Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the self-styled conservative thought leader who struggled to govern in the era of President Trump, declared on Wednesday that politics in America is “broken,” sounding a parting message of alarm about the outrage-fueled discourse of the day even as his exit from Congress seemed to underscore it.
Mr. Ryan, a former vice-presidential nominee from Wisconsin, reluctantly accepted the mantle of House speaker in 2015 after House Republican hard-liners torched his predecessor, John A. Boehner. He used his farewell address to defend his brief record and burnish a legacy of dubious accomplishment. Those achievements include the enactment of large tax cuts that fulfilled the fondest dreams of Republicans, especially the significant lowering of corporate tax rate, but they left in their wake an enormous and growing federal deficit that Mr. Ryan once viewed as a nightmare.
He waxed regretful about his inability, after years of grand talk, to restructure Medicare and Social Security and rein in the largest drivers of the nation’s debt.