Donald Trump’s campaign strategy — an outrage a day to keep the voters away — seems to be setting him back quite successfully, and Hillary Clinton, therefore, appears ever closer to making history as the least trusted person to be elected president.
In that event, we would need something to help save us not just from character gone provably amiss or demonstrated ineptness but also from exuberantly leftist policies threatening dismal disasters. My suggested solution: House Speaker Paul Ryan, though obviously not as a presidential candidate.
I am instead talking about his campaign to keep Republicans in control of the House and, as a conceivable byproduct, the Senate, too, thereby enabling resistance to White House misadventures. Surprisingly enough in this election year, Ryan is out there talking like an honest, intelligent, knowledgeable adult to the American people, explaining key positions endorsed by the Republican majority in the House and thus showing how the GOP could indeed be worthy of votes.
The advocated policies are not angry, partisan shouts. Rather, they proffer pragmatic, prudent, principled solutions to key problems. Ryan himself has made it clear Republicans would be happy to engage in reasonable discussion if Congress were accorded its rightful due at the negotiating table.
Under the Constitution, after all, Congress is co-equal in power with the president. It has not seemed that way under President Barack Obama, who would rather issue a legally dubious executive order and divisively lambaste Republicans as stupid than sit down and work things out in a balanced way. Ryan and his colleagues want to quell executive overreaching and, in a thoughtful, crucially corrective policy paper, have outlined what Congress could do to re-establish its rightful checks-and-balances authority.
An example is regularly revisiting agencies and their missions to reshape them as needed, eliminating interventions that unconscionably afflict daily life, accomplish little and betray the principle of consent of the governed. Congress itself, the policy paper says, should quit passing overly broad bills that let the administrative state fill in blanks to the liking of the anonymous, unaccountable overlords known as bureaucrats.
Get these sorts of things done, and Congress could then play a major role in such crucial needs as getting the slow-Joe economy bopping again. That’s doable through tax reforms leading to more private investment that then leads to higher wages and more jobs. Another part of this Ryan-GOP agenda, adjudicated as on-target by reputable experts, is rolling back downright oppressive regulatory overkill of businesses and giving increased prosperity a chance.
We now come to something many do not expect from Republicans, an anti-poverty scheme that may be the best the country has ever seen.
While Clinton seeks the same old stuff in flashier dress, likely to leave people governmentally dependent, Ryan wants to help people flourish through programs constantly measured for their effectiveness and replaced when they don’t get the job done. In reviewing the details, a top poverty expert — Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution — says what we could have here is the start of major, highly needed reform that Democrats could also embrace with some of their ideas thrown in.
The issues hardly end here — there are issues of debt and education and foreign policy and on and on, but the answer is not that it has to be all one way or the other. Given enough votes for Republicans in congressional races, it can be something effective that lets everyone go home happy, including the American people.
In a State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned Ryan’s ability to compromise, and Clinton’s vice presidential pick, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, referred to the same gift recently in a televised interview. With a Clinton presidency, the issue with a GOP House and likely a GOP Senate would only be stalemate if that’s what the White House wanted. What you would have instead is protection against the worst of times and encouragement for the best of times.
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Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at [email protected]