Among the many Republicans addressing the Conservative Action Political Conference are some who have their eyes on the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
Then there are some considered unlikely or unable to seek it.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan may be the most prominent speaker at the National Harbor assembly today who isn’t courting the support of the presidential straw poll that will close this three-day conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union.
“Once again, the GOP is where the action is—just as it was in Jack Kemp’s day—at the beginning of the Reagan Revolution,” Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin who ran for vice president in 2012, was telling the conference today, according to his prepared remarks. “People forget that cutting taxes was once controversial, even in our own party. Sen. Bob Dole used to make fun of supply-siders like Jack. He used to say: ‘The good news is . . . a bus load of supply-siders went over a cliff. The bad news is . . . a couple of seats were empty.’ But over time, he warmed to the idea. And when he ran for president, he promised to cut tax rates across the board.”
“This is what we call the ‘the battle of ideas.’ I saw it with my budget. When I introduced it in 2008, I had just eight co-sponsors. The political pros told everyone to stay away,” Ryan was telling a group testing the core conservative credentials of the people seeking the party’s 2016 primary and caucus support. “Then the Tea Party members got elected, and now the House has passed it three years in a row. That’s how it always is: you fight it out. You figure out what works. You come together. Then you win. It’s messy and noisy and even a little bit uncomfortable. But the center of gravity is shifting. We’re not just opposing a President. We’re developing an agenda—a modern, pro-growth, principled agenda for our party. We are going to show the country there’s a better way.
“The way I see it, let the other side be the party of personalities. We’ll be the party of ideas.”
“And I’m optimistic about our chances—because the Left? The Left isn’t just out of ideas. It’s out of touch,” Ryan was asserting. “Take Obamacare. We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. And the Left thinks this is a good thing. They say, ‘Hey, this is a new freedom—the freedom not to work.’ But I don’t think the problem is too many people are working—I think the problem is not enough people can find work. And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. So the Left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. The American people want more than that.”