Donald Trump’s populist vision prevailed in America.
His “America First” platform in trade, immigration, and foreign policy propelled him to the Presidency.
So Paul Ryan’s latest statements left many conservatives wondering what he’s planning next.
Speaker Ryan represents establishment Republicanism.
He champions amnesty, global trade deals, and endless foreign wars.
And throughout the campaign, he kept his distance from Trump.
Many speculated he was engaging in sabotage so if Trump lost the establishment, Ryan could seize control of the party back from the grassroots.
But when Trump won, those plans were dashed.
Now Speaker Ryan is tasked with shepherding President-elect Trump’s agenda through Congress.
However, his first interview since the election has left many conservatives scratching their heads.
Ryan directly undermined President-elect Trump’s positions on immigration and trade.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper played a clip of Trump saying during the campaign that “we’re going to have a mass deportation force … they’re going back where they came.” Tapper juxtaposed that with a clip of Ryan telling college students in April that “we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t include mass deportations, that involves getting people to earn a legal status while we fix the rest of illegal immigration.”
Asked for his response, Ryan said on the show, “We should put people’s minds at ease, that is not what our focus is. We’re focused on securing the border.” The interview grew a bit testy when Ryan was pressed on whether Congress could pursue a mass deportation initiative in a second or third year of Trump’s term.
“We’re not focused on, we are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” Ryan said, adding: “Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
Tapper also asked Ryan whether his chamber would pass tariffs designed to discourage U.S. companies from moving abroad and laying off workers, as Trump has said he would like to do in his first 100 days.
Ryan appeared to acknowledge his different opinion on tariffs, albeit in a roundabout way. He said there’s a “better way” to make the country more competitive, plugging his own policy agenda, which includes a pillar on tax reform.
“I think there is a better way of dealing with that particular issue, if you go to No. 6 on our Better Way agenda and look at our tax reform,” he said. “This is something that Donald also talked about during the campaign, which is to fix our taxes on border adjustments, which we believe is a smarter way — what all the other countries do — which are not tariffs, not trade wars. So we think there are better ways of making American products and workers more competitive.”
Tapper then asked: “If he comes to you and says, ‘This is what we’re doing [on tariffs],’ what are you going to say?’” Ryan wouldn’t answer whether he’d listen to Trump or refuse.
“The point I’m trying to make,” Ryan continued, “is I think we can achieve what he’s — he’s trying to make America more competitive. … We believe the smartest and best way to do that is comprehensive tax reform.”
Trump has always pledged to deport criminal aliens first.
Ryan couldn’t even commit to that.
And Trump’s “America First” immigration and trade proposals won him rust belt states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – states Republicans hadn’t won at the Presidential level in a generation.
For years, Republicans have campaigned on Ryan’s donor class economic and trade policies.
And the GOP ended up losing five of the last seven Presidential elections.
But rather than embrace Trump’s road map to electoral victory, Ryan still actively works to undermine Trump and promote the interests of the establishment.