It didn’t take long for Paul Ryan to prove his critics right after becoming the newest House Speaker.
The omnibus spending bill that was crafted and passed by Ryan this week sent many conservatives into a rage spiral once its provisions were announced.
Breitbart News ran a front page headline declaring, “Paul Ryan Betrays America.” Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and other talk radio hosts all issued fiery invective against the Wisconsin congressman for getting deal through the House of Representatives.
It’s not unusual for these figures to go off the rails about the doings of Republican congressional leaders. Talk radio is probably one of the reasons John Boehner gave up the speaker gavel thanks to the relentless scorn he received from the base.
And Ryan also took a lot of heat when he was first suggested as Boehner’s replacement, owing in large part to the Wisconsinite’s championing of amnesty and immigration expansion. However, the new speaker was able to ease concerns after pledging to not introduce or pass immigration legislation for the remainder of the congressional term.
The omnibus may in fact break that promise less than two months after agreeing to it.
Included in the newly-minted budget is a serious expansion of the H-2b visa program, a service designed for temporary non-agricultural labor. The number of H-2bs allocated per is now set to quadruple thanks to the omnibus. The expansion, while not directly added by the House Speaker, is his responsibility since he leads this legislative body and agreed to the bill’s ramifications. (RELATED: That Was Quick: Ryan Poised To Break Immigration Pledge)
Besides the expansion of this particular visa program, the omnibus fully funds several contentious items that relate to America’s immigration problem. It continues giving money to sanctuary cities. It fully supports all of our refugee services. It underwrites Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty that gives work permits to the children of illegal immigrants. It also sets away funds to deal with the expected border surge of unaccompanied illegal minors in the upcoming year, along with other questionable provisions. It’s also expected to grant 300,000 visas for Muslim migrants — in one year alone.
Essentially, with a large portion of the American public more worried about American immigration practices than at any point in recent history, Paul Ryan has said everything is fine with the program and that those concerns should not get in the way of good governing.
Along with the immigration funding came another sore point for conservatives — more money for Planned Parenthood. Remember, this after House Republicans have spent a good part of the year trying to defund the pro-abortion group.
It should come as no surprise that Democrats — including Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — hailed the budget as the kind of compromise Washington should reach more often. Very few Republicans offered that same type of analysis and some members even said it was a “Christmas present for Donald Trump.”
However, Ryan seemed pleased with his action and said the omnibus contained some “big wins for the country.” The president congratulated him “for helping government work.”
And that’s where the real “win” is, for liberals at least. Ever since Republicans took back control of the House of Representatives in 2010, a common refrain of the Left is that congressional Republicans aren’t interested in governing. Translation: they haven’t been interested in rubber-stamping Obama’s agenda, so that’s just not governing.
More than a few Republicans have also made this same criticism and urged for more compromises. Like a knight in shining armor, Ryan has rode into the Capitol to give the establishment the kind of compromise they’ve always dreamed of.
Of course, a democracy like ours has to reside on mutual agreements between ideological opponents to get these things done. The problem for congressional Republicans is that they cave in on issues their base cares about while fighting tooth and nail on behalf of their donor interests.
Ryan played an instrumental role in the heated summer fight to get Trade Promotion Authority passed through Congress — a measure that gave Obama free-rein to negotiate international trade deals. This legislation drew skepticism from the Republican rank-and-file, yet was eagerly supported by party leadership.
Meanwhile, party leaders put up a very-weak effort to defund the president’s 2014 executive amnesty and have now safeguarded the rest of the White House’s immigration agenda with the omnibus.
Immigration is dominating the GOP presidential primary and most of the party’s voters seem weary of any cheerleading on the topic. Strong majorities support a temporary halt on Muslim immigration and Syrian refugee resettlement. Eighty-four percent of Republicans are unhappy with current immigration levels.
But those ideas run contrary to Ryan and other conservative elites’ open-door attitude to immigration. Ryan even took the opportunity recently to condemn a Muslim moratorium as un-conservative and not what “this country stands for.” Thus, those restrictionist views are not going to have much sway when it comes to making the budget for the next fiscal year.
That’s why the omnibus “compromise” is nothing of the sort. It gets nothing for the people who voted the GOP into power in 2014, while giving the Democrats a lot of things they want. Sure, Republican leaders get pats on the head from the press for practicing “good governance,” but that comes at the price of screwing over their own constituents.
The Left is perfectly fine with compromises because they’re playing a long-game. Solidified with the belief that they are on the right side of history and eventually everything will turn out in their favor, their leaders are willing to slow down their agenda in order to wait till they can get more in the future. Judging by recent history and how things have played out on issues like gay marriage, liberals are smart to adopt such a strategy.
The establishment Right, on the other hand, doesn’t compromise because they are thinking of victories in the future. They do it solely because they think they have to look respectable in the eyes of the American elite. There’s no strategy here other than ensuring that their individual power will grow and they can win a few accolades from the media.
Republican elites don’t care about resolving issues like immigration because they are singularly focused on pleasing their donors and passing legislation that benefits corporate interests. Even if it means alienating the people that voted them into office.
Though Ryan argued in his first major address as speaker that he was going to articulate a “complete alternative to the Left’s agenda,” the omnibus has turned that statement into a bad joke.
While liberal and centrist pundits may whine to high heaven about the “anti-governing” block in the GOP and the rise of anti-establishment presidential candidates like Trump and Ted Cruz, the omnibus reveals why there’s growing unrest.
If “good” government means capitulating on important issues while the opposing side gives up nothing, what’s the point of compromising anyway?