Ten public policy issues that divide Trump and Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stirred a political firestorm on Thursday when he refused to endorse Donald Trump, the all-but-certain GOP presidential nominee.

It was, perhaps, not such a surprise.

While Ryan and Trump may belong to the same party, they don’t agree on much when it comes to the Grand Old Party’s guiding policy agenda.  

{mosads}From immigration and trade to Medicare and taxes, Trump and Ryan have been on opposite sides of many of the highest-profile issues underlying the year’s campaign debate.

And Ryan, who took over the Speaker’s gavel last year with designs of uniting his sharply divided party, said he’s simply not convinced the Manhattan billionaire possesses the conservative bona fides needed to lead the GOP into the future.

“Of course you’re going to have policy disagreements. You always have policy disagreements,” Ryan said in an interview with CNN this week. “But are we putting out policies based upon the principles that all conservative and all Republicans share? You know, limited government, the Constitution, the right role for the executive? 

“Those are the things that we all believe in, and we want to make sure our standard-bearer bears those standards, that our standard-bearer champions those.”

Amid the tension, the two plan to huddle on Capitol Hill on Thursday. But it’s unlikely they’ll see eye to eye.

“I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda,” Trump said in response to the Speaker’s take-down.

Here’s The Hill’s look at 10 policy issues where Trump and Ryan are butting heads.

1. Ban on Muslims

In the wake of the terrorist attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., Trump last December called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. — an extreme measure that sparked worry among many party elders.

The very next morning, Ryan, just six weeks on the job as Speaker, rebuked Trump for the first time in the campaign cycle. Trump’s Muslim ban, Ryan said, was discriminatory and violated the freedom of religion, not to mention other aspects of the Constitution.

“This is not conservatism,” the Speaker said, standing in Republican National Committee headquarters. “What was proposed … is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.”

This week, after solidifying his spot as the party’s presumptive nominee with a win in Indiana, Trump doubled down on his Muslim ban pledge, effectively ignoring Ryan’s warning.

“I don’t care if it hurts me,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

A day later, Ryan fired back by withholding his endorsement.

2. Raising taxes on the wealthy

When it comes to the issue of taxes, Trump has been all over the map. But he recently told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie he absolutely supports raising taxes on the wealthy.

“I do. I do — including myself. I do,” Trump replied, giving heartburn to many traditional anti-tax Republicans including Ryan.

A former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Ryan has been championing major tax reform that would cut taxes — not raise them — for families and corporations across the board.

“The last thing our country needs are tax increases,” reads the tax issues page on Ryan’s website.

3. Trade issues

Ryan and Trump are worlds apart on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a colossal deal Obama negotiated with 11 Pacific-rim nations that could affect as much as 40 percent of the global economy.

Ryan is a big supporter of an agreement, having helped write the “fast-track” bill to ease eventual passage of the TPP, then ushering fast-track through the House last year. 

Ryan also penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) – Trump’s main rival who dropped out after Tuesday’s Indiana primary — calling the TPP a “historic” opportunity to help American businesses. On Thursday, he released a statement hailing the merits of expanding international trade. 

“It is especially good for our small businesses, which need new markets for their products,” Ryan said. “If we don’t step up and seize these opportunities, our competitors will.”

Trump has a decidedly different view, and his fierce opposition to expanded trade has helped boost his appeal among independents and conservative Democrats, particularly in Rust-Belt states.  

He refers to the TPP as “ObamaTrade,” and he’s vowing to kill it because he says it will only exacerbate America’s trade deficit with China.

“The TPP is horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble,” he said during a November debate. “It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.”

4. Easing restrictions with Cuba

Once a Cuba hard-liner, Trump said last fall that Obama’s monumental decision to re-establish diplomatic and economic ties with the communist island-nation of Cuba was “fine.”

“Fifty years is enough — the concept of opening with Cuba is fine,” Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller, breaking with nearly all of his GOP presidential rivals. “I think we should have made a stronger deal.”

Ryan, too, has flipped-flopped on Cuba policy. Early in his political career, he had backed ending the trade embargo with Cuba. But as Speaker, Ryan has been a vocal critic of Obama’s move, calling Cuba “a regime that provides safe harbor to terrorists and fugitives.” 

As the president made his historic trip to Cuba in March, Ryan ripped Obama, saying “he effectively gets nothing in return, and he legitimizes a tyrannical dictatorship” led by the Castro brothers.

5. Planned Parenthood

Ryan has been at the front of the Republicans’ long-running effort to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and Trump says he would do the same.

But Trump, who previously supported broad abortion rights, has also gone out of his way to trumpet the importance of the group in offering other healthcare services — “cervical cancer, breast cancer,” he said at a debate in February — while warning that countless women would lose vital care if Planned Parenthood were to fold.

“You can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly,” Trump said.

