Paul Ryan

The Ten Longest Serving Speakers Of The House Of Representatives

Paul Ryan is the 54th Speaker of the House, but the top ten longest serving have dominated in the 226 years of history of Congress.

The ten longest serving have been in the Speakership for 81 of the 226 years, more than one third of the time!

They are, in order,with time rounded off:

Sam Rayburn  17 years

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill   10 years

John W. McCormack  9 years

Dennis Hastert  8 years

Champ Clark  7 years

Henry Clay  7 years

Carl Albert   6 years

Joseph Cannon  6 years

Thomas Foley   6 years

James G. Blaine  5 years

Six of these ten (Rayburn, O’Neill, McCormack, Clark, Albert, and Foley) were Democrats for a total of 55 years.

Three of these ten (Hastert, Cannon, and Blaine) were Republicans for a total of 19 years.

One of these ten (Henry Clay) was a Democratic Republican for a total of 7 years, later becoming a Whig as a United States Senator.

Clay, Blaine and Cannon were in the years from 1811-1911; Clark and Rayburn were in the years from 1911-1961, and McCormack, Albert, O’Neill, Foley and Hastert in the years from 1962-2007!

So modern Speakers on the average have served much longer periods than earlier Speakers!

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.


Paul Ryan At Age 45 Nowhere Near The Youngest Speaker Of The House Of Representatives

Paul Ryan at age 45 is a young man to be a Speaker of the House of Representatives, but not the youngest.

That distinction belongs to Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia, age 30 when elected in 1839.

Howell Cobb was 34 when elected Speaker in 1849.

Henry Clay, three time Presidential candidate, was elected Speaker in 1811 also at age 34.

Jonathan Dayton was elected Speaker in 1795 at age 35.

John W. Taylor was elected Speaker in 1819 also at age 35.

Langdon Cheves was 37 when elected Speaker in 1813.

James Orr was also 37 when elected Speaker in 1857.

John Bell was 38 when elected Speaker in 1834, and later tried to prevent the Civil War by running as a Constitutional Union Presidential candidate in 1860.

Robert Winthrop was also 38 when elected Speaker in 1847.

Philip Barbour was elected Speaker in 1821 also at age 38.

Galusha Grow was also 38 when elected Speaker in 1861.

John White was 39 when elected Speaker in 1841.

Future Presidential candidate James G. Blaine in 1884  was also 39 when elected Speaker in 1869.

Future President James K. Polk, the only Speaker to be elected President,  was only 40 when elected in 1835.

Andrew Stevenson was elected Speaker at age 43 in 1827.

Theodore Pomeroy was also 43 when elected Speaker in 1867.

Nathaniel Macon was 44 when elected Speaker in 1801.

So Ryan is 18th youngest of 54 who have held the Speakership!



Paul Ryan As Speaker Of The House: Will It Benefit His Party And The Nation?

So John Boehner is now retired as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, head of the House Ways and Means Committee, and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee for Mitt Romney, is the new Speaker. So instead of being one heartbeat away from the Presidency as Vice President, Ryan is now two heartbeats away from the Presidency as Speaker of the House, and requires Secret Service protection, which will change his and his family’s lives dramatically!

Anyone who has read my blog regularly knows that I have not been a fan of Ryan, and in fact, was attacked by right wing websites for my strong opposition to Ryan.

However, this is a fresh start in the House of Representatives, and we should all wish Ryan good luck, as he tries to organize the Republican Party: deal with the Tea Party Freedom Caucus members (eleven of them not voting for him as Speaker); and learn to “cross the aisle” more and work with the Democratic minority.

Ryan has potential to be a great Speaker, but it all depends on how he deals with intransigent members.

Certainly, the nation needs a stable and competent House to do “the business of the people.”

With Jeb Bush Floundering, Opportunity For John Kasich Potential To Rise Grows Dramatically!

It is clear that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is floundering in his Presidential bid, with his expression of exasperation at the toil and turmoil of campaigning, his complaints about being attacked by Donald Trump, and his wish he was able to do other things rather than waste his time, is stunning.

