Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2011

RYAN'S RADICAL, RIDICULOUS, RIP-OFF ROADMAP.... While the process of crafting a budget plan for this fiscal year implodes under the weight of GOP intransigence, today also happens to be the day next year's budget fight begins in earnest. And if you think the current fight is a mess, prepare to have Republicans take your breath away.

And if you're a disabled senior on Medicaid, relying on an oxygen tank, that expression should probably be taken literally.

Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveils his plan for fiscal year 2012. He promised a truly radical approach to our entire system of government, and he wasn't lying -- Ryan's budget is based on his radical "roadmap" and effectively rewrites the American social contract.

Medicare would be eliminated and replaced with a voucher system. Medicaid would be gutted and sent to the states as a block grant. The Affordable Care Act would be scrapped, tax rates on corporations and the wealthy would be slashed, and all told, Ryan's plan intends to slash roughly $6 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.

This is madness.

There's obviously no way Democrats in the Senate or the White House will even consider such extremism, but House Republicans don't much care. This is the plan they want; this is the plan they'll pass; and this is the plan that will set a truly ridiculous benchmark for future negotiations. If a shutdown seems inevitable this week, wait until the House GOP votes to eliminate Medicare as part of their next budget pitch.

Those of us hoping the chattering class will recognize the Republican plan as extremist nonsense are likely to be disappointed. David Brooks gushed today about the radical roadmap.

The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president's passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.

His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion.... Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. He's forcing everybody else to do the same.

Jonathan Zasloff's point-by-point takedown of the Brooks column is worthwhile, but my biggest fear is that the D.C. establishment will start to assume that Brooks is correct. He's not. Ryan's budget plan is stark raving mad.

"Courageous"? To the extent that a major political party and House majority is actually willing to rally behind such extremism -- without a hint of shame or trepidation -- I'll gladly give Republicans credit for actually putting their ridiculous wish list on the table.

But in this context, real, meaningful courage requires sound judgment, not just a willingness to fight for millionaires and corporations, while screwing over the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and working families.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (47)

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Comments

"the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and working families"

-and when will the MSM explain Ryan's Plan to "the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and working families"?

Yeah, riiight. It's up to YOU, Mr. President!

Posted by: DAY on April 5, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

As much as I hate Ryan's assault on America (re road map) Brooks is right about one thing, the President and Democrats have known this crap is coming for months but have passively allowed Ryan's monster to be hatched without so much as a peep.

The President and we Democrats should have a "road map" of our own. Where is it?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Ryan's proposal is Bush's Social Security (non)proposal redux. Democrats should (in my view) follow a strategy similar to the one they deployed then---no negotiations, no compromises, no counter-proposals. No "privatized" Social Security. No "privatized" Medicare.

By all means let the House Republicans bring it up for a vote, and bring it up in the Senate if the Republicans won't. Get them all on record, and then run on it in 2012.

Posted by: massappeal on April 5, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I posted this at TPM and I'll cross post it here because it really needs to be said.

Medicare. Jesus Christ. Lyndon Johnson is always credited with passing Medicare as part of his Great Society. Lyndon passed it they say. He was a masterful legislator. Kennedy proposed it but he couldn't get it passed. That is the village wisdom. And it is pure unadulterated bullshit. Medicare was bought with Jack Kennedy's blood. It was the fact that they splattered his brains all over the backseat of that Lincoln in Dallas in the fall of '63 that caused the wave of national grief that swept that huge Democratic majority into power in '64. And it was this Congress with the tailwind of public sentiment still fresh with the memory of Dallas that overcame the predictable caterwaulling of the Republicans who labeled the effort to guarrantee medical care to the aged 'socialized medicine'. They were against it then, they have been against it all these years and now they think they have found their chance in this latest economic emergency to destroy it. And any Democrat, any Democrat who would even consider for one moment playing footsie with this cheap group of hustlers and grifter, this assemblage of aluminum siding salesmen and con artists that the Republic party has devolved into and conspiring to destroy medical security for the aged in this country needs to find a new line of work.

Posted by: SW on April 5, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks can't tell the difference between courage and brass balls. Not surprising.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 5, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Courageous?
"Coourageous," is sacrificing yourself for others.

