In recent weeks, it has been looking bleak for Republicans as the Democrats have won a number of special elections. There have also been a large number of Republicans either resigning or declaring they will not be seeking re-election. The latest GOP leader to make this announcement was House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). He claimed that he was retiring to spend more time with his family. Skeptics will claim that he retired because he was frustrated by the lack of achievements for the GOP in Congress and his strained relationship with President Trump.
During his retirement speech, Ryan told reporters that he was most proud of the recently passed tax cut legislation and the increased spending that was secured for the U.S. military. Unfortunately, the $160 billion military budget increase was part of an outrageous $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will massively increase the deficit and add over $1 trillion to the national debt.
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The 2,232 page omnibus monster also increased domestic spending by $128 billion, but gave almost no attention to the nation’s border security and included only $1.6 billion toward constructing a border wall. This is a far cry from the $25 billion that was requested by the Trump administration.
On the issue of border security, Ryan and House Republicans clearly failed. The flow of drugs and illegal immigrants has not been stopped. This minor increase in funding will do almost nothing to solve the underlying problem. While a lack of a border wall will be seen by grassroots conservatives as a failure, it was never a priority of Speaker Ryan. He spent his career advocating for entitlement reform, but never came close to accomplishing that goal. In addition, Obamacare remains the law of the land and there is a desperate need for welfare reform.
Unfortunately, Ryan has pledged to finish his term; however, he would do a service to his party if he resigned immediately. A quick departure would allow the GOP to search for a new House Speaker to lead the party in the fall mid-term elections. It makes no sense for the GOP to go into the fall elections with a retiring House Speaker at the helm.
It would be very wise for the Republican Party to select a true conservative as the next House Speaker. The leading candidates are Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). Both of these candidates need to commit to move the party in a more conservative direction on healthcare, border security, spending reform, and enhanced tax cuts, which need to be made permanent.
The next GOP House Speaker also needs to fully embrace President Trump and his populist/conservative agenda. Paul Ryan represented the dying and unpopular establishment wing of the Republican Party. He represented the Republican Party of the Bush family, Mitt Romney and John McCain, but that is the Republican Party of the past. The next House Speaker needs to represent the Republican Party of the future, which is the only way the Republican Party can motivate their base, encourage vigorous turnout in the fall mid-term elections and maintain control of Congress.