Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 15, 2011

LIKE LEMMINGS OFF A CLIFF.... House Republicans, after a very brief debate and a week of consideration, actually voted to pass Paul Ryan's radical budget plan this afternoon. The final vote was 235 to 193. No Democrats voted for the measure, and despite some GOP anxiety going into the vote, only four Republicans had the nerve to vote against it. [Update: Here's the roll call.]


The GOP leadership and Paul Ryan are no doubt pleased with themselves for pushing this extremist proposal through the House so quickly, with a largely unified caucus. As it turns out, perhaps the only people even happier with the outcome are House Democrats.

For anyone who takes these matters seriously, the Ryan plan is a radical mess. Its numbers don't add up and it's based on fraudulent expectations. It eliminates Medicare, guts Medicaid, slashes funding for key domestic priorities, and lavishes another massive tax break on millionaires and billionaires. The whole initiative is sold as a deficit reduction plan, but it doesn't actually reduce the deficit -- it just shrinks government and transfers wealth from the bottom up, imposing cruelty on elderly, disabled, and working families.

But nearly every single Republican in the chamber voted for it anyway. A year after running a campaign agenda that bashed Democrats for Medicare reductions, practically the entirety of the House GOP just voted to privatize Medicare out of existence.

Democrats can barely believe their good fortune.

Paul Begala noted the other day, "I hope every vulnerable Republican in Congress signs on to the Ryan plan to kill Medicare, because we will beat 'em like a bad piece of meat." Non-partisan election analyst Charlie Cook thinks the plan may even put the GOP's House majority in jeopardy.

And this morning, DCCC Chair Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) told Greg Sargent, "When we win back the majority, people will look back at this vote as a defining one that secured the majority for Democrats."

The polling on this is unambiguous -- Americans aren't buying what Republicans are selling. Indeed, the GOP has it entirely backwards, killing programs the public wants expanded, cutting taxes the public wants raised.

Not only did 98% of the House Republican caucus agree to take the leap off this cliff, they did so knowing full well that this budget plan has absolutely no chance whatsoever of passing the Senate.

It's likely Americans won't watch today's developments especially closely. There's been very little national debate about this budget plan -- it was only introduced last week -- and the public doesn't realize exactly what this agenda includes.

But it's Democrats' job to remind Americans about this remarkable vote every day for the next year and a half. By all indications, Dems are eager to do just that.

This was a test for the Republican Party. In 2011, is the party really that radical? Does it really have that few moderates left? Is the GOP really that far gone that extremism that was up until very recently considered beyond the pale can now enjoy overwhelming support in the party?

We received a loud-and-clear answer to these questions this afternoon. Voters will have their chance to offer an answer of their own a year from November.

Steve Benen 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Steve, it doesn't matter. If gas prices and unemployment are high in November, 2012, voters will vote Republican no matter what. They literally pay no attention to the proposals of either party, voting only on their immediate financial reality.
In 2014, they might on the basis of this bill, but by then it'll be too late.

Posted by: JMG on April 15, 2011 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

They will now go back to their districts and LIE about their vote. You watch. There was very little debate because they are hoping no one notices what aholes they are. Do you think the President was so 'harsh' with them the other night to push them OFF this cliff???

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

OK, Democrats, the Republicans just threw you a fat, juicy batting practice fastball right down the heart of the plate. They even loaded up the bases for you!

DON'T MISS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans voted for this mess, knowing full well it would NOT pass in the Senate, thereby having absolutely NO consequences to suffer. They can tell seniors, et al, "We tried to 'help you', but the Democrat Party refused to join us in solving our nation's fiscal debt. Vote Republican in 2012, give us the Senate and the White House, and we will keep you children and grandchildren safe from the boogieman."

-Maybe that lie is not strong enough; I'm a Progressive, not Senator Kyl. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

What polling exists that leads Republicans to conclude they won't be punished for voting for the Ryan plan?

Charlie Cook is right. This vote will cost them their majority, especially since they won't have a chance to quietly wreck the economy the way McConnell did in 2010.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 15, 2011 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Steve - you don't even have the entire story here. The four Republican no votes include Ron Paul, who, presumably, isn't voting 'no' because he thinks the plan is too radical. That means, at most, Denny Rehberg, Walter Jones, and David McKinley thought the plan was too radical to vote for.

