it doesn’t matter). The man has proven to the world that he can’t ADD (remember his deficit reduction plan when he was Romney’s running mate?) and this increases his “bona fides” for his next run at the presidency.
    ……. how’d you like to be in charge of that train wreck?

  3. Butch1 says:

    Yes, there’s that infamous commercial of the grandmotherly type being readied to be pushed off the cliff associated with him.

  4. Butch1 says:

    I agree. Why Mitt chose him for VP (unless he figured he wouldn’t outshine him in that department) just as “the maverick” chose Palin for his VP, makes one wonder if this is why this bumpkin was chosen to be the Speaker. Would he be easily manipulated by the Tea Party crazies?

  5. Butch1 says:

    I only wish . . .

  6. Butch1 says:

    “Are there any rules that state that the democrats take over by default when this happens!” ;-)

  7. BeccaM says:

    And he’s secured his nickname as “Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver.” Plus he and his family have that lovely video of them contaminating a kitchen full of previously washed and sterilized cookware…

    You’re right, I was totally unfair. ;-)

  8. BeccaM says:

    Seems like, aye.

  9. HKAnders says:

    We’re witnessing the end of the GOP as a governing party.

  10. BeccaM says:

    I happened to run across a post over on ThinkProgress, which says there are actually 40 members of the House Freedom (sic) Caucus, and they’ve adopted a rule saying that in order to secure the endorsement of the HFC, 4/5 of the members must express their support.

    Eleven HFC members have already publicly rejected Ryan and his dictatorial terms. (Article was later updated to increase the number from 9 to 11.)

    The GOPers have 247 members total but need 218 to elect a Speaker. This means any 30 Republican House members can derail any candidate. To be honest, I’m not sure what the hell we’re witnessing right now. An implosion of the Republican party itself, followed by a break-up similar to that the Dems had with their ‘Dixiecrat’ contingent?

  11. HKAnders says:

    That’s a bit harsh. He did produce a lot of “budgets” with no numbers. So, there’s that.

  12. BeccaM says:

    I don’t think he’s bright enough either. His accomplishments in the House are basically nil.

  13. Butch1 says:

    He’s too much. Does this come with “prenuptials” as well? ;-)

  14. Butch1 says:

    This sounds like something this lazy representative would pull. I don’t really think he’s bright enough to be Speaker, but the republicans don’t seem to care.

  15. BeccaM says:

    True that. And it’s why I don’t think Ryan is serious about letting himself be drafted to serve.

  16. HKAnders says:

    It’s like walking in to a job interview and demanding not only a ridiculous salary, but also to be allowed to set your own schedule and duties AND for immunity from being fired.

    It’s not like that. Except for the salary, which isn’t negotiable here, it’s literally that.
    He has to know that the Krazee Kaucus will never go for immunization from being fired. That’s why I am convinced he really does not want the job under any circumstances, and that this is just a poison pill to ensure he won’t get it.

  17. BeccaM says:

    “I’ll take the job, but only if I get to choose how much of the job I feel like doing, and only if as a precondition, you guys can’t fire me no matter what happens.”

    In one sense, I get what Ryan is doing: He’s trying to eliminate the means by which not only the Freedom (sic) Caucus but other groups of discontented “scorched earth” Republicans were threatening to topple Boehner if he didn’t give in to their every demand. Since party discipline and loyalty no longer truly exist, Ryan is trying to make them irrelevant. But he’s not offering them anything at all in exchange for their compliance.

    Anyway, this passive-aggressive approach is just about the opposite of leadership. Unless this is just a negotiating position, Ryan appears to be telling the rest of the Republicans he doesn’t really want the job. It’s like walking in to a job interview and demanding not only a ridiculous salary, but also to be allowed to set your own schedule and duties AND for immunity from being fired.

    I doubted before Ryan was going to be the next Speaker of the House. I’m not seeing any reason to revise that estimation. I think either Boehner will stay on (least likely outcome), or it’ll be someone other than Ryan with nothing to lose (and thus just a figurehead Speaker until 2017), or else Charlie Dent and his crowd will make a deal with the Democrats.

  18. The_Fixer says:

    If this weren’t bad for the country, I’d say “Go at it…. forever.” These jackals deserve this and worse for the insanity they’ve brought to government and for the terrible things that the Republicans have brought to this country.

    I suspect that if Ryan gets elected Speaker, this will, after a short honeymoon, be a near repeat of Boehner’s rule. That will not bode well for Republicans in the next election cycle.

  19. HKAnders says:

    I don’t think Ryan wants the job at all, but he also doesn’t want to be seen as refusing to step up to fill a leadership vacuum. So instead of refusing, he is establishing a set of objectionable conditions under which he will accept a coronation as speaker. Predictably, the extreme right is rejecting those conditions:

    House conservatives would be insane to agree to these terms. Ryan is actually promising very little by way of specifics. Instead, he wants a unanimous election and then he will go into details. Put another way, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to get elected after it is made impossible to get rid of him, then he will really get into specifics.

    Amnesty anyone?

    This would be a terrible, terrible deal for House Conservatives. It would gut their ability to pull the House Republicans to the right.

    But I think Ryan is trying to be too cute by half. Nobody should be fooled by such a transparent ploy to evade the responsibility of leading the Krazee Kaucus.

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