Perhaps he was not being sincere. Or perhaps he is not the wonk he is forever portrayed as.
Speaker Paul Ryan predicted in January that tax reform, Obamacare repeal and a border wall would all be done by now. Instead, Obamacare repeal may be completely dead at month’s end, there are just broad strokes on tax reform and many Republicans oppose the border wall being pushed by their own president.
“Obamacare repeal” was always going to be a fiasco, from the first day onwards; the reason that Republicans have yet to come up with a palatable “plan” for doing so despite spending many years of effort obsessing over it is because the act of stripping millions of American citizens from their health insurance is a tough sell even in the best of circumstances, and a near-impossible sell when the only thing you offer them in return is that the fabulously wealthy will, yet again, make out like bandits in the exchange. The border wall has been the stuff of xenophobe pipe dreams for years, and has never amounted to more than cynical ploy to throw money at the supposed problem until the xenophobes pronounce themselves momentarily satiated—which will never and can never happen.
Tax “reform” is forever popular, though. Americans have long loved tax “reform” even when the “reform” is aimed at rungs of the economic ladder far above ones they themselves will ever reach. For Paul Ryan to come up with a tax “reform” plan that even the wordsmiths of the Republican marketing team can’t put a shine to is remarkable even for him.
Needless to say, the entire party is unhappy with, well, themselves. The burn-it-downers are fairly irate that there’s not more burn-it-all-downing going on:
“If we get to December and we’ve not repealed and replaced Obamacare, we’ve not built the wall, we’ve not done tax reform, let me just tell you it is not going to be pretty,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
While those attempting to pass themselves off as moderates don’t really give a damn what gets burned down or in what order, so long as the match is struck somewhere.
“I’m extremely worried,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who’s urging him to cancel an October recess to get more accomplished. “My gosh, why were we not here in August doing all of this?”
The danger is, of course, that as the year rumbles onward and the governing caucus continues to look more and more incompetent, they will lash out with even more radical, even less thought-out plans until something sticks. There will be bills to replace Obamacare with prayer beads; there will be large, professionally-printed charts purporting to show the benefit of allowing the wealthy to own undocumented children who would otherwise be deported. It will be grim, and come January we will once again be hearing Mark Meadows explain that if a true conservative had the speakership, rather than this Paul Ryan fellow, every one of these magic beans would have sprouted by now.