Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Releases Bizarre Anti-Trump Ad That Never Mentions Trump By Name


"I'm not saying I'll vote for Trump, but I'm not NOT saying I'll vote for Trump. Of course, I'm also not saying I won't vote for Trump, but I'm not saying I won't WON'T vote for Trump, either."

“I’m not saying I’ll vote for Trump, but I’m not NOT saying I’ll vote for Trump. Of course, I’m also not saying I won’t vote for Trump, but I’m not saying I won’t WON’T vote for Trump, either.”

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s office published a very strange video. Titled “The Choice,” the video features Ryan speaking very vaguely about something that he thinks is a real problem today. He doesn’t really name the problem he’s discussing, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s talking about Donald Trump. Here’s the video:

And here’s the transcript:

I have not seen the kind of bitterness in our discourse, our politics, like we have today, and I gotta say I think it’s both sides — I’d love to say it’s just Democrats, but it’s not, it’s both. And it doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better. This anxiety has got to be channeled, and dealt with with solutions instead of just amplified and accelerated and exacerbating it.

How do you fix that? I think leaders fix this. We haven’t had that kind of leadership lately. Leaders need to say, “Here’s my principle, here’s my solution and let’s try and do it in a way that is inclusive, that’s optimistic, that aspirational and that’s focusing on solutions.” And so that’s the choice you’ll have, far more than personality. Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. But we win ideas contests. We owe you that choice.

So a little Ryan-to-English translation is necessary: by “it’s both sides” who participate in bitterness, Ryan is really just calling out Donald Trump. When he says that we “haven’t had that kind of leadership lately,” he’s likely calling out both President Obama and Donald Trump. This is exceptionally weird, right? I can’t recall another time when a prominent elected official has put out a commercial trashing the presumptive presidential nominee of his own party.

Also interesting? Ryan’s idea of what leaders do. Nobody, really, can argue with his claim that leaders should be optimistic, aspirational, and in favor of solutions. This is about as controversial as calling kittens cute. But calling for an “inclusive” leader is a hell of a stretch, coming as it does from a man who is arguably the most public face of a party that is pushing anti-trans bathroom laws, suing for the right to discriminate against gay couples, and working around the clock to ensure that as few people as possible can enjoy the right to vote. Ryan’s budgets are the most exclusionary documents ever embraced by a mainstream political party in modern times. (Here’s a study guide for Speaker Ryan: If your plan rewards the very wealthy at the expense of many more poor people, you’re practicing exclusionary politics, not inclusive politics.)

So in the end, Ryan is attacking Trump for being further along the same spectrum that Ryan himself is on. Maybe Ryan is reacting so forcefully to Trump’s rise because in Trump he sees something of his own politics reflected back at him? Maybe by being so aggressively exclusionary in (for example) his policies against immigrants, Trump is forcing the mainstream Republican Party into an uncomfortable state of self-awareness? Two years ago, it would have been inconceivable to imagine Paul Ryan defending inclusiveness as a core Republican value; maybe two years from now Ryan will realize that getting into a fight with Trump was not unlike picking a fight with the guy in the bathroom mirror.

Paul Ryan Is Not Running for President Because He Knows His Party Is Falling Off a Cliff

"Wait, Trump said what?"

“Wait, Trump said what?”

Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan is supposedly going to make an announcement that he’s formally ruling out a presidential run in 2016. Ryan has made this same denial in the past, but as Donald Trump’s delegate numbers flag below the necessary 1,237 votes to get nominated on the first try at the Republican National Convention, Ryan’s name keeps getting floated as a possible last-minute nomination. There is a recent historical precedent for this kind of move; Ryan, you’ll remember, didn’t even run for his current position of House Speaker; it was basically handed to him once John Boehner quit and every other Republican who aspired to the Speaker position turned out to be terrible. 

Why Ryan, though? Why do Republicans enthusiastically nominate Paul Ryan for every single job from Vice President to Speaker to President? Well, he’s young for a nationally known politician. He’s from Wisconsin, so he doesn’t carry any of the stigma that, say, a Texas politician does. And as we all know from 2012, he’s very into physical fitness.

It seems pretty clear that Ryan is not the most likable or charismatic guy. He didn’t provide any lift to the 2012 Romney ticket. But he does like to promote himself as the brains of the Republican Party. And he likes to present his budgets as thoughtful documents that mark a way forward for the party and the nation. Since far-right congressional Republicans don’t like Ryan’s budget, surely they must be sensible and bipartisan, right?

Not so much. In 2014, Ryan’s budget, if passed, would have privatized Medicare. His 2015 budget was full of the typical far-right folderol: repealing Obamacare, cutting funding for humanities and PBS, adding all sorts of new restrictions to social programs.

