Paul Ryan Lays Out 2016 Vision for GOP

Paul Ryan Lays Out 2016 Vision for GOP
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In his first major address as House speaker, Paul Ryan called on Republicans to push back against the Obama administration and laid out a specific vision for his party in next year’s presidential election.

Speaking at the Library of Congress Thursday afternoon, the Wisconsin Republican said the “number one goal for the next year is to put together a complete alternative to the left’s agenda.”

Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate who opted not to seek another presidential ballot spot, didn’t hold back his criticism of Obama and “the left,” saying that they practiced politics of division to win recent elections and that the federal government of the last seven years has become “arrogant, condescending, and outright paternalistic.”

“I don’t think all that many people are walking away from this presidency thinking, ‘That went well,’” Ryan quipped.

Ryan also issued a direct warning to Republicans for the 2016 race: Don’t let next year’s election become about “personalities.” Rather, he advised, give voters specific ideas for how Republicans would differ from Obama and Democrats.

“Do we really believe our philosophy is true? Do we have the best ideas? If so, then I don’t see any reason why we should hold back.” Ryan said. “… Give people the choice they are yearning for. And if next year this House can say we have done that, then we will have done our job.”

House Republicans, who currently have their largest majority since the Great Depression, are integral to Ryan’s plan. But, even if he keeps his unruly party in line and works with the Republican majority in the Senate, Ryan is limited in his ambitions as long as a Democrat sits in the Oval Office.

Aware of that fact, the speaker sees his job as putting forward sweeping policy proposals that will drive the debate in 2016 and lay the groundwork for the Republican nominee to showcase alternatives to the Democratic standard-bearer.

The policies he outlined were for a smaller, less bureaucratic government that gives more opportunity to individuals.

His proposals included simplifying the tax code to create new jobs, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, producing welfare reform to stop “trapping people in poverty” and transforming the Pentagon into a “21st century military.” He didn’t hold out hope that any of these Republican priorities will become law under Obama, but said his party needs to push forward regardless.

“We are not going to solve all the country’s problems next year,” Ryan said. “We need a new president. It’s just that simple. But even if we can’t move mountains, we can make moves in the right direction.”

Ultimately, Ryan said, he wants America to be “confident again.”

He said he wants the unemployed to be confident they can find and keep a job; students to be confident that school, and debt, will be worth it; seniors confident that their years of work and paying taxes will be worthwhile and that Medicare and Social Security will be there when they need them; and for the entire country to be confident on the world stage.

“We want our military to command respect from our adversaries and to inspire confidence in our allies,” Ryan said. “And when they come home, we want to give our veterans the care they deserve. We want our president, whatever the party, to always keep an eye on our interests and never turn a blind eye to the truth. We want America to lead again. That is the America we need.”

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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