Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 22, 2010

ARE REPUBLICANS ON BOARD WITH RYAN'S RADICAL ROADMAP?.... While most congressional Republicans seem to be allergic to offering an alternative agenda in advance of the midterm elections, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, released a blueprint he calls a "roadmap." His GOP colleagues seem to generally approve of the plan, but they're terrified to say so.

Derek Thompson reports that Ryan explained to a Brookings audience yesterday that congressional Republicans are simply too worried about how the public would respond if the party truly embraced the plan.

When asked why Republicans aren't flocking to his bold government reform, Ryan responded, without hesitation: "They're talking to their pollsters and their pollsters are saying, 'Stay away from this.'"

Ryan's plan would dramatically change the country's tax and entitlement system. It would introduce a value-added tax, eliminate the corporate income tax, phase in deep Medicare cuts, and partially privatize Social Security, among other things.

I'm inclined to give Paul Ryan, a devoted fan of Ayn Rand's novels, at least some credit for putting his beliefs on paper, and subjecting them to public scrutiny. He has a plan to radically transform governmental institutions and Americans' way of life, and he's not afraid to say so.

Indeed, many on the right are on board with the radical Ryan plan. Jonah Goldberg loves it, and when it comes to deficit reduction, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) described Ryan's proposed $1.3 trillion in potential cuts as "a pretty good list of options."

So, why are Republicans being told to "stay away from this"? Why, by Ryan's own estimation, is his party deliberately putting politics above principle? Because if the public came to think of the radical Ryan roadmap as the party's official approach to budget issues, the GOP would lose practically every federal election for at least a generation.

But in a way, the party's cowardice is a real shame. Ryan's gone to the trouble of presenting a plan, and encouraging his party to support it. The plan raises taxes on everyone except the wealthy; it privatizes Social Security; it eliminates Medicare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and most of Medicaid; and it wouldn't actually get rid of the deficit anyway. The whole plan offers a breathtaking vision of how the government would operate in the 21st century if conservative Republicans had their way.

Ryan thinks it should be part of the debate -- and he's right! In fact, Republicans expect to make Ryan the chairman of the House Budget Committee six months from now, where he'll have a chance to do some real damage to Americans institutions.

Forget what the GOP "pollsters are saying." Are Republicans on board with Ryan's roadmap or not? Is his plan a reflection of what GOP candidates would do with their majority? Shouldn't voters have a chance to hear from Republicans about this before there's an election?

These need not be rhetorical questions. The leading GOP official on budget issues has a plan. It's not unreasonable to think every Republican candidate should say, before November, whether they think it's a plan worth pursuing.

Steve Benen 2:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

That's great, I think it should go public, dems should run ads on the Ryan plan, I am sure the voters will be happy.

Posted by: js on July 22, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats -- are you listening DNC, DCCC and DSCC ? -- should take the advise of Republican pollsters to heart: Make sure that NO Republicans stay away from this! The ads freaking write themselves!!!!

Posted by: Drew P on July 22, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. You know Rand wrote FICTION.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 22, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

one of my favorite quotes. wish i could remember where i saw it:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

Posted by: mellowjohn on July 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid can post Angle's old website, so what is to stop another Democrat or Democratic organization from giving Paul Ryan's plan the publicity he thinks it deserves? The plan needs its own website.

Someone needs to start co-opting the frames: the top ten ways you know if you are better off economically under Dems than the other party.....; you know you benefitted from ARRA if.....

This plan just feeds right into the education of the American voter who has lost a job, home, unemployment benefits, or health insurance and still intends to vote Republican.

Posted by: withay on July 22, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

-and here's another plan, one that pre-dates Rand.

Return to The Land. Till the soil, in honest, God-fearing labor. Farming is honest work, and provides all the needs of a family.

No need for the so-called 'income tax', as money is the Devil's plaything. The government can finance its needs from tariffs on imported goods. More than enough to maintain a small navy; really a Coastal Defense Force.

Ah, yes. Simpler times, for simpler minds.

Posted by: DAY on July 22, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Idiots like Goldberg love getting behind these plans because they have zero chance of ever being embraced and zero chance of ever being enacted. Goldberg got his job because his mom saved a sperm-encrusted dress; he's a perfect encapsulation of what modern conservatism is today: empty pledges and intellectual garbage.

Posted by: Jason Scorse on July 22, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Do not sell Ryan's charm short. The guy got elected in a swing district quite awhile back and now has a safe GOP seat despite the absolute trashing of the district's blue collar work force and all the while he talks about piling it on those folks even more. If he can get away with truthfully telling folks what he would like to do, do not be sure that other GOPers can not as well. Obama's Catfood Commission is going to recommend gutting social security as we know it and that is despite the facts that there is plenty of money available for the forseeable future. Indeed it is the only part of the federal budget which is fully funded. Never underestimate any politician"s ability to steal from the common citizen and convince those same citizens that it was for their own good.

Posted by: Terry on July 22, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Ryan responded, without hesitation: "They're talking to their pollsters and their pollsters are saying, 'Stay away from this.'""

Great plan, Ryan. Go to the media and explain that your fellow Republicans are too cowardly and politically calculating to take policy positions. Have you been taking message discipline lessons from Democrats?

Posted by: mcc on July 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

For some time now, the evidence shows that Republicans have been afraid to preach in public what they'd practice in privacy of their own office. I can only imagine that's part of the reason why some unreconstructed Tea Partiers harbor such disdain for prominent GOP elected officials whom they see as hypocrites to the Noble Cause.

