The Corner

Economy & Business

Who Will Take Over Ways and Means after Paul Ryan?

According to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, the three contenders for Chairman Paul Ryan’s job at Ways and Means are representatives Kevin Brady of Texas, Devin Nunes of California, and Pat Tiberi of Ohio. As such, it is interesting to look into their records in the House and what they stand for, especially with regard to cronyism and Ex-Im.

Mr. Tiberi is an uncompromising supporter of cronyism. He is not only a vocal supporter of the Ex-Im Bank but he also joined forces with Democrats by signing the discharge petition to bring back the program. This goes against the will of many Republicans, most noticeably Chairman Hensarling. For what it is worth, he is also a very close ally to speaker Boehner.

Mr. Brady hasn’t taken a position on Ex-Im in the media since his vote for the Bank in 2012. At the time he was in the camp of trying to reform the Bank rather than kill it, and it is unclear what he thinks about it now. That being said, he didn’t sign the discharge petition. He is, however, a big supporter of farm subsidies.

Mr. Nunes has been very critical of the hard-liners in the house, calling them, as the Journal reminds us, “lemmings with suicide vests.” He is also a supporter of a reformed Ex-Im Bank even though as Mr. Hensarling noted recently, the program is beyond reforms. However, unlike Tiberi, Nunes did not sign the discharge petition. 

How they vote today on Ex-Im will be very telling about their actual position on the issue.

Tiberi is a strong fundraiser for the Republicans, and has demonstrated his ability to raise a lot of money from K Street:

Mr. Tiberi has a longer and more successful track record of raising money for the party, which could be helpful for the Republicans as Mr. Ryan intends to do less fundraising than Mr. Boehner did.

Mr. Tiberi has collected $1.3 million this year and has $3.4 million on hand as of Sept. 30, while Mr. Brady has collected about $844,000 and has less than $1 million in the bank. Mr. Nunes has raised $833,000 and has $2.6 million. And Mr. Tiberi can argue that he wouldn’t be yet another chairman from Texas, whose representatives already run the Agriculture, Armed Services, Homeland Security and Financial Services panels.

The Journal notes other differences between the men. On taxes, trade, and the debt ceiling:

Messrs Brady and Tiberi are very similar on the policy issues in the Ways and Means jurisdiction. Both voted for the 2013 fiscal cliff deal that set current tax rates—even though it was opposed by most House Republicans, including Mr. Nunes. Both voted against a clean debt-limit increase last year and for the trade promotion bill. Mr. Nunes voted for the debt-limit increase and the trade bill.

It is worth noting that Nunes has offered a pretty good plan to reform the corporate income tax system. However, Brady deserves great credit for being in favor a maintaining the Budget Control Act (BCA) spending caps and even expand them. He is a fervent advocate of the Maximizing America’s Prosperity Act of 2015 (MAP), a plan similar to the very effective Swiss Debt Brake. Dan Mitchell has written extensively on the issue and the reason for his support for such reforms.

It is unclear what the criteria for picking the next Ways and Means chairman will be since “Republicans are considering changes to their internal rules,” the Journal reports. But I would assume that, at the very least, signing the Ex-Im discharge petition will go a long way to disqualify a candidate for the job. 

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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