Early Returns

What Is Paul Ryan Trying to Accomplish?

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

Speaking of the House.

Photographer: Zach Gibson

One fascinating thing about how the Republican health-care bill is moving through the House of Representatives -- as I write, there's a vote scheduled for today, although who knows what will happen -- is what it's revealing about the role of the speaker of the House, or at least the current speaker, Paul Ryan. I've written about Ryan's efforts to pass something in order to shift the blame for the (still likely) failure to repeal Obamacare from himself to the Senate. What I didn't mention was that usually one expects the speaker to be mainly responsive to his conference within the House, and therefore to be willing to shield them from tough votes even if it means taking some heat himself. Ryan's not doing that. Not at all. He's subjecting his members to one of the toughest votes in memory for a bill that is unlikely to pass. Perhaps that means internal congressional politics has changed so that the speaker would rather be in trouble from the party outside the chamber than from the Republican conference within it. Or perhaps Ryan is miscalculating. Hard to say at this point.

I know: You're thinking that Nancy Pelosi did the same thing. I don't think so. It's true that by November 2010, the Affordable Care Act (and Barack Obama) was unpopular, but when the first House vote was taken in early November 2009, it was far less clear that it would be politically damaging. And by the final votes in March 2010, it was already too late; backing out then would have only undermined the case those who had supported the bill in November would have to argue to voters. 

1. At the Monkey Cage, John Sides speaks with Marc Hetherington and Thomas Rudolph about their new book on partisan polarization

2. Dan Drezner has some advice for Rex Tillerson

3. Susan Scarrow on who should vote in party primaries. 

4. On my point above: See Brian Beutler on Republicans' trust of what Paul Ryan says.

5. My Bloomberg View colleague Francis Wilkinson on James Comey and the 2016 election

6. Nate Silver on Comey, the media and the election outcome.

7. And NBC's First Read team on how Donald Trump is still breaking norms. 

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