Paul Ryan To Doom Republicans, Again (Again)

by evanmcmurry

Take three:

[Ryan’s new budget] appears to depend on at least one ridiculous assumption and two glaring contradictions. That’s for starters; I’m confident we’ll see more absurdities when the full proposal is released soon.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Ryan said his plan assumes that the far-reaching reforms known as Obamacare will be repealed. Host Chris Wallace reacted with open disbelief: “That’s not going to happen.”

Indeed, to take Ryan seriously is to believe that legislation repealing the landmark Affordable Care Act would be approved by the Senate, with its Democratic majority, and signed by Obama. What are the odds? That’s a clown question, bro.

As he did in the campaign, Ryan attacked Obama’s health reforms for cutting about $700 billion from Medicare over a decade, not by slashing benefits but by reducing payments to providers. Ryan neglected to mention that his own budget — the one he convinced the party to run on in 2012 — would cut Medicare by the same amount. Actually, by a little more.

This was hypocrisy raised to high art.

And so on, and on, and on. We’ve been through this twice already. Ryan, as a figure, has little to lose by releasing his budget; they restamp his serious card, which is kept in David Brooks’ desk, and endears him with a conservative base emphatic enough to keep him a viable primary candidate.

Why the GOP lets him keep doing this is beyond me. Ryan’s budget was the brake that first slowed the Tea Party surge; it’s arrival cut off the GOP’s 2010 momentum, lost them a special congressional election just months after the Tea Party wave, and left them in  a weakened spot for the debt ceiling debacle, which turned the tide of public opinion back toward Obama. Ryan’s 2012 budget got him onto the VP ticket, and just as quickly silenced, as the Romney campaign realized that everything he proposed was deeply unpopular with non-safe Republican districts.

It still is, and Democrats have noticed. They’re already plotting to use Ryan’s budget against GOP candidates in the 2014 midterms:

“The fact that the Paul Ryan budget envisions this really radical change of turning Medicare into a voucher program that passes all of the cost of health care inflation directly onto the backs of seniors puts them in a very vulnerable position,” Garin said. “The basic underlying philosophical premise of the Ryan budget is rejected by a voters in a way that shows up in this larger indictment of Republican policies in general.”

Garin pointed to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that 57 percent of respondents disagree with what Republicans are proposing to do in Congress, while only 29 percent agreed.

“That is really fertile grounds in terms of – in terms of speaking to voters about how and why Republican candidates are out of step and out of touch with the realities that working people and middle-class families are facing today,” he said.

The way Garin sees it, Ryan’s budget will just reiterate the messages that cost the GOP elections in 2012, thereby handing Democrats infinite opportunities to “hold Republicans accountable – on the air, on the ground, in the mail, and online.”

“I would argue based on our experience of polling throughout the 2012 cycle that this sense of disagreement with the Republicans is born very much from a response to the Ryan budget itself and the set of policies that are encompassed in the Ryan budget,” he said. “The Republican brand has become a drag on candidates who are tarnished with it, even in states that are reasonably red in their complexion.”

This strategist is probably overstating the extent to which Ryan’s budget is explicitly linked to the least popular GOP policies. And second administration midterms are notoriously bad for the President’s party, and in contemporary politics midterms tend to favor conservatives. That being said, we all saw the team the GOP fielded in 2012, and we’ve all seen the woefully inadequate attempts at rebranding. And given that there’s not single instance of Ryan’s budget doing anything but severely harming the GOP’s electoral success, 2014 looks, if not good for the Democrats, then at least not the bloodbath it could have been.

Again, I get why Ryan keeps releasing these budgets. I don’t understand why anyone in his party acts like they even know his name.