Friday, October 16, 2015
House Speaker Or Not, Nothing Would Change For Paul Ryan's District
Here's one of those "why bother" articles from Rep. Paul Ryan's "hometown" newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, on tackling the seemingly fictitious question, "what's in it for us (district) if Ryan became the House Speaker?"
For one, the question itself posed at this juncture in Paul Ryan's political career begs a special sort of low-info voter curiosity about his record versus traditionally held expectations from those in Congress. So if you're familiar at all with Congressman Ryan, the answer is an easy "nothing." To put it another way, whatever your perception is of Ryan's contributions to the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, nothing will change if he becomes House Speaker. Things will stay the same as before.
The fact is, Ryan as the Chairman of House Ways and Means holds right now what is arguably the most powerful chair in Congress. Despite some earmark reform in 2011, if you're looking for some bacon from Paul Ryan - now is the time. It won't get any better.
As an example of its power, most people rightfully give the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago much credit for turning the city into a world-class thriving megapolis, and there is no question he played a heavy leading role. But others looking a little deeper give as much credit to Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the House Ways and Means Chairman through the 80's and early 90's who secured billions of federal dollars for projects in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. Have you ever heard anything, anything even remotely similar about Rep. Ryan doing something substantial enough to leave a positive mark on his district or the state of Wisconsin? Even once? Seriously, I challenge anyone to that discussion. Feel free.
To be clear, Rostenkowski was the complete opposite to today's Paul Ryan in political style, personality and most importantly, ideology. To be fair though, Rosty's time in Congress was a completely different era in national politics too.
But even still, there was absolutely no excuse for Paul Ryan back in 2010 to be absent from critical economic recovery meetings held in two of the district's largest manufacturing communities, Janesville and Kenosha. Despite ironically and repeatedly calling himself the area's federal go-to guy, Ryan wasn't there when local leaders presented a package of legislative and capital requests to federal officials to help the district's economy recover from automotive plant closings that left thousands suddenly unemployed.
For any Ryan supporters out there reading this, don't tell me he couldn't visibly help his district with earmarks because he would have been chewed up by tea party conservatives. Because then you're telling me he denied his district pleas for help strictly for his own personal expediency and political security.
So to the question the Gazette's story poses; should district constituents expect a lot from Ryan should he become House Speaker? Obviously the answer is no. One "expert" from the story paints a similar portrait of Ryan's current position as House Way and Means chair, describing it as "powerful a position now as he ever will be." Again suggesting nothing will change from the current status.
But perhaps the most accurate answer to what constituents can expect comes from yet another expert in the story who actually implies they might see some change. He states, "being speaker could mean Ryan would pay less attention to Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District."
And really ...how much less attention than absent can Paul Ryan give to the district?
RNR - At The Crossroads, Paul Ryan's Hometown Facing a Death Spiral. But Where's Ryan?
Posted by Lou Kaye at 12:01 AM