Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 14, 2011

A LAUGHABLE RESPONSE TO A CREDIBLE PROPOSAL.... It stood to reason that Republicans weren't going to respond well to President Obama's debt-reduction plan. It calls for higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires; it intends to scale back the massive and bloated Pentagon budget; and it wants to protect investments in areas like education and health care that the GOP disapproves of.

But those expectations notwithstanding, I'd hoped the House majority party would come up with a response slightly less ridiculous than this.

[House Republicans'] responses thus edged beyond substance into the realm of personal grievance. Indeed, they implied that the speech may have poisoned the well so much that working together where common ground exists might now be impossible. [...]

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) attacked the partisan bent of the speech, then characterized it as "a political broadside from our campaigner in chief." [...]

After the press conference he suggested Social Security might not be doable anymore. "I was hoping Social Security and some budget controls, and I didn't even hear that," he said. "I was naively optimistic that the President was going to give us a sincere olive branch."

Ah yes, the anticipated "olive branch." This from the right-wing lawmaker who drew up a budget plan that "deliberately constructed to be as offensive to Democrats as it's possible to be," and didn't even bother with insincere "nods in the direction of bipartisanship."

The president presented a proposal that was entirely mainstream, and would have been considered palatable to the Republican Party before it descended deep into the fever swamp. Yesterday, however, this debt-reduction plan apparently hurt the GOP's feelings.

No, seriously. That's the state of the debate in 2011.

For his part, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Ryan's radical plan "sets the bar," and will be the plan the GOP caucus sticks to.

Keep in mind, as recently as last week, Paul Ryan himself said he had no expectations that his budget plan would actually become law this year, but he's choosing to push it anyway as part of a larger ideological "cause." This week, however, the Speaker still considers the ridiculous proposal the only plan worth considering.

Obama said yesterday he envisions "a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit ... by the end of June." That's not going to happen. Call it a hunch.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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This conversation actually took place on Morning Joe today:

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: "We have the rich enjoying wealth and income levels that they've never seen in history and then people suffering at the bottom and the idea that this going to be done just by cutting programs for the middle class and poor seems to me to be impossible. What kind of country would it be? We've never seen the wealth at the top. We see it on Wall Street, record profits. Is it really going to be that we let the rich have more wealth, a higher share of national income than they've ever had in our nation's history and walk away with that?

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) VA. "Well Jeffrey I think we ought to celebrate that success.

Prof. Sachs: "I don't see how we celebrate when people are suffering. Ninety percent of the public is suffering, Governor"

McDonnell: "That's the American Dream."

Prof. Sachs: "It's not for ninety percent. It's the American nightmare"

McDonnell: "That's what we want to achieve. That's what we want to celebrate and encourage in America is more entrepreneurship."

Posted by: Newton Whale on April 14, 2011 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

You've got to love these people!

After 2 years of beating him about the head and body with poison ivy and thorny rose stems, they want him to extend an olive branch?

Quick someone, bring the smelling salts, Congressman Ryan's done fainted away!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 14, 2011 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans will demonize Obama for anything and everything he says. I mean, they compared Obama to Hitler for making a televised speech to children urging them to stay in school.

The only person left in the country who's surprised by this seems to be Obama.

So since Obama will be demonized anyway, why can't he leave milquetoast behind and make proposals that are dramatic enough to actually move the country forward?

Posted by: SteveT on April 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

A Republican congressperson back in the era of Herbert Hoover and the great depression tried to defend the policy of doing nothing to help the poor if it might mean restricting the unfettered wealth of the right this way:

The right to suffer is one of the joys of a free society.

Looks like nothing's changed. Being poor must be a good thing, because it provides and incentive to get rich!

Posted by: Eeyore on April 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the last time a Republican figures feelings were hurt ?

Sen Graham recently was miffed ...

But there was a moment , when there was a statement to the effect , "Feelings were hurt , pouting is on , fainting couches full"

I knowed it knowed it

Good Lord I knowed it brother

Dese bones gonna rise again

Posted by: FRP on April 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Newton - Did Bob McDonnell really say that? I live in Virginia and knew he was a right wing jackass but I assumed he had at least a small brain brain. Clearly I was wrong.

