After Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s list of demands that had to be met in order for him to consider deigning Republicans in the House of Representatives with his candidacy for Speaker became public, Ryan quickly became the subject of scorn among many conservatives.
Conservative media pundits chafed at Paul Ryan’s list of conditions upon which he would agree to the speakership, mocking him as “Emperor Ryan” and “King Paul.”
Ryan, the reluctant draftee to one of the most powerful offices in the United States, on Tuesday night said fine, he’ll do it, but only on his own terms. Among them: endorsements from all the major caucuses in the GOP conference, time with his family and tweaking a rule to make it harder to toss the speaker out of office.
The demands aren’t going over well in right-wing media.
At one point on Drudge Report, headlines blared: “KING PAUL: PLEDGE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO ME,” “DO IT BY FRIDAY,” “HE’S A DEM FAVORITE,” “OBAMA’S NEW PARTNER,” ‘F’ conservative rating,” and “WANTS TO SCRAP THOMAS JEFFERSON’S RULE.”
“[Ryan] wants to get elected after it is made impossible to get rid of him, then he will really get into specifics … Amnesty anyone?” Red State founder Erick Erickson wrote. “This would be a terrible, terrible deal for House Conservatives. It would gut their ability to pull the House Republicans to the right.”
Asked by The Hill to comment on conservative criticism of his demands, Rep. Ryan defended his desire to continue working part-time for $170,000 per year.
“Hey look, I’m here four days a week as it is,” Ryan said Wednesday when asked by The Hill whether he was surprised by the blowback. “I’m not going to spend the other three days a week running around America.”
Rep. Ryan’s demands to only have to work four days a week is particularly rich given that he’s pushed an agenda that would make balancing work and family more difficult for others.
But while Ryan seeks to preserve his own balance between his work and his family, he’s pushed policies that would make doing so more difficult for others, particularly poor parents.
Ryan has put forth a number of budgets and policy proposals that call for deep spending cuts. Some of those cuts take aim at an important tool for poor parents: child care subsidies. The sky-high cost of child care in the U.S. can dwarf a parent’s income, particularly a low-income parent. Child care subsidies help defray that cost, allowing a parent to find a place to leave their children while going to work and knowing that they don’t have to rely on family members or unsafe, unstable arrangements. Without them, however, poor parents can face a tough choice between continuing to work and simply staying home because the cost is too high.
At the same time, however, he’s often said that more poor people need to be in the workforce and combat what he sees as a “culture problem” where they don’t value work. He has often cited the welfare reform enacted in the 1990s as a model of success. But by imposing incredibly strict work requirements in the name of forcing more poor people to work, the changes ensured that people who rely on cash benefits, mostly poor, single mothers, have had to hunt down any kind of job to stay enrolled. That can quickly eat into their work/family balance and take them away from time they may have spent raising their children. Today, any poor mother who needs welfare but also wishes to spend time at home raising her children will find it tough to do so.
Ryan is fortunate to have a job where he has the power to demand time to go home and be with his children. But for the rest of the country, no one is guaranteed paid time off for illness, holidays, vacation, or the arrival of a new child. Even the weekend he uses to be with his family is not uniformly protected by law. Without paid family leave, many mothers end up back at work just weeks after giving birth. Without paid sick leave, parents can’t take time away from their jobs to care for their children if they get sick.
At this point I think Paul Ryan would be taken more seriously if he asked for a pony, because he’s certainly not having any luck with his current list of demands.