Despite his family name, one can say that Jeb Bush is probably done, unless he makes a major revival in today’s  Republican Presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado, sponsored by CNBC.

This opens up opportunity for John Kasich  to emerge as the “Establishment” candidate, and be able to combat the fact that Donald Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson are in a massive lead in public opinion polls.

Marco Rubio is already showing signs that he is about to destroy his chances, by his announcement that he plans to vote against the budget deal negotiated by outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, designed to keep the economy and budget stable until 2017 and the next President, and give incoming Speaker Paul Ryan a breather as he takes over House leadership. This is simply designed to gain support of the extremist right wing Freedom or Tea Party Caucus in the House, a massive error by Rubio.  It is almost as if Rubio, who has now condemned his job in the Senate, saying he has never liked it, is about to push himself out of politics altogether by his reckless behavior.

But also Rubio complaining about being unhappy as a Senator makes one wonder about his character, as the people of the third largest state, Florida, gave him the gift of serving in the Senate, which many people, including this author and blogger, would “die” for, and yet he is complaining about a “plum” job, one of the best one could attain for.  So this also makes Rubio far from the ideal candidate for President, because it makes one wonder whether he is interested in being President no matter what challenges he will face, and would he be able to handle the frustrations of the job, just by asking Barack Obama!

John Kasich has now expressed total exasperation about Donald Trump wanting to deport 11 million people and build a “Trump Wall”, which he considers preposterous; about Dr. Benjamin Carson, who now says he wants to end Medicare and Medicaid completely, along with his many whacko statements and revelations about his background; about Rubio, complaining about being a Senator; and about Bush, who seems not to want to work for the Presidency and wants the job handed to him on a silver platter, as if he is “entitled” to it!

Kasich is expressing what moderate conservative Republicans and outsiders, such as this blogger, feel, and the belief that John Kasich remains the best choice for the GOP, with his long career in the House of Representatives; his business and media career; and now his popular leadership as Governor of the most crucial state for any Republican Presidential nominee, the state of Ohio.

If the GOP had any sense, and its voters had mainstream ideas, John Kasich would be the nominee, but right now, the odds on that seem long.  The question is whether the party will overcome its extremist right wing Tea Party-Freedom Caucus and come into the light of a mainstream alternative to the Democrats, having lost the popular vote five of the last six times for the White House.  If they do not, the Republican Party long range future is doomed!

The Tea Party, Or Freedom Caucus, Or Liberty Caucus Of Republicans: A Danger To Political Stability Of The Nation!

There is a group of extremist right wing Republicans in the House of Representatives, coming almost exclusively from “Red States”. with particular emphasis in the South, that is out to destroy any chance of political stability in the nation.  They are supported by many radio talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Ann Coulter, among others.

They are in the process of causing the disintegration of a major political party, the Republicans of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and even Ronald Reagan in their mad quest to take us back to the Gilded Age of the 19th century, as they pursue destroying the good faith and credit of the United States, and wiping out the reforms of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society.  They want to shut down the government, and refuse to raise the debt limit, radical actions which would undermine our nation’s economic stability.

They promote racism, nativism, misogyny, and Islamophobia, and the worship of unbridled capitalism and the libertarian philosophy of Ayn Rand, mixed with a mean spirited view of Christianity toward the poor and the disabled, sick and elderly in American society.

They want to promote a high moral standard on society, while they do not practice it themselves, but spout extreme religious dogma, and they want to send America into wars overseas even though most of them have never served in the military, and would not allow their sons and daughters to sacrifice their lives in foreign crusades.

They have a hatred toward President Barack Obama bordering on obsessive-compulsive behavior, and many would applaud the demise of our President by violence, as they have no moral compass despite their claims of religiosity.

They find the leadership of their party as insufficiently conservative, attacking Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Senator John McCain as examples of insufficient conservatism, considering them RINOS (Republicans In Name Only).

They call themselves the Tea Party Caucus, or the Freedom Caucus. or the Liberty Caucus, but their precise membership is fluid, but includes from three to four dozens members of the House of Representatives, with the greatest number from the major populated states of Texas and Florida, numbers two and three in population nationally.

