Paul Ryan’s Anger-Free Agenda
Speaker wants conservatives to keep calm, let Establishment carry on
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is scolding conservatives for having the audacity to think that their lawmakers should reflect the anger of the people and actually govern conservatively.
Got that, America? You have the right to be angry — but don’t you dare show it, lest you make life difficult for Ryan and his Beltway buddies.
Instead, Ryan would have conservative talk radio hosts and journalists shut their mouths, suppress their indignation, and reassure their listeners and readers that all is well, as the GOP Establishment once again selects a moderate presidential candidate and marches the party straight into an electoral rout.
But Americans — especially American conservatives — don’t just have a right to be angry, they should be angry.
While the stock market has done just fine since the 2008 recession, average Americans clearly haven't fared as well. The labor force participation rate was 66 percent in 2008, but down to 62.6 by December. Obama touts low unemployment numbers, but those numbers aren't low because more people found work. They're low because more people have stopped looking.
And while big corporations continue to weather the economic storm, small businesses — the backbone of the American economy — are disappearing at an alarming rate. Between 2007 and 2012, approximately 6 million small businesses shut their doors.
The devastation of this devotion to "free trade" is undeniable. In 1970, 62 percent of U.S. aggregate income went to middle-class households, according to Pew Research. By 2014, the share going to middle-class homes had fallen to 43 percent.
Conservatives also watched Establishment Republicans drag the country into what is turning out to be never-ending warfare in the Middle East that has so far cost the lives of nearly 7,000 U.S. troops. They've watched Republicans in congress vote for pork-filled spending bill after pork-filled spending bill, and vote repeatedly to fund Planned Parenthood. Time and time again they have watched Ryan's so-called conservative party unfurl the white flag in the face of radical social change forced upon the country by liberals.
Conservatives have been let down by Republican politicians who have preached a conservative message only to get to Washington and fall in line behind liberal big government excess and look out only for the interests of their Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street lobbyist friends, Main Street be damned.
Lavish support of so-called "free trade" deals has enriched a lucky few but hurt American workers. Tacit support for open borders that provide their corporate allies an endless supply of cheap labor has eroded working Americans’ job prospects and shrunk the middle class.
The 2012 Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which Obama said would "support 70,000 American jobs," has in fact resulted in a net loss of 60,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — resulted in the loss of 682,900 American jobs between 1993 and 2014, according to the EPI, though some have suggested the losses were as high as 850,000.
The TPP, which Ryan supports, is estimated to cost Americans nearly half a million jobs between now and 2025.
"We have to unite the clans," Ryan pleaded.
But an effort to unite the clans assumes the clans are on the same side. To build on Ryan’s "Braveheart" analogy, if American conservatives are the Scots, then the Republican leadership is Robert the Bruce and retinue fighting on the side of the English.
Until the GOP leadership firmly and thoughtfully readdresses its positions on free trade, mass immigration and the culture wars — instead of temporarily sweeping them under the rug and hoping conservatives don’t notice — conservative anger will not abate.
"The question we face in 2016 is simple," Ryan said. "Do we want more of the same?"
Conservatives, absolutely do not.