Good Thing the Democrats Forced That Vote on the Ryan Plan

Most of what I have to say about Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan I said on Virtually Speaking Sunday. I think the Ryan pick will hurt Mitt, and I think it opens up an opportunity for progressives to even box Obama in.

But I am enjoying the response from Republicans, who almost immediately started bad-mouthing the pick. First there was the BuzzFeed story–less than 48 hours after the pick!–describing how the political pros in Mitt’s staff opposed the pick. And now Politico describes the opinions of some three dozen Republican operatives, all of whom except Mary Matalin are queasy about the choice. (The Hill has a similar story.)

In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.

It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.

And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.

One big reason the operatives don’t like this choice is it makes their job–getting down-ticket Republicans elected–harder.

And that’s just what it does to the Romney-Ryan ticket. Forget how it plays in close House and Senate races.

“Very not helpful down ballot — very,” said one top Republican consultant.

“This is the day the music died,” one Republican operative involved in 2012 races said after the rollout. The operative said that every House candidate now is racing to get ahead of this issue.

And what Politico doesn’t dwell on–but what Crooks & Liars noted the other day–is that it’s already too late for most of the Republicans running for reelection to separate themselves from Ryan’s signature policy. Because they already voted for it.

Even as Mitt Romney was introducing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, his campaign was preparing a defense of the House Budget Chairman’s draconian Medicare proposals. With good reason. After all, in April 2011 the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast that Ryan’s scheme to convert today’s guaranteed Medicare insurance program into an underfunded voucher system would dramatically shift the health care costs onto America’s seniors. And in February 2010, Ryan acknowledged his privatization plan for millions of future elderly constituted rationing.

But it’s not just Team Romney that should be concerned about being caught red-handed with the proverbial gun pointed at the wildly popular program. Last year, 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators–98 percent of all Republicans in Congress–voted for Paul Ryan’s budget and its blueprint to rationing Medicare.

What’s particularly remarkable about the Politico piece is that, in spite of widely expressed admiration for Ryan, just about all the anonymous sources admit that people hate his plan. The plan their bosses have already voted for.

I don’t think any of the geniuses in DC–whether Republican or Democratic–planned for this. I don’t think they intended to turn Mitt Romney into the poster child for the elites who have been looting our country. I don’t think Mitt realized that by picking Ryan, he would make the problem worse, not better.

But this election has now crystalized into a referendum on the austerity, oligarchy, and looting the Republicans (and more recently, the Democrats too) have been gradually introducing into our country.

Obama may still screw up the election. The economy may recrash, the drought may bring a price spike that makes people desperate enough to vote for Mitt, or there may be an October surprise.

And I’m sure Obama didn’t want to be running this election, pointing out how unpopular and disastrous are Ryan’s policies–policies which are not that different from some of his own.

But that seems to be where we’re heading. A referendum, from the top of the ticket on down, on the unpopular elitist policies that both parties in DC have been pushing for the last decade or so.

18 replies
  1. Quanto says:

    You would think their actually trying to lose this race with their picks, and that might be the case, after all why would they want to change things. They have the best Republican in the WH money can by now, and the best thing he has a D after his name so when things go sour they can blame the Democrats for their policies.

    The people pulling the power levers behind this couldn’t care less what party is in power as long as they get what they want. They have gotten more with the Republicat we have now then they could ever hope for with an ideological Republican. Endless wars, corporate welfare, deregulation, lower taxes, they have it all with a lot less push-back then if a R was in power.

    If a Republican gets in they will still get this only at a faster pace which might wake up the electorate and cause a rebellion, and that’s what scares them most.

  2. BSbafflesbrains says:

    Glad you included the Democrats as they enter this election cycle with unclean hands . I’m not in a swing state and am voting Green Party and Independent.

  3. phred says:

    Is it too much to hope that Romney’s peculiar choice might ultimately prove to help end the Osterity era? By which I mean, not Obama’s presidency, but rather his insatiable drive to cut the safety net out from under us? One can only hope…

    I know… “hope” Obama “changes”… can’t help myself ; )

  4. BSbafflesbrains says:

    @phred: It could happen; so hope springs eternal, it is always darkest before the dawn, every cloud….
    but your point is a good one.

  5. rosalind says:

    @phred: sadly, i fear the choice will actual make Obama’s job much easier, he gets to position himself as the “reasonable adult” who only wants to “fix” Medicare as opposed to the mean conservatives who want to end it.

  6. Phil Perspective says:

    @rosalind: Any idea if PBO is coming to a “town hall” near you? If so, I recommend you go. And ask question(s) if at all possible. Make it known that cuts to Social Security & Medicare are unacceptable. And make sure he knows how Clinton’s deficit hawkery turned out.

  7. rosalind says:

    @Phil Perspective: “Any idea if PBO is coming to a “town hall” near you?”


    sorry. i live in los angeles. our dear President comes to town every couple months, but only to screw up traffic and fundraise behind closed doors. i can’t even remember the last public event he did here, if ever, before We the People.

