President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan clashed frequently during the contentious road to Election Day. But this week on 60 Minutes, Speaker Ryan tells correspondent Scott Pelley he’s put it all in the past.
“We basically decided to let bygones be bygones,” he tells Pelley, “and let’s move forward and fix this country’s problems.”
But Speaker Ryan admitted that he really didn’t expect President-elect Trump to win the election.
“I didn’t see this one coming,” he says. “If you would’ve put last year into a movie script and taken it to Hollywood two years ago, they would’ve laughed you out of the room because it wouldn’t have been believable.”
Now, he sounds determined to look ahead and “start passing bills.” In his interview with Pelley, Speaker Ryan spelled out his agenda (in the video at the top of this page), listing his top six priorities for the first year of the Trump administration.
First on the speaker’s list? Repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“We’ve got to repeal and replace Obamacare because that is really hurting families,” Speaker Ryan tells Pelley.
A post-election survey released this week by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that just one in four Americans want to see the health care law, commonly referred to as Obamacare, repealed. What, then do Republicans plan to put in its place?
“Patient-centered healthcare that gets everybody access to affordable healthcare coverage, so that they can buy whatever they want to buy,” Speaker Ryan tells Pelley.
Beginning in January, the Speaker says Congress will put in place a budget mechanism to repeal the healthcare act while working on a policy to replace it. When Pelley pressed him further, he did say he is hopeful the Republicans’ replacement plan will involve bipartisan support.
Speaker Ryan’s top priorities for next year also include rebuilding the military, securing the border, and reforming the tax code — and that, he says, includes lowering the corporate tax rate.
“It is costing us jobs,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons all these American companies are moving overseas.”
Congressional Republicans’ plan is to reduce the rate from 35% to 20%, while President-elect Trump’s plan is to reduce it to 15%. Speaker Ryan says he hopes to end up somewhere between 15-20%.
Finding compromise within the Republican party is a problem that dogged Speaker Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, but Ryan says he doesn’t think he’ll be hampered by it.
“We are now entering an era of unified government,” he tells Pelley. “What John Boehner had to heal with were the tactical disagreements among Republicans in divided government.”
Speaker Ryan may not have to deal with the party in-fighting, but one aspect of Congress that’s unchanged is the bell system to alert House members of a quorum call. The only problem is—no one knows exactly how it works, says Ryan.
“When I first got elected in 1998, they gave us a little card that explained what the bells meant and all the lights meant,” Ryan says. “No one has that card anymore. Nobody knows what the bells do.”
The interview with 60 Minutes took place last Thursday in the Speaker’s office, which offers a beautiful balcony view of the National Mall. Speaker Ryan showed Pelley the sights from his office view, including the platform, now under construction, for the upcoming presidential inauguration.
“The two most prominent things on the skyline from this vantage point are the Washington Monument and the new Trump Hotel,” Pelley remarks in the clip above.
“That’s right,” Ryan responds. “He actually noted that when I took him up here.”