Can I say that we should give kudos to Paul Ryan for FINALLY outlining the true and accurate position of the Republican Party - dismantle the current social compact of this nation. Republicans have been dancing around this issue for decades, trying to sound reasonable and thoughtful - even caring - and at least Ryan gives us an honest picture. Now, hopefully, the American public can see them for what they are.

Posted by: Vandal on April 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

The same Guv who has raised tuition at all Virginia universities and cut their budgets, although money was found to reward Shaka Smart the HC of VCU for putting VCU on the map. The same Guv who presides over a state which has become a bananna republic where IKEA can dump their pretense of being liberal as they must in Sweden.

Yes, the President's speech, yesterday, displayed leadership and spine. Great campaign mode speech, such as he gave in '08 on the banks of the Willamette in Portland to over 70,000. Now, Mr President, will you, please, remember to put said fire and brimstone into practice once you re-enter the Oval Office. You have always been excellent on rhetoric, just a little short on actions, at times. One more thing, Mr President, the RepuGlicans and TPers are The Evil Empire and you can never compromise with evil. Stand tall and firm, as you did, yesterday.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 14, 2011 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Kompazzionate Konzertive

Posted by: FRP on April 14, 2011 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Also on Morning Joe, Scarb. thinks it was terribly unfair to make poor Ryan sit there and listen to the Pres. call his proposal unserious. Oh the things Republicans have to endure!

Posted by: Danp on April 14, 2011 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Until the last few years, I had no idea conservatives of all types were such delicate flowers they had to be protected from hearing criticism of their reasonable, common-sense ideas.

Posted by: Don K on April 14, 2011 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

They are a bunch of petulant children grumbling after being scolded. Nothing more.

We pay these jackasses how much to be our representatives? One guy comes up with a ridiculous "budget" plan and because they are too lazy to offer anything else, too lazy to do the math, they all line up behind the one guy who actually did some work. They can't go to the trouble to read legislation before signing it, preferring to let somebody else tell them what a bill does, letting the pundits, the Roves and the Foxes lead them around by the nose. This is a Republican party of slackers, unwilling to do any work because it will interfere with their lifestyles, but quite willing to take the staffs and paychecks we provide and the benefits we dish out and take their ideas from lobbyists. Bush was a slacker president and proved that slackers can't lead, can't produce a functioning government. They don't like Democrats because some Democrats actually feel they have to earn their keep, and the people's trust.

Posted by: Wacky Librul on April 14, 2011 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Also on Morning Joe, Scarb. thinks it was terribly unfair to make poor Ryan sit there and listen to the Pres. call his proposal unserious. Oh the things Republicans have to endure!

Yeah, Pathetic Joe. The Repub's can go on tv and call the POTUS a socialist and say that he isn't a citizen, but they cry like babies when he says something they don't like about giving more money to the top 1%. Good lord.

Posted by: sue on April 14, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Poor GOP. I'm sure once the word gets out to the fat cats on their yachts and at their vacation homes they'll be justifiably appalled at how much they'll have to do to scare the bejesus out of their serfs to ensure a doubling of their hard-earned cash flows.

If this doesn't expose their agenda to bankrupt the "lower classes' beating them into 3rd. world status, nothing will.

Given the unholy triangulation the GOP has assembled (Media, SCOTUS,Congress) the Dems will never succeed in convincing the poor that they should really be pointing the gun at the GOP and not their own heads. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on April 14, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Newton I'm actually quite surprised that McDonnell didn't say let them eat cake.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 14, 2011 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

As Grover Norquist is the godfather to Ryans reactionary (not radical) plan, may as well check out what Norquist has to say at the Washington Times:

This means that the lines are clearly drawn in Washington. On the one side is Congressman Ryan. He believes in detailed and serious budgets, no net tax increases, fundamental tax reform, cutting spending, and free market updates of the entitlement programs along the lines of the 1996 welfare reform. On his team are the 237 Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers in the House, and the 41 in the Senate. The entire House and SenateGOP leadership has already aligned themselves with Ryan and his plan. The 2012 Republican Presidential candidate will be running with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in one back pocket, and the Ryan budget in the other.

And then it gets really looney.

Posted by: martin on April 14, 2011 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

I say we put it to a referendum; say, in November of 2012.
-oh, wait, I forgot: the poor don't vote!

Posted by: DAY on April 14, 2011 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

What is niave is that Republcans would believe we would willingly submit to their antebellum vision of America without as much as a wimper.

