How Much Power Does Paul Ryan Still Have, Really?

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Maybe Rep. Paul Ryan is the one guy who can bring together conservative Republicans with moderates to pass a budget deal avoiding the fiscal cliff. Or maybe he can't bring together anybody. Ryan, of course, was the Republican Party's dreamy budget guru long before Mitt Romney picked him as his running mate. And House Speaker John Boehner has asked Ryan to help him get Republican votes for a budget deal without giving too much away on taxes. But Ryan potentially faces problems from both moderates and conservatives in his party, The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer explains. More moderate Republicans aren't that happy with Ryan. He "has engendered some exasperation among appropriators and other members who have been forced to apply his stringent budget numbers to their spending bills." And Ryan wasn't able to win over enough Republican representatives to to vote for the two conservatives he backed for leadership positions in the House.

On the other hand, Conservative House Republicans might "rebel" if Ryan is seen as caving too much to President Obama on taxes. But Boehner has indicated he's going to cave at least a little bit on raising tax revenue. Boehner called Ryan the day after he lost the election to tell him he'd issue a statement "signaling a softened approach to a budget deal," the Times reports. For a preview of that potential rebellion, check out Iowa Rep. Steve King sounding apocalyptic in an interview with The Daily Caller: "I think Barack Obama has nothing to lose from hitting the fiscal cliff, going off the fiscal cliff," King said. "I think he’ll drive the hardest of bargains because he’s happy to see they Bush tax brackets go up. He’s happy to see the death tax go up to 55 percent. That fits his class envy... I don’t know why Barack Obama would blink. And if he’s willing to walk away from the table — and I think he is — if we’re not willing to, then he’ll get everything he’s willing to fight for. That’s just how it is."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.