Paul Ryan Claims He Was Silent on Government Shutdown for Party Unity, But the Record Does Not Agree
Rep. Paul Ryan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that he didn’t voice his opposition to the government shutdown in 2013 because he wanted to ensure there was “party unity.”
“I don’t think it was constructive for conservatives to be carping at each other. At the same time, the purpose of that passage is to try and unify our party. I don’t think we can succeed if all we do is criticize and define what we are against,” he said.
Ryan wrote in his new book that came out last week that he believed the Republican attempt to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government was “a suicide mission” but that too many members of his own party were unwilling to abandon the idea for fear that they would be punished by outside groups aligned with the tea party.
He told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer that he didn’t believe the strategy was “really legitimate” because a government shutdown cannot stop an entitlement program, not to mention there was no support for the strategy in the Senate.
But the point of his book, he said, “to help design a unified conservative Republican movement that is principled, inclusive and aspirational so that we can win a majority of Americans’ votes to save this country from what I believe is going down the wrong track.”
When politicians make claims about what they did (or did not do) in the past, it’s sometimes helpful to consult the record.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Influential Republican congressman Paul Ryan disagreed on Sunday with the idea of using the threat of a government shutdown as a means of trying to get rid of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law known as “Obamacare.”
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a former vice presidential candidate, said he strongly backs the goal of repealing Obamacare but added there were other, more effective ways of achieving it than by refusing to approve any government funding bill that includes money for the program.
“I think there’s going to be a better strategy to actually achieve our goal of ultimately delaying and ultimately replacing Obamacare,” the Wisconsin congressman told the CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”
Note: the August 2013 comments were made on “Face the Nation” — the very same show where Ryan said this past Sunday that he had been silent in 2013. It takes a large pair of brass nerves to claim that you were “silent” about a topic, on the very same show where you held forth at length about the same topic one year earlier.
Above: a tight-lipped Paul Ryan keeps his mouth shut for the party’s sake
So why is Ryan obfuscating about this? Because his “silence” didn’t end in August 2013. In October 2013, he was spouting off to reporters again . . . this time trying to prevent a compromise that would have ended the shutdown. This is the embarrassing history that he needs to erase from our memories.
Let’s consult that pesky record again. After his August 2013 “Face the Nation” appearance, it was reported that conservatives were upset with Ryan. Next thing you know, on October 8, Ryan had penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed blaming Obama for the crisis and proposing his own solution. By October 12, 2013, Ryan’s “silence” consisted of telling reporters about his opposition to a Senate compromise floated by Susan Collins:
Boehner’s closest friends in the Senate, including Graham and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), pleaded with him Friday to modify his legislation along the lines of what they were trying to broker across the Capitol. The speaker told them Saturday that the Collins plan would face opposition from too many Republicans for him to put it on the floor, Chambliss said.
“We don’t support it,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters, saying that the reasons for opposition were “too many to go into.”
Ah, the sounds of silence! Ryan wasn’t just spouting off to reporters about his opposition to the Senate compromise. He was actually rallying the troops against it:
[I]nstead of absorbing this painful reality, some rank-and-file Republicans grew visibly excited about the prospect of opposing such a deal, said one person in the room. This defiance was fed by Ryan, who stood up and railed against the Collins proposal, saying the House could not accept either a debt-limit bill or a government-funding measure that would delay the next fight until the new year.
According to two Republicans familiar with the exchange, Ryan argued that the House would need those deadlines as “leverage” for delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and adding a “conscience clause” — allowing employers and insurers to opt out of birth-control coverage if they find it objectionable on moral or religious grounds — and mentioned tax and entitlement goals Ryan had focused on in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Ryan’s speech appeared only to further rile up the conservative wing of the GOP conference, which has been agitating the shutdown strategy to try to tear apart the health-care law.
With such fervor still rampant among House Republicans, there was bipartisan agreement in the Senate that Boehner’s House had lost its ability to approve anything that could be signed by Obama into law.
My guess is that it is this leadership role in prolonging the government shutdown that Ryan is trying to whitewash.
I guess he’s running, huh?