So if Ryan is a typical post-George W. Bush conservative—one with a Tea Partier’s obsession with cutting social programs back to a nub—why are Republicans so eager to toss him into any job opening that arises? Why, specifically, do they want Ryan to step into the presidential nomination slot, as opposed to Trump or Cruz?

The fact is, both Cruz and Trump are so far gone that they make Ryan look like a moderate centrist. just published a little video game that I recommend you play. It begins with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the holes created by their budgets. Cruz is down 8.6 trillion dollars, Trump is down 9.5 trillion. Then, the game gives you a series of government programs to cut. The goal is to balance Cruz’s and Trump’s budgets, and you learn very quickly that the only way to do that is to make a series of devastating cuts — eliminate Medicare entirely and you can resolve the budget holes, for example. (Although Trump has promised to not cut Medicare, but when did a little bit of reality ever get in the way of Donald Trump?)

Eventually, you understand that to balance their budgets, Cruz and Trump would have to rewrite the very idea of what America is and what America does. Ryan’s budget, at least, understands the basic point of Medicare—that letting poor people die in the street rather than provide them health care would be un-American—even if the way he wants to break Medicare up and leave it to the states is completely untenable. Ryan’s budget is extreme, but it’s nowhere near as extreme as the candidates the Republican Party is currently hurtling toward. Ryan is the closest thing to a rational man the party has left, even though he’d be a rabid libertarian in comparison with the Republicans of the 1980s and 1990s.

With the Republican Party creeping ever toward the extreme right side of the political spectrum, Ryan is in the uncomfortable position of pulling the reigns back on his party. But he surely must understand that stepping into the presidential nomination in a race where the majority of voters have identified Trump as their candidate of choice is a kamikaze mission. By backing out of the shadow race for the nomination today, Ryan is saving his own political future, even as he’s condemning the Republican Party’s immediate future to unlikable extremists. Ryan is gambling that after 2016, his party will lurch back to his (already extreme) position on the spectrum. It’s an uninformed bet, and it’s one that puts the future of this country in jeopardy.

What Is It that Jeb Bush Doesn’t Understand About “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare”…?

Responding to a question at a forum hosted by the ironically named Americans for Prosperity, presidential wannabe Jeb Bush made clear that Republicans have learned absolutely nothing from former VP candidate Paul Ryan’s stupid proposal to scrap Medicare“We need to figure out a way to phase out this program” and replace it with something, Jeb!™ earnestly argued, providing fodder for endless Democratic attack ads (assuming “the smart Bush” manages to get as far as the general election).

Um… what exactly is it that Jeb!™ and his Republican cohort don’t get about “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”…?

Not sure Jeb!™ really wants to be running as the "Phase Out Medicare" candidate.

Not sure Jeb!™ really wants to be running as the “Phase Out Medicare” candidate, but whatever.

I guess, kudos to Jeb!™ for not hiding his intentions, but running as the “Phase Out Medicare” candidate is just stupid politics, at least in the general election. Americans love Medicare, especially the aging white Americans who disproportionately comprise the Republican base. In fact, they love it so much, that Republicans cynically painted Obamacare as a threat to Medicare in an effort to stir up opposition to health care reform.

And now Jeb!™ wants to phase it out? Sure, like Ryan, Jeb!™ insists that he would preserve Medicare for folks who already receive it, but if millions of seniors could be convinced to fear Obamacare as a slippery slope toward phasing out Medicare, what’re they going to think about a proposal that actually, you know, phases out Medicare?

So yeah, not a smart political move. But more than that, it’s a stupid, stupid policy.

The reason we created Medicare to provide health insurance to elderly Americans in the first place is that there’s no possible way to effectively do it through the market. You see, the way insurance works is that it pools risk, and this is a pool filled entirely with old people!

During college I worked my summers as a lifeguard at a pool filled with old people, and you know what I learned? Old people tend to be frail. They get injured. They get sick. They sometimes pee in the pool. Not to be ageist or anything, but they get very, very old.

Okay, different kind of pool, but the point remains: old people consume a lot of expensive health care. Thus, the only way to turn a profit offering primary health insurance to old people is to charge a premium higher than most old people can afford—which means there really isn’t a way to turn a profit offering primary health insurance to old people.

That’s why the government needs to do it. Unless Jeb!™ is just fine with letting millions of old people do without.

Finally, I’d just like to add a very personal and admittedly selfish objection to The Ryan/Bush Medicare Phase-Out Plan, in that I really, really, really don’t want to emigrate to Israel. (Stick with me.)

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