Further, at least in Hawaii, many Republican candidates are even running away from the party brand name.

More than a few GOPers out here, including our newly elected Congressman Charles Djou, have yard and road signs on display throught Honolulu that prominently highlight the candidate's name, but conspicuously omit any mention of the candidate's party affiliation. Sad to say, many voters in the recent winner-take-all special election in Honolulu did not know that Charles Djou was a Republican, because the candidate never bothered to disclose the fact in his advertising and media.

Has anyone else noticed that deceptive practice occurring in other parts of the country? Or, given that Republicans in Hawaii currently hold only 8 of the 76 seats in our state legislature and have generally proven over the last half-century - with a few occasionally notable exceptions like Gov. Linda Lingle - to be an unpopular generic breed in island politics, is it simply a local phenomenon?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on July 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Out here in uber conservative bumpkinland, Mike Lee, the presumtive new senator from Utah, displacing Bob "oh my heck he talked to democrats" Bennett flogs a "fair" tax or "flat" tax "simplification proposal". Some of the lefties need to get on top of this - looks like VATs + corporate tax elimination? + elimination of taxes on cap gains? Instead of simple name calling, lefties need to dig into details of Ryan, et al., and describe just wtf they are talking about.

Posted by: bigutah on July 22, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

First the Ayn Rand joke:
The woman says, "I dated a boy in college who was reading The Fountainhead and I learned a valuable lesson."

"What's that?"
"Never date a boy whose reading The Fountainhead."

(Ba-da-boom)

But seriously, take Paul Ryan's tax proposal. Please.
It includes replacing the corporate income tax with a value added tax. I don't think anyone has considered the fiscal consequences of that but it's got European cooties all over it which will scare plenty of Ryan's GOP colleagues. And he wants a "clean" income tax, simple with few deductions. Those deductions are worth big money (for both parties) when it comes time to raise campaign funds.
So...yes...I can see where they would have a problem with it.

Posted by: Art Hackett on July 22, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

The ads freaking write themselves!!!!

No they don't. They never do. And what's worse, the Democrats never seem ready to write them when the time comes.

Posted by: David in NY on July 22, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ryan responded, without hesitation: "They're talking to their pollsters and their pollsters are saying, 'Stay away from this.'"

This has got to be one of the stupidest comments ever. Basically Ryan is saying "This is my vision, fuck the public and their opinions, fuck democracy, I know better."

I like a good flip-flopper like Crist and Specter because they are changing their personal views to reflect the will of the people, Ryan is doing the opposite, ignoring the will of the people to push his own agenda.

Posted by: ScottW on July 22, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

To add to what Art said above.

Why are European and Canadian Health Care models the epicenter of socialistic models that would destroy the American way of life, forever. While their taxing systems seems to be something to US should strive to duplicate ?

Like one has nothing to do with the other ???

Posted by: ScottW714 on July 22, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Even Effin' Greenspan learned, much to our dismay, that business people do not always have shareholder value (if that's even a good gauge of the worth of a business) in mind when they make decisions.

He also said not to extend the tax cuts.

If the Dems are going to win this war of ideas they have to defend what Americans earned over the last 100 years.

When this jerk on the newshour last night said that the GM bailout only put money in the hands of UAW members. Not true, but if it kept the cars being built and kept another hundred thousand people employed that would be a good thing. Or would the Repubs prefer to see people them starving in the street.

It's time real Americans stand up and demonstrate against this false Randian and Mercantilism the Repubs want to reimpose on us.

America is not a country of, by, and for the wealthy. it is a society where everyone contributes as he or she can because without diversity we fall sooner and grow less.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 22, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP, with the help of the ironically-well-named "lame-stream media" are counting precisely on voters not knowing what they're really up to. They want to catch a buzz of unreflective old angry white folks, dumb people, cynics, the ultra wealthy, and so on.

Posted by: neil b on July 22, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I can't help but wonder if the plan is to start hammering the GOP with Ryan's "plan" starting in September. Right now it's summer and no one (but us) is paying attention to politics so pulling out the big guns is a bad idea. But like in comedy, timing is everything in politics, and the Republicans have been racking up quite a list of things to nail them with when people start paying attention.

Posted by: Nied on July 22, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Donald, yes. I see that everywhere I go. I am currently on the road for five straight weeks. I have yet to see Republican on any signs, even in GOP safe areas (rural MI and MT to be precise). I'll be in Sacramento, CA next week and will be looking there.

It seems Goopers aren't so proud of the GOP these days. I wonder why.

Posted by: MsJoanne on July 22, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Donald and MsJoanne,
It's the same here, in VA. Except that here, *nobody* -- not the Repubs and not the Dems -- admits, on their yard signs, to having any party affiliation. It's as if all of them belong to the Rorschach Party...

Posted by: exlibra on July 22, 2010 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

There's no need to wonder whether other cons agree with Ryan. They've been preaching from the same pulpit for decades.

Posted by: CDW on July 23, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Thank god an adult seems to be making an appearance in DC, it's just surprising that it's a Republican. Now that the children have been running things for 25 years and creating a mess of unspeakable proportions, someone (always the adult in the group) is finally saying "Enough!" We've put more tax dollars into the hands of either evil or stupid people than we'll ever re-pay. No one in this echo chamber has any idea how we'll both raise and re-pay the $14 TRILLION debt Congress created. Stop the spending! If we can't run this country on $500 Billion a year, we're doing it wrong and it's the fault of every legislator and President--not Dems or Repubs.

Posted by: Cynic on July 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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