This past week we saw the worst of the Republican party. For years, Republicans had campaigned on the issue of health care and the destructive effects that it would have on the American economy. It was an issue that American people were, and still are passionate about and the Republicans capitalized on it. Throughout the Obama Administration they swept to power largely on the issue of Obamacare repeal. In fact, Congress has voted to repeal Obamacare dozens of times since taking control of the house, largely a symbolic vote to show the American people that they meant business. That is until they won the white house and had the power to affect actual change. Then it all fell apart.
With the backing of President Trump, Speaker Ryan laid out a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Immediately it came under opposition from the conservative wing of the party. Over the course of a couple of weeks the President and Speaker frantically tried to unify their party and pass the proposed bill. Ultimately, they were unable to persuade multiple hold outs and it forced the Ryan to pull the bill. This was a Stinging blow to President Trump, who was unable to follow through on one of his campaign promises but it was also a huge embarrassment to Ryan. During the press conference shown below he mentioned that his party is going through “growing pains” from moving from the opposition party to the governing party.
Unfortunately for Ryan this debacle and chaos inside the republican party is something that he will most likely have to face all through his tenure as the speaker. The Republican party is fractured, on one side you have the moderates, which conservative media have labeled the “establishment” and on the other hand you have the hardline conservatives like the Freedom Caucus. This has created a ton of dysfunction and often means that a consensus cannot be achieved on big issues. That’s the dilemma Ryan and even Trump faces when pushing their agendas. If Ryan appeals to the moderate Republicans then the conservative wing of the party goes ballistic and works against him and if he gives in to the conservatives he has no chance to work with moderates and even some democrats. Total dysfunction.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Ryan, there is the looming Government shutdown if the debt limit is not raised, as well as the border wall, which will come under heavy fire from the democrats as well as an infrastructure bill that will need to have bi-partisan support for it to have a chance to pass.
While there is strong support for Mr. Ryan in the house, who is well liked amongst his peers, the next several months will be a test for him. Will he be able to navigate Trumps agenda through the fractured House? Will he learn how to close the deal? How patient will Trump be? Trump is used to winning and if his agenda stalls will Ryan be able to avoid the blame that will surely fall his way? Ryan must know that he is in a precarious position. If he isn’t successful we may have another John Boehner on our hands.