Paul Ryan — the new center of the Republican establishment

Marc Thiessen disputes the conventional wisdom that Republicans should accept the Murray-Ryan budget compromise because if they don’t, they will be blamed for an ensuing government shutdown. He notes that unlike with the October shutdown over Obamacare, this time it would be the Democrats who are trying to force a change to established law.

I made the same point last week:

Republicans received most of the blame for the recent shutdown, as we predicted they would. Why? Because the stalemate stemmed from Republican insistence that the status quo, reflected in legislation passed by Congress, be overhauled.

In the current budget dispute, it is the Democrats who seek to overturn the status quo, in this case the sequester. But Congress enacted the sequester — the Democrats’ idea — and from all that appears, the public is satisfied with it. Thus, there was little reason to fear that the public would place primary blame on Republicans for a shutdown stemming from the Democrats’ effort to end the sequester.

But Thiessen overlooks the impact of Ryan’s deal, and its approval by a majority of House Republicans, on this happy dynamic. If Republicans block the deal in the Senate, Democrats and their MSM cheerleaders can very plausibly blame a government shutdown on the refusal of Senate Republicans to agree to the bipartisan compromise brokered by a preeminent House conservative and passed with majority Republican support by the conservative House.

In short, Ryan has put Senate Republicans in a situation where they must either accept a deal they don’t really like or accept a huge risk of becoming the villains in another government shutdown. He’s a shrewd operator, that Paul Ryan.

Thiessen finds it ironic that “while the tea party-driven House passed the Ryan budget by an overwhelming, bipartisan 332 to 94 vote, it may be the establishment-controlled Senate that kills the deal.” He is right.

But the irony quotient is reduced once we recognize that, in a monumental triumph, Paul Ryan is willing his way to becoming the center of gravity of the Republican establishment.

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