Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan and Obama's Grand Bargain

I'm looking forward to seeing Charlie Pierce's comments on the man he calls the "zombie-eyed granny-starver", Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's Vice Presidential pick. Jim Newell gives this decent summary of what the man stands for (Meet Your New Vice Presidential Candidate, The One and Only History’s Greatest Monster, Paul Ryan Wonkette 08/11/2012):

A few things about Paul Ryan: He wants to end Medicare and give people (those who are 55 and younger at the time of passage) coupons to buy private insurance plans on the market instead. Those coupons would be explicitly designed not to keep up with medical inflation, ensuring seniors pay higher out-of-pocket costs each year until the market collapses.

He wants to convert Medicaid and food stamps into block grants sent to the states and sharply reduced levels. He wants to bring non-defense discretionary spending down to 3% of the federal budget. He wants to slash taxes on the wealthy, giving them an average 12.5% in additional after-tax income. The only reason his budgets haven't said a word about privatizing or dramatically cutting benefits in Social Security is because his fellow congressmen demanded he not take that on in addition to everything else, at this point. He voted for the Iraq War, Medicare Part D, and TARP.
In thinking about this year's national politics, I'm keeping in mind Van Jones' perspective that progressives face two major battles this year: November (getting Obama re-elected and Romney not-elected) and December (defeating Obama's cherished goal of a Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).

Democrats need to remember all year what Obama told the New York Times (Amy Chozick, Obama Is an Avid Reader, and Critic, of the News New York Times 08/07/2012): "He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security."

And since Ryan's star selling point has been his proposal to abolish Medicare, to exploit that the Obama campaign will need to defend Medicare in some way or another. Which they hopefully will do aggressively, because it's one of the Democrats' best programs and most popular ones.

That will also make it more difficult for Obama to get the Grand Bargain through Congress in the lame duck session. And that would be a very good thing for the Democrats in Congress to be worried that a vote for the Grand Bargain could be political suicide for them. The ideal situation would be for every Democrat in Congress in December to be in fear that a vote for the Grand Bargain would be the end of any political future for them in the Democratic Party. And it should be the end for anyone who votes to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

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