by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner’s last-minute debt-limit deal is a textbook example of what Paul Ryan has promised not to do as leader of the Republican conference.
“I think the process stinks,” the incoming speaker told reporters Tuesday. ”We are up against a deadline. That’s unfortunate. But going forward, as a conference, we should have been meeting months ago to discuss these things, to have a unified strategy going forward.”
Such comments might sound like convenient political posturing, but they comport with Ryan’s remarks to conservative lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) last week. As he courted the HFC’s support, Ryan criticized Boehner’s performance as a strategist and a manager of the conference. He proposed changes with the implicit promise of empowering rank-and-file lawmakers — and the potential to induce their loyalty, sparing him Boehner’s fate.
“[Ryan] said we haven’t been running a good ship for a while now,” one HFC member tells National Review. His diagnosis: Boehner’s team has too often failed to develop an actionable strategy in fights with President Obama, which has resulted in leadership setting the GOP agenda in eleventh-hour talks that give Democrats the negotiating power to advance their legislative priorities.