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Ryan: Congress will pass the farm bill

International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes, left, interviews former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at the IDFA Dairy Forum meeting in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Congress will pass a new farm bill, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told the nation’s dairy processor executives here Sunday evening at the International Dairy Foods Association’s Dairy Forum.
In a speech titled “Policy Insights Gleaned from Two Decades in Congress,” Ryan said that the farm bill is one of three pieces of legislation that Congress needs to pass even though it will be difficult for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the current House speaker, to manage the House.
The other priorities are to establish a new relationship with China and a financial services bill to deal with cryptocurrency, Ryan said.
On China, he said, national security policy and trade policy need to be delinked. Both parties have difficulties to advance free-trade bills, but President Biden should call up the leaders in Australia and say he wants to re-enter the Trans Pacific Partnership from which President Trump withdrew and keep China out of that revised agreement.
The United States needs to be No. 1 in quantum computing because the country that is No. 1 could have power over the weapons systems in other countries, he said.
On trade, he added, “If farmers can’t sell members of Congress on trade nobody can.”
Ryan described the farm bill as “a food stamp bill” with farm programs attached since most of the money in the bill will go for nutrition programs. But he said that Congress will not separate food stamps — now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the farm programs.
“We tried that before, it is not going to happen,” he added.
“The majority wants to get one [the farm bill] done,” Ryan said. He added “you couldn’t do better” than Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., “is a legislator. She knows what she is doing.”
Ryan, who experienced his own troubles as speaker, said that McCarthy had to go through the 15 votes to become speaker because there was no alternative consensus candidate.
Noting that he has said that if someone is going to be good at being a congressional leader “you have to be willing to lose” the position, and that the speaker has to promise that he will make “the effort” but not promise “the outcome,” Ryan pointed out that McCarthy has to deal with the fact that the Senate and the presidency are in the hands of the Democrats.
Some Republicans in the house are “hearing” that McCarthy is saying he will deliver on his promises while McCarthy is saying he will make “the effort,” Ryan said. Those members, Ryan said, “will come after him,” but he added that he believes McCarthy will survive as speaker.
The fact that the House has adopted a rules package that says one member can ask for a vote on removing the speaker means “someone will probably take that thing for a ride.” But he said he believes that “for institutional reasons” House Democrats led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., would help McCarthy stay as speaker.
Ryan said he expects 2023 to be ”bumpy” politically, but that before the 2024 elections there could be “a transition to a party that offers us a clear and concrete choice.”
“Digitization” has increased the power of the radicals in both the Democratic and Republican parties, with members establishing followings through Twitter and other social media, Ryan said.
“We have a new wing of the Republican Party and Democratic Party — I call it the entertainment wing.”
When he entered Congress in 1999, Ryan said, he believed Congress was a meritocracy in which members proved themselves and rose in the leadership.
But today enough Americans ”hang out” on their phones and hear only views that agree with them, and politicians “bypass the meritocracy, they curate an individual brand. You can’t compromise. These are performance artists,” Ryan said.
And while problem solvers work on legislation, “the entertainers are on TV,” he added.
There are now two political bases in the country, Ryan said: the MAGA [Make America Great Again] base and the college-educated suburban base. Republican officeholders whose districts are heavily MAGA worry only about primary opponents, but a successful presidential candidate needs to appeal to both bases.
Ryan said he doesn’t believe former President Trump will be elected again, and doubts that he will run because “he is a proven loser.” Ryan noted that the Republican Party has been in the cycle of “the angry guy,” but that he would prefer to return to the “inspiring, unifying” era of President Reagan. But he added that “some of this is wishful thinking.”
Asked if he would run for president, Ryan said he would not ”because I like myself too much.”
International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes, left, interviews former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at the IDFA Dairy Forum meeting in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
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