There's nothing courageous about taking other people lives and livelihoods.

But, I expect the full Wurlitzer will be out in force to polish this radioactive turd.

Bobo's already behind it.
I'm sure Rush'll tout it.
Ditto the rest of the radio talkies.
FOX and Beck will push it.
The WSJ, WaPo, and every other Conservative rag in the country will rhapsodize about it.

Soon, that turd will be hard and diamond-bright. And the ignorant masses in this country will pull the levers to, essentially, kill themselve and their families and friends - slowly.

I pray I'm wrong, and that when people see this "plan," basically a letter of execution, they'll realize what it is, and vote these Republicans out of office for a generation or two, until they come up with something other than tax cuts for the rich, and ending entitlement programs for the lesser among us - of which I'm one, in full disclosure.
I just wouldn't bet on it.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 5, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

It is political too. Notice that Ryan does not want the changes to effect those over 55 years of age. Not because these people would be put in a system that would find any and every way not to cover them. IT IS BECAUSE THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO OVERWHELMINGLY VOTE REPUBLICAN!!!

In other words, minimal electoral fallout from "the base." His budget is born on the backs of the people who elect democrats.

One more thing, if he gives seniors a voucher to go and get insurance in the private market what is to stop the insurance companies from denying coverage to them for pre-existing conditions. Ryan already proposes doing away with the ACA.

Posted by: Howie on April 5, 2011 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Of course there is the moral angle on how this will hurt "the elderly, the poor, the disabled, etc." However, I think this goes far beyond that. The middle class and even upper middle class rely on medicare to maintain a reasonable standard of living after they/we retire. I know a lot of people who are in their early to mid 60s that would be financially ready to retire, but they continue to work for health insurance until medicare kicks in. Many people, like myself, are saving and investing a considerable portion of our income in hopes of retiring someday. This sort of legislation works against all that.

How well will this work out politically for the repubs when these white collar workers see their retirement being put off because of this.

Posted by: DK on April 5, 2011 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

DK,

Unless you tell them a lot of your friends won't see the problem. Don't expect our "friends" in the press to say anything.

This is a time for all of us to start sending emails, or better yet, talking to all the people we know. Just give them the unvarnished facts. There is no reason to hype.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Of all that is appalling about this whole proposal and the predictable praise it has received, nothing is more obnoxious than the idea that Ryan showed courage. Exactly how does it show courage for a Republican to propose eliminating the social safety net, when that has been the dream of Republicans for decades. When a Republican proposes increasing income taxes on the rich, or increasing capital gains or corporate taxes, or making stiff cuts in Pentagon spending, then we might talk about courage.

Posted by: Kevin on April 5, 2011 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Paul Ryan seems to take the attitude of AZ Republican Governor Jan Brewer to medicaid and medicare cuts...  My cartoon showing Jan with a guillotine saying to a person about to get their head chopped off This will hurt you more than it hurts me  illustrates this.

We need to push the public discussion back to the irresponsible spending habits of the over rich, support unions, and  defend modern safety net programs. 

How? By showing their budget cuts in education, Medicaid, and Medicare are tantamount to endorsing social darwinism. Why mess with something that works? I see no advantage to pouring my money into the pockets of the über rich allowing the upper 1% to take in even more than the 40% of wealth they take now.

By illustrating their invention of the myth of American "Exceptionalism" they revive manifest destiny which gives them permission to sneer and attempt to destroy cultures they do not understand. 

The Xenophobia of Republicans are shown in my toon illustrating a letter AZ Senate President Russell Pearce read on the State Senate floor. The Treatment of Hispanic Kids by AZ State President Russell Pearce  

Of course Ryan is just hitching a ride with the Tea Pot Party: children having a wild time until the adults take over see the toon: "Big boys have had their fun, time to go home and go sleepy sleep."   I prefer a sane, sober government.

Now remember, America and the world were never more prosperous than during those times when people paid their fair share.  THE SOLUTION to our problems is to tax the über rich and use the money to build infrastructure paying good wages for good work to good people while protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

Side note: Personally, I think that FL preacher did it for the attention and as a fund raising stunt.  It will generate copycats though, hence the toon: "Post it on YouTube. I don't think anyone cares if you burn Republican Party Platforms.." 

