Hoping to heal deep internal divisions that have often involved fiscal issues, House Republicans chose their leading budget expert, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as their new speaker Thursday.
Having first chaired of the House Budget Committee and then Ways and Means, the 45-year-old Ryan in recent years has proposed substantial changes to entitlement programs, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, along with other parts of the federal budget. He was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012.
On the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission, Ryan opposed the chairmen’s recommendations. In 2013, however, he negotiated a 2-year budget agreement with Sen, Patty Murray, then chair of the Senate Budget Committee. Last week Ryan voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 while criticizing the process that produced it.
House Republicans eventually seized on Ryan as the best hope for unity after Rep. John Boehner announced plans to leave the speakership.
House dissidents have criticized GOP leaders for not taking more confrontational positions with Democrats. But the nation’s divided government leads many analysts, including Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby, to emphasize that bipartisan compromise will be essential to deal with our fiscal challenges.
“Paul Ryan is riding on the back of a tiger,” Bixby told McClatchy News. “The basic problem hasn’t gone away, that you’ve got a faction of the House that is relatively sizable that really doesn’t really want compromises.”