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At CPAC, Paul Ryan Downplays Tea Party/Establishment Divide

10:08 AM, Mar 6, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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At the Conservative Political Action Conference today, House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan dismissed reports of a GOP "civil war" and heaped praise on both Tea Party and establishment members of Congress.

The way the Left tells it, the Republican Party is in a civil war. It’s Tea Party versus establishment—libertarians versus social conservatives. There’s infighting, conflict, backbiting, discord," Ryan said, according to prepared remarks. "What I see is a vibrant debate. We’re figuring out the best way to apply our principles to the challenges of the day. Sure, we have our disagreements. And yes, they can get a little passionate. I like to think of it as 'creative tension.'"

Ryan, who faced some criticism from the right for cutting a deal with Democrats to fund the government, said that most of the disagreements within the party are over tactics, not principles or policies. He went on to credit the Tea Party with the passage of his budget that reforms Medicare."When I introduced it in 2008, I had just eight co-sponsors. The political pros told everyone to stay away. Then the Tea Party members got elected, and now the House has passed it three years in a row. That’s how it always is: You fight it out. You figure out what works. You come together," Ryan said.

Ryan touted the GOP as the party of ideas and praised the policy initiatives of a number of his colleagues: Representatives Cantor, Camp, Graves, Price, Roby and Roe, as well as Senators Rubio, Coburn, Lee, and Scott. You can read Ryan's full remarks, as prepared for delivery, here: 

 

Thanks. You know, when Al asked me to speak this year, he said, “Paul, I like to save the best for last . . . so you’re up first thing Thursday morning.” Well, all I can say is it’s great to be back. Thanks again, everybody.

 

So, 2012 didn’t go as planned. And last year, it was pretty tough to be optimistic after a loss like that. But now—a year later—I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. I think the Left is exhausted. Our side is energized. And on Election Day, we’re going to win.

 

Take the President. He released his budget this week. And from the looks of it, I’d say he’s doubling down—he’s going even further to the left. His teammates aren’t much better. You notice they all sound alike? All they talk about these days is income inequality. They say it shows party unity. But what it really shows is they’re out of ideas.

 

The reason they keep talking about income inequality is because they can’t talk about economic growth. They have spent five, long years in power, and all they have to show for it is this lousy website.

 

The President was remarkably candid when he said he was going to fundamentally transform the country. He’s done his best to keep that pledge. In the end, I think he’s going to fail. You see, now that the President is implementing his agenda, it is a total fiasco. Big government sounds good in theory—but it looks a lot different in practice. And we’re learning this the hard way.

 

But this is our opportunity. For the President and his allies, this year’s campaign won’t be a sprint or a marathon—it will be a 50-yard dash. They’re going to run from their record. They’re going to point fingers. And they’re going to try and make us the villain in their morality play.

 

Well, I don’t think that’s going to work—because they’re going to overreach. Take just one example: the Little Sisters of the Poor. The administration is trying to force a group of nuns to violate their conscience. The Left isn’t trying to solve a problem here. They’re trying to make a point: They’re in a charge. And if you don’t like it, deal with it.

 

Look, I’ve been in politics long enough to know that if you throw your weight around like this, you’ll get thrown out of office. That’s just not how a majority party acts. A majority party welcomes debate. It brings people in. It doesn’t burn heretics. It wins converts. And it knows people don’t want to be pandered to; they want to be convinced. They want to be treated like adults. They want to be inspired.

 

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