Will Paul Ryan be the next house speaker? Does he really want the job? Apparently the Ways and Means Chairman is being besieged with requests by “heavyweights” to apply for the role of Speaker of the House. We will assume that these heavyweights are Republicans, but Ryan has garnered admiration from the other side of the aisle in his current job. Will that be a problem for conservative members like the Freedom caucus?

Ryan likes to run so-called education sessions to whittle down the resistance of members to bills like the Trade Promotion Authority, which gives a big win (politically) to Obama’s White House. Will that detailed-oriented focused work be successful should he accept, and win, the Speaker’s job?

Politico.com praised Ryan for moving from “broad strokes budget manifestos to concentrating on doable, discrete policy tweaks.” That means giving Dems tiny victories in order to pursue those broad goals. That means compromising, sometimes on visible hot-button issues that may prove tough to line up support for.

And that brings up immigration and Ryan’s tireless lobbying for the Gang of Eight’s immigration-reform bill. Ryan needs to be really sure he wants the Speaker’s job because he will have a bit of a battle on his hands to get the votes necessary. And more of one to just do his job. Will the Freedom Caucus give him a list of 10 demands? And if they do, will he tell them that he will consider their demands and then remind them that they are a minority in the House; as a lobbyist close to Ryan suggested?

There is no speaker that the House can unite around quickly and unconditionally. If the party heavyweights are seeking that one magic person that qualifies, that seems an unrealistic goal in the fall of 2015. Any speaker will have to deal with divisions in the House GOP that reflect divisions in the party itself. The only thing that matters is how the eventual job-holder deals with those divisions. Discrete doable policy tweaks seem to work well in Ways and Means. There is little that is discrete and not all that much that is doable – at least lately – when you’re Speaker. Can Paul Ryan change that?

Comments