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October 28, 2011 10:05 AM RNC discovers the safety net

By Steve Benen

I’d hoped to be first to the scene on this one, but Yglesias beat me to it. It’s a fun story anyway, though.

An alert reader passed along the latest fundraising pitch from the Republican National Committee, ostensibly sent by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The lede is a stunner.

This is a copy and paste of the image of the actual RNC mailing, with my source’s name and address redacted.

It may be a little tough to read, but the text says, “America is at a tipping point. 14 million Americans are unemployed and 9.3 million are underemployed. Our debt has grown over $4 trillion in less than three years and will be above $16 trillion before the end of 2012. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams and no one in Washington seems to care.”

Remember, this is a fundraising appeal sent to Republican donors by the RNC.

The latter is right to note that there’s a jobs crisis, though it seems pertinent that President Obama has presented a popular and effective jobs plan that congressional Republicans have killed. The letter is also right to note that the deficit is quite high, though it matters that Democrats have unveiled sensible, moderate debt-reduction plans that Republicans have rejected.

But putting that aside, a Paul Ryan letter sent by the RNC is concerned that “the net for the poor is coming apart at the seams and no one in Washington seems to care”?

You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

Ryan is the one swinging the machete at the safety net precisely because he doesn’t care. Put it this way: there’s only one party in Washington trying to slash spending on unemployment aid, student loans, food stamps, and job training, and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the Democrats.

That said, if the RNC believes concern for the safety net is likely to appeal to Republican donors, it’s probably safe to say the Occupy movement has already changed the national conversation in rather fundamental ways.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • Anonymous on October 28, 2011 10:14 AM:

    How can this possibly be surprising? This has been their OVERT strategy for at least a year, and arguably for THREE years!

    They're counting on the voting (and contributing) public not to draw any distinction finer than "Washington" and to personalize "Washington" as the president.

    Economy bad -- Washington dysfunctional -- president no good.

    Their propaganda, their legislative actions, and their EXPRESSED INTENT have ALL been aimed at precisely this end. And judging from history, they may well have bet correctly.

    Brazen, yes, but no less so than McConnell's famous statement about their "number-one priority," and certainly not a surprise to anyone who's been watching.

  • c u n d gulag on October 28, 2011 10:15 AM:

    As Michele bachmann would say:

    "That takes some CHOOOOOOOTSPAH!"

    Somewhere, Freud is laughing his ass off.

  • g on October 28, 2011 10:18 AM:

    The bastard was just on NPR a few minutes ago, claiming that he's not that concerned about the disparity between the income of the top 1% and the rest of the country, since what matters is that "the whole pie" keeps growing.

    Yeah. right.

  • Josef K on October 28, 2011 10:23 AM:

    You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

    I am now deeply embarrassed to have to admit Wisconsin is my home state, given they elected this...whatever the hell he really is.

  • Cal on October 28, 2011 10:23 AM:

    They're referring to the safety net for white people. The safety net the repubs are cutting is the net for undeserving non-white people. There's 2 nets depending on the context.

  • Benson on October 28, 2011 10:25 AM:

    Nets have seams?

  • kindness on October 28, 2011 10:28 AM:

    Karl Rove proved one thing to Republicans. They can lie with impunity and no one is going to call them on it. Not only that, the MSM will usually back them up when some DFH confronts the lies.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 28, 2011 10:39 AM:

    You just can't a bigger dick in this world than Paul Ryan. You just can't.

  • Sam W on October 28, 2011 10:41 AM:

    I think of the movie Mars Attacks, in which canned messages such as "We come in peace" are broadcast over and over...and then the dove gets shot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMdC45S79uQ

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 28, 2011 10:43 AM:

    Since I messed my last one, and I like calling Ryan a dick, I'll correct it here.

    You just can't find a bigger dick in this world than Paul Ryan. You just can't.

    This is like Hitler lamenting the fact somebody's mistreating the Jews.

  • stormskies on October 28, 2011 10:46 AM:

    Let's face it: he and his Repiglican pig friends are simply EVIL.

  • Ted Frier on October 28, 2011 10:56 AM:

    Congress' favorability currently stands at 9% That's within the margin of error of dissent-free unanimity that Republicans suck!

    So, the more you hear and read Republican rhetoric like Ryan's these days ("no one cares" "the safety net is coming apart at the seams") the more suspicious you become that Republicans have decided to attack President Obama by describing themselves.

