Should Donald Trump win and Republicans retain Congress in November, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is promising massive, draconian austerity cuts across the board and plans to make sure the Democrats have no power to stop him.
Typically, party leaders offer at least the pretense of seeking bipartisanship when discussing their policy plans. But Ryan is saying frankly that Republicans would use budget reconciliation — a powerful procedural tool — to bypass Democrats entirely. It’s the same tool Republicans slammed Democrats for using to pass the 2010 health care law over their objections.
While GOP leaders have made empty threats to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare in the past, Ryan is making it clear that this time he plans to use it when it counts. And he would likely have support from a Trump White House. Larry Kudlow, an economic adviser to the GOP presidential nominee, said he is also strongly urging Trump to embrace reconciliation in order to pass sweeping tax cuts.
Ryan peeled back the curtain on his strategy at a news conference after a reporter suggested he would struggle to implement his ambitious agenda next year. After all, it was noted, Republicans are certain to lack the 60 votes needed in the Senate to break Democratic filibusters on legislation. So Ryan gave a minitutorial on congressional rules and the bazooka in his pocket for the assembled reporters.
“This is our plan for 2017,” Ryan said, waving a copy of his “Better Way” policy agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation.” He explained that key pieces are “fiscal in nature,” meaning they can be moved quickly through a budget maneuver that requires a simple majority in the Senate and House. “This is our game plan for 2017,” Ryan said again to the seemingly unconvinced press.
Now granted, Ryan has made promises before and he's fallen on his face. But a Trump administration would remove the final obstacle to a Ryan budget, and you can kiss Obamacare, Medicare and Social Security goodbye if that happens.
I suggest we don't find out if Ryan's telling the truth or not.