Paul Ryan breaks silence on the election

Paul Ryan talked about the election yesterday afternoon for the first time to a couple local Wisconsin news outlets. He said Obama won “fair and square” mostly by superior get-out-the-vote efforts in urban areas, but the take-away message for him seems to be a totally different one than John Boehner and other House Republicans took from it: Ryan thinks the election hasn’t changed anything.

“I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare,” he told a CBS affiliate in Madison. “Whether people intended to or not, they re-elected a divided government,” he told the Journal Times.

Ryan reiterated his opposition to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Washington Post notes.

All this is a stark departure from what both Obama and other Republicans seem to think happened last Tuesday. This weekend the New York Times ran an expose about John Boehner telling House Republicans to “fall in line,” and that they could not afford the kind of intransigence that they showed the president over the last two years. Taking a conciliatory tone, Boehner seemed to suggest that the election had indeed been a referendum on issues, and that his party had lost. While they wouldn’t stop fighting for their vision, they would have to cede ground to the Democratic vision, which just took the White House and increased its majority in the Senate.

Not according to Ryan. Of the government he still considers equally as divided, he said: “But the difference is, this time we need to work. Hopefully the president will lead by putting out specific solutions that we can work from.”

This approach of refusing to accept any of the president’s vision, and then blaming the president for not providing the right solutions (i.e. Republican solutions) is the exact strategy and attitude that dominated over the last years.

What’s more, Washington Post notes “he plans to return to the House and reassume his role as budget committee chairman, a post for which he’s expected to seek and be granted a waiver by party leadership in order to override House GOP term-limit rules.”

Ryan used his pulpit as budget committee chairman to earn a little political fame with the “Ryan budget” proposal, an ideology that was just defeated badly. Ryan may be convinced that his party didn’t lose on issues, just logistics. He’s way wrong. If the Republican party reinstates Ryan and tries to go back to business as usual, they’ll find their losses only getting worse in 2014 and 2016 as their policy ideas become more irrelevant to a larger share of voters.

Ryan said he had “unplugged” after the election. He might want to plug back in, because he’s now living in a different political reality.