Somebody has to defend the Progressive Vision. Republicans want to return to 19th societal values yet everything the Republicans do including Paul Ryan's proposed budget attempts to destroy Johnson's Great Society and Roosevelt's New Deal, without even balancing the budget, and continues the trend towards an inequality of American income that would embarrass Queen Victoria.

The Republican Supreme Court gave corporations pre-20th century influence in politics. Many Republicans would rewrite the 14th amendment to keep kids of undocumented workers from citizenship. Still more would stop unemployment insurance and like AZ Governor Jan Brewer jail undocumented workers in privately run prisons.

I admire many things about the 19th century -- abolition of slavery, intellectual curiosity, the progressive movement, neo-classical architecture, workers rights... Yet, I would never want to return even in part to the morality, health care, social structure, and income inequality of that complex culture.  

Those Republicans  wanting to shrink the federal government to Coolidge-era size, I think, kill that which made our society great - a movement up and up in terms of income euqality, human rights, a strong federal system, free education for all, and a spirit of exploration... All  incompatible with the mid-Victorian legal, moral & state rights values, the worst of the 19th century, Republicans seem to love and which the rest of us discarded 150+ years ago.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 14, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Scarb of Mourning Joe was one of the first to have a "Love Fest" for Ryan, the morning after that budget was announced. Mark Halperin, Plagerizer Mike, Mika were all jumping with joy. All David Brooks had to do was re-type their comments. "Bold, Man of Courage", Much Needed" were typical comments around that table. Very subdued, this AM. Thought for sure, they would the Sweetheart of Chi Omega out of Mississippi State, US Rep. Marcia Blackburn, on for a long cry. They could have turned it into an East Tennessee RepuG Prayer Meeting with a lot of C&W music a'flowin'.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 14, 2011 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Remember St Ronny was proud to hang the photo of Cal Coolidge in the Oval Office. Not only for his presidency, but, his sending in, as Guv of Mass, National Guard troops to fight the police strikers in Boston, as well

Posted by: berttheclock on April 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Those who dare call themselves Republican leaders are hell bent on adding insult to injury, and seemingly naive to such a prospect!

Unflattering adjectives come immediately to mind in reference to Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor regarding their sophist press conference
focused on personality and not what we need
here in American to help alleviate
the current economic suffering
most of us are feeling
while working toward a more equitable future
where even millionaires and billionaires
can feel pride in sharing the sacrifice
needed for any recovery we wish to experience
in the near future and in generations to come!

I'll use a classic: I witnessed a horse's ass (Cantor) followed by the bullshit (Ryan) it tends to spew wherever the it wishes!

I did not see any serious Republican "leader" step up and tell me how he will make what the Bush years broke, better! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

At this point Obama's MO is clear: Let others define the issues. Step in at the last moment with a stemwinder speech. Then compromise away everything you claimed to stand for in the name of bipartisanship.

Why is it going to be any different this time?

Posted by: rrk1 on April 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't listen to nor read the capitulater in chiefs speach. Was there one mention of say, jobs in it anywhere? Thought not. What the hell happened to jobs.

Posted by: FreeThinkingRedneck on April 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

rrk1 you obviously prefer the bull in the china shop approach. Try nuance once in a while you might find it's actually more effective in many situations.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

"compromise away everything" - that's a pretty broad statement.

Posted by: T2 on April 14, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

I also live in Virginia and was watching Morning Joe and the Govenor who was boasting about how well the state has done in living within its means and how well he has balanced the budget. What he failed to say the balancing of the budget is on the back of other states. Virginia receives $1.51 for every $1 of Federal taxes paid by the state!


Posted by: Jon on April 14, 2011 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

'Compromise away everything?' Read this:


While you're crying about 'compromising away everything,' Obama ate the Tea Baggers' lunch and took their milk money. Example: He 'compromised away' the offices of four 'czars' - which have been empty since last year. And the Tea Baggers claimed victory, idiots that they are.

The Tea Baggers got rolled, absolutely rolled, by the president you're so intent upon basjhing.

Posted by: Stranger on April 14, 2011 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody (not Obama) has to really go after Ryan HARD, and ridicule every aspect of the randian wet dream that constitutes his plan. I nominate Anthony Weiner.

People also need to go after Scarborough and all the other enablers. Hammer and tongs, everybody!

