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December 08, 2011 1:20 PM Romney camp backs radical budget plan

By Steve Benen

Several months ago, the House Republican budget plan, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) generated a national firestorm for good reason. Among its many controversial provisions was a radical plan to force seniors out of Medicare and into a private voucher system. When nearly every Republican in the House and Senate endorsed the proposal, it instantly became the basis for much of the Democratic strategy in 2012.

At least at the congressional level, that is. Among GOP presidential candidates, Ryan’s radical approach to Medicare had a certain radioactive quality that gave would-be presidents pause — they couldn’t denounce the plan without infuriating conservatives, but they couldn’t endorse it without creating a major general-election vulnerability for themselves.

Mitt Romney, known for being on every side of every issue, spent quite a bit of time dodging questions about the Ryan plan in the spring, because, well, he’s not exactly a courageous guy.

And that leads us to today, when the Romney campaign, feeling a little desperate, decided to go on the attack against Newt Gingrich. The former governor’s team organized a big conference call with reporters this morning, allowing former Gov. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) to unload on the former Speaker, questioning his character, record, and ideology.

Of particular interest, though, was Romney’s surrogates attacking Gingrich for having criticized the Paul Ryan budget plan.

Repeatedly, they claimed that Romney supported the Ryan plan. “Gov. Romney recognized right away the features of that plan,” said Sununu.

What’s more, Jed Lewison noticed a related development this morning.

More importantly, in order to make this attack, Mitt Romney has now given himself ownership of the Ryan plan. On his website, he’s proudly touting a quote from June in which he said he would sign the Medicare-repeal plan into law.

Let me say that again: Mitt Romney is now one hundred percent committed to Paul Ryan’s proposal to end Medicare and replace it with vouchers.

This is no small revelation. In April and May, Democrats desperately tried to get Romney to endorse the Ryan budget plan, but the former governor kept dodging and eventually the questions stopped. But now it’s back, and the ambiguities are gone — Romney’s campaign is now on record supporting a radical budget plan that, among other things, replaces Medicare with a private voucher scheme, slashes taxes on the wealthy, and adds $6 trillion to the debt.

This is the line Democrats have waited eight months for Romney to take.

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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  • T-Rex on December 08, 2011 1:40 PM:

    Oh come on, Steve, how many days -- no, make that hours -- do you give him before he claims his aids misspoke, then reaffirms his support for the plan, then goes back on it, then embraces it again and then claims indignantly that he's always had a consistent position on it? "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake!"

  • c u n d gulag on December 08, 2011 1:43 PM:

    THANK YOU MITTENS!!!

    You just left your fingerprints on the "Throw Mama From Her Health Care Train" bill!

    Who the Hell is running the Romney campaign?

    I'd guess Moe, Larry, and Curly, but that would be an insult to the intelligence and careful planning that the "The Three Stooges" always exhibited in comparison.

  • yellowdog on December 08, 2011 1:45 PM:

    President Obama stood up this week in Kansas for the health of the middle class. He wants to keep Social Security and Medicare strong and effective programs. They are stabilizers of the middle class. Romney's pas de deux with the hard right philosophy of the GOP is only the latest evidence of total radicalization of the right. Steve - I am glad you are not letting these moves pass without notice.

  • Brenna on December 08, 2011 1:50 PM:

    Romney walking his statemnent back in 3...2...1

  • martin on December 08, 2011 1:53 PM:

    The only thing Mitt is 100% committed to is Mitt.

  • troglodyte on December 08, 2011 1:59 PM:

    I guess we have Gingrich to thank for Mitt's conversion. Im putting Newt back on my Xmas card list!

  • Teemu on December 09, 2011 4:54 AM:

    Did you actually read Mitt Romney's whole page or just stopped on the quote from summer? He is still going to push his own version that makes Ryan plan voluntary.

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