That’s a rare message from a Republican, and one you won’t likely hear from the Speaker. Indeed, he’s backing the Republicans’ special panel investigating charges that Planned Parenthood profited illegally from the sale of fetal tissue.

“We are moving on Planned Parenthood on multiple fronts,” he vowed in November. 

6. Immigration

Trump set a fierce tone for his immigration agenda on Day One, using his inaugural campaign speech to characterize Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.”

He hasn’t backed down since, vowing to deport all of the 11 million immigrants estimated to be living in the country illegally, while sealing the border with an enormous wall — at the expense of Mexico — to be designed within his first 100 days in office.

“We have a lot of really bad dudes in this country from outside. They go, if I get elected,” he said during a September debate on CNN.

Ryan has different ideas. The Speaker was groomed by Republican immigration reformers — including the late-Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) — and has a long history of backing bills granting some illegal immigrants legal status, which harder-line conservatives deem “amnesty.” 

Ryan supported the Republicans’ push to move an immigration package in 2014, including legalization allowances, and was leading bipartisan negotiations with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in search of a compromise later that year — talks that fell apart with the defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

“I’m a person who believes that for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves people the opportunity to get right with the law, to come in and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration,” Ryan said last week at Georgetown University.

The issue is a tough one for GOP leaders like Ryan, caught straddling a line between efforts to appease a conservative base that favors tough enforcement, while hoping not to alienate Hispanic voters that could be vital in a number of battleground states.

7. Minimum wage

In November, Trump said the current $7.25-an-hour minimum wage is too high and was slowing job growth. 

But part of Trump’s pivot to the general election has included softening his opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“I’m looking at that. I’m very different from most Republicans,” Trump said this week on CNN when asked about a Democratic push to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

“You have to have something you can live on,” he said, adding that he’s more focused on getting people better paying jobs. 

By contrast, Ryan and most Republicans have been consistently opposed to any sort of minimum wage increase. A day after President Obama appeared in Milwaukee in 2014 and called for hiking the minimum, Ryan countered in a speech that such a move would result in a half million job losses.

Low-wage jobs provide critical training for young people, giving them an entry point into the workforce, Ryan said, according to The Milwaukee Business Journal. The Speaker famously flipped burgers at McDonald’s when he was younger.

8. Eminent domain

On the question of how much power the government has to commandeer private property for public gain, Ryan and Trump couldn’t be further apart. 

Ryan has a long record opposing such expropriations, and he cosponsored legislation fighting a 2005 Supreme Court decision that empowered officials in New London, Conn., to seize private land — and sell it to a private corporation — in the name of economic development.

“When someone works years to secure a home or establish a successful family store or restaurant, only to be forced by the government to give it up so a corporation can redevelop the land, that’s wrong,” Ryan said at the time. “I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and this means protecting citizens’ right to own private property and prevent government from abusing its power.”

Trump disagrees. The billionaire real estate mogul has used eminent domain to his business advantage, arguing that it’s a “wonderful” tool for moving big projects — public and private — that might otherwise be “blocked by a hold-out” property owner.

“If you have a road or highway, you gotta do it,” he told Fox News in October. “If you have a factory where you have thousands of jobs, and you need eminent domain, it’s called economic development.”

9. Social Security

Ryan built his wonky reputation as chairman of the House Budget Committee, where his annual budget bills featured efforts to reduce deficit spending with steep cuts to the big entitlement programs.

His early “Roadmap for America” plans, for instance, proposed to raise Social Security’s eligibility age, shift retirement funds into private individual accounts and lower benefits for high-income seniors. 

And as the vice presidential candidate alongside Mitt Romney in 2012, he offered a similar plan.

“If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement,” Ryan said in 2012 when he was the GOP’s vice presidential candidate. “We’re going to stop that from happening.”

Trump rejects any plan to cut entitlement benefits, going so far as to blame Romney’s loss on his decision to pick as running mate the man best known for his austere budgets.

“I said, ‘You got to be kidding,'” Trump said on the campaign trail in February. “He [Ryan] represented cutting entitlements, etcetera, etcetera. The only one that’s not going to cut is me.”

10. Medicare drug negotiations

A major health policy difference between Ryan and Trump pertains to Medicare’s prescription drug programs.

Under current law, Medicare is barred from negotiating directly with drug companies to get lower prices. Trump thinks that’s a mistake, arguing that the government could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by purchasing drugs in bulk directly through the companies — a position long-held by liberal Democrats.

“We don’t do it. Why? Because of the drug companies,” Trump said on the campaign trail in January.

Most Republicans oppose such a move, arguing that it grants too much power to the federal government while encroaching on free markets. Medicare’s drug programs are doing just fine, they say, as a result of private competition.

Ryan is in that camp, joining most Republicans in voting against a drug negotiation bill in 2007.

Tags Donald Trump Eric Cantor Luis Gutierrez Paul Ryan Ted Cruz
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