  8. phred says:

    @rosalind: No kidding. I can’t imagine O facing real questions from real people who haven’t been vetted in advance.

    And sadly, I agree that this may just make things easier for Osterity to forge on ahead, voters be damned.

    Huzzah for the two party system.

  9. EH says:

    Furtherly sadly, I can see Obama using this as an excuse to fence off problematic topics from the race and simplify everything down to terrorists and tax cuts.

  10. KWinIA says:

    @Phil Perspective: He’s here in Marshalltown, Iowa today. I stood in line for an hour and a half on Sunday to get a ticket, but they ran out before I got one. That was mildly disappointing, mostly because of the time wasted. Today, I found out that the Town Meeting is in the old gym at the Middle School instead of the new one at the same place. That’s annoying. I suppose the old one is the size they wanted, but I think it makes the town look bad, like we don’t take care of our schools. The banner should say “Forward To The 50’s” instead of just “Forward”.

  11. MadDog says:

    @KWinIA: Though I sympathize with your line-standing without a positive result, at least the campaigns are paying attention to Iowa.

    But the rest of us in not-battleground states are feeling left out. We Minnesotans have even been known to whine. *g*

  12. Ben Franklin says:

    October surprise? Didn’t BiBi just grab some cabinet power in the face of Israeli voters? Didn’t Romney just have a cozy chat while he picked up Sheldons’ check?

    Am I paranoid. Well, it’s served me pretty well, thus far

  13. prostratedragon says:

    Because of Marcy’s last couple of paragraphs, I too have thought there might be a chance to back Obama into sounding better, at least, on some of the real issues of inequality, but don’t sell the propagandists, who have no side between them, short: they’re already pushing the tax cut-and-deficit fencing like the men hoping to make the NFL right now, and changing the subject is really most of what they do best.

    All of which is why the hand of infernal providence is likely to have helped these bad dancers out somewhere along the line, and caused the pinnacle, the absolute acme, of the Great Throws of History list to be revealed somewhat early:

    Mr. Creosote

    (Insert url to video at own risk)

    The Wikipedia article describes the Monty Python Meaning of Life scene of Mr. Creosote with such admirable precision and sang froid that direct exposure might hardly seem necessary, but as with all great cinema, there is nothing like the true experience. Definitely to be seen once, especially since the reference is apt to be oh-so useful this year.

  14. jawbone says:

    I didn’t vote for Obama and don’t trust Obama, especially his words used to garner votes around election time, but, oh, please, someone, many people, try to pin him down on SocSec, Medicare, Medicaid, civil liberties, protection of the internet, etc.

    I realize fully his word or words mean nothing. But, please, people, journalists, Dem pols who care about the Democratic Wing of the Demoratic Paryt — please, please, please try to get him on the record. Michelle, too. Maybe, just maybe, that would slow down his race to the right, to the bottom, to infamy.

  15. rugger9 says:

    Perhaps one could pin down Mittens as well, but we all know that he’ll say anything to cover his tactical arse, if he deigns to answer questions at all. The Help doesn’t get to have input, you see.

    Now as far as the ZEGS boy, the fact his “budget” is devoid of details like what loopholes are going to be closed [mortgage interest is wayyy up on the list] and the risible “math” about the future growth expectations is why the immediate GOP response to Ryan’s selection was to change the subject away from his budget. We also have the CCB and the Nuns on a Bus pointing out how un-Christian the budget is, and Ryan keeps running away from questions from his constituents. The fact he’s also a fanatical zygote-protector is going to have issues with Mitt [whose sons have had IVF help in getting kids], since what happens to the extra embryos in the procedure? They get Stericycled…. There might be a real takeout opportunity in WI-1 with Zerban.

    I believe Digby had the detail about how tight the ZEGS is with the Kochs, and it explains why even though the party hacks didn’t like the ZEGS, the money that rules all does and we know how that ends in the GOP. If Zerban takes out Ryan in the House, it will be Mitt’s fault for taking up too much time for VP appearances. Either way it appears the ZEGS is the heir apparent for 2016. It will be interesting to see how Jeb and Moby Chris handle that anointing.

    Read the whole thing.

  16. Phoenix Woman says:

    It’s interesting to see the divide between the publications read by politicians and political junkies like us and the general-interest newspapers and broadcast/cable/satellite TV and radio.

    Aside from Huffington Post/AOL, none of the political-junkie stuff is making its way into any forum where the average American is likely to see it. What does that tell you?

  17. rugger9 says:

    @Phoenix Woman: #16
    It has to do with the MSM need for a horse race to sell ad time, which makes their corporate masters happy. Since those half-dozen or so masters are also GOP moneymen, it’s a win-win.

    The ZEGS is characterized as a serious brainy wonk, but only has a BA in Econ, while the same MSM dismisses Paul Krugman as shrill even though he has a PhD as well as a Nobel in Economics. There shoud be no intellectual contest, and when one considers that Reagan’s OMB director Stockman also calls the Ryan budget a fraud it’s clear Krugman is right. However, that leads to no horse race and reduced revenue for Clear Channel.

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