Ryan’s radical, ridiculous, rip-off roadmap

RYAN’S RADICAL, RIDICULOUS, RIP-OFF ROADMAP…. While the process of crafting a budget plan for this fiscal year implodes under the weight of GOP intransigence, today also happens to be the day next year’s budget fight begins in earnest. And if you think the current fight is a mess, prepare to have Republicans take your breath away.

And if you’re a disabled senior on Medicaid, relying on an oxygen tank, that expression should probably be taken literally.

Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveils his plan for fiscal year 2012. He promised a truly radical approach to our entire system of government, and he wasn’t lying — Ryan’s budget is based on his radical “roadmap” and effectively rewrites the American social contract.

Medicare would be eliminated and replaced with a voucher system. Medicaid would be gutted and sent to the states as a block grant. The Affordable Care Act would be scrapped, tax rates on corporations and the wealthy would be slashed, and all told, Ryan’s plan intends to slash roughly $6 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.

This is madness.

There’s obviously no way Democrats in the Senate or the White House will even consider such extremism, but House Republicans don’t much care. This is the plan they want; this is the plan they’ll pass; and this is the plan that will set a truly ridiculous benchmark for future negotiations. If a shutdown seems inevitable this week, wait until the House GOP votes to eliminate Medicare as part of their next budget pitch.

Those of us hoping the chattering class will recognize the Republican plan as extremist nonsense are likely to be disappointed. David Brooks gushed today about the radical roadmap.

The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president’s passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.

His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion…. Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. He’s forcing everybody else to do the same.

Jonathan Zasloff’s point-by-point takedown of the Brooks column is worthwhile, but my biggest fear is that the D.C. establishment will start to assume that Brooks is correct. He’s not. Ryan’s budget plan is stark raving mad.

“Courageous”? To the extent that a major political party and House majority is actually willing to rally behind such extremism — without a hint of shame or trepidation — I’ll gladly give Republicans credit for actually putting their ridiculous wish list on the table.

But in this context, real, meaningful courage requires sound judgment, not just a willingness to fight for millionaires and corporations, while screwing over the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and working families.