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A Brutal Takedown of Ryan

Douthat eviscerates House Speaker for political and intellectual cowardice
A Brutal Takedown of Ryan

Ross Douthat does not mince words in calling out House Speaker Paul Ryan as a coward on the Trump matter. You would expect Douthat to blast Ryan for being uncertain about speaking out against Trump, and he does (boy, does he ever). What I found most interesting about the Douthat column is how he indicts Ryan for intellectual cowardice. Read on:

Personally I would favor both: a Republican Party that adapts to Trumpism by absorbing the legitimate part of its populist critique, while also doing everything in its power to resist Trump himself. But if you watch or read Ryan’s recent CNBC interview with my colleague John Harwood, you’ll see a man who seems unable to go down either path.

Repeatedly Harwood presses him on whether the party needs to change to address the concerns of the blue-collar Republicans who are voting for Trump. And every time, as The Week’s James Pethokoukis pointed out afterward, Ryan simply returns to a 1980s-era message: cut spending, cut taxes, open markets, and all will be well. Asked about the possibility that some voters might see those policies as “taking care of people at the top more than you’re taking care of me,” he responds dismissively: “Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”

The James Pethokoukis column is tough, , and dead on. Here is Pethokoukis summarizing Ryan’s answer to Harwood’s question:

In other words, Republicans should keep deeply cutting taxes for the richest Americans — as part of across-the-board tax cuts — and not give any special preference to targeted or direct middle-class tax relief.

Not only does Ryan’s position clash with the Trumpist truths of 2016 — his position makes little sense from a policy standpoint. Analyses of the tax plans of the various GOP presidential candidates show their deep individual income tax cuts — such as slashing the top rate from 40 percent to 28 percent — would cost the most revenue while producing the least amount of economic growth.

And Republicans wonder why so many of their erstwhile voters are coming out for Trump.

The thing is, Trump’s tax plan will scarcely help those folks either, but rather give massive tax relief to the rich, and soar the federal deficit. Trump will be no friend to the working man, not judging by his tax policy, anyway. But his views on trade are dramatically different than GOP orthodoxy, which is something. No matter how much credibility Trump lacks, at least he sees — or appears to see — what these blue-collar and middle-class Americans are going through. That’s more than you can say for the standard-issue Republicans like Paul Ryan, so given over to their Reagan-era orthodoxies that they are blind to what’s happening all around them. You can’t beat something with nothing. What do the Washington Republicans have?

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