Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course?

Yesterday while driving to a client's office I was listening to satellite radio and had the nauseating experience of listening to a whiny Paul Ryan talking about the "conservative agenda" he wants to foist on America.  It's an agenda that would further aid the wealthy in Ryan's classic reverse Robin Hood approach to the middle class and poor.  Indeed, those supporting Donald Trump - especially the less educated and less financially secure - would face further assaults on the financial future as Ryan and company strive to create a new Gilded Age.  Now, some are speculating that Ryan's backward, regressive agenda may be headed towards a brick wall if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination since, despite his fascist tendencies, Trump does seem to realize that further GOP attacks on the 99% are not what his base wants.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the possible collision course.  Here are highlights:
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the Republican National Convention, recent vice-presidential candidate and the highest elected Republican in the country, has one goal for this year: to form a conservative policy agenda for the Republican presidential nominee to embrace.
If that nominee is Donald J. Trump, that may be a waste of time.

Panicked Republicans question whether Mr. Trump will be able to unite a Republican-controlled Congress that would normally be expected to promote and promulgate his agenda, an internal crisis nearly unheard-of in a generation of American politics. On nearly every significant issue, Mr. Trump stands in opposition to Republican orthodoxy and his party’s policy prescriptions — the very ideas that Mr. Ryan has done more than anyone else to form, refine or promote over the last decade.

If the billionaire New York businessman captures his party’s nomination — which seemed increasingly possible after a decisive victory in Nevada on Tuesday night — he will become the titular head of the Republican Party, and lawmakers like Mr. Ryan will be expected to fall in line for the balance of the campaign. It is something that many in the party think may be impossible.

Trump is not a Republican,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who dropped out of the race for the White House in December “I have no idea how we reconcile a Donald Trump agenda with a Republican agenda. How do we write a platform?”Mr. Ryan’s positions embody the modern institutional Republican Party. He has been a crucial promoter of free trade on Capitol Hill, which Mr. Trump opposes. Mr. Ryan supports taking away money from Planned Parenthood — a central target of Republicans for years — while Mr. Trump has said the group provides needed care to women.

There is more: Mr. Ryan is the architect of his party’s plan to rein in spending on entitlement programs, which Mr. Trump has said is the reason the party lost the White House in 2012, name-checking Mr. Ryan in his swipe. 

Though most in the Republican establishment are hoping for the dust to settle and for Senator Marco Rubio to emerge as their nominee — his Capitol Hill endorsements stack up daily — some still murmur privately that in the event of Mr. Trump’s nomination, they would like to see Mr. Ryan emerge as a brokered nominee at the Republican National Convention in July.

Some Republican lawmakers say, though nervously, that there would be plenty of intersection between their agenda and Mr. Trump’s. His tax plan — which calls for large tax cuts for all Americans, especially the rich — is similar to Mr. Ryan’s. Mr. Trump, like Mr. Ryan, is all for repealing and replacing the current health care law, although he, unlike Mr. Ryan, has endorsed the individual mandate.

Congressional Republicans — especially senators up for re-election in swing states — have been terrified to criticize Mr. Trump by name because they need his voters, too, in primary and possible general election battles. White-hot fear is beginning to set in.

“I finally got scared last night,” said Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, referring to Mr. Trump’s resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday. “As we get closer and people get more serious, I hope more people up here speak out.”

If nothing else comes out of Trump's candidacy, perhaps it will be the growing realization among the GOP base that the party's agenda is against their own best interests and that they have been duped for years into supporting their actual enemies through the GOP's use of wedge issues, religious extremism and racism. 

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