They are holding the Speakership of the House of Representatives hostage, and the uncertainty about who the next Speaker will be, and what he will do on crucial budget issues, is undermining faith in our government. And the fact that the Speaker, whoever he is, is second in line for the Presidency under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, endangers the Presidency itself, in case of an emergency!

The Destruction Of The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives Under Republican Control Since 1994

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and is the top constitutional officer in the legislative branch of government.

The Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the chamber, and he has responsibilities which include introducing the President of the United States at a State of the Union address, and all other special speakers to a joint session of Congress, including foreign government leaders.  The Speaker has been second in line of succession to the Presidency since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

The Speakership has had its major figures historically, including those for whom House Office Buildings are named: Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn, and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  It also has had a President, James K. Polk, and two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, as Speakers.  It also had three Presidential nominees, John Bell, James G. Blaine and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay was the greatest single figure in the whole history of Congress, who ran for President three times, including against Polk in 1844.  It also has had Thomas B. Reed, who promoted the growth of the office to its all time greatest authority, continuing under Joseph Cannon.

It also had John McCormack, who played a major role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and much of the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.  Had there been no 25th Amendment passed in 1967, Carl Albert would have succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned in 1974.  Were it not for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker, there would have been no ObamaCare legislation passed in 2010.

It was a rebellion of progressives in the Republican Party in 1910 , in combination with the minority Democrats, that created a “revolution” in House rules, stripping the Speaker of the absolute control of events that existed under Thomas B. Reed and Joseph Cannon, but still the office has played a major role in American history.

Since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, after 40 years of being in the minority, and keeping control except for 2007-2011, the Speakership has become an office of disaster and controversy.

First, Newt Gingrich became very confrontational with Bill Clinton, and caused crisis after crisis, until he was forced to resign, with his private scandalous love life being discovered as Bill Clinton faced impeachment for his own scandalous love life.  Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed Gingrich, but his own private scandalous love life prevented that, so Dennis Hastert, a back bencher, became Speaker, lasted longer than any Republican in the position, and avoided most controversy, until now in retirement we have learned of his abuse of male students while a teacher and wrestling coach in high school in the years before he engaged in politics.

John Boehner came into the Speakership under Barack Obama, and faced a Tea Party rebellion, which prevented ability to negotiate, and finally, he lost the confidence of his party, and decided to resign, but his planned successor, Kevin McCarthy, self destructed in the past two weeks, and decided yesterday that he would not run for Speaker, uncertain of support of the Tea Party element.  So now Boehner is back temporarily, and there is a major crisis among House Republicans as to who would be acceptable as an alternative, with Paul Ryan, head of the House Ways and Means Committee and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, being pressured to take the job, but not wanting to take it.

The Speakership is in crisis, and the Republican Party has done great damage to the position in the past 21 years, and besmirched the historical reputation of the position and of the House of Representatives, and the only way to retrieve it is the hope that, somehow, the Democrats can regain control in 2016, but considered highly unlikely!

Authenticity, Compassion, Experience, Great Debater And Orator: Vice President Joe Biden!

The saga around Vice President Joe Biden continues, as he wrestles with the issue of whether he should run for President in 2016.

Joe Biden has tried to deal with and cope with the death of his beloved son, Beau Biden on May 30, and he has said he cannot, at this point, commit himself to the energy and the “fire in the belly” needed to run for President.

But history tells us that Abraham Lincoln and Calvin Coolidge went on with their responsibilities after losing their sons in their time in office.

Also, Joe Biden is still Vice President, and has duties and responsibilities he meets, despite his mourning of his son.

And, were anything to happen to Barack Obama, Joe Biden is a heartbeat away from the Presidency, and would have to meet his responsibilities despite his son’s death.

What if Joe Biden had decided to enter the race six months ago?  Would he have withdrawn from the race after his son’s passing?  That is hard to imagine.

Particularly now, at a time when Hillary Clinton is losing public support in polls, is the time for Joe Biden to come to the rescue of the Democratic party brand, as his chances of becoming President are far better than Bernie Sanders, who would have great trouble overcoming his “socialist” connection, even though it is no threat in reality.  But ignorant voters might think that Bernie was a “Communist”, sad to say.  So Joe Biden is the best alternative at a time when Hillary seems to be in decline!  So, “run, Joe, run”!

