Speaker Paul D. Ryan is acutely aware that Republicans will be attacked over the health care bill that his chamber passed a few weeks ago, but the Wisconsin Republican felt that inaction was not an option.
“I’ll accept that we will get hit for this,” Ryan said Wednesday at an Axios’ News Shapers event. “But we’re in leadership. We don’t have a choice. … What are we supposed to do, just sit back and let this thing collapse?”
The speaker has consistently made the case that the 2010 health care law is collapsing and it’s incumbent upon Republicans to fulfill their campaign promise to repeal and replace it.
While he understands the GOP will be attacked over their bill, the American Health Care Act, he feels Republicans will ultimately be rewarded in the 2018 midterm election for fulfilling their campaign promises.
“I think they’re excellent because we’re in the midst of keeping our promises,” Ryan said when asked about the chances the GOP will keep control of the House.
“What I tell our members is if we don’t do our jobs or keep our word, why would people support us,” he added.
While the Senate still has to take up the health care bill and the two chambers will ultimately have to reconcile their differences on that, the House has already begun work on the next big piece of the GOP agenda: rewriting the tax code.
Ryan said Republicans agree on 80 percent of the policies that should go into a tax overhaul but are still debating the other 20 percent, including the controversial border adjustment tax that is part of the House plan.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in recent days has criticized the proposal, but Ryan is still advocating for it.
“I agree with Steve Mnuchin that full immediate border adjustment would be too disruptive,” Ryan said. “No one is actually advocating for that.”
Ryan said without the border adjustment tax, Republicans would have to end many more domestic tax breaks to help pay for planned tax rate cuts.
“You’ll have to do more base broadening within the domestic economy than not if you don’t do a border adjustment," he said.
Republicans will have time to figure out their preferred approach. Ryan said he expects work on a tax overhaul "is going to be a year long effort," reiterating the goal is to have legislation signed into law by the end of the calendar year.
In a more lighthearted part of the event, Ryan talked about how he discovered gifs when someone sent him one three weeks ago, which happens to be the week that the House passed the health care bill.
“These things are awesome," he said. "...I send GIFs to people who really don't expect it from me."
Ryan cited GIFs featuring Stifler, Britney Spears and Caption Obvious, saying, “These things are pretty damn funny.”