Former House speaker says he hopes to see GOP move beyond Trump
Paul Ryan, the former GOP Speaker of the House, has broken with the Donald Trump loyalists of his party by offering an unequivocal rejection of the former president’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
Mr Ryan left politics in January of 2019, claiming he would not run for re-election because he wanted to spend more time with his three children.
Behind the scenes, rumours abounded that Mr Ryan did not agree with the direction that Mr Trump was taking the Republican Party, and that he saw that Democrats were poised to retake the House after the midterm elections.
While he has never confirmed any of those theories, he has broken rank with many establishment Republicans by refusing to fall in line with Mr Trump’s fraudulent claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Mr Ryan allowed that there was likely “organised shenanigans” in elections, but said that any incidents were in no way broad enough to swing the election in Mr Biden’s favour.
“Is there fraud? Yes. Was it organised to the extent that it would have swung the Electoral College and the presidential election? Absolutely not,” he said.
He also expressed sentiments similar to those of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who has repeatedly said that the Republican Party should no longer look to Mr Trump for its direction.
“I think it’s a big mistake for the Republican Party to be a party about a person or personality,” he said. “And I think we’ll just keep losing if we wrap ourselves around one person. We have not lost this much this fast in a long, long time.”
When asked if he had any immediate political aspirations – like running for president again in 2024 – he said he had no plans to return and enjoyed living as a private citizen. He currently teaches at Notre Dame and consults with think tanks.
“Who knows what the future holds down the road, but nothing in the near future, that’s for sure,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan was known for favouring policies that cut taxes – largely for the rich and for corporations – and was an instrumental player in the passage of 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts, which saw a massive transfer of wealth to the rich and to corporations while adding $1.5 trillion to the national deficit.
The former House speaker was also an avid proponent of destroying social safety nets. He forwarded proposals that would give states more leeway in how they manage food stamp benefits – allowing them make receiving the benefits more difficult or restrictive – and also proposed changing Medicare by offering vouchers for expensive private insurance rather than providing guaranteed care for those on the programme, largely the elderly.
After Mr Trump took office, Mr Ryan – alongside then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they were largely unsuccessful in those efforts.