Dems better have anticipated this and have a major advertising spend in the works. I will start donating to the DNC again if they put out some really strong ads against the GOP plan.

If they sit by while the RW noise machine takes over the airwaves, we're fucked.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

The 2012 Republican Presidential candidate will be running with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in one back pocket, and the Ryan budget in the other.-Norquist

Careful Grover, the Republican's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" can easily be changed to the "Millionaire's Taxpayer Protection Pledge" in attack ads. Just sayin.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on April 14, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I missed it. Did Mourning Joe say how Ryan's plan was serious when it required the elderly, middle class and poor to take a hit while the plan opens the door to the Treasury even wided to facilitate the upper 1% can continue their looting.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 14, 2011 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Mourning Joe isn't the only enabler on MSNBC. Tweetie is really worried about paying an extra 2-3% of his millions to make sure grandma gets the medical treatment she needs.

I think Anthony Weiner would make a great standard bearer in this fight. He is articulate, intelligent and is just snarky enough to poke ridicule at the Ryan and get away with it.

Is the rumor true? Did he roommate with Jon Stewart in college?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 14, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

To the complainers here: Do you think there's a chance you've oversimplified the narrative of the past two years? Not to say that Obama wouldn't have liked to check off the box on his Bush tax cut promise, but don't you think another, really BIG part of him saw the opportunity to:

* Get some modest stimulus bump that would help the economy in the short-term, at a point in time when no other stimulus was possible -- in fact no one thought any sort of Congressional action to stimulate the economy was possible after the elections.

* Concede that issue in the short-term to appear "centrist" but then run on that issue again when it could be starkly contrasted with the GOP?

I really haven't been all that concerned with Obama's re-election chances, given the competition in the field. But with the opportunity presented by the Ryan budget, I now think the Democrats have a chance to take back the House and reverse the 2010 elections.

Ideally you have something to run FOR and something the run AGAINST. Thanks to the tax cut deal of 2010 and to Obama laying back and giving space for the Ryan budget, the Democrats have both, in flashing lights.

Posted by: Mark on April 14, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Is the rumor true? Did he roommate with Jon Stewart in college?

Yes, they have mentioned it when Weiner was a guest on the Daily Show. It's also on Jon's wiki page.

Posted by: sue on April 14, 2011 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Ryan's comments really parallel what republicans feel about women. Treat them like property and exect that they'll be looked up to. Goes hand in hand with the way they treat their wives by having all those affairs.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on April 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

And Eric Cantor evidently is unaware that tax day this year is April 18. Of course none of the top 1%ers do their own taxes and would know this. "Two days before tax day" - pretty representative of his knowledge and his math.

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

Hey this is what Obama wanted.. This is what you get when you treat children like adults! Now we have full on bipartiXanadu, where the petulant children think they're in charge because their only punishment ever has been rewarding comments about how they worked especially hard toward a compromise. I don't have any pity for Obama nor do I have any faith that this Kuntry hasn't fallen to morons and seen the last of it's merits behind it.

Posted by: Trollop on April 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Also on Morning Joe, Scarb. thinks it was terribly unfair to make poor Ryan sit there and listen to the Pres. call his proposal unserious. Oh the things Republicans have to endure!
- Danp

I suppose one could point out that Obama has all the moral courage of Rep Joe "You Lie" Wilson.

Posted by: Lance on April 14, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

The current GOP response is a standard tactic:

Whine, Malign, Redefine.

Ryan whines by calling it a partisan broadside. Ryan maligns the President by name calling, Obama is the "campaigner in chief." Ryan tries to redefine the President's speech by calling it "political" and not policy.

I just hope Obama understands that although the GOP may try hard to label his plan the real political danger would be to allow the GOP to define the label. 'Call me a liberal if you will, but if being a liberal means I protect Medicare, then I am proud to be a liberal.'

Posted by: MassachusettsLiberalinDC on April 14, 2011 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

There is no Grand Old Party any more- and the fact that people who keep voting for them 'because Daddy did' or for whatever grand old reasons are now going to find themselves poorer and uncared for in old age, their kids and grandkids undereducated and unable to compete with the new superpower, that's called reap what you sow.

Pity they weren't more concerned with national debt reduction during the Bush Jr era isn't it....

Posted by: Tracy on April 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK
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