Outside the Beltway, the right is livid with new Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanWhite House: Vote at 3:30; Trump left 'everything on field' Pelosi: GOP will need 215 votes to pass health bill Democratic rep: GOP stands for 'Get Old People' MORE’s trillion-dollar spending deal with Democrats.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter says Ryan, just seven weeks on the job, is ripe for a primary challenge. “Paul Ryan Betrays America,” blared a headline on the conservative site Breibart.com. And Twitter is littered with references to the Wisconsin Republican’s new “Muslim beard.”
After Congress passed the nearly $2 trillion government funding and tax-cuts package last week, Ryan touted conservative victories in a roundtable with Capitol Hill reporters, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, and again during a trio of interviews with friendly conservative talk radio hosts Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt and his old political mentor, Bill Bennett.
“He will continue to talk directly to conservatives throughout the country as he has always done,” a Ryan aide said.
Ryan has repeatedly stressed that the bipartisan funding agreement lifted the 40-year federal ban on crude oil exports and renewed hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for U.S. businesses and families.
But in a nod to the critics, Ryan has also emphasized that he “inherited” the flawed omnibus from his predecessor, ousted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and that the cake was “already baked” by the time he was handed the reins in late October.
Those arguments have done little to sway some of Ryan’s critics, particularly on conservative talk radio.
Laura Ingraham denounced the spending package as an “omni-bust” and said Ryan should be “regarded as a declared enemy of the Base." Mark Levin said Ryan is "already a disaster” and criticized the funding package for increasing the number of visas for foreign workers.
Criticism has also come from Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who declared that the GOP sold the country “down the river.”
For any GOP establishment leader, outrage from the right is unavoidable, with the deal making that comes with the job often conflicing with the desires of the base.
But that anger has become especially vitriolic and personal recently.
As Ryan and Obama were putting the final touches on the spending deal, the now-bearded Speaker told the president that some on the right have accused him of being a Muslim, Al Hunt recounted in a Bloomberg View column.
“The president, who has long faced the same absurd allegation, chuckled,” Hunt wrote.
Luckily for Ryan, the uproar on the right has yet to spill over into the House Republican Conference.
Conservative hard-liners in Congress were disgusted with the $1.1 trillion spending deal, which boosted funding for most federal agencies. Almost all Freedom Caucus members voted against it.
But those same conservatives were aware the top-line funding levels had been set by the budget deal Obama negotiated with Boehner before Ryan came on board. And most held their fire as Ryan pushed the spending and tax-cuts package past the finish line.
“I think most Freedom Caucus members hated the omnibus product but acknowledge that Speaker Ryan could only do so much within the parameters that he had to work with,” one Freedom Caucus leader told The Hill. “But so many grassroots supporters have been disappointed so many times that they can see no difference.
“Mr. Ryan will need to put real pressure on the Senate in the first quarter of 2016 or any goodwill he has will be gone,” the conservative lawmaker added.
Ryan knows his “honeymoon period” as Speaker won’t last for long, and is quickly moving to shore up his right flank in the New Year.
The Speaker has pledged to immediately hold a vote to repeal ObamaCare using the reconciliation tool once Congress reconvenes. The legislation will include a provision that halts federal funding of Planned Parenthood, a top conservative priority that was scrapped during omnibus negotiations.
“We didn’t get every win we wanted, but the wins we are still looking for, say, Planned Parenthood, we’ve got that in our reconciliation bill, which the Senate can’t filibuster,” Ryan told Hewitt. “We’re going to have that vote when we return from the Christmas break.”
A second Freedom Caucus leader said Ryan has a lot riding on 2016.
“Everyone gave Ryan a mulligan … but he will not get any more mulligans,” the lawmaker said.
“He’s made promises that next year will be different, that Harry Reid has agreed to take up spending bills. If those things don’t materialize, then the honeymoon is completely over.