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The Most Powerful Person in America

Some readers of this Commentary have asked why I am so insistent that Republican U. S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wi.) is and will be the most powerful political person in America--more than the President and the Majority Leader of the Senate (a smaller legislative body). Interestingly, some pundits have said that Ryan's refusal to walk away from Donald Trump's campaign, probably a losing one, will diminish his future clout in Washington. I disagree, although I think supporting Trump is futile for Ryan. I might point to a new article in New York Magazine by Reporter Ed Kilgore about Ryan's plans for the House in 2017.. Kilgore hints that Ryan's ambitious governing plans center around his knowledge of and plans to use "Budget Reconciliation," in the Congress. In addition, here is why I believe Ryan will be the most powerful person in our government.

  • With 2016 essentially gone, in 2017 we will almost certainly have Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump, as President, both of which have the lowest approval ratings of any final candidates in history. Their lack of public support coupled with their newness to the job renders either of them largely insignificant, at least for the first couple of years.

  • The Senate is historically the more powerful legislative body, because of it's smaller size. But the current and probable 2017 Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is considered overly partisan and generally ineffective, especially with an expected new margin over the Democrats, that could only be a vote or two.

  • Speaker Ryan pulled off a coup among the firebrand Tea Party members of the House, by being the consensus selection as Speaker for 2016. He will continue to have to beat back the arch-conservative wing of his body and some Democrat attacks, but he has proven to be smart, experienced, and resilient in managing the larger body of lawmakers. Look for his appointments to key House Committees like Appropriations, Finance and Tax, Commerce, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Rules to be the primary architects of United States Policy in important areas for the next several years.

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