    Wasn't it Congressman Ryan who this week attacked the President for his "divisive" talk that stoked "resentments" on the very day the CBO released a study showing the divisive and resentment-generating gap between rich and poor that Republicans defend is the widest it's every been?

    I am sure the evil genius of Frank Luntz is at work somewhere here in the new Republican strategy to use "projection" as a way to defeat Obama.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 28, 2011 11:04 AM:

    What is at work here is something the Republicans have been doing for awhile. What they're doing is realizing where they suck, and are vulnerable, e.g. the safety net. So what they do is they proactively attack Democrats for being weak on the safety net before Democrats make a charge. Besides, when Democrats attack Republicans on safety net issues, it goes unnoticed since it's just too easy of a charge. And this suffices to rile the dimwit Republican followers.

  • June on October 28, 2011 11:06 AM:

    So, the "boy from Brazil" strikes again.

    I have to wonder though, at what point will the Republican faithful get tired of being played for fools? Ever?

  • linus bern on October 28, 2011 11:11 AM:

    "the net for the poor is coming apart at the seams and no one in Washington seems to care...please donate so I can continue the hard work of not caring."

  • Trollop on October 28, 2011 11:21 AM:

    Yes, yes, and the HPV vaccine will make you severely mentally retarded based upon epidemiological studies!
    Woe to thee RNC, they didn't even need the vaccine to be affected!

  • zandru on October 28, 2011 11:27 AM:

    "Redistributing the Wealth"

    Not entirely off topic, but this loaded phrase seems to be coming back into conventional discourse, and I'd like to encourage everyone to help kill it.

    "Redistributing wealth" has the ugly implication of taking money from those that work and giving it directly and personally to those who are too lazy to do so. BUT!

    What Democrats actually MEAN to do is increase opportunity for those on the bottom. Where is this so-called "wealth" going, under traditional Democratic principles? Not into the "pockets" of the lazy, good for nothings. No - the money goes to build schools, hire teachers, pay tuition; to build roads and provide public transit; to ensure safe water supplies, safe food supplies, drugs that actually work without killing the patient; to provide medical care, particularly preventive care; and yes, to assist the destitute with food and housing. Think of it as primarily going for infrastructure spending that, in actual fact, benefits us all.

    It doesn't buy individuals their big screen Teevies or pay for their booze, or other sorts of discretionary spending, which is what the reactionary wingnuts keep trying to imply.

    So, what I'm saying (at great length; I'm sorry) is to counter the "redistribute the wealth" meme whenever it comes up and give the proper explanation. Hopefully in a catchier way. And - when you hear lying Ryanites weep for "the poor", ask them why they've cut Medicaid, Medicare, and the welfare programs, why they want to cut off Social Security recipients, and why these folks have to keep tightening their belts so that the 0.1% can get even more tax cuts.

  • June on October 28, 2011 11:31 AM:

    Excellent post, @zandru.

  • SteveT on October 28, 2011 11:34 AM:

    A Wall Street banker, a teacher and a McDonald's employee are sitting at a table when plate with 12 cookies is set on the table.

    The Wall Street banker immediately grabs 11 of the cookies and says to the McDonald's employee, "Watch out for that teacher. She wants to take your cookie."

  • Vince on October 28, 2011 12:25 PM:

    I'm still struggling with how Steve calls the Democrats' deficit reduction plan "moderate". It is 2:1 cuts to tax increases. The cuts hit the poorest, most vulnerable people in the country hard, while asking for a pittance from the richest people who have hoovered up the great bulk of the national income for the last 30 years.

    It is, in other words, a very conservative plan. That Republicans have become so reflexively anti anything a Democratic politician may propose doesn't magically make this plan moderate.

    To call this plan moderate is an insult to the word. Has the bar shifted so far that this horrible plan is now "moderate"? I guess so.

  • tamiasmin on October 28, 2011 4:15 PM:

    "...and no one in Washington seems to care," says Congressman Paul Ryan, who has a big job where?

  • A Conservative Teacher on October 28, 2011 9:02 PM:

    Have you been sleeping or just not paying attention the whole time? The argument that Ryan is making is the same one he made in his famous video- that if we don't reform the system now, it will collapse, and the safety net will be gone.

    Your policies and proposals and ideas are going to make the US into Greece- which gave generous safety nets without paying for it until it collapsed and now there are no safety nets. Ryan, and other Republicans, want to reform the system so that it lasts longer. Seems sensible to me- why don't you understand it?

  • TomB on October 29, 2011 2:17 AM:

    FOX News: The hen house is coming apart at the seams and no one in Animal Farm seems to care.

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