Joe Biden has authenticity, something voters are looking for.  He has compassion, a crucial matter at any time.  He has 44 years experience by 2016, more than ANY political leader or President or candidate in all of American history.  He is a great debater and orator, and proved his debating abilities against Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, and even was said to have done better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in 2008, although he had no way to overcome their “star” image.

And now, he is not just a young senator as in 1988, or having to compete against a former First Lady and a new Senator who had great public appeal, as in 2008. Instead, he is VICE PRESIDENT Joe Biden, considered the most active and intimately involved in decision making, and yet ready and willing to disagree with the President and keep Barack Obama’s respect and admiration!  He is beloved by millions of Americans who think he can best perpetuate the Obama legacy, while having his own independent mind and goals!

“Speaks Without Notes”; “Has Passion And Joy In Campaigning”; “Speaks His Mind”—Traits Of Donald Trump AND Joe Biden!

It has been pointed out that billionaire Donald Trump “speaks without notes”; “has passion and joy in campaigning”; “speaks his mind”, all traits that most politicians, including Presidential candidates, often do not have.

Well, there is someone else who has the same traits that Trump has, but also has tons of REAL government experience; a record of REAL accomplishments; a true compassion for those NOT wealthy; a sincerity, authenticity, and genuine nature rarely seen in politicians; a person with not a mean bone in  his body; a person who would “give the shirt off his back”; a true man of the people, who has managed to serve longer than any political leader in public office in the entire history of the nation; and has NOT enriched himself in the manner that most politicians do!

In these other traits mentioned in the above paragraph, Donald Trump is entirely different, the diametric opposite of this other person who shares the traits in the first paragraph.

Who am I talking about?  Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden!

It can be argued that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton cannot compete in the traits that Donald Trump and Joe Biden share.  Bernie Sanders  may share the traits in the first paragraph, but his connection to the “dirty” word “Socialism” creates many potential complications were Sanders to end up as the Democratic nominee for President, a real “long shot”!

A debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be the debate of the century, as Joe Biden would combat the demagoguery of Trump with a strong, rational, but fiery and emotional attack on “Trumpism”.  Biden has already proved how he can make “mince meat” of Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin in Vice Presidential debates.  He proved to be the best debater in the Presidential primaries of 2008, but of course could not overcome the star power of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But now, coming off the successful and significant Vice Presidency of Joe Biden, he would have the best opportunity to overcome the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and institutionalize the Obama Presidency, and keep the virtues of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt!

80 Years Of Social Security And Counting: The Most Successful “Safety Net” Program In American History!

On August 14, 1935 the Social Security Act became law during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins key figures in promoting its passage.

For the first time, there was the pledge of providing senior citizens with some financial support in their later years.

Additionally, widows and orphans, and the disabled would be covered under the law.

The US was behind Germany, Great Britain, and France, industrialized nations which had enacted such legislation decades earlier.

There was bipartisan support from progressive Republicans and from Democrats, but more conservative Republicans set as their goal to destroy Social Security, as early as the Presidential Election of 1936.

But Social Security has survived eight decades, and has done so much good for the nation, and its most vulnerable citizens.

Even now, there are proposals to change Social Security, as was done in 1983, by a deal between President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, raising the retirement to age 66 and 67 for full benefits, depending on year of birth.

Now there is the call to raise the retirement age further, and cut benefits over the long haul, bitterly opposed by progressives and Democrats. Also, George W. Bush tried to privatize part of Social Security, which failed of enactment in 2005, but again is being promoted by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

The tax base has been raised, but even now, only the first $118,500 is taxed, and many feel there should be no limit on the tax base, as that allows those who make much higher incomes to avoid further taxation, and putting the burden on the average American who does not earn more than $118,500.

The point is that by raising the tax base to unlimited income would insure the long term survival of Social Security.

It is essential to insure that the most successful “Safety Net” program in American history continued to survive and prosper!