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 5, 2011 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with gulag. The people ultimately will support it because they're told over and over that it's good. And they'll believe the Serious Commentators before they believe their lying eyes. Besides, math is hard.

Of course, the way the system is set up, there would be representation of the peoples' interest in the form of a politician, or political organization, who would point out that it's NOT good, and that politician or organization would gain electoral power on the force of its arguments.

Alas, there is no such organization, certainly not today. Shame about Obama...

Posted by: bleh on April 5, 2011 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Budget solution: Figure out how much we need to run government and start paying off national debt and tax the rich and corporations accordingly. Do that and the middle class will be glad to go along with an increase in their taxes to help get the job done.

Posted by: sparky on April 5, 2011 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

.....the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes...... His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion.... Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. -Brooks

So the "road map" is tackling the bloated $680 Billion a year largest single slice of government pie otherwise known as the military industrial complex? Great. That bold radicalness deserves gushing.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on April 5, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry everyone, but Brooks is absolutely correct with this statement: Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president's passivity.

Obama has been MIA on this issue, Nancy Pelosi has apparently been taken to an undisclosed location, and I can't remember the last statement Harry Reid made about anything. The Democrats coulda taken the lead on all this stuff using the fact that they still HOLD THE WHITE HOUSE, but they've been too busy handing Boehner everything he wants. I just hope I turn 55 before this kicks in.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 5, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

"the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and working families"

These are the same jerk-off low information voters who either didn't vote or did vote for these ass holes. Will Durant once said that, "Education is a progressive study of our ignorance".

Conversely...

Posted by: Stevio on April 5, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Redistributing wealth upward is a hard task, but someone in the Republican party has to do it!

Ryan and his uber-reactionary associates in the Tea drinking crowd are not healthy for our democratic America!

Republican candidates must be punished in the next election cycle nearest you! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 5, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

It's encouraging to see that every comment on Brooks' article received by the Times has been negative, and often derisive of Brooks' arguments (I hate even to dignify his drivel with the term). Usually he has at least a few ignorant jackwits write in to agree with his horsecrap. Today he has no takers at all. One can only hope that's a portent of the future of Ryan's proposal. Perhaps this radical broadside aimed directly at the middle class will finally wake some people up and get them to realize that the ratfucker GOP cares only about their rich supporters, the rest of us be damned. If this were 1798 I'd call dibs on Brooks...

Posted by: jjcomet on April 5, 2011 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

You have to admire Ryan for doing his part to pull the Overton Window in his team's direction.

I'd love to see Democrats do the same -- why can't a group of safe-seat Democrats with budget bona fides advocate loud, proud, and often for a truly progressive income tax, a progressive estate tax, a financial transaction tax, ...

Posted by: scott_m on April 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

WaPo:

The process of shutting down the federal government is underway. With the clock ticking towards Friday's federal budget deadline and President Obama hosting congressional leaders for budget talks at the White House on Tuesday, top administration officials have instructed agency officials to begin sharing details of shutdown contingency plans with top managers. This marks the next step toward both curtailing government operations if a budget impasse occurs and informing federal workers whether they are considered 'essential' personnel who would stay on the job despite a shutdown.

POLITICO:
Republican leaders are preparing the House for a government shutdown, as they plan to distribute a pamphlet about the mechanics of a partial congressional work-stoppage to all lawmakers' offices Tuesday morning, according to several senior House aides.

I'd say there is going to be a shutdown.

Posted by: Neo on April 5, 2011 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Wait, I'm confused. The President's been passive? I thought he'd engineered a hateful government takeover of 1/3 of the economy, and transformed our wonderful free market system into something like Socialist Russia.

So, NOW he's supposed to have been a do-nothing passive wimp and we need Ryan to show leadership?

I wish these guys would just pick a story already.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 5, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Note how Bobo wanks etc. call it "courageous" to make it hard on *other classes of people.* Pulling the rug from under someone else is not "courage," it's cowardice.

