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With Ryan Out, Things Looking Up for the 'Iron Stache'

And more on what Ryan's retirement means
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2018 12:34 PM CDT
With Ryan's Exit, His Seat Isn't 'Solid R' Anymore
In this file photo from Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., walks with his wife Janna, left, and daughter Liza, on the day he was chosen to lead the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – In explaining why he would not seek re-election in November, Paul Ryan on Wednesday used the phrase "weekend dad" at least three times. The House speaker noted that if he remained in Congress his three kids would "only know me as a weekend dad. That's it right there." The 48-year-old added that his own father died when he was 16, the current age of his oldest teenager, notes NPR. "I think we have achieved a heck of a lot," Ryan said. Here's how his achievements are being analyzed upon the news of his January departure, along with some perspective on what it could mean for the party.

  • As for the implications the 48-year-old's move will have on his seat, Dave Wasserman tweeted that the retirement shifts "#WI01 from Solid R to Lean R," writing for the Cook Political Report that it's the first time the seat will be at risk since Ryan secured it in 1998. One more prediction: "NRCC Chair Rep. Steve Stivers's drive to defend 240 GOP seats this fall could be overshadowed by internal jockeying between Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise for a speakership that may not exist come January."

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  • Politico's prediction on McCarthy vs. Scalise: "Though Scalise is almost certain to defer to McCarthy, all eyes will be on President Donald Trump. He has a close relationship with McCarthy, and his endorsement of the Californian could be crucial."
  • The GOP will be fine without Ryan, writes Perry Bacon Jr. at FiveThirtyEight. "When the party embraced Trump as its nominee, it essentially rejected Ryan-style politics and the figures that espoused it." McCarthy and Scalise "are better fits for the Trump GOP."
  • Who wants Ryan's seat? On the Democrat side, that would be Randy Bryce, aka the Iron Stache. CNBC reports Republicans have until June to decide who to run against the former iron worker and union member (who, yes, sports a trademark mustache), who on Tuesday announced he had outraised Ryan's campaign by $1.75 million during Q1. Still, the battle will be an "uphill" one, with CNBC noting Trump took the district by more than 10 percentage points. Axios has an interview with Bryce.

  • In stepping down now rather than waiting until after the midterms, Jennifer Rubin calls Ryan's move a case of "premature white-flag-waving" that will have wide-ranging consequences and further fire up Democrats. Ryan got his tax cuts, but knew that Trump would prove no ally in terms of pushing forward on "infrastructure, health-care fixes, entitlements, or much of anything else," she writes for the Washington Post. Ryan "fantasized that in backing Trump ... he’d have carte blanche to enact the entire GOP agenda." Instead, he "retreats from the scene after loading the country up with debt and leaving virtually every other agenda item save tax cuts undone."
  • Tim Mullaney takes a financial look at MarketWatch, recapping that Ryan's career-long goal has been to cut taxes "so much it would force deep cuts in popular entitlement programs, mostly Social Security and health insurance," then take those cuts and balance the budget. "He failed, utterly," and what's left is "unfixable." Read Mullaney's number-crunching here.
  • At the National Review, Jim Geraghty calls Republicans' 2018 prospects "grim" but thinks Ryan should be remembered fondly. "Those scoffing 'good riddance' to Ryan now probably ought to look back at John Boehner and Dennis Hastert. Ryan’s younger, a better communicator, more telegenic and even more of a policy wonk than his predecessors and most of his potential successors."
  • At Vox, Dylan Scott makes the case that Ryan's "most important legacy is Trump’s war on Medicaid." Scott explains how even if the Democrats reclaim the House, Ryan's dreams of a Medicaid overhaul are only half dead, because "within the Trump administration, they are very much alive." Scott elaborates here.
(Read more Paul Ryan stories.)

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