Ryan avoided discussing the reality of his tax scam and the record-breaking deficit.
Retiring Speaker Paul Ryan presided over a massive increase to the federal deficit, an attempt to kick more than 20 million people off of their health insurance, and a failed tax scam that was so unpopular it helped cost his Republican Party the House majority in the 2018 midterms.
So naturally, an oblivious, self-important Ryan used his farewell speech at the Library of Congress to pat himself on the back. Maybe he figured no one else would.
Speaking about the tax scam, Ryan said it was "something I worked on my entire adult life, and it is something that will help to improve people's lives for a long time to come." If by "people" Ryan means "Wall Street bankers," then yes, he is correct.
Since the tax scam passed Congress nearly a year ago, Wall Street banks have seen record profits, thanks to massive tax breaks championed by Ryan and his Republican colleagues (the bill passed with zero support from Democrats).
But American families have not seen much improvement. Wages have been stagnant or barely increasing after adjusting for inflation. And most of the tax breaks Ryan rammed through go to help the richest 1 percent of families. In a few short years, millions of low- and middle-income families will end up paying higher taxes because of the new law.
If Ryan was really concerned about "people's lives for a long time to come," he probably would have stuck to his original promise of keeping the tax scam revenue-neutral. But instead, he financed the congressional kickbacks to wealthy corporations by adding nearly $2 trillion to the deficit, something that will certainly not improve anyone's life in the years to come.
Further, Ryan bragged about improving the economy over his time as House speaker.
"Three years ago, when we last gathered in this hall, we began a great journey," Ryan said. "To set our nation on a better path. To move our economy from stagnation to growth."
But as CNN notes, job growth has slowed during the first two years of the Trump administration compared to the last few years of President Obama's. Yet another Ryan failure to add to the growing pile.
In perhaps the most cowardly portion of his speech, Ryan bemoaned the current level of coarse discourse that dominates politics.
This kind of politics starts from a place of outrage, and seeks to tear us down from there. So … how do we get back to aspiration and inclusion, where we start with humility, and seek to build on that? I don’t know the answer to that.
But Ryan spent eight years during the Obama administration stoking outrage and coddling the the most racist elements of the tea party. With the rise of Trump, Ryan fully emerged from his cocoon of cowardice into a sad, limp, spineless sycophant who regularly refused to speak forcefully against him.
In place of any attempts to "get back to aspiration and inclusion," Ryan was silently complicit in all of Trump's most divisive outbursts, so long as he could get support for tax cuts for Wall Street billionaires.
In the end, "failure" is too kind a moniker to attach to Ryan's congressional career. As one of his longtime friends anonymously told the Washington Post, "Paul doesn't want to believe it's all as bad as it is."
It is, Paul. It's that bad and worse.
Thankfully, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi is on her way to clean up the mess he left behind. Farewell, and good riddance to Ryan's congressional career.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.