WASHINGTON, June 3, 2016 — GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will support the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. He made the announcement in a Thursday op-ed in the Jamesville Gazette, a newspaper with a daily circulation of 21,000.
After mentioning Trump in the first paragraph, he goes on at length about the new agenda that he and his Republican House colleagues have cobbled together.
Sure, count us among the majority of Americans upset with the direction our country is headed. But that’s not enough. We agreed that we must focus less on what we’re against and more on what we’re for. So, long before we knew who our nominee would be, we decided we would present the country a policy agenda that offers a better way forward.
That is establishment GOP-speak for, “We hate Democrat big government, but we can’t say enough about Republican big government.”
The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes described this Orwellian doublethink in a 2003 piece supporting the expansion of spending and government power under the administration of George W. Bush:
Big government conservatives prefer to be in favor of things because that puts them on the political offensive. Promoting spending cuts/minimalist government doesn’t do that. Bush has famously defined himself as a compassionate conservative with a positive agenda.
Barnes insisted that government programs under the direction of big government Republicans would nudge into existence new and improved citizens by refusing to “subsidize bad behavior.”
One year before Barnes wrote these words, big-government “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush said, “The single greatest barrier to first-time homeownership is a high down payment … And so, that’s why I urge Congress to fund the American Dream Down Payment Assistance Act. This will use money—taxpayers’ money—to help a qualified low-income buyer make a down payment.”
And big-government Republicans in Congress did just that, with some “qualified first-time home buyers” providing no down payment.
The housing bubble expanded, pressing against the very sharp needle of subprime loans. Big government conservatives subsidized—with “money—taxpayers’ money”—the “bad behavior” of those with meager means to buy homes they could not afford.
In his tepid statement of support for Donald Trump, Ryan says he and his House colleagues “are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead. Donald Trump can help us make it a reality.”
That doesn’t sound at all like cutting the size of government. How can it when “a bold policy agenda,” no doubt similar to Bush’s American Dream Down Payment Assistance Act, is on the GOP’s drawing board?
Trump would do well to stand clear of Ryan’s discredited, big-government arm of the GOP.