Posted by: neil b on April 5, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Scott, it is like this, the Republicans are funded by a bunch of billionaires (Koch, Walton, Prince, etc.) and the Democrats are funded by another bunch of billionaires (mostly Hedge Fund executives.) The only thing the billionaires agree on is America is about out of money for them to steal. Once they have it they will move to the next big place (China or near by?) and steal from them. In the meantime the rest of us who remain behind will be reduced to living in a backwater that looks a lot more like Mexico than France or England.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

SW: I still remember that day in Dallas, too, and I agree; even at the time, the common wisdom was that LBJ was able to get so much progressive legislation through because he successfully played on the national grief over Jack Kennedy's assassination.

Some may consider that cold-blooded and low-down; it might have been, if Johnson had been using the tragedy for personal gain. However, he was probably right that Kennedy would have wanted these things done, and the beginnings of "the Great Society" enriched American society for decades.

And, in the long run, they did nothing to save Johnson's reputation. To this day, he remains hated at least as much as Richard Nixon. Only Republicans remember that Johnson created Medicare; the rest of us don't even realize that it's a "government program."

Posted by: zandru on April 5, 2011 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

My point is, when it comes time to defend it, go to Kennedy not Johnson. Go back to Jack's original speeches on the subject. They still kick the shit out of what we are stuck with today. And the same old tired arguments against it. Socialized medicine and all the other trope.

Posted by: SW on April 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I hope the Democrats can make the Republicans "own" the shutdown and Ryan's budget and force the Republicans to campaign for it. I'd be willing to take my chances.

Posted by: tomb on April 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Strange breed of blue haired RepuGs - Many don't want government to touch their Medicare and turn it into a goverment program. At the same time, many others have bought into the new argument that both Social Security and Medicare are "Welfare".

Interesting how Ryan's cutting corporate taxes will cause GE to lay off the thousands of employees whose sole function is to make sure GE does not pay one dime to the government in taxes.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Brooks described Ryan's budget proposal as comprehensive and courageous. It is neither. It relies on a basic conservative belief that the free market will take care of everything. This is obviously not true because the only thing the market can regulate is the market, not the consumers and suppliers. The Republican solution to any problem to any government program is to get rid of that program. This is hardly courageous. This is in direct contrast to the typical Democratic Party solution, which is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

There is a distinct lack of courage on either side of the aisle.

Posted by: Mike on April 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I find it amusing that Benen considers it inconceivable that the White House or Senate Democrats would take Ryan's plan seriously. Really? Brooks takes it seriously and history has shown that where goes Bobo, so goes Obama.

We can engage in endless debate, as Cenk Uygur did a while back about whether Obama and Senate Democrats are stupid, weak, or corrupt. But, at the end of the day, does it matter? What matters is the outcome: Democrats cave, cave, and cave some more.

Psychological behaviorists would say that it doesn't matter what elected Democrats think or want. It only matters what they do. And what they do is agree with Republicans.

And people want to blame the voters for this? Boehner asked for $32B in cuts. Obama offers to compromise at $33B. Remind me again, which side are voters supposed to vote for?

Posted by: square1 on April 5, 2011 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Why aren't you covering this as "Republican's budget plan" to kill Medicare instead of "Ryan's plan!?

Don't you watch Maddow?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#42424683

Posted by: Robert on April 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

meanwhile ....

The top corporate plutocrats are pulling down $900,000 an hour while one in four children depends on food stamps to eat.

Posted by: blue on April 5, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Whether Ryan's roadmap is actually fully embraced by the GOP is, I think, an open question. I suspect the valuable part of his exercise is the reality that making substantial cuts to achieve debt reduction or "balance" involves actual, painful, choices - choices that, despite their brave talk, Republicans have not actually gotten agreement with anything close to a majority of the public. And I, too, tend to think that Democrats have been especially limp in trying to counter what's been coming all along with any kind of reasoned alternative case. For anything.

My bet is that the Medicare proposal is a bridge too far - elderly voters, even if they don't love everything about Medicare (yes, yes it polls well. The devils are in a number of complex details, like fixing reimbursement rates) are going to eviscerate this unpopular and likely unworkable alternative. However, it seems obvious that right and left can agree on the worst possible choice... which is gutting Medicaid, making it even less useful than it is now (chances are, states will salvage the snior, nursing home coverage to the detriment of everything else), and gutting the health care "reform" bill from the bottom up. This has been in the cards since Democrats made their fig-leaf compromise to pass the ACA, pretending that you could expand Medicaid in its current, badly funded form, barely covering the expansion for a few years and hoping for the best. By turning Medicaid into state block grants with few rule, you've basically eliminated the possibility to cover anything close to all the people in poverty who need care. Republicns will call this a choice that reflects a "painful reality", and Democrats will call this something between "the best we coud get" and "something to work towards in the future." Add in some modest Pentagon cuts and some marginal tax changes, and you've got the outlines of a deal. And it's appalling. And chances are, none of them will pay a political price for it. Which is how they will go for it.

