Jonathan Easley @ The Hill:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Saturday warned that President Obama was working to delegitimize the Republican Party, and urged conservatives not to fall into the president’s trap by playing the villain.
“[Obama] needs to delegitimize the Republican Party—and House Republicans, in particular,” Ryan told conservatives at the National Review Institute Summit in Washington, D.C. “He’ll try to divide us with phony emergencies and bogus deals. He’ll try to get us to fight with each other—to question each other’s motives—so we don’t challenge him.
“If we play into his hands, we will betray the voters who supported us—and the country we mean to serve. We can’t let that happen. We have to be smart. We have to show prudence.”
Prudence in picking political battles and caution in governing – characteristics that were not trademarks of Republicans in the 112th Congress – were central to Ryan’s speech.
Ryan used the ‘fiscal-cliff’ deal struck at the final hour as an example of the need to relinquish some principles by embracing imperfect legislation to score a modest victory.
“That means we’ll face some tough moments—like the fiscal cliff,” Ryan said. “I know we all didn’t see eye to eye on that vote, but here’s how I saw it… President Obama got less revenue than the Speaker offered in the first place. In short, there was no way we’d get a better deal.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) faced a revolt among some rank and file for negotiating with the administration, but he had Ryan’s support for the final deal. Ryan on Saturday defended his vote.
“That’s not to hide from the fact that this bill wasn’t perfect. We wanted to keep taxes low for everyone. We wanted to cut spending. But this bill had to pass. Otherwise, every single taxpayer would have paid higher taxes. And our economy would have gone into a nosedive. Once I came to that conclusion, my decision was simple: If you think a bill has to pass, then you vote for it.”