Democrats in the House have been making political hay out of the GOP’s internal dysfunction for a while now, but with Speaker Ryan now holding the gavel and enjoying a honeymoon - for now - Democrats are pivoting on their message. Instead of talking up GOP dysfunction, House Democrats are now trying to cast Ryan’s ascension to the speakership as a sign that right-wing ideologues are in charge in the Republican Party.
Instead of mocking the Republican Party’s inability to get anything done, House Democrats are now warning of the potential effects of the GOP actually governing.
While not entirely abandoning talk about GOP infighting, House Democrats are hoping to contrast themselves to Republicans on issues like tax cuts, Social Security reform, Medicare reform, and social issues like abortion.
But while Republicans enjoy a reprieve from the turmoil, Democrats say avoiding GOP in-fighting will only be to Ryan’s detriment. Any steps he takes to appease conservative mal-contents will only alienate middle-class families, they argue.
Indeed, Democrats are quick to name drop the House Freedom Caucus at every opportunity - hoping to paint Ryan as a tool of the 40 or so ultra-right wing House Republican members who make up the Freedom Caucus.
Of course, attacking Paul Ryan is nothing new for Democrats. The Ryan budgets have been a frequent target of Democrats. Progressives have painted the Ryan budget proposals as draconian efforts to slash spending and dismantle popular programs like Social Security and Medicare for years.