Posted by: weboy on April 5, 2011 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK
"Psychological behaviorists would say that it doesn't matter what elected Democrats think or want. It only matters what they do."

states square1. But it DOES matter "what they think and want." If you understand this, know what makes them tick, you can put together arguments and make points to get them to actually change "what they do." You need to understand and appeal to their interests, concerns, vanities, even their particular greeds.

The bottom line, yes, is "what they do." But, unless you're going to buy the idea that you can't possibly influence any of these guys, understanding where they're coming from really is important.

And thanks, SW, for the information about JFK's speeches on Medicare. I'll look them up and send some good quotes to Heinrich, Udall, and Bingaman. Jeff Bingaman is retiring this term, and should be able to make a strong, principled stand (in principal...)

Posted by: zandru on April 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Most people would feel too stupid to argue that citizens in the former Soviet Union were to blame because they kept on voting for those damn Communists.

That, of course, would be a stupid argument because there existed a key structural impediment to free elections: Only Communists were on the ballot.

And yet, people sincerely argue that because America has TWO! political parties, not one, anyone who chooses not to vote for either party is to blame for our screwed up policies. No matter how corrupt the parties are. No matter how similar they are. No matter how unresponsive they are to the voters, people are still expected to trudge to the polls and vote for the lesser of two evils.

Personally, I vote in every election that I can: General elections, off-year elections, local elections, and primaries. But I'm not going to slam people who find the whole system too broken to deal with.

I'll tell you what. When America has a fair and free electoral system and people STILL don't vote (or vote for the wrong party), then you can blame them. Until that day, our energy would be better spent trying to fix the system rather than pointing fingers at our fellow citizens.

Posted by: square1 on April 5, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

It actually wouldn't surprise me if Obama used this proposal to do some horse trading. I think Medicare is a non-starter, but I wouldn't be shocked if Obama swapped a structural change to Medicaid (tightening protections beyond what the Republicans would offer) in exchange for a codification and expansion of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans would "win" by eliminating one federal "entitlement," but Obama would win "health care for all" through exchanges and scaled subsidies.

Posted by: Mark on April 5, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

David Books: "The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes."

The country does not lack leadership; it is overrun by radical extremists pretending to be patriots. The statement by David Brooks is absurd, especially the reference to "courageous". There is nothing "courageous" about harming old people and poor people. I remember the original Medicare debate and worked in that program for decades. Medicare only exists because the private health insurance market would not sell insurance to old people. Turning Medicare into a useless voucher program is a betrayal of our older citizens who paid into this program for decades and now depend on us for their survival. Brooks is a disgusting intellectual coward and Ryan's ideas belong in a time capsule as a warning for future generations.

Posted by: max on April 5, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks would have us believe Ryan is setting new standards for Very Serious Personage.

Posted by: bob h on April 5, 2011 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

@zandru: I was overstating the case to make a point. To some degree, of course, it does matter. My point was that Democrats waste far too much time trying to analyze the motivations of the political leaders in their party and far too little time trying to effect change.

The fact is that, it doesn't matter whether a Democratic politician is motivated by stupidity, weakness, or corruption, a primary challenge is going to get the politician's attention. Then the politician either changes behavior or loses in the primary. It is simple and we move on.

Stop worrying about the particular excuse for why Democrats fail. Just refuse to accept failure and work to replace bad Democrats with better Democrats.

Why did Obama and Congressional Democrats agree to extend the tax cuts for wealthiest Americans in exchange for a modest extension of unemployment insurance? Was it because they were too stupid to have a vote on extending the middle-class tax cuts and unemployment insurance before the mid-terms? Was it because they are corrupt and secretly wanted the tax cuts for the rich? Or was it because they are weak and were afraid of fighting the GOP, Blue Dogs, and their wealthy campaign donors?

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Obama and Congressional Democrats failed and should be replaced.

Posted by: square1 on April 5, 2011 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

It is astonishing how Republicans have managed to turn the world upside down and inside out.

Once upon a time--before the modern American Republican party went crazy and turned all virtues into vices and all vices into virtues-- heroes were courageous when they defended the weak and vulnerable. It is Orwellian to call Paul Ryan "courageous" when he proposes gutting the social safety net. I think more apt word choices would be "vicious, destructive, reckless, rash, immoral, venal, cruel, idiotic, ill-considered, selfish, crazy." We could also call his proposal "wanton, pointless, unnecessary, inefficient, useless" since it doesn't actually solve the problem it claims to solve. We could call Ryan the captain of the "Greed Brigade." We could refer to his budget as the "Dead Seniors" or "Youth enslavement" budget (though enslavement has three syllables so that might be a bit complicated.)

Every policy the Republicans propose, including Ryan's roadmap, guts the wealth of this nation and kills the future for everyone under 40, and who is challenging them? Now that would be Courageous, to challenge the Republicans. The tragedy for our children and our children's children is that this is going to be the baseline against which negotiations happen. Merely weakening SS and Medicare will be on the table as reasonable, bipartisan compromises.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

HELLO! ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?

G.O.P. Budget Proposal Cuts $5.8 Trillion in Spending
By CARL HULSE 21 minutes ago
The ambitious plan by House Republicans would limit federal spending, reconfigure health programs and cut the top tax rate for individuals and corporations.

http://www.nytimes.com/

Posted by: robert on April 5, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

You know, if you read Brooks' piece thinking that it's intended as arch satire, it's really good.

It starts with a hearkening back to the wonderful mood of agreement and partisan perestroika that surrounded the report of the Simpson-Bowles commission - you remember, the one that couldn't even get the required number of its own members to agree?

Then he calls a plan that doesn't touch defense spending "comprehensive". And a Republican plan that cuts spending on the poor "bold."

Clearly, this column is an artful joke, crafted by a brilliant, bitter satirist.

How sad that Brooks didn't mean it that way.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 5, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "my biggest fear is that the D.C. establishment will start to assume that Brooks is correct."

It has nothing to do with anybody "assuming" that anything is "correct".

The "DC establishment" will be reciting the same script as Brooks. He just gets to be the first one to do it, as a reward for his diligent, shameless bootlicking.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 5, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

If Ryan was truly courageous he would have the medical voucher system with which he wants to replace Medicare put in place immediately. If it is the proper solution for those under 55, who have planned on getting Medicare, why is it not the proper solution for those over 55 who will get or are getting Medicare? Why the cowardice? The answer, of course, is simple -- the Teabaggers would arise en masse and march on his offices. This is the ultimate in pandering -- placate the seniors who are benefiting from the system he says is killing the country, and ask those under 55 to pay the price.

GOP -- please, please continue to promote this plan. You will sew up the over 65 vote, and lose the rest. It will serve you right.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on April 5, 2011 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

If you spend your life talking about politicians, then in that context Ryan might well appear courageous. Not so much in any other arena, but that's about as good as it gets in Congress.

Posted by: Jon on April 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

"There's obviously no way Democrats in the Senate or the White House will even consider such extremism..."

Steve, are you sure about that?

Posted by: Vince on April 5, 2011 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

One flaw in Ryan's plan, at least from his perspective, is that it doesn't eliminate the second amendment. If his plan goes into effect, I strongly suspect that a large number of people who get shafted by it will resort to the famous "second amendment solutions" and the rich and powerful who are pushing it won't be able to hire enough bodyguards to keep them safe. If you think Mexico is having problems because of the hopelessness that the poor are facing, wait til you see what happens in the US where weapons are more available and lots more people have weapons training (think Iraq and Afghanistan).

Posted by: Texas Aggie on April 5, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Don't the Republicans have seniors citizens? What in the name of God are they doing? I think that we should all show the Republicans what we can do in 2012, get them off the congress and the senate. That is the only way to wake them up!

Posted by: M.L. on April 6, 2011 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK
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