On Thursday, November 16th, spirits were quite high in the House Chamber when in the early afternoon, the gavel fell and a measure for rewriting the tax code of the United States was passed on a partisan of 227 to 205. As and when the deciding votes were casted which was recorded in green on a black digital scoreboard that was suspended above the floor, the speaker of the House Paul Ryan was very upset. He threw his head back and slammed his hands together. In no time he was just engulfed in a sea of darkness and every Republican lawmaker wanting him to just slap him on his shoulders and be a part of the particular moment.
Paul Ryan was the man of the hour. He had spent about 25 years in Washington as an intern, waiter, junior think-tanker, Hill staffer and since the year 1999, as a member of Congress. He had never wavered in his obsession with fixing which he viewed as the two fundamental weaknesses of the nation. First were the Byzantine tax system and the second one being ballooning entitlement states. Now, with the House Republicans celebrating the achievement of a tax overhaul, which is like once in a generation achievement, Paul Ryan was feeling both jubilant and relieved, also a little bit greedy.
Reveling in the afterglow, Ryan remarked to several other colleagues about how this day had proven that they could accomplish difficult things and that next year, they should set their sights on an even tougher challenge that is reform on entitlement. The speaker has since gone public with this aspiration and clearly suggested that the year 2018 should be the year in which Washington finally tackles what he sees as the systemic problems with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Tinkering with the social safety net is a bold undertaking and that too in an election year.
Ryan has a good reason for throwing caution to the wind since his time in Congress is running short. In spite of several landmark legislative wins this year and a much better relationship with President Donald Trump as it was expected, Paul Ryan has made his intentions to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as the speaker of the House. He consults a small crew consisting of family, friends and some staff for career advice and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers.