Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2011

THE POLITICAL PERILS OF RYAN'S RADICALISM.... Shortly after the ridiculous House Republican budget plan was unveiled this morning, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty praised Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) "leadership." Pawlenty did not, however, endorse the plan itself.

Be prepared for a lot of these kinds of reactions.

The assumption in Republican circles is that their budget plan will be politically popular. Indeed, they expect to be "rewarded" for an agenda that eliminates Medicare and guts Medicaid. David Brooks gushed that the GOP plan "will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee."

But before the right gets too excited, it's worth remembering that the Republicans' plan isn't popular. Election analyst Charlie Cook reports today that he's been talking to GOP "pollsters, strategists and veteran campaign professionals," and he's heard "sounds of concern," in part because their party is pursuing an agenda Americans don't actually like.

[T]hese party insiders believe that taking on entitlements, specifically Medicare, could jeopardize the party's hold on the House, its strong chances of taking the Senate and the stronghold that the party has been established with older white voters -- not coincidentally, Medicare recipients. [...]

It is much too early to suggest that the Republican majority in the House is in danger, but the sequence of events that Democrats would need to have a legitimate chance are so far looking increasingly plausible.

House Dems need to gain 25 seats next year to reclaim a majority, and they figure the easiest way to get from here to there is to watch Republicans overreach, then target the vulnerable incumbents, especially freshmen, who go along.

Right on cue, the House GOP has presented a truly ridiculous budget plan, which they know can't pass, but which they'll vote for anyway. The devastating campaign ads will write themselves.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Gotta wonder what the R's are thinking with this! But every group they've used to get in power, they eventually throw them to the side of the road.

Who will be the next population?

Posted by: Roger on April 5, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I dislike the Republican agenda as much as anyone, but I have to admit that Obama has been MIA in this.

The deficit IS a problem, and just racking up political points on this without proposing any solutions is sad.

Posted by: Mikey on April 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look. Most of us know that the republican plans are the results of stupid f***s and lack any sense of how to govern. But. The dems need to get 1-3 clear spokespeople, out front, NOW, hitting hard as to why these are stupid ideas, AND WHAT the sane alternatives are. Yeah yeah - Obamas should do some, but, um, lets be clear that he does have other grown up things to do.

Ryan has a patina of the "aw shucks I am just a plain ole midwestern thinkin' logically" bullshit, that needs to be fought hard, daily.

Is there a dem, female, econ degree, who could do this? someone who is non threatening [i. e. , not chuck schuler?} Amy Klobaucher? etc - but someone who has to pound pound pound pound the message. and not just to Rachael Maddow.

Posted by: bigtuna on April 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Who will be the next population?"

Well Roger,
at this rate, if they piss of the old white women, and the old white dudes, the only group left for them to throw to the side of the road will be white males 18-55 - and the moron females who love them.

I hope that this is an act of political suicide.

I just dont' have any faith in Democrats messaging this.
I mean, they couldn't figure out a say to spin nascent universal health care into anything positive!

And if they make something out of that, and write positive ads, what leads anyone to believe they write successful ads about this?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

typo. Meant Chuck Schumer, of course.

Posted by: bigtuna on April 5, 2011 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Radical" or "Reactionary"
Radicals want to change things.
Reactionaries want to defend the status quo or return to the good old days.
With regards to labor rights, the Republicans want to go back to the "good old days" of the Pinkerton goons and the national guard shooting strikers.
With regards to heath care/retirement security, the Republicans want to return to the pre-Great Society/New Deal days when the vast majority of the elderly lived in poverty and died early due to a lack of health care. Or is that the status quo where the health insurance companies make huge profits and the rest of us get dropped after paying in for years just when we need the coverage the most.

Either word you use, it is a downward spiral to poverty, sickness and death for everyone not in the uber-rich ownership sect.

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

bigtuna,
I love you, but, who's going to put that Democrat on TV BESIDES Rachel and MSNBC?

FOX?

CNN (aka, FOX Lite)?

The Sunday gabfests?
They'll have Republicans on touting how brave this plan is, and how we all need to follow it.

Unless Klobaucher and Kirstin Gillibrand do a striptease together down to their undies while explaining this, there's no chance anyone on TV will have them on, besides, again, MSNBC. *

* I'm not being sexist here. I'm just trying to be my usual absurd self.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 5, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I have a great deal of difficulty believing this is a transformative time for the Democrats. I want Bernie Sanders as Prime Minister and I want the Senate and House disbanded and imprisoned for social malignancy.

Too much? I don't think so.

Have the Insane Republicans ever been out of power? you might have fooled me once...

Posted by: Trollop on April 5, 2011 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Major League baseball players, both American and National League, are paid by the owners, but are also aware of the sponsors, because ad revenue filters down to them, through their corporate owners.

They say they do it for the fans; without us buying tickets, they would be struggling in the farm teams, or selling used automobiles. Some of us "fans" even believe it.

For those with an active imagination, substitute "politics" for "baseball" in the above. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 5, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

We found some more rope for you guys to play with. You go enjoy!

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on April 5, 2011 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"The deficit IS a problem..."
Bull Shite 'Mikey', you are buying the Rethug's swill. The economic disaster brought on by deregulation and the banksters who paid for it IS THE PROBLEM and we are slowly fixing that problem, which will fix the manufactured 'deficit problem' if we restore some GD revenue to the Federal Government. Christ not even the Rethugs believe the 'deficit' is the problem because their "plan" does not solve it. Its all just one big shiny object to distract the American people as they go about their dismantle and destroy agenda.

Posted by: robert on April 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

c u n d gulag

I know I know. But look. Obama was elected with an alternative strategy in 2008; what could be the end around the Brooks-Fox world this time?

Get onto the 20 major local markets? Make sure someone gets on Telemeundo and Univision news?

As is pointed out in the other thread, there needs to be something like a plan, and someone who can say things bluntly;

"Here is the deal: if you are under 55, under the Republcan plan, you get screwed. Pure and simple"

" Republican math, as we have seen many times before, is a fantasy. We cannot let them near the moneY"

etc.

Posted by: bigtuna on April 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has addressed the deficit, first with health reform, then his original strong support for ending the Bush tax cuts (there goes half the deficit right there).

But even the Republicans' assertion that his policies are fiscally unsound and hurt business are belied by Wall Street's rise and the three trillion dollars in profit businesses are now sitting on.

So I can only conclude that even the Republicans' touting of themselves as the pro-business party is just another of their postures that are the exact reverse of what they claim to represent. They are not pro-business they are pro-crooks who pretend to be businessmen.

Take HSA. The 'health savings accounts,' in our experience are riddled with fraud, endless paperwork that has to be done, redone and redone again in order for them to honor the claim. Then they pretend to find a charge you 'failed to document'; we find it to be a fraudulent claim, marshalling all the evidence to prove it was not ours; they say pay up the extra hundreds of dollars or we will report you to the IRS for not documenting the claim. We get the medical center to attest via a letter that the charges were never incurred by us. The HSA says, "Too late, you needed to contest the charge within sixty days." Of course, they 'notified' us of the charge a full six months after the supposed claim was made.

The Republicans are not pro-business. They are pro those who claim to be businessmen but are instead engaged in fleecing those who they force to deal with them. They are the party of big FRAUD.

Posted by: jjm on April 5, 2011 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we drifting toward a two tier society where common Americans pay what little cash they have to make it from one meal to the next while the top 2% continue to have wealth redistributed upward in their direction?

Answer - The Democratic party, lead by its leader, President Obama have not come to the table to push back on the spoiled food the GOP is trying to force feed us!

I have yet to hear one Democrat come out and fundamentally challenge the GOP on the bogus assumption that we are broke!

I have yet to hear one Democrat come out and say the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet is only as broke as we allow ourselves to be, and we are not in the dire straits the GOP claims!

I have yet to hear one Democrat mirror the public opinion polls and advocate that the top 2% of our citizens start paying their fair share!

I have yet to hear one Democrat say the obvious, "Ryan's plan will destroy the elderly safety net we as a free and liberty-minded people put in place generations ago!" "Ryan's plan is yet another device to redistribute wealth upward."

The rich among us have ceased to be good neighbors, and now want all our resources, even though not many out side of defense and corporate subsidies are left! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 5, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I would rather have the Postal Service run my health insurance than have EXXON, AT&T, or GE run it, wouldn't you? But that's what Republicans want.

It's all very fine if you are a member of the upper class who can afford health coats out of pocket, but for the rest of us who deal with health insurance companies we know they do not have the public interest in mind, only the short term profit of their shareholders.

Anyone can say differently, but those are the facts,  They are for profit corporations and all of em pretty much have the same goals ... Excessive Profit, profit, profit for the über rich which is usually against the public interest.

Many companies cut corners to satify their shareholders which prove disastrous to the public interest.  Union Carbide in India, BP in the Gulf of Mexico, EXXON In Akaska. There is no reason to think that health companies do any differently. Again,  I would rather have the postal service run my health insurance than  have EXXON, AT&T, or GE run it, wouldn't you?

We had pass laws to reign in corporations at the beginning of the 20th century.  

NOW, Republicans want to return to those rapacious days.  

I say not only NO, but HELL NO!

Now remember, America and the world was 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.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 5, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, this moment calls for a response from Democratic leaders (Obama, Reid, Pelosi, whoever else) similar to Tip O'Neill's response to the moment when Reagan's people made clear they were going after Social Security.

O'Neill went to the press room and declared war (metaphorically speaking, of course). That was the moment the "Reagan Revolution" came to a screeching halt. It was the moment that led to the Democrats holding the House in 1982. Here's hoping today's Democrats remember their history and seize their moment.

Posted by: massappeal on April 5, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The devastating campaign ads will write themselves.

Uh, Steve, no they won't.

In fact, I'm more than willing to wager with you right now that there will be no "devastating" ads at all on this issue from the Obama campaign or any important Democrat leader.

Posted by: Observer on April 5, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

This may well be a slam dunk for Democrats, but I will put my money on them tripping just before they go for the slam dunk. When Democrats even try to defend liberal policies, that have the merit of being very popular, by the way, they do so very tepidly. That's not going to come close to cutting it if they want the Republicans to pay a price in this case. The Ryan love fest is just beginning and it will take a *lot* of push back from Democrats just to get people to start asking everyone's favorite politician some, you know, actual questions about this charade of a budget plan.

I would love to believe that the Democrats, led by Obama, are up to that. But, does anyone here have any confidence that any of them are up to it, assuming they even *want* to push back.

I mean, Josh Marshall caught some Democratic pol describing Ryan as "courageous". If that is representative of the push back we are going to get from Democrats, then you can kiss Medicare goodbye.

Oh, and the budget situation, under Ryan's plan will be catastrophic.

Posted by: Vince on April 5, 2011 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I want some of whatever David Brooks is smoking.

Posted by: Nothing but the Ruth on April 5, 2011 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

kevo, I have noticed that same thing. Sam Seder on MSNBC yesterday afternoon commented that we don't have a spending problem; we have a revenue problem, deftly noting that tax rates relative to GDP are at their lowest point in 60 years. Why don't we hear Democratic leaders making points like this in the mainstream media?

I suspect part of the problem is that most Members of Congress are in the upper 1% or 2% of wealth themselves, which skews their perspective of what's reasonable, plus they look to same group of wealthy individuals, PACs, and businesses for campaign donations that are clamoring for Republican fiscal policies, and there's fear of pissing them off if they sound too stridently populist. Re-election has become far more important than "doing the right thing, consequences be damned."

Posted by: jsj on April 5, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

"The devastating campaign ads will write themselves."

One can always dream, Steve. I won't hold my breath. The Democrats can't message to save their lives. They're like a dog with one trick: roll over.

Posted by: ameshall on April 5, 2011 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK
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