Whoever taught Young Republicans to say “straw man” deserves a royalty
Get ready. Paul Ryan — the man who has already proposed a budget that would have led to the largest transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich in American history — is about to propose a new budget featuring massive cuts that will make the austerity that sent Europe back into recession look like the New Deal.
At the House Republican “retreat” last week, members were told that their constant threatening of government shut downs and potential economic catastrophe wasn’t working. It drives independents and Democrats crazy and bums out the base when they have to give in eventually. What’s funny is that they had to be told this — apparently their 26% approval rating wasn’t clear enough.
To get them to go along with actually “governing,” the House GOP was told that Paul Ryan’s new budget would balance the budget in 10 years. Ryan’s last budget didn’t balance the budget for decades even though it included huge hikes in Medicare costs for seniors and a gutting of the Medicaid program, which provides nursing homes and health care for the most vulnerable. This was because Ryan also cut taxes, of course, especially for the wealthy.
Ryan’s new budget may not cut taxes as much but it will have to feature incredibly large cuts to education, health care, job training, national parks, funding for fire fighters and police because you know the one thing he won’t cut: Defense. Simply freezing defense spending would eliminate more than 1/5 of the deficit within 10 years.
Of course, America is still spending on Defense as if we were fighting the Soviet Union. In the GOP mind, another ground war in the Middle East is a distinct possibility, which is another issue where the GOP is completely dislocated from reality.
In President Obama’s second inaugural, he specifically defended Medicare and Social Security from rhetoric Paul Ryan has explicitly used in the past. Ryan calls that a “straw man”! He claims that he’s never called people on those earned benefits “takers.” New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait explain that he has.
What Ryan has explicitly done is tried to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, a shortcut to destroying them. He backed off those plans a bit when President Obama was able to run against them instead of the vague poll-tested promise to “balance the budget.”
Romney adopted a modified version of Ryan’s plans wholeheartedly to win the primary and then adopted Ryan to please a base that still didn’t love him. Eventually, Romney had to actually hide Ryan, as the congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin who lost his home town and his home state.
The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky compares the GOP turning to Ryan in 2013 to Democrats turning to Michael Dukakis in 1989. And now Paul Ryan is going to reveal the craven abuse of the middle class that would have to take place to balance the budget in the midst of a recession. And, unfortunately for Ryan, no one has forgotten that the recession and the deficit are both largely the results of Republican governance.
President Obama doesn’t need a straw man. He has Paul Ryan.