Representative Paul Ryan announced he will not seek re-election in 2018, effectively ending his tenure as Speaker of the House, and a near 18 year career in the U.S. Congress. News of his departure comes ahead of a fiercely competitive midterm elections in November where Republicans could lose their majority in both houses of congress.
The Wisconsin Republican cited spending more time with family as the reason he won’t run for another term, rejecting the notion that his decision was connected to President Donald Trump.
While Ryan disagreed with some of Trump’s statements on the 2016 campaign trial, the two GOP leaders largely enjoyed a cooperative relationship since the president assumed office. Trump tweeted his support for the outgoing speaker. Both aggressively campaigned to “repeal and replace Obamacare” at the beginning of the presidency, which ultimately failed to come to fruition.
Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Ryan prefers to speak about the tax bill that passed at the end of 2017, which he considers to be his crowning achievement as a public servant. The impact of the tax bill, however, is a concern of the Congressional Budget Office. The nonpartisan CBO projects that the national debt could consume 100 percent of gross domestic product by 2028, largely because of the tax bill, which cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent without any spending cuts to match.
As an admirer of Ayn Rand, and self-declared free-market advocate, Ryan believes that the tax bill will spur economic growth. But when asked if the Republican tax cuts would add to the deficit, he responded “Nobody knows the answer to that question because that’s in the future.” (CNBC).
Assessing Ryan’s legacy
- While Ryan is a fierce critic of most government spending outside of defense much of his tenure was focused on reducing the taxpayer dollars in the healthcare system. Besides his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the Wisconsin Republican also wanted to shrink the size of Medicare, a popular program that offers government-sponsored care to senior citizens. In 2011, he proposed a plan that would make Medicare into a voucher system, essentially “ending Medicare as we know it,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trade and commerce
- While Ryan opposed most legislative items during the Barack Obama administration, international trade deals was an area that Obama and Ryan shared common ground. Ryan was an advocate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal that President Donald J. Trump strongly opposes and nixed once he assumed office.