Second, Ryan wants to apply the principle of subsidiarity to Congress itself.
Ryan and I worked on Capitol Hill at the same time, early in our careers, though we didn’t meet at the time. He was a legislative assistant for one Congressman while I was press secretary for Congressman Bill Archer, who soon became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, where he stayed, rejecting calls to run for Speaker of the House. Ryan made the opposite decision last year.
But both made their decision for the same reasons: They opposed the nationalization of politics. The Contract with America was Newt Gingrich’s brilliant plan to win the majority for the GOP in 1992. But it had an unintentional effect: While Congressional press secretaries used to meet only with their own bosses to set their agendas, now we also gathered with Newt Gingrich or another Congressional leaders to set the common agenda.
In his discussion to interns, Ryan said that when the Democrats retook the majority after the Republicans, the problem only got worse, and Republicans didn’t fix it when they won the majority back.
His vision is for Congress to decentralize again.
“When I became Speaker I made a couple of decisions not to have the leadership predetermine the outcomes,” he said. “I am laboring to change the culture of this institution and decentralize the power so that ideas are done in the committees and brought to the floor by members of congress. That cultural change, I believe, is going to being about a better result at the end of the day. Perhaps a less predictable result, but a better result.”