Horowitz: Speaker Ryan is Off to a Great Start

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


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Rob Horowitz

The recent adoption of a bi-partisan 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill that will fund the government into next fall capped an impressive and productive first two months as Speaker for Paul Ryan(R-WI). Passing the House with 61% of Republicans voting for it, the appropriations bill comes on top of the adoption of  a 5 year highway bill and a  new federal education funding and policy  law that makes a number of changes to No Child Left Behind. This is the most productive period in Congress in recent memory and Ryan deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

 At his end of the year media conference, President Obama praised the new Speaker and his significant role in winning the adoption of the government funding bill: “He has been professional. He has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do. I think it’s a good working relationship. Kudos to him.”

Ryan is also using his bully pulpit as Speaker well to advocate for a positive, policy-driven, conservative agenda and to speak out when it is called for.  For example, he forcefully criticized Donald Trump for his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the nation. The Speaker said, “Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country, this is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for."

Ryan is still in the honeymoon period with his famously hard to corral and contentious House Republican caucus. He will surely be more severely tested over time. But his impeccable credentials as a true conservative, his superior communications skills and his policy expertise all put him in a stronger position to succeed than his predecessor John Boehner. Additionally, as some observers have pointed out, the recovering economy, which gives Congress the flexibility to increase spending a bit, does help grease the wheels.

The plain political facts of divided government, partisan polarization, and that next year is a Presidential and Congressional election year will likely result in big new accomplishments remaining elusive. But Paul Ryan’s dedication to making the process work and to avoiding embarrassments to his Party, such as government shut downs, as well as his impressive political skills should mean better management of disagreements and more productive compromises. That is certainly the record so far. And that is something all Americans, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, should welcome and appreciate.

 Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations,  elected official and candidates.  He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at University of Rhode Island.


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