US representative and former vice presidential nominee voted for the Biden-McConnell budget to raises taxes and delay needed debt reduction. In contrast, US Sen. (R-Fla.) was one of the few Republicans to oppose party leadership and vote against the bill.(R-Wis.)
Up until this point both men had been darlings of the powerful Tea Party leadership within the GOP. It’s hard to imagine there won’t be different kinds of political challenges and opportunities for both men. This key vote will begin to define the next presidential matchup.
“Establishment” Republicans, heavily lobbied by business groups, got in line, held their nose and voted in favor of the Biden-McConnell budget. Stability appeals to deep-pocketed laissez-faire Republicans like David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers care about keeping government limited and regulatory oversight non-existent if possible.
In addition, conducting business and making profit cannot be done in an uncertain political and economic climate. Social issues are a distant secondary concern, if at all, though David Koch supports gay marriage.
In contrast, Tea Partiers are a vocal, grassroots anti-establishment group with social conservative populism. They contributed to the defeat of popular leaders like Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), a slightly right of center politician known for his foreign policy prowess.
The group played a key role in GOP US Senator Rand Paul’s primary victory in Kentucky over an establishment Republican backed by current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The Tea Party’s website is already speculating US House Speaker will have a growing force within his caucus opposed to his leadership. It's likely the group will join with Paul to find someone to take McConnell out in a primary.
As the last cycle of primary and general elections demonstrated campaign money doesn’t always carry the day. Tea Party candidates who won primaries did so despite being outspent and without the broad support of rank and file establishment Republicans. This will cause Ryan problems as he attempts to explain his vote in favor of more taxes and delayed spending reductions. Yet, he may have greater appeal to entrepreneurs like the Koch brothers.
Ryan’s decision made sense on many levels. The budget deadline had passed. The repercussions to not just the national economy, but also to the world economy could have been very harmful. Going forward the focus has to be on spending cuts. It’s an easy sell to reasonable people who can separate logic from emotion. Explaining his vote to Tea Party operatives who he needs for a future White House bid will be much more difficult. Rubio must be grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Paul Jesep is an attorney, policy analyst, and author of "Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis: Learn to Live and Work Ethically"; "Credit Card Usury and the Christian Failure to Stop It"; and "Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom."