The Other Agenda in the Budget Deal
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
There is an important political side to the Murray-Ryan budget deal. Beyond the agreement which appears headed for passage in both chambers—especially if it is accomplished before the Christmas adjournment–this package which has Paul Ryan’s name attached to it, says that he clearly intends to move ahead rapidly in the GOP’s leadership ranks in House. Having flirted with being close to the White House on last year’s Romney ticket, Ryan now is shooting for some challenging but perhaps more reasonable targets. Having succeeded as Budget Committee Chairman plus, given the Republican Party’s term limits rule for Committee chairs, Ryan has placed himself in position to become Chair of the House Appropriations in 2015, should the Republicans maintain control of the House. At the same time he is situated to move quickly into a position to challenge John Boehner for the speakership. The Republican political scene now in Washington is growing interesting.
Ryan’s participation in cutting this deal with his Democratic Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, has not been received by wall to wall enthusiasm from the Republicans. There is substantive bitterness from the Conservative wing and the Tea-Partyers on the details of the package. At the same time, there are those who do not want any deal with the Democrats for political reasons. They do not want to give the President even the semblance of a legislative accomplishment with congressional elections looming next November, ObamaCare still in serious stress, and a chance to recapture the Senate as well next year. Finally, there is much internal jealously that any accomplishment for Ryan will enhance his position as a viable—more moderate–candidate for the Party in 2016; rather than the collection of polarizing choices who are positioning themselves for the race.