WASHINGTON - Speaker Paul Ryan pledged Thursday that the House will finally come up with a replacement to President Obama's health-care law and attempt to overhaul the tax code, as he committed the GOP to a "bold, pro-growth agenda" for 2016 and beyond.
"Our No. 1 goal for the next year is to put together a complete alternative to the left's agenda," the Wisconsin Republican said at the Library of Congress in what aides billed as his first major address as speaker. "We will not be cowed. We are not here to smooth things over. We are here to shake things up."
Although short on new ideas and lacking specifics, Ryan's speech made clear that he has no desire to hang back and play a supporting role to the GOP's presidential nominee next year. Ryan himself was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012.
And the former House Budget Committee chairman who has proposed slashing Medicaid and converting Medicare into a voucher-like program also suggested he is more interested in promulgating a GOP vision than in finding common ground with Obama. "Even if he won't sign them into law, we will put out specific proposals and give the people a real choice," Ryan said.
Ryan replaced former Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio just over a month ago after Boehner resigned under pressure from House conservatives. Thus far, Ryan still seems to be enjoying a honeymoon, but that will be tested by a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a package of spending bills or face a partial government shutdown.
Ryan committed once again to finally coming up with a GOP alternative to Obama's health-care plan. "We think this problem is so urgent that, next year, we are going to unveil a plan to replace every word of Obamacare," he said.
On taxes, Ryan called for eliminating loopholes and collapsing down to two or three rates.
Thursday's speech was laced with familiar conservative, free-market solutions to the nation's ills that Ryan has advocated for during his 17-year career in Congress. His most significant proposal has been a non-binding balanced budget outline that has been a mainstay for the GOP majority for its five years atop the House.