Posted by: DJ Any Reason on April 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK


I have been talking to seniors (when you are one it is who you talk to) and I haven't found any who don't see right through the Ryan voucher plan. This is privatizing social security all over again. People pay real close attention to programs that affect them.

A lot of today's seniors can remember the reason medicare was created in the first place. There was no insurance available for people over 65 at any price.

And the Medicaid thing. Forget about it. People I know are already wondering about nursing home care.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to fight. Write a letter, send an email, call an NPR show and denounce the Republican/Paul
Ryan budget plan. Don't let the Koch brothers and Karl Rove buy the 2012 election like they did in 2010 - we have to give some money to the people we support.

Posted by: MuddyLee on April 15, 2011 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's likely Americans won't watch today's developments especially closely. There's been very little national debate about this budget plan -- it was only introduced last week -- and the public doesn't realize exactly what this agenda includes.

And, God knows, no one in the MSM will see fit to give it any balanced analysis. Only us hippie bloggers care about boring wonky policy which threatens our financial future more than raising taxes ever would. Thankfully I have five kids to impose on in my old age.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on April 15, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

They can't be anything but losers with the voters on this. I know they are pleasing their Koch masters, C Street, and conservatives, so-called, everywhere with this, and they will be handsomely rewarded with lots of campaign contributions.

But it looks to me like a very cynical ploy just to get that money, since it can't pass the Senate, and it would not be at all popular with voters.

Why does anyone, including their slimy donors, trust these republicans?

Posted by: jjm on April 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's a bit demagogic to think of this, but I see a 2012 campaign ad:

A set of neatly manicured hands wearing expensive jewelry and fine, tailored clothing tearing up a Medicare insurance card, with a voice over saying "Congressman X: voted to take away your Medicare." Cut to a pathetic-looking senior-citizen eating from a can of cat food saying "what will I do now?"

I know that's misleading and a cheap shot, but it's no worse than morphing Sen. Max Cleland (a decorated war vet who lost three limbs)into Osama bin Laden because he voted against something the Republicans wanted.

Posted by: Eeyore on April 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is they think this gives them a starting point for negotiations with the Senate and President and that they will settle somewhere in the middle, but their timing is off. Next year is an election year and the Senate Democrats will use the Ryan plan as the reason voters should re-elect them so they won't have a reason to compromise.

I don't think Obama will be too concerned about a government shutdown in early 2012 when the house refuses to pass a CR.

You know the Democrats could be in real trouble if the Republicans had proposed something like Obama's plan but slightly more right. Something that calls for real shared sacrifice. Instead they passed the Ryan plan which shifts the entire burden on seniors, the middle class and poor, with an emphasis on seniors. They are going to have a hard time polishing that turd.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Day is correct...since this "plan" won't pass the Senate, and since the president has already vowed to veto it if it did, it is a symbolic vote. Sure, Dems can use it against them in 2012 but the voters will have forgotten. When the senate kills this, I guarantee Day is right again, the GOP/TP will blame the Dems and the Media will say the following:
"Dems Kill Deficit Reductions"
As for the "plan" Obama presented yesterday, one very much superior to Ryans's, he stated clearly that it was the base for compromise, and to get anything passed the TeaParty, well....we've just started this game. Both sides now have agreed on a line in the sand, that's all.

Posted by: T2 on April 15, 2011 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP probably figures that this will look bad in the short term, and will lose them a few news cycles, but that their voters will ultimately circle back to them (with the help of enough advertising and an assist from talk radio). All they have to do is puzzle enough swing voters over birth certificates and gay marriage and unemployment ... and they will hang on to enough of their majority.

Cynical? Perhaps. I don't know if this cynicism is unfounded, however, given the utter, complete, massive storm of BS that the GOP pulled off in the last national election. And it worked.

Posted by: Bokonon on April 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

ok, not Day....but whomever said it first.

Posted by: T2 on April 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

These guys are used car dealers. This is their opening gambit. Their bet is that an extreme right starting position will pull the eventual compromise further to the right than it would normally be. If the Democrats allow themselves to get sucked into it, voters in Nov. won't care who originally proposed what.

Democrats' main goal should be keeping as far away from this mess as they possibly can. And House & Senate Democrats should immediately propose a budget far to the left of Obama's proposal. Obama is starting in the middle, that won't do.

Posted by: Jon on April 15, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

To borrow a phrase from Jack Warner in "All the President's Men" -- Dems, you're talking the talk now -- the ball is in your court, "now, don't f*ck it up."

(I love my Democrats, but it sure didn't take them much time from hollering "fired up, ready to go!" at the HCR signing ceremony last year, to practically running and hiding from their healthcare reform votes. Dems, beat the GOP with this like you're their daddy. Don't f*ck it up. Please!)

Posted by: June on April 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

A year from November is too long,

where are the recall campaigns?

Posted by: cld on April 15, 2011 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

It is always nice when your opponent decides to put a bullet in his head.

Posted by: SW on April 15, 2011 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Senate republicans must be forced to go on record concerning their support for this immoral bill.

Let's hang this albatross around EVERYONE's neck.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 15, 2011 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Millionaires over Medicaid." That's the tagline. Use it everywhere.

Posted by: David on April 15, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

I've written in the past that if conservatives are really against health care reform because it's "big government" and too expensive, then to be consistent they should vote to get rid of Medicare because it's far larger than the ACA and far more expensive.

But I never thought they'd take that seriously. Good for intellectual honesty, at least!

Posted by: dsimon on April 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

what's incredible in my mind is that the House Republicans charged in so quickly with such a giant millstone about their necks like that. For one thing, there was barely a week, exactly, without little in the way of committee debate or expression of concerns. The entire GOP simply signed off on the Ryan plan without as much as a hiccup. But now they're stuck with the fact that there is NO WAY a Democrat-led Senate will even MOVE as quickly (welcome to the molasses-covered floor, kids, watch your step) and there is no way the Democratic Senators will sign off on even half of that bill, meaning it will get rejected there and sent back to the House for re-vote.

My big question is: why now? Why so quickly? There may be two reasons. 1) to extend the middle finger to Obama after his speech rejecting Ryan's budget, and 2) to get the budget out of the way before the more serious (and more lethal) debt ceiling vote comes along.

Posted by: PaulW on April 15, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Up or Down Vote ! I want an up or down vote in the Senate! Reid better not block an up or down vote !

I want Republican senators to commit suicide too *and* I want messy primaries for the Republican senators who won't commit political suicide.

Now, to be honest, I'm not 100% sure that the nays would have it, but, just in case, there is always the veto.

Oh and any Senator who votes not can as for a revote (voting yes for that revote only). I want an up or down vote every month from now until November 2012.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on April 15, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK
Steve, it doesn't matter. If gas prices and unemployment are high in November, 2012, voters will vote Republican no matter what. They literally pay no attention to the proposals of either party, voting only on their immediate financial reality.

There's plenty of evidence that financial concerns of the types you cite play a significant role in voting behavior (whether or not its a Presidential election year) with the incumbent President's party getting the blame for a perceived bad economy or, to a lesser extent, credit for a perceived good economy, but it would be misreading the evidence to say that this is the only factor or that it is always the deciding factor.

A year from November is too long,

where are the recall campaigns?

Members of Congress cannot be recalled. Where is the basic knowledge of American political processes?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Buy advertising in Fox with a "commercial" of Republicans pushing this bill and call them the "real death panel".

Posted by: Cathi on April 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

You may not know, but the subtitle of Ryan's budget plan is as follows: The Enabling Act, however it's pronounce in the German language! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

if the DNC doesn't know how to cut THIS political ad.....then they truly are without hope. it's been served to you on a silver platter - an actual vote to END MEDICARE AND MEDICAID.

why run away from Medicaid...break it down and tell the truth...the most common person receiving Medicaid in America is

a) a middle-class White person's mother or father in a nursing home.
b) a middle-class Whiter person's disabled relative.

these 2 groups combined account for the largest PERCENTAGE of Medicaid monies.

ps-I say White Middle Class, because they're the ones that need to be reminded...cause other folks know which way is up and know better than to vote for the assholes that would throw grandma out in the street.

Posted by: rikyrah on April 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's likely Americans won't watch today's developments especially closely. There's been very little national debate about this budget plan -- it was only introduced last week -- and the public doesn't realize exactly what this agenda includes.

Not to worry, the media is all over this. Why, right this moment on CNN.com, they have an article about this entitled "House passes sweeping GOP budget cuts, reforms". That certainly gives the average reader the gist of the GOP's madness. And the Story Highlights are:

  • The House passes Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget plan

  • The plan would dramatically change Medicare and Medicaid

  • Ryan's plan has little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate

  • President Obama's budget plan doesn't significantly change Medicare and Medicaid

Wow! That really lays it out there.

I have complete confidence that the Dems will screw up this golden opportunity, with the media aiding and abetting the Republicans all the way.

Posted by: josef on April 15, 2011 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but I'm too cynical to think this will have any electoral repercussions for Republicans.

First of all, it's up to the Democrats to message this and we all know how good they are at coalescing and staying on point.

Second, as so many have pointed out, it's a year from now. By then it will have been mythologized as this wonderful, centrist bill that nasty partisan Obama shot down. We've already seen that for the most part the MSM sees it that way so they'll only be too happy to oblige.

And finally, the Republicans will utterly, absolutely lie through their teeth about the meat of the bill, the media will be too afraid to call them on it as we saw in one of Steve's first stories of the day, and the vast majority of the voting public is too lazy/ignorant to remember back that far and look into the specifics themselves.

Posted by: Anon on April 15, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"But it's Democrats' job to remind Americans about this remarkable vote every day for the next year and a half."

As soon as the DNC gets its fleet of Ford Pintos running and fixes its dot matrix printer, it will get cracking on that whole messaging thingamabob.

Posted by: ameshall on April 15, 2011 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Pelosi's gambit in the House vote should be repeated by Harry Reid, but with a twist. He should have 49 dem senators vote "present" and let the Republican senators pass the House budget bill. If they do that, then let Obama start a public debate on whether the US public wants to end Medicare, waiting the full measure of time before he vetoes it. The drama would be played up by the media. Then Obama could truthfully tell the American people that he saved Medicare as we know it.

If the Repub senators fail to pass the House bill, their bluff will have been called in a big way.

Posted by: troglodyte on April 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Troglodyte's proposal has my vote. It is bloody brilliant as a tactic. The question is, does Reid have the nerve of Nancy Pelosi?

Posted by: vhh on April 15, 2011 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as the DNC gets its fleet of Ford Pintos running and fixes its dot matrix printer, it will get cracking on that whole messaging thingamabob.
Posted by: ameshall on April 15, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Two months ago, when Timid Timmy Kaine was running the show, I'd have been of the same opinion as you are. With Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the chair... maybe not. She seems to be much more of a firebrand than he was.

Posted by: exlibra on April 15, 2011 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

With more women in positions of power, Pelosi and Wasserman-Schultz and a few other Dem women stepping forward, the GOP may be facing an "enemy" from a different direction. While they are all about the masculine power they understand, they are going to have to deal with actual women who play by different rules. Whether they like it or not, the macho man is in decline and the balanced man is in ascendence. The game is shifting and the rules are being rewritten.
It's about time.

Posted by: st john on April 15, 2011 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it would be great news, if only Democrats could capitalize, and if only parts of the electorate could just pay a bit of attention. What could go wrong?

Posted by: short fuse on April 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

How about a simple viral video. Call it "I Have a Voucher".

Grandma is in an office at "Private Insurance Co." with her Ryancare voucher. She says to some guys in ties, "I have a voucher". And the guys just bust out laughing.

Posted by: tom west on April 15, 2011 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

"..because we will beat 'em like a bad piece of meat."

Take a bat to them, as our Governor Christie would say.

Posted by: bob h on April 16, 2011 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

The GOOPers will deny that the Ryan bill is intended to do what it says it will do. Count on it. The big lie will be that it does not decimate Medicare, it fixes it. You will hear that lie A LOT! What the Dems need to do is find a few words in the plan that they can quote verbatim, over and over again to identify the bill with the death of Medicare. If they don't use the GOOPers' words against them, the stupids in America will buy into the lie.

Posted by: candideinnc on April 16, 2011 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

Obama has played them like a violin when you think about it. he's allowed the far right to go SOOO far to the right they're pushing themselves off the cliff and Obama has been quietly and steadily egging them toward the cliff edge all along saying, JUMP YOU STUPID BASTARDS! JUMP FOR CHRIST SAKES AND GET IT OVER WITH!
Meanwhile many Democrats have been angry with him for playing along with them while he's just feeding them the cliff face..
If he keeps pushing the right further and further to the right few people in the center will even want ANYTHING AT ALL to do with them for another 40 years..
It's a classic gambit and Obama has used people like Trump, Ryan, Palin and the whole cast of clowns to drag the whole GOP off the cliff with them..

Posted by: marty59 on April 18, 2011 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK
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