But has Ryan ever put together major legislation with any real chance of passage? Yes, he made a name for himself with big budget proposals that received adoring press coverage. But these were never remotely operational — they were filled not just with magic asterisks — tax loophole closing to be determined later, cost savings to be achieved via means to be determined later — but with elements, like converting Medicare into a voucher system, that would have drawn immense flack if they got anywhere close to actually happening.
In other words, he has never offered real plans for overhauling social insurance, just things that sound like plans but are basically just advertisements for some imaginary plan that might eventually be produced. Actually pulling together a coalition to get stuff done? Has he ever managed that?
What I’d say is that Ryan is not, in fact, a policy entrepreneur. He’s just a self-promoter, someone who has successfully sold a credulous media on a character he plays: Paul Ryan, Serious, Honest Conservative Policy Wonk. This is really his first test at real policymaking, which is a very different process.
.. Everything else about the AHCA looks slapdash, like something thrown together in a few days by people who hadn’t thought at all about what a flat tax credit and a widened age band would mean for, say, people in Alaska with its expensive insurance, or low-middle-income Trump voters in their 60s. I have no inside information, but this sure looks as if they were still dithering about the whole principle of their Obamacare replacement until at most a few weeks ago, and didn’t work with CBO because they had nothing to work with.
.. In other words, maybe this looks like amateur hour because it is. Ryan isn’t a skilled politician inexplicably losing his touch, he’s a con artist who started to believe his own con
He is deeply ambivalent about becoming president. He’d rather stay in his lavish New York penthouse. Policy is a headache. It requires concentration. There are annoying laws against nepotism.
.. The proposed restoration went beyond that. It was of the Judeo-Christian West against what Trump’s chief strategist — read propaganda minister — Steve Bannon calls “the new barbarity.” That barbarity has many components. One is the crony capitalism of the “party of Davos” — the elites who have the system rigged. Another is the dilution of Judeo-Christian values through rampant secularization, migration and miscegenation
.. Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, got it about right when he said of Trump: “I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.” He might have said a gifted charlatan.
.. Bannon, as set out in remarks reported by BuzzFeed to a conference held at the Vatican in 2014, believes that, “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict” that will, absent a firm stand by “the church militant,” “completely eradicate everything we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”
.. Putin has set himself up as the guardian of an absolutist culture against what Russia sees as the predatory and relativist culture of the West. The Putin entourage is convinced the decadence of the West is revealed in its irreligious embrace of same-sex marriage, radical feminism, euthanasia, homosexuality and choose-your-gender bathrooms. Enter Bannon.
President-elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists.
Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant who has worked for years on behalf of Verizon and other telecommunications clients, is the head of the team that is helping to pick staff members at the Federal Communications Commission.
.. Mr. Trump was swept to power in large part by white working-class voters who responded to his vow to restore the voices of forgotten people, ones drowned out by big business and Wall Street. But in his transition to power, some of the most prominent voices will be those of advisers who come from the same industries for which they are being asked to help set the regulatory groundwork.
.. “This whole idea that he was an outsider and going to destroy the political establishment and drain the swamp were the lines of a con man, and guess what — he is being exposed as just that,” said Peter Wehner, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush before becoming a speechwriter for George W. Bush.
.. But in other areas, most notably the energy sector, the transition team advisers are far from independent.
Mr. Catanzaro’s client list is a who’s who of major corporate players — such as the Hess Corporation and Devon Energy — that have tried to challenge the Obama administration’s environmental and energy policies on issues such as how much methane gas can be released at oil and gas drilling sites, lobbying disclosure reports show.
.. David Malpass, the former chief economist at Bear Stearns, the Wall Street investment bank that collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis, is overseeing the “economic issues” portfolio of the transition
.. Mr. Eisenach, as a telecom industry consultant, has worked to help major cellular companies fight back against regulations proposed by the F.C.C. that would mandate so-called net neutrality — requiring providers to give equal access to their networks to outside companies. He is now helping to oversee the rebuilding of the staff at the F.C.C.
.. Dan DiMicco, a former chief executive of the steelmaking company Nucor, who now serves on the board of directors of Duke Energy, is heading the transition team for the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Mr. DiMicco has long argued that China is unfairly subsidizing its manufacturing sector at the expense of American jobs.
.. “This is one of the reasons you had such anger among voters — people rigging the system, gaming the system,” Mr. Freed said. “This represents more of the same.”
Still, some commentators say, by concentrating on taking down her opponent rather than marketing her own agenda to the voters, Clinton risks achieving a victory without earning a mandate.
That argument should be questioned, too, though. In the bitterly divided Washington of today, there may be no such thing as a mandate: Republicans in Congress will oppose a President Clinton no matter what she does. (We’ve already seen this in their pre-election vows to fight her nominees to the Supreme Court.)
.. which one of Trump’s grotesqueries and vulnerabilities to focus on.
- Con man and victimizer of the small guy?
- Chronic sexist and sexual predator?
- Race-baiting demagogue?
- Stunning lack of experience?
- Policy ignoramus?
- Serial tax dodger?
- Wannabe-authoritarian strong man who seems eager to trample on the Constitution?
- Thin